Friday, September 26, 2014
If you think about it, checklists were one of the earliest means of cataloging one's collection.
Kids could fill in little boxes and see that, hey, they only needed Jeff Calhoun and Jim Acker to complete their 1986 Topps set!
The checklist cards themselves, though, really didn't need to be anything special. I'm sure thousands and thousands of people have tossed their nondescript checklists over the years. I'm one of them. I'm not a set builder, so I don't have much use for a baseball card without a picture on it.
I think some companies recognized that and tried to make their checklists at least a little more entertaining. They didn't have to, by any means. It's not like I minded checklists being full of blank boxes and random names because, well, they're checklists.
Nevertheless, I have managed to find my own little niche in the checklist industry.
Checklists today are actually pretty cool.
Almost all the ones you'll find in 2014 Topps feature awesome horizontal photography commemorating a specific milestone. Most are limited to big names (Harper, Puig, Trout, etc.), but that doesn't mean they can't be fun.
And, if we flip it over...
...we get the sacred checklist.
I think Topps slips about five or six different cards from the Highlights series into every set. You'll put together the full 330-card checklist if you manage to track each of them down.
Topps still puts the little blank boxes next to each name, but I doubt anyone still fills them in anymore.
Ain't no way anyone is writing on their cards these days.
It was a different story 50 years ago.
Kids wrote, scribbled on, and generally loved their checklists. The past owner(s) of this '67 Topps checklist evidently had big names like Podres and Brock in their collection. (The only unchecked cards I have from this bunch are Bud Harrelson and Al Downing.)
Cards like these are interesting pieces of history on their own. I don't mind standard Topps vintage that have been written or scrawled on in the past, but checklists are the only time I actually prefer it.
Blank checklists don't have a lot of intrigue.
Plus, to add icing on the cake, this one can double as a neat piece of my Jim Kaat collection.
Like the Kaat, floating heads on checklists are always preferred.
I found this one at the flea market a couple weeks ago and have loved it more and more with each passing day.
The Mick makes this checklist.
Collector's Choice played around with the "checklist milestone" thing back in the '90s.
This one commemorates Eddie Murray's ranking atop the all-time leaderboard in games played at first. The picture itself is memorable, but just look at all the different colors. Yellow, pink, black, green.
Certainly one of the grooviest checklists around.
Donruss stayed fairly low-key in the early '90s.
Because of that, one awesome innovation they introduced to the hobby tends to get overlooked. As far as I can tell, they were the first company to feature action shots on their checklists.
Most of them are miles better than anything in their standard set, which leaves me wondering why Donruss didn't simply make a Mike Bordick card out of this one.
Like anything else, checklists were gimmicked for a short time.
In 2006, Upper Deck short-printed a handful of the checklist cards in their Update series. I speak from experience in say that these things are nearly impossible to find. This Vlad is the only one I've come across in eight years.
That seems kind of counterintuitive to me.
Forgive me, UD, but doesn't short-printing a checklist kind of defeat the purpose of a checklist? How are you supposed to know what you need if you can't find out what's in the set in the first place?
Seems kind of stupid.
I guess I can't stay too mad at Upper Deck. The checklists in their 1993 release are some of my all-time favorites.
Turning a picture that includes Barry Bonds and Will Clark into something special isn't easy. But Upper Deck did it.
I don't know how, but they did.
With all the technology out there, I guess there's not a real need for actual cardboard checklists anymore. But yet they still exist. I'm glad they do.
Checklists are another area of the hobby that don't get appreciated as much as they probably should.
There's a whole wide world of them out there.