Wednesday, August 12, 2015
A couple of years ago, Topps decided to number the first few cards of its flagship set according to the uniform numbers of the players. Anthony Rizzo wore No. 44 so his card number was 44, Andre Ethier wore No. 16 so his card number was 16, etc.
This is what is known as "being cute". But it was a conversation starter (boy, was it ever), and it enabled Topps to kick off its flagship