Thursday, June 27, 2013

The recycling exception

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Just like any other era of cardboard history, today's hobby has its fair share of problems.

Collation, failed redemptions, and, of course, the dreaded Topps monopoly are just a few of the concerns I've heard other collectors voice over the past few years.

If I had to pick, I'd say my biggest gripe with the current hobby is one that has snuck up on us rather quickly.

I absolutely hate the fact that Topps feels the need to recycle photos over and over again. I addressed that very concern with my review of this year's Archives release.

True, it's not anything new in the hobby. One of many examples from the past comes from the rather obvious repetition of the same Dick Allen photo in 1970 and '72 Topps.

In my mind, though, it's really starting to get out of control these days. Thousands and thousands of baseball photos are taken in the current game. There's absolutely no reason we need to see the same one more than once.

There's only one exception to the "recycling" fad that has overtaken the hobby. "Campy" there is a nice example, in fact.

No, I don't own an actual copy of his '51 Bowman card. What you see above is a reprint. (Although I'd love to own the real thing one day, of course.)

I've always found it to be one of the more aesthetically-pleasing catcher shots ever snapped.

Luckily, it's not the only time we'd see it in the world of baseball cards.

I'm about 99 percent sure this is the same exact shot that was featured on Campanella's 1951 Bowman issue.

In my dig through my Dodgers binder, I found that this very photo has found its way onto a couple more recent "Campy" issues. Bowman more than likely pasted the shot onto a different backdrop for his '51 Bowman card.

This is the one time I can get on board with the whole "recycling" fiasco.

For whatever reason, I rather enjoy when card companies reuse old vintage photos for more modern cardboard.

And "Campy" is far from the only specimen.

My personal favorite vintage Rod Carew card may well be his '74 Topps issue.

When you get down to it, I'm simply a sucker for neat batting cage shots.

Interestingly, Topps recycled the very same photo for Carew's "Decade Leaders" American Pie insert in 2002.

As I've found, American Pie reused quite a few old Topps photos.

Mark Fidrych was well into the injury-riddled portion of his career by the time 1979 rolled around. That might explain why his '79 Topps card doesn't feature him pitching on an actual mound.

It would've been criminal if "The Bird" wasn't included in Topps' inaugural American Pie set. He pretty much embodies the term, if you ask me.

A zoomed-in example of Fidrych's very same '79 Topps photo was used for his 2001 American Pie piece.

While he might not have been the same "Bird" by 1979, the gold locks were still flowing.

"Catfish" Hunter's card in last year's Archives checklist was awesome for a few reasons.

For one thing, you don't see a whole lot of his cards around these days. Off the top of my head, I'm having a hard time naming any others he's had in the past few years. It's really a shame.

On top of that, "Catfish" never received a card in Topps' 1980 checklist. Although he did pitch in '79, Topps chose not to grant him a true "sunset" piece. As one of the game's all-time greats, I'll never know why.

But, in keeping with the theme of this post, Hunter's Archives card features the exact same shot that was used for his '76 Topps issue.

Topps zoomed in and refined it quite a bit (to the point where it almost looks like a night card), but it's indeed the very same photo.

And, yes, these are proudly displayed right next to each other in my Yankee binder.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

I think my personal favorite example of this phenomenon comes from this particular shot of "Tom Terrific".

His '76 Topps "Record Breaker" card is one of the stranger vintage pieces you'll find. Seaver's piercing stare is awesome in its own right, but that's not what makes it such an interesting issue.

Take a close look at the batter's helmet in the foreground. For whatever reason, it looks heavily airbrushed. Why Topps would choose to mess with the helmet of a fairly unidentifiable player is beyond me.

However, Seaver's 2008 Stadium Club card gives the collector a better look at the very same shot. It doesn't look airbrushed in the slightest this time around.

So, in conclusion...

I still don't know what the heck's going on with Seaver's original '76 issue.

But it's sure nice to see such a cool photo pop up on a more modern baseball card once again.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still wildly against Topps recycling the same photos over and over again of today's stars.

Still, if Topps wants to dip into their archives and reuse shots from old Sandy Koufax or Willie McCovey vintage pieces, they can be my guest.

Even in an era based on glossy cardboard and high-dollar inserts, these are kind of a throwback to the vintage days of the hobby.

That's always refreshing to see.


hiflew said...

The best thing about the Bowman Campanella is the lone fan in the yellow suit. I don't what it is, but I have always loved that about the card.

As far as the other 4, 2 bother me and 2 I like. The 2 I like are the Carew and the Fidrych because those 2 sets are are about the older players. If Topps wants to do a set of older players they should be allowed to, but I hate the mixing of older players with current players. It just gives the impression that modern players aren't good enough to support the set without having the "All Time Greats" hold it up.

Anonymous said...

It just looks as though the batting helmet in the actual photo is signficantly out of focus and they tried to clean that up in '76.