Ted Taylor's Collector's Corner

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    Ted Taylor has been a life-long baseball fan and collector of baseball cards and sports memorabilia. He began writing a hobby column back in the early 1970s and has been writing it someplace ever since. He was first president of The Eastern Pennsylvania Sports Collectors Club and co-promoter of the Philadelphia Baseball Card & Sports Memorabilia Shows. He served as VP of the Fleer Corporation (1991-97) and was co-founder and the first President of The Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society (1996-99). Ted can be heard playing big band and swing music from 8 a.m. to noon every Tuesday on WRDV-FM (89.3), or you can email him at ted@tedtaylor.com.

Ted Taylor's latest three books . . .
  "The Ultimate Philadelphia Athletics Reference Book (1901-54)" available from www.amazon.com
  "The Duke of Milwaukee - The Life and Times of Al Simmons" available from www.EduPublisher.com or by mail from TTA Authentic LLC, PO Box 273, Abington PA 19001 ($15 ppd.).

  "The Glenside Kid” – a story about growing up in the mid-20th century - available from www.eduPublisher.com or by mail from TTA Authentic LLC, P. O. Box 273, Abington PA 19001 ($24 ppd).

November 3, 2014

This is our 39th Year of hobby columns

Ted Taylor’s Collector’s Corner

Topps Update ends the season on a high note

  The new Topps 2014 Baseball Update offering contains traded or other acquired big league players (free agents, etc.) and players that came up from the minors in uniforms that supposedly “update” the cards for the year. This issue sort of does that, except for the fact that the very first pack I busted open contained Jerome Williams of the Texas Rangers – who finished the season as a Phillies starter. I’ll give Topps the benefit of the doubt here, Williams began ’14 with the Astros and got sent to Texas, so who figured he’d move again.

  Yankees pitcher (by way of Japan) Masahiro Tanaka graces the packaging – and he seems a good choice for this honor even though, unlike 2013, he didn’t go unbeaten for the season.

  Some neat choices in the sets include Jason Giambi (now with the Indians and playing since 1995), a guy with an odd name Rougned Odor (of the Rangers, I thought it said “rough neck” when I first saw the card), Chris Taylor of the Mariners (same name as my eldest son), Nick Punto of the A’s (seems like he’s been around a long time), Joba Chamberlain (who looks like an imposter in a Tigers uniform), Kevin Frandsen with the Nationals (never did figure out how the Phillies let him get away), A. J. Pierzynski with the Cardinals (which proves Topps can get late changes if they want to) and a couple of Phillies related ones, Grady Sizemore (started the season with the Red Sox) and Vance Worley (began with the Twins).

  All season long in bulding my team sets I noticed that not one single catcher card for an Orioles player was issued. Okay, this set fixes that and what is the picture? Nick Hundley getting a pie in the face, that’s what. Seriously guys? Almost as bad was the Cole Figueroa card as somebody pours Gatorade on him (it looks like a huge, green, cotton candy in the picture).

  The box promises a relic or an autograph and I got a curious one. It was/is a relic card of Albert Pujols but as a Cardinal and “2006 World Series” hero. It was numbered 47/99 and the disclaimer is a classic. “The relic contained on this card is not from any specific game, event or season (and, are you ready?) nor is it from the World Series”. So what, exactly, is it? It’s a Pujols card, World Series relic – but it isn’t from the World Series. Understand?

  Under the “why did they do this instead of publishing cards of players we didn’t have before?” they treat us to individual cards with 2014 All-Star game logos on them. So it’s really more cards of the same old players we’ve gotten several times in other sets this year, but this time they are designated by the leagues. So in my box were individual cards of 29 National League All-Stars and 28 American Leaguers – 58 cards that could have been middle-relievers, untility infielders, fifth outfielders – even new managers. But, nope, more Trout, Jeter, Puig, Cano and the rest.

  Under the “other stuff” category I did find two vintage Topps cards (both Expos, of all teams). One was the ever popular Clyde Mashore from 1973 and Bill Stoneman from 1974. They are part of the Topps 75th anniversary program that inserts actual vintage cards in the packs – each also carries a gold Topps 75 logo. Other stuff includes Power Players, some smaller sized cards, Fond Farewells and World Series Heroes (mostly old-timers) and debut cards called “The Future is Now” (rookies).

  This set, from a content standpoint, is one of the better updates in recent years. It went a long way for me and my fellow team set collectors in helping build representative team packages.

