Thursday, June 13, 2013
I'm about the last card collector you should talk to for the latest info on rookie prospects -- how many cards they have, what they're worth and who has them.
Don't know. Don't care.
But even someone as clueless as me can't help but notice how unusual this year's rookie card season is. Unlike some previous years, the hottest rookies this season -- Yasiel Puig and Evan Gattis -- have a pittance of cards. Puig has only two licensed cards that I know about (I only care about the licensed cards), and I have one of them. Gattis has only this thing. I know people are passing it off as a card, but I'm not sure it's really a card. And if I have to ponder whether it's a card, then it ain't a card.
Fortunately, I'm not a Braves fans, so I don't have to concern myself with a lack of Gattiseseseseses. But I feel for those who do. Cardboard Junkie fears there may be some licensing pankyhanky going on and that Gattis may never appear in anything legitimate.
Oof. That would be ugly.
I have no knowledge of these things, but I think we're going to come across more cases of this as everyone increasingly tries to grab their share of the licensing pie. In fact, the Gattis suggestion suddenly made me realize that there's already one prominent major leaguer playing today that you won't see on a Topps card.
The Orioles' Matt Wieters is not in Topps products because of his decision to sign an exclusive deal with Razor about five years ago. Upper Deck paid Razor to get Wieters in some 2009/2010 products. But now Razor is gone and Upper Deck baseball is gone and it appears that neither Wieters nor Topps are eager to make a deal.
If I was an Orioles fan, I would be absolutely sick over this. And you would see the "where's my Wieters card" topic mentioned on my blog so much you'd tell me to shut up. This would be so discouraging as a team collector and a set collector.
Licensing disputes with card companies are nothing new. Of fairly recent note there was Barry Bonds and Jason Varitek. Before that there was Rusty Staub. Way back, there were the Bowman/Topps fights of the '50s.
The only Dodger case that I can think of is Maury Wills, who except for a Fleer issue in 1963, didn't appear on cards until 1967. He didn't have a deal with Topps, so he was banished from its sets for the peak of his career.
I know technically he wasn't "banished" -- Wills had a hand in his removal -- but as a collector on the outside, I'm sure that's how I'd view it if I was collecting in the '60s. "Dirty Topps banished Maury Wills!"
Every once in awhile, I'll look at my Dodgers team sets from the '60s and see all of those great players and it will suddenly occur to me that there's no Wills card. And my heart will sink.
I can only image what it was like for Dodgers card collectors in the '60s. That would have driven me insane, not being able to find a Maury Wills card in 1965. I probably would have created one myself. In fact, if I had any photoshop skills, I'd make Wills cards for all those years he wasn't in a Topps set right now.
Fortunately, everyone came to their senses in the late '60s, and I now have Dodgers' Wills cards from 1970, 1971, 1972, as well as the fake '62 card Topps made for several post-career issues. And, of course, there are all of the tribute/retro sets. (Thank goodness for those retro sets. Having just four Dodger cards of Wills would be disgusting).
Wills and Staub are probably the closest cases to what Orioles fans are going through with Wieters. But I'm sure they're much more aware of the Wieters absence than Dodger collectors were with Wills or Expos collectors with Staub (speaking from experience, we weren't quite as observant as collectors are today).
And I wonder again how they don't wake up every day screaming, "Where's my Wieters card?????!!!!!!"
I suppose if you're a player collector this isn't that much of an issue today. You can find a Panini card or some other unlicensed card of your favorite player even if Topps refuses to make one. But for the traditional team and set collector, not having a set that somewhat accurately represents the team or teams of that period is like looking at a hole in your set.
"Where's the Wieters card?"
"I don't have one. He was banished."
Or, more accurately:
"I don't have one. He wanted more money."
Or, even more accurately:
"I don't have one. One company has an exclusive license."