Monday, March 9, 2009

36 Years of Red Sox Cards (Part VII)

More time…more cards:

1981 Donruss Dwight Evans
1981 was a big year for baseball card collectors. The courts had ruled that the Topps Company could no longer be the lone producer of baseball cards. Two companies quickly jumped into the mix, Fleer and Donruss. Both sets were plagued with errors that first year due to the time constraints leading to production. But, it was good for collectors to finally have some choices. This card is one of my favorites. The design is a little blah, team and player names with a simple border. But, it is one of the few times that Evans is pictured without his standard moustache. It looks a little weird to see him like that, but adds a little variety to a collection.

2000 Greats of the Game Autographs Jim Rice
Another appropriate choice, given Rice’s recent election to the Hall of Fame. This is an example of the direction many card companies are taking and featuring retired players. Card collectors who have the money to spend on cards are the adults. The players that adults remember idolizing are the retired players. So, they’ve started popping up, either is regular sets or sets devoted to retired stars. In this case, almost the whole Greats of the Game set is composed of ex players. Like the Ted Williams set, it’s a great way to obtain cheaper cards of all-time greats. Plus, some of the cards were autographed by the players. Imagine opening a pack and getting an autograph of Yogi Berra, Brooks Robinson or Duke Snider. For Sox fans, there were autographs of Dom DiMaggio, Carl Yastrzemski, and Rice. What a perfect way to spice things up.

1992 Topps Gold Winner Aaron Sele
In 1992, Topps got a little innovative with their cards. They decided that they would make a certain number of every card with gold foil on the front. This “parallel set” would be more rare than the regular cards. They would be randomly inserted into regular packs of Topps cards, based on some insertion rate. They also included a scratch-off contest card in the packs. I forget the exact working of the contest, but if you scratched off the right circle, you won a stack of the gold cards. What Topps didn’t realize, however, was that by simply putting a flashlight behind the card it was easy to scratch off the correct circle and win the cards. This didn’t seem fair since these “rare” gold cards were suddenly fairly easy to get. So, Topps changed things up a bit. The gold cards in the packs would remain as they always were. The ones redeemed through the contest were made a little different. The word “winner” was added in gold foil. What this did was make the winner versions more plentiful than the other gold versions. So, the cheaters with the flashlights wouldn’t get as good a card as people who opened packs and got a gold card. It also created three versions of every card, the regular, the gold, and the gold winner. This was pretty nice for player collectors, and made it interesting for rookies. Suddenly, instead of a regular Aaron Sele rookie card, there was a rare “gold winner” version as well as a super rare gold version. Of course, it didn’t end up mattering much in Sele’s case. But, players like Manny Ramirez now had a whole collection of rookie cards to hunt after. By now, just about every card has some gold foil on it. But, in 1992 it was a pretty big deal.

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