Topps Stadium Club Baseball Returns with a bang!

  2014 Topps Stadium Club Baseball marks the third incarnation of this brand and it was like welcoming an old friend back in to the collection. Last seen in 2008 as a high-end, hit-per-pack product, it has been revamped once again and they did a great job. While not an entry-level set, it’s selling in the $80-per-box neighborhood (three mini boxes). Every hobby box comes with three autographs (one-per-mini). My three autographs were Erik Johnson (White Sox), Sonny Gray (A’s) and Julio Teheran (Braves).

  Lots of old-timers make up this set including some nifty black-and-white shots of such players as Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Ty Cobb, Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax and Joe DiMaggio. Ken Griffey Jr. adorns the packaging and is card number FA19.

  I find it puzzling that the hobby-only product comes with a mini box configuration. Each master box has 18 packs divided equally between three mini boxes. Why? Who knows. Perhaps it’s so hobby shops can sell the mini boxes individually – which makes sampling the product cheaper for collectors.

  The 2014 Topps Stadium Club Baseball base set has 200 cards. The trademark full-bleed design returns to showcase excellent photography – and it is some of the best of the 2014 product line. (Two exceptions - #60 which shows the back of Albert Pujols head as he swings the bat and #6 of Shane Victorino with eight fellow Red Sox mugging him after a big hit.) Parallels come in five levels: Rainbow Foil (one per mini box), Gold Foil (one per master box), Electric Foil, Foilboard (#/25) and Members Only (one per case). Autographs should be found one per mini box.

The next two products are cool but for the quite wealthy…

  Topps Supreme Baseball, a mainstay in football made its baseball debut in 2013 but as an Asian-exclusive (guess that’s how I missed it). Now 2014 Topps Supreme Baseball brings the brand to North America. Every card in the product is an autograph numbered to 50 or less which sounds exciting until you figure out that each “box” comes with just two cards – and will set you back around $90. And if the autographs are of someone you never heard of (a frequent complaint from hobbyists), well how happy will you be. I think this one pushes the credibility envelope over the cliff.

  Coming in late November Topps Dynasty Baseball will be, to date, the priciest product the company has ever produced with five-card boxes carrying an initial price tag of more than $1,000. It makes “Supreme” seem like an end-cap item. As you might expect from a product that averages out to more than $200 per card, Dynasty aims to tap into an ultra high-end marketplace (i.e., go after the rich guys). Every card has an autograph and is numbered to 10 or less. Topps is also pledging to have an exceptional checklist of current superstars and retired greats. I haven’t seen the product but that’s what they promise. I’ll take their word for it.

  Topps Valor 2014 NFL Football features Jadeveon Clowney on the packaging, offers one autographed relic and one autograph card on the inside – plus a jumbo relic and a patch relic, to boot. Four goodies-per-box is always big news. The hobby box comes with 20 packs (6 cards) inside. Last seen in 2012 this product is back and selling in the $100-a-box range. 2014 Topps Valor Football has a 200-card base set that mixes rookies, veterans and retired players.

Topps announces deal with Mike Trout

  In October Topps and South Jersey born and bred superstar Mike Trout announced a multi-faceted partnership between the legendary baseball card maker, burgeoning mobile app developer, and the game’s hottest MLB player. “This partnership furthers Topps’ dedication to delivering the exciting products that collectors have come to expect.  Topps continues to partner with premier players and bring fans the best in both trading card products, and mobile sports apps,” said Clay Luraschi, VP of new product development and longtime spokesperson.

  With this exclusive deal, Trout’s autographed trading cards will only be able to be found in Topps products. Trout will also continue be the face of the dynamic Topps BUNT® mobile sports app for iOs and Android in 2015. “I am happy to continue to be a part of the Topps family,” says Trout. “I still get excited when I see my Topps® cards and am thrilled to be a part of such a ground breaking mobile app.”

  Trout, the Angels’ starting center fielder, is one of the youngest superstars in the league at 23.  In 2012, he was named the A.L. Rookie of the Year.  In 2012, 2013, and 2014 Trout was selected to the All-Star Game.

  Trivia time…Reader Dan Paley offers this one. What player (1960’s era) was traded in two separate trades for two future Hall of Famers.

  The football season is hot - Always happy for your comments on collecting topics, write me at: ted@tedtaylor.com. Thanks to Ted Silary for including this in his web zine and to all of you for regularly reading this.