Sad reality for the vintage Topps Million Giveaway

So the other day I made a stop at my local card shop to dig through the bargain vintage boxes. It had been a few months since I dug through these so I figured it was worth a shot since I was craving some old cardboard. As I thumbed through the decades-old cards encased in Card Saver I holders, I came upon a stack of 1955 and 1956 Topps cards and immediately thought of one of my best Topps Million redemption cards — 1956 Bob Friend.

I’ve redeemed about 15  of the Topps Million Giveaway redemptions and the first two cards I got were from the 1950s. I was proud to have pulled them. And then of course came this dose of reality at my local card shop. In the stack of 1956s was a copy of the same Bob Friend card I had pulled in my redemption. The price? $2. Yes, two freakin’ dollars!

I knew the Friend would not fetch me much if I wanted to sell it, but holding the same card in hand and knowing that it would cost me less than a pack of top loaders or 2010 Topps baseball (packs are up to $3 now at my LCS) was even further proof of how crazy things have gotten with this giveaway. If anyone pulls anything made before 1980, it seems like collectors rejoice. And if the card is from the 1950s, then the collector has struck virtual gold. Of course reality will show us that unless you’ve got a star card or a high number short print, the overwhelming majority of cards from even the 1950s can be had for just a few dollars.

I half contemplated buying the Friend but figured that would cheapen the experience of actually receiving the card from Topps sometime in the next two months. Instead I elected to buy two 1955 Topps cards for a buck each — Harvey Haddix and Dick Groat.

Neither of these cards are mint or worth a ton. But I figured that if I had pulled these through the Topps Million Giveaway I would be elated.

Haddix is the guy who lost a perfect game in the 13th inning of a 1959 game against the Braves. He also was a 20-game winner in 1953, a season in which he also threw 19 complete games.

Groat was the 1960 National League Most Valuable Player and is a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Yes, basketball. Groat arguably had a more accomplished basketball career than baseball. He was a stud at Duke University and was elected a United Press International Player of the Year in 1952. He was the third pick overall that same year, taken by the Fort Wayne Pistons of the NBA.

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9 Responses to “Sad reality for the vintage Topps Million Giveaway”

  1. Ah, yes, but we can hope our 50s and 60s cards in the Giveaway will be in REALLY nice shape, you know?

    • Yeah, we are all hoping Topps gives us nice, mint copies of these vintage cards. But facts are facts — the cards they are giving us came from dealers who have had them out on the market for years.

      While it’d be nice to own mint copies of every card, I’m not a condition-sensitive kind of collector hence my non-prejudice toward bad condition vintage. I can;t justify spending so much money on ONE great condition vintage card when I could have several vintage cards. Just my philosophy on collecting old stuff.

  2. I think for those of us who don’t have a “local card shop” that deals in vintage, the Million Card site is a fun little exercise. Sure, you can get a lot of these cards online, but when has it ever been so easy to get a vintage card? You just type in an address, click a button, and boom, a vintage card pops out. That’s the appeal.

    When it comes time to ask for some of my cards to be shipped, I’ll probably shop around and see if I can get the cards I want cheaper. But I’m not going to get crazy about it.

    • That’s a good point. I am fortunate enough to have a shop that has a ton of lesser condition vintage sitting around.

      Don’t get me wrong, I love the Topps Million Giveaway, just trying not to get too caught up in the hoopla. Of course a Topps rep today announced on Twitter that he actually held the 1952 Mantle that will be given away in a drawing. That always sets us into a frenzy.

  3. Yeah. Well I will say that for a card shop those are really nice prices. At the card shop I went to that same card would have been like 7 bucks and not in great shape (based on what I saw).

    But ya the excitement and reality don’t match. I think it’s more about the romance of collecting than the actual prize that makes everyone giddy. Somehow this very modern give away feels old fashion and innocent. Not sure why.

  4. Yes just because a card is from the 50’s doesn’t mean it will be worth more than a couple of bucks. The lottery is played by hundreds of thousands of people hoping to win big for their buck or whatever a lottery ticket costs. Topps Million is pretty much the same thing but a heck of a lot more fun for me. Nice pickups from your card shop, wish I had one around here.

  5. buckborden Says:

    It’s insane the prices folks are paying on eBay for a shot at what will most likely be a common. Insane. My card shop guy GIVES me redemption codes every time I go in there (probably because I’ve spent thousands paying his rent!). My best out of 70 redeemed codes is a 53 Marion Fricano, which if it is at least a PSA 8 might–and I stress MIGHT–be worth $50. I doubt it will be in good shape. It and the 69 Hoyt Wilhelm are the only cards I’ll be asking to have mailed to me. The rest are pure THIS. Topps can trash ‘em as far as I’m concerned.

  6. tom spitznogle Says:

    I think its great . and i say this because its a good way for kids to get intrested in vintage cards to keep the market strong and how many kids would buy a 1950 common ? but when they get one there excited and it sparks an intrist in the hobby that was never there its as simple if you dont like the program dont buy the cards or redeem them but sports cards use to be a kid thing then adults geared it up and up now look at where that has taken the hobby as a whole? now the cheapest packs you can buy are $2.00 and the most expensive are what $700-$800 this hobby was taken from the kids turned into a huge money game and now kids cant par-take in the hobby i think its great i have a bunch i wont redeem but i may to give to the neighborhood kids most commons go to kids and children hospitals for sick kids it brightens up there day and it keeps the hobby going as well and dont expect every code to be a 52 topps mantle or any mantle for that matter or any of those high dollar cards it wont happendealers sit on those cards until they get top dollar for them or they bought them to high or something every pull wont be a rare one just some thoughts

  7. i to redeemed about 17 cards from topps million card give away and took longer to get them than i thought but over all were in good shape vg to nm all from the 50s and early 60s so i am happy no reprints

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