Tuesday, January 20, 2009

36 Years of Red Sox Cards (Part V)

Continuing on our way…

1976 Topps Jim Rice
This card is great for a couple of reasons. Obviously, it’s an early card of one of the newest Baseball Hall of Fame inductees. In fact, much like the Fisk card from an earlier post, it is Rice’s first card where he is pictured alone. His 1975 card pictures him with three other players in floating circles. This card also has the stats on the back for Rice’s 1975 rookie season. The other interesting part is the trophy on the front of the card. Each year, the Topps company picks an all-rookie team. For a long time, they put pictures of trophies on the front of the player’s card. They stopped this practice for a while, but have started doing it again. It’s a grwat way to recognize the great young stars in baseball. While some rookie team members end up being busts, Rice certainly lived up to the hype.

2007 Topps Updates & Highlights Daisuke Matsuzaka Japanese
The 2007 baseball season was all about Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Red Sox made big news when they paid a small fortune just for the opportunity to talk to Daisuke about a contract. The card companies were excited. Since Matsuzaka had played in Japan, nobody had bothered to make a major league card of him before. So, all the companies had a shot to make a rookie card of a popular player, and put it in their set. To set themselves apart from the pack, the companies tried different things to make their verson unique. Some put pieces of his jersey on the card. In this case, Topps decided to write the front of the card in Japanese. It’s just one more way to make a collection look a little different.

1989 Topps Rick Cerone
This was a popular card when it was released. It was probably one of the more valuable cards in the set during the 1989 season. You’d be right to wonder why. Rick Cerone wasn’t exactly the darling of the baseball card market. The reason is in the picture. Behind Cerone stands Ellis Burks. Burks was the hot-shot rookie for the Sox in 1987, and was on his way to stardom in 1989. In those days, there were only five cards sets making cards, so Burks collectors could only get a limited number of different cards of him. But, if they got this card, they could add another with Burks’s picture on it. I remember price guides at the time listing the card as “Rick Cerone (Burks).” The drive of player collectors is never ending.

1982 Topps Carl Yastrzemski In Action
This card shows how far card companies have come in a relatively short period of time. In 1982, Topps felt the need to make an entire subset showing the wonders of an action photo. I assume because of camera capabilities, many photos on cards in the early years were posed shots...headshots, players going through the motions, that sort of thing. By 1982, action shots were incorporated into the sets at a pretty good clip. So, why exactly Topps felt the need to scream “action shot” at the collector is unknown. But, it gave the company a reason to include another popular Carl Yastrzemski card in its set. As I’ve said many times in this, all they need is a reason.

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