Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I know someone who works at Topps

I bought another rack pack of Topps Update last weekend just because the usual panic over not yet owning any Dodgers from this set kicked in again.

A few cards through the rip, I came across this Derek Jeter All-Star card, and my first thought was, "oh, this is the card Sooz made."

Think how about how unique that thought was. That was the first time in more than 40 years of collecting cards that I have ever thought that. I actually now know someone who works at Topps.

I realize that I'm exaggerating somewhat here. I've never actually met Sooz in person. I've interacted with her on Twitter many times and on her blog A Cardboard Problem back in its heyday. I've entered a group break of hers and traded cards and notes through the mail a couple times. Some emails, too. I know her as well as anyone can collecting cards through the internet.

I also know that she didn't actually "make" that card. Like she says in her post about it, she had nothing to do with the design. But she did help select the photo of her favorite player and crop it.

These realizations will help me quiet down another exaggeration of mine -- the exaggerated expectation that a member of the card bloggerhood now working for Topps will suddenly change Topps into the kind of card company that I want it to be and make the kind of sets I want them to make.

This is unrealistic for these reasons:

1) I have no knowledge of how Topps works, but I'm assuming that Sooz is one employee among many. A new cog in a well-established machine. If she rises up the ranks into corporate, then we'll revisit this.

2) We bloggers don't know what we want. We have this grand vision of how the card collecting world should be and what new sets should look like, but the problem is it's one vision. There are other visions, too. I see different visions from mine on card blogs every day. Topps tries to accommodate many visions, which makes me sad, but probably makes some other collector happy. Last I knew, Sooz was mostly a player collector. I don't player-collect. How am I supposed to expect her hiring to suddenly transform the 2015 Topps set into 792 cards with middle relievers, fewer inserts and no short-prints?

3) I'm pretty sure that someone at Topps has been reading card blogs for quite awhile. Just because someone who used to regularly write a popular blog is working there now, doesn't mean Topps is going to drop its coffee in astonishment and say, "Wow! I never heard that before."

4) I can blame Topps' modern ways all I want for my growing disinterest in current cards, but the fact is I'm old enough that current cards pale in comparison with older cards. So my opinion about the current state of affairs is lacking heart.

That said, having "one of us" inside Topps is pretty cool and no doubt will help collectors in probably many ways if it hasn't helped already.

I'm proud of Sooz, as much as a distant card blogger can be, for moving from sportswriting to writing for Beckett to working for Topps (I hope she's writing some card backs, or will at some point). She's taken advantage of where she lives and her interests to get what she wants.

Working at Topps seems pretty ideal to an outsider. I think anyone who ever read "The Great American Baseball Card Flipping Trading and Bubble Gum Book" would agree with that.

I can't say I dream of working for Topps at One Whitehall Street anymore (I have a phobia about NYC traffic). But I'm sure at some point as a teenager or even as an adult, I would have sent in my resume.

The allure of actually creating a collectible baseball card is too strong. And that's why it's cool that I "know" someone who works at Topps.

As a kid I made my own baseball cards. Long before Topps was making 1975 tributes or Upper Deck was ripping off the '75 design, I was creating '75 themed cards of monsters or stuffed animals or my own baseball characters with scissors and index cards.

So, that's the appeal. Sooz is living out my childhood, in the adult world.

Just to reinforce the reminder of how cool that is, later in the rack pack I pulled this:

Hope the job is as spectacular as the 11-year-old me envisioned, Sooz.

Don't bury Topps' sets in Derek Jeter cards.

Although I see you've gotten a head start.


  1. "3) I'm pretty sure that someone at Topps has been reading card blogs for quite awhile."

    I'm sure, after about a week of my posts, that person said "where the hell is the 'unfollow' button?"

  2. I think Topps might have people read some blogs (such as yours) but I don't think I've ever seen any signs of them lurking on Nachos Grande (and who can blame them)?

  3. I read alllll the blog. Does that count?

  4. I wonder if she can tell me what all Virdon cards got the Topps 75th anniversary treatment. I have yet to see 1956-64 or the 1975 Yankees Team card. Maybe I can quit looking for them all together.