NOT authorized by Major League Baseball or its Member Teams
This piece will not show the logos of MLB teams, nor their team names, only the cities. Okay, not really, as I am not sponsored by Upper Deck (as Bernal might be).
Whatever might I be referring to? For my birthday (last week), I got baseball cards. Since I was about 8 years old, when asked what I wanted for my birthday, I have always said “Baseball Cards”. And I have usually gotten them. Even when I get some, I always buy some for myself. With all the different brands and levels of cards, I prefer to stay traditional and go with the standard Topps series. It is being produced in Series I and II again these days, and is still my favorite. Nonetheless, ever since 1981 when Donruss and Fleer put cards out, I collected those sets, when Topps lost their monopoly on baseball cards. You don’t have to know much about the baseball card industry to know that that was the beginning of the end.
Donruss, Fleer, then Score and Upper Deck, as well as Topps, dumped untold millions of cards into the market, making them less and less “something”. You can get cases of cards from the late 1980s for $5. Not packs or boxes. CASES. Soon there were all different levels of cards - refractor, chase cards and so on. Boringly, I have always plodded forth with Topps regular sets, hand-collated, of course. Hand-collated means opening lots of packs and lots of doubles, but the opening of a pack and seeing what quality a pack has still brings a smile to my face, like Anton Ego warmly eating his childhood comfort food.
This year was different. My mother still gives me baseball cards. She always worries that she will get me “the wrong kind”, and I always assure her there are no wrong kinds - they are baseball cards. I opened my gift from her and it was five packs of 2010 Topps Series I, 2010 Upper Deck Series I, and eight dealer bundled packs. The eight dealer packs, varying from fifteen to forty cards, were apparently ALL Atlanta Braves cards. The first pack I flipped through was seventeen different Andruw Jones cards. I was starting to think Sam H. put her up to this. Next was a pack with fifteen Tom Glavine cards and ten Kevin Millwood cards - all with the Braves. Chuckling yet? How about forty Andres Galarraga cards? Thankfully, there were some Rockies cards and two Expos (Upper Deck 91, 92) cards. Then another dozen Andruw Jones cards. Variety then picked up - fifteen Javy Lopez and fifteen Chipper Jones. Oooh, another pitcher collection - thirteen Greg Maddux cards and seven John Rocker cards! Another Galarraga pack, but this just has twelve Big Cat cards and then a dozen Walt Weiss cards - again, with a few Rockies cards. The last pack starts good, as the cover card is Brian Jordan. Amazingly, the entire pack is Brian Jordan, and for good measure a handful are when he was with the Cardinals. Mom, I apologize. When I said there were no wrong kinds of baseball cards - you proved me wrong. These were the wrong kinds. And I just got 185 of them.
I still haven’t gotten to the point, have I? I moved past that to open the Topps cards. In one pack I got Mickey Mantle (card number 7, of course), and a “Tales of the Game” of “The Flip”. Now that was a nice pack. I got the Yankees and Dodgers Franchise history cards, and a replica ‘51 Blue Back of Honus Wagner (that goes for a double!). Mom was disappointed there was no gum in the packs. Nothing else too exciting, but replicas of the 1965 Juan Marichal and 1966 Jim Palmer. I moved on to the Upper Deck cards.
It may not be readily apparent to many people, but it immediately struck me as odd. In every photo, the team name was obscured. Pitchers’ photos were usually from the back. The catchers had on a chest protector. The fielder or hitter had his arm across his chest. Generally, the hat emblem wasn’t clear. Maybe that’s just the photos they got. Maybe. Then I look at the “team”. Joe Mauer - Minnesota. Jayson Werth - Philadelphia, D.J. Carrasco - Chicago. Nowhere on the back does it mention the team. Not once does it say Twins, Phillies or WhiteSox/Cubs. He plays for the White Sox, FYI. After a bit more looking, I did see a couple of references to team names ([Ricky] “Romero shut down the Rays on 7/1/09”).
That’s when I saw it. Down at the bottom of the cards, each of them, is printed “NOT authorized by Major League Baseball or its Member Teams”. There is no MLB logo on the cards. There is a Players Association logo. It is quite strange to look at cards and see, well, not what I expect to see. I am sure I read about it six months ago, but seeing it on glossy white card stock really brought it home.
Posted: February 13, 2010 at 05:01 AM | 40 comment(s)
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