Card of the Day: 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter Autographs Tommie Smith

It’s been four decades since Tommie Smith and John Carlos stepped on the track in Mexico City during the 1968 Olympics and made a “silent gesture” to the world. The image is one everyone has seen. The two black American athletes on the medal stand after the 200-meter dash with their glove-clad fists in the air, while Australian Peter Norman (Silver medalist) stood with them wearing the badge of the Olympic Project For Human Rights.

The Olympics and protests have gone hand-in-hand for the better part of a century, and with the 2008 Summer Olympics kicking off today, amid protests no less, I figured it was a good time to show off the 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter Tommie Smith card.

There’s Smith in his familiar pose; his signature in blue squeezed into the box at his belt. The pose is iconic, and in many regards, so is this card. There are just 200 copies of this signed version — it is one of the shortest printed cards in the set. But to be quite frank, I am surprised that a card such as this does not fetch more on the market — it can be had for about $50 — given the historical significance of Smith not only as an Olympic gold medalist, but also as a societal figure in the United States. Lest we forget that this autographed card hails from one of the most popular sets in the hobby

For me, this card was a must-have for two reasons: 1) Smith attended San Jose State University, my alma mater; and 2) the image used is a striking one that evokes emotion, not unlike a piece of art someone would pay thousands of dollars for.

The single fist in the air is a powerful symbol, regardless of your race, color or creed. And as it is used here, it is not a symbol of the Black Panthers, as commonly thought. It was a peaceful gesture to bring the world’s attention to the oppression that Blacks were facing in sport and society in the United States during this time.

And as we prepare to watch the Opening Ceremonies today in Beijing, there undoubtably will be efforts to spread certain messages because the world is watching. I just hope that those efforts, whatever they be, do not include acts of violence. We do not need a repeat of 1972.

2 Responses to “Card of the Day: 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter Autographs Tommie Smith”

  1. Wow – I didn’t even know this card existed. Good on Topps for making this, and thanks for opening my eyes about it. Very significant card.

  2. […] Catch.” And I loved that the 2007 line features an autograph and relic featuring Olympic Gold Medal Sprinter Tommie Smith, who in 1968 made history on the track and on the podium. Of course there are some other odd-ball […]

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