News about Babe Ruth … and what’s so great about Mickey Mantle?

August 4, 2008 at 11:49 pm | Posted in Topps, Upper Deck | 3 Comments

According to the Sports Stuff blog at the Orlando Sentinel, Topps has signed a contract with Babe Ruth’s estate to gain the exclusive right to produce his cards. That means that you’ll only be able to get base cards, memorabilia cards, and cut autograph cards of Babe Ruth in Topps products.

So you can add the Bambino to the list of legends and Hall of Famers that are now exclusive to Topps: Jackie Robinson, Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Thurman Munson, Roy Campanella, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Cy Young, Mel Ott, Johnny Mize, Jimmie Foxx, Honus Wagner, Pee Wee Reese, George Sisler, Christy Mathewson, and of course, Mickey Mantle.

First, I want to say that I really don’t like the idea of exclusive contracts for retired players. I do like Razor’s exclusive contracts for draft picks, because it brings attention to a fledgling card company, reduces the supply of “pre-rookie” cards, and builds anticipation of the players’ true MLB rookie cards. I don’t like the idea for retired players because I am a fan of card sets that feature retired legends and Hall of Famers. As it stands, Upper Deck’s sets will suffer because of all of the players that they can’t include. It was already a shame that Mickey Mantle couldn’t be featured in the Yankee Stadium Legacy set, and now they’ll be even more restricted in the future. And don’t think that it will be smooth sailing for Topps either; I can almost guarantee you that Upper Deck is working on their own exclusive deals, which will hurt the quality of future Topps sets.

In any case, I hope that Topps is planning to reduce the massive “Mickey Mantle worship” that they’ve been shoving down collectors’ throats and start focusing on some of the other legends that they now have under contract. As a former Yankees fan, I still consider myself to be a fan of many of their legendary players, including Mantle, but they have gone way too far in their Mantle worship. Is it really necessary to devote card #7 to Mickey Mantle in nearly every Topps baseball product? Is it really necessary to produce a never-ending stream of Mantle inserts?

Don’t get me wrong, Mickey Mantle was a great player, but I’d be generous to say that he’s about the 20th best player of all time. However, if you’ve collected Topps cards in recent years, you’d think he was better than Babe Ruth! It is time for Topps to give more attention to other legendary players, and hopefully they’ll be doing that soon.

Here’s some free advice for Upper Deck. Get on the phone with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron and offer them whatever it takes to sign them to contracts, exclusive or otherwise. Mays and Aaron are without a doubt the two greatest living baseball players, and they could be huge assets for a card company. While there are only so many autographs of deceased players for the card companies to cut up, Mays and Aaron could sign an unlimited number of cards. Can you imagine how exciting it would be to open up a pack of cards and have a reasonable chance of getting an autograph from one of them? I think that demand would go through the roof! They don’t need to stop with Mays and Aaron; there are a ton of living Hall of Famers that could really help the card companies if they signed more certified autograph cards and were marketed to the fullest extent.

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3 Comments »

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  1. Informative report, thanks for posting. (And we totally agree with the sentiment about potential interest if they managed to put those HOF autographs in packs.)

  2. http://www.sportscardsuncensored.com/2008/06/brand-that-ruth-built.html

    Yeah, I had this shot called about three months ago. 🙂

    Either way, his stuff should not be cut up. There is no reason to destroy pieces of the game’s history for sports cards. Many of the ruth pieces have been sold to collectors in the past, but they never took a knife or saw to them.

  3. Good call Gellman. Not sure how you knew about this three months ago though; Topps announced it themselves yesterday.

    I understand your point about not wanting to see these historic relics cut up, but on the other hand, it gives regular collectors a chance to own a piece of a jersey or a bat from a guy like Babe Ruth when we could never afford to own the whole thing. Let’s hope that the day never comes when there are no more of these relics left, but I have a feeling there are many of them in private collections around the world.


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