Tatis Overkill

If Beckett’s Hot List was still a thing people actually kept up with, Fernando Tatis Jr.’s 2021 Topps Update Ultra Super Short Print would likely be at the top spot six months from now. It’s an extremely rare, unnumbered card that was pulled a few days ago from a product overproduced by Topps Company. No word on how just how many of these cards exist but with 4 days left to bid, it’s already topped $650 and will likely come to an end in four digits by the time bidding is complete.

Tatis Jr., unlike his father, is destined to be a super star, and is a truly a one of a kind player. In 2021, Tatis Jr. led the National League in home runs and will likely flirt with the M.V.P crown. He is one of the most popular players among baseball fans and baseball card collectors and is regularly featured in Topps’ Project 70 series. It seems like not a single week goes by when I don’t see new artist renditions in my feed, which now makes me wonder just how much Fernando Tatis Jr. is too much?

BOOMER ALERT: In Jose Canseco’s second full season of baseball, you would not be able to fill up two Ultra-Pro pages with all his card releases. We had a total of 7 official cards from Fleer, Donruss, Topps, and Score. If you add Sportflics and some regional, retail releases from the big three, you still had less than 20 Jose Canseco cards to collect. Trust me, despite a lack of parallels, serial numbers, autographs, and game-used relic cards, it was still a challenge to be a Super Collector back then.

In today’s market, after Tatis’ second full season in baseball, there are nearly 7,000 baseball cards to collect. Yes, Fernando played his third season in 2021 but those cards won’t be produced until 2022. Furthermore, there are currently, I shit you not, thirty-one different Tatis Jr. rookie cards on eBay with a price tag of $20,000 or higher. There’s one card, outrageously priced at $799,999. If you do the math, that is approximately $10,000 for every one of Tatis Jr.’s 81 career home runs.

Look, if you have $800,000 dollars to spare on a 22-year old’s baseball card, please let me know what you do because I need a new career, obviously. Even if I did have the funds for such a purchase, I would not do it, ever. Baseball is a gamble, much like everything else in this world and bad things happen all the time. Career changing injuries, brushes with the law, there’s just so much that could go wrong and spending that type of money is a risk I could never take part in and neither would 99% of collectors.

It’s crazy just how much collecting has evolved since 1988. Nothing ever stays the same, that’s a sad part of life. I am, however, a modern collector just as much as an old school collector but it is clear judging by prices of unopened product in retail stores, hobby shops, and on the secondary market, that this hobby has become a gambling venture for young adults. It is perfectly clear now that children, a demographic manufacturers once pursued, have been kicked to the curb in chase of adult income.

As for the Tatis Jr.’s 2021 Topps Update USSP that’s currently all the rage, I’d like to remind readers that as usual, someone did the big head thing before Topps. Well, technically, Goudey did it it first way back in 1939 before any of you or I (or our parents) were even born. However, in 1991, we had a different type of big head card that made the rounds and were particularly popular among young collectors in the Junk Wax era. Score produced these caricatures that were all the rage 30 years ago.

I’ve been searching for the artists who created these caricatures now going on five years. Unfortunately, the mystery has yet to be solved but if you have any clues, please don’t hesitate to reach out, I am available 24 hours a day on Twitter and email. I guess at the end of the day, no matter how much I enjoy watching Tatis Jr. play and as much as I’d like to own one of his several dozen rookie cards, I think my calling will be to continue my quest for baseball card knowledge and to solve the long forgotten mysteries from this once beloved hobby.