Topps Allen & Ginter: Making baseball irrelevant on baseball cards

Since returning to the hobby in 2007, I have come to love and hate Topps Allen & Ginter. True, I missed the 2006 incarnation of the set — which featured arguably the best checklist of autographs — but from 2007 to present, the set has featured a solid share of subjects who have intrigued me. But what I’ve come to love about the product — the non baseball subjects — has also sort of made me despise it.

I’m not among the segment of this hobby that hates baseball cards of people who do not play baseball. In fact, I actually like them quite a bit. Like this 2010 card of Sig Hansen, the captain of the Northwestern fishing vessel featured on the hit television show “Deadliest 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 ones like an air guitar champion, a skeet shooter, and a dancer shown in a viral video.

But what these guys/subjects have done to this baseball product is almost make the baseball players themselves irrelevant. People who pay high prices to bust these boxes are almost certainly looking for autographs, relics and rip cards that ultimately will net them a small sum akin to a winning lottery ticket. And unless you’re pulling an ultra rare card featuring a baseball player, it is the non-baseballers who will bring the most in return.

What that has done is created a mindset among many collectors who are disappointed to pull an autograph or relic of a baseball player when in fact they are buying a pack or box of baseball cards.  Should we really be disappointed to pull an autograph of up-and-comers like Clayton Kershaw and Ryan Braun? Truth is many are disappointed because they know what they’re getting with these guys — and for the most part the card’s value is no where near what we’re paying for the box. And sadly these feelings are legitimate because of the price for which this product sells.

The 2010 version of Allen & Ginter is no different that in years past. There are subjects on baseball cards who are not baseball players — and for the most part, they are the ones who will net the most cash in return. But as it turns out, perhaps the biggest draw this year happens to be a baseball player, none other than pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg. It’s an interesting twist considering the legacy of the product. Sadly, his inclusion has done little more than drive up the price of the product and create even more situations where most collectors are disappointed with their purchase.

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