Friday, November 5, 2010

Sideways numbers

I was organizing my Jim Rice collection a few nights ago, starting with my not-quite-regulation 1975 Topps through my 2008 whatchamacallit. When I went looking for my 2005 Sp Authentic auto in Beckett, I found that Jim Rice had 337 cards issued in 2005.

337 cards.

He had 323 cards issued during his playing career. That includes a handful of stickers and pins listed in Beckett (but not a couple of cups listed there).

So a decade after Rice retired, he had more cards issued in his name that during his entire playing career in one year.

1975; 5
1976; 9
1977; 5
1978; 12
1979; 11
1980; 9
1981; 15
1982; 15
1983; 15
1984; 40
1985; 25
1986; 53
1987; 46
1988; 24
1989; 23
1990; 12

In 1991, he had one card, something called Pacific Senior League, which was issued after the Pacific Senior League had folded.

2 cards each in 1992 and 1993, then none until 1997, when the Pawtucket Red Sox put out a couple in his honor.

There was an increase in Rice cards, perhaps as companies began to sense that Rice was getting closer to the Hall of Fame, to which he was elected in 2009. Or maybe it was because Red Sox rooters are a loyal bunch, even if everyone seems to hate them (Red Sox fans) nowadays.

Looking at these numbers kind of threw me. On one hand, the more the merrier. On the other...

Sets Jim Rice appeared in in 2005;

Absolute Memorabila; 28 cards
Artifacts; 17 cards
Donruss Classics; 6 cards
Donruss Elite; 6 cards
Donruss Greats; 12 cards
Donruss Team Heros; 6 cards
Leaf Century Stamps; 20 cards
Leaf Certified Materials; 12 cards
Leaf Cleanup Crew; 2 cards
Leather and Lumber; 16 cards
National Pastime; 8 cards
SP Authentic; 8 cards
SP Legendary Cuts ;80 cards
SPx; 2 cards
Sweet Spot Classic; 7 cards
Throwback Threads; 8 cards
Timeless Treasures; 13 cards
Topps All-Time Fan Favorites; 3 cards
Topps Pristine Legends; 12 cards
Topps Rookie Club; 20 cards
UD Past Time Pennants; 7 cards
UD Portraits; 8 cards
Ultimate Signatures; 7 cards
Upper Deck Classics; 14 cards
Upper Deck Triology; 11 cards

Bear in mind, this is for a guy who had not actually made it into the Hall of Fame, and when he did make it in, people bitched about it.

So on one hand, I think, does anyone really need a set with 8 different number variations? And on the other, I think, man, how cool is that, 8 different numbered variations!

What say you, fellow collectors? Can you have too many cards, or were things on the right track back in 2005? I don't think there are enough sets being issued this year. Check that, I don't think there are enough companies issuing sets this year.

So how many cards are too many? Should there be sets with 80 different cards of one player? Or is a couple enough? Or should the base sets, collected by poor, easily confused grandmothers have 1 or 2 variations, and with the higher end sets, anything goes?

I guess it was just an eye opener, looking back at 2005, a year I was out of cards, and by then had been out of cards for a while.

Maybe that funny feeling I get when I see that magic number (337. Ok, not so magic) next to Jim Rice's name if longing, longing for a time when there was competition in baseball card land, and the companies involved put out quality products.

Those were the days, I guess.

For some perspective; all-time great Johnny Bench had 972 cards in 2005.


  1. I had that happen with Fred McGriff, though way way less cards obviously later on. Gary Sheffield was a similar case - he still played, but he'd have 1,000 cards a year the past few years with all the parallels and inserts and stuff, which is insane. So now I only collect 3 years of Sheff, 1987-1989. You could do a similar thing with Rice, aka only collect from his playing days or something.

    As for the Senior League, I have a few versions of those cards of Pete LaCock, who was also in that league. If you're ever curious, just search Senior League on my blog to see examples (not that COMC wouldn't give you examples as well, but they probably aren't someone as awesome as Pete LaCock).

  2. Wait, Senior League doesn't work - it's this post anyway: