Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Images of 2017 Topps have started to float around the internet, and perhaps what I'm most taken aback by are the card backs.

In a marked departure from the norm, flip sides of this year's Topps feature Twitter handles and Instagram accounts instead of full career stats. As someone who treasures stats on the back of his cards, this is a saddening development.

One of the many reasons I love collecting is the fact that my collection is often educational. I know career stats can be easily accessed with a few clicks these days, but there's something special about stat lines on the back of a baseball card that just can't be found on a Baseball Reference page.

Sometimes, as a couple envelopes from Adam of the terrific "Infield Fly Rule" blog helped show, one lesson you can learn from cardboard is that absolutely no one -- or no company -- is flawless.

We expect perfection from our collection, but every once in a while you'll find a "Mark McGuire" in a pack of baseball cards.

I worry that card backs are becoming (or have already become) a thing of the past.

Of course, the fronts are the main focus of the industry, but that doesn't mean the flip sides should be a collecting ground for stuff like Twitter handles. Card backs are just as sacred.

Back in Upper Deck's heyday, they featured bonus photos, some of which were better than whatever was on the front.

I get more early '90s Upper Deck in trades than any other company/era in history.

While I already have about 90 percent of the singles I receive, a few new ones slip through the cracks every now and then.

Adam added a couple notches to my new Dexter Fowler collection with these envelopes.

It'll be rough seeing this guy as a St. Louis Cardinal in 2017.

A couple other '90s cards for the binders, including a new addition for my small collection in tribute to the late Doug Million.

Also present were hits to my player collections of arguably the two most popular first baseman to ever call Chicago home.

Sometimes fellow bloggers can even help educate me about the game I love so much.

I can't say I'd ever heard of Jeff Gray before Adam attached this note to Gray's 1992 Donruss issue. I followed his command to "look this guy up" and was left to wonder how I'd never heard Gray's story before.

Gray was enjoying a fine season in 1991 -- his third year in the bigs -- having launched himself into a pivotal role in the Red Sox bullpen with a 2.34 ERA going into late July. Sadly, on July 30, Gray suffered a stroke following a workout, one so serious that it had doctors wondering whether Gray would ever walk again. (It was, ironically, eleven years to the day of J.R. Richard's career-ending stroke.)

Gray attempted to make a comeback with the Red Sox but -- like J.R. Richard -- never again pitched in the big leagues, a sad end to a budding career. If nothing else, however, I'm glad I now know his story, thanks to Adam. It's a good reminder of the educational side of this hobby.

Baseball cards have, after all, taught me more about the game than anything I've ever seen on TV or Twitter.


Tony Burbs said...

I too learned something today, courtesy of this post. I'd never heard of Jeff Gray's story before either, nor had I heard about Doug Million either. Life is such a fragile thing.

Metallattorney said...

I've talked about Gray before on my blog. Very tragic story.

Mark Hoyle said...

I second Metallattorney. He was having a great year. Sad

John Miller said...

I'm bummed to learn of the Topps backs.

Hackenbush said...

Couple of nice Fowlers. Some of the Triple Plays were really good.

Adam Kaningher said...

Spreading knowledge in the Cardsphere, it's what I do.

William Regenthal said...

Hey, thanks for linking to my Doug Million post. I appreciate it, man.

Brian said...

It's such a bummer that Topps has the only license for MLB right now, because they've never been a photo on the back kind of company (with a couple exceptions). If Panini could use logos, I'd love for them to radically change their backs. Something to make them stand out.

shlabotnikreport said...

I would like to think I'd known about Jeff Grey and Doug Million at the time, but both stories took me completely by surprise now. I'd always assumed that Million was just some kid who didn't pan out. So tragic in both cases. Thanks for sharing.

Julie Owens said...

Topps needs licensed competition. 2017 Flagship is far worse than last year's release. Photography is often grainy; inserts boring - and the Twitter crap??? What is that? I find myself more drawn to vintage - pre-1950. Not exactly affordable but beautiful. I do enjoy 50s Topps but find that the old oddballs, Bowman and Leaf speak to my hobby heart.