Take a look at this picture of two Brice Harper cards from the recently released Topps Five Star Baseball…
On the left we have the base card #’d 46/80 (that’s right – there are only 80 base cards of each player in this set) and on the right we have an autographed card of Bryce Harper #’d 060/150!!
Very nice cards, although both are a little chipped around the edges (don’t get me started!)
So what’s the big deal about these two cards that I should find the need to take up your valuable time?
Well if you look closely enough you’ll see that both cards are designated as Rookie cards!! And the problem with this is that I don’t believe that one of those cards should ever be classed as a Rookie!
The card on the right is an insert!! Surely…? It’s a certified autograph inserted at a completely different rate to the base card and with a completely different design to the base card!! The base card is the true RC… Has to be! Yet Topps sees fit to make them both Rookie cards!
Am I the only one out there that thinks there’s something slightly off with this?!?
The problem that we have here is indicative of how Topps seems to be treating Rookie cards these days… For me Rookie cards have been the driving force behind Baseball cards for years! Inserts of varying different types have arrived on the scene – from Refractors to Game-Used Memorabilia, and from Autographs to Cloth Stickers, and so on, and so on!!! But Rookie cards are still here as well… the only problem is that no-one seems to care any more!!
Sure… Who wouldn’t want to pull a 1/1 Dual Bat Barrel/Bat Knob Autographed Super-Refractor of Hammerin’ Hank? Fantastic!! Wow!!! Lets have a quick look at it… Mmmm, nice… Now into a top loader and bung it on eBay!!!
But weigh up this type of pull against the privilege of owning a 1954 Topps Hank Aaron RC? No contest surely?? We’re talking about owning a piece of history against a random flash-in-the-pan hit from a high-end box of Baseball cards.
The format of the modern Rookie card changed in 2006 when card companies (yes, there were more than one) started to designate official Baseball rookies with the MLB and MLBPA Rookie Card Logo. Under the new rules, a player becomes eligible for their first Rookie card when he first makes the 25-man roster of a MLB team and these guidelines were adopted to clarify any confusion for card collectors and Baseball fans!
Unfortunately the waters were muddied when Topps were still allowed to continue including prospects in their card products, resulting in further confusion as some collectors still see a players first appearance on a Baseball card as their Rookie card, regardless of any logo marking its ‘official’ designation.
I can’t help but feel that Rookie cards seem to be losing some of their potency and popularity. They just don’t carry the same weight as they used to do – which is a crying shame! Rookie cards need to be raised back to greatness once again! The Hobby needs to be seen to be embracing the Rookie card once more as an integral part of collecting! Collectors need to value a player’s Rookie over any potential box or case hit!
So what can we do about it?
Well Topps, if you’re listening, here’s a few ideas…
1. Sort out Bowman!! Too many releases with Bowman, Bowman Chrome and Bowman Draft. Consolidate all these into one BIG release after the season ends.
2. Get rid of the Prospects. While it’s nice to see future stars appearing on cards before they hit the Majors, all Prospect cards do is add confusion and clutter to an already confusing Rookie card market. This will remove any doubt as to which card is a players true Rookie card as it will appear in the same year as they make their MLB debut, not several years earlier as a Prospect card.
3. Stop adding the RC logo to parallels and inserts. Rookies shouldn’t be mini parallels, refractors, game-used relics or autographs (as per the example above). If a Rookie card is to be autographed then it should replace the the base card in the main set.
4. Make the Rookie card appear as one card (and one card only) in each release. In most instances this should always be the base card when and where applicable.
The important thing is to keep it simple!! Make life easier for us collectors who are trying to get hold of the Rookie cards of our favourite players! Only ONE Rookie per product, please!!
Rookie cards deserve to be held in much higher regard than they are being at the moment so let’s see things start to change!!
C’mon Topps!!! It’s all down to you!! Make us proud and show some love for the good ol’ Rookie Card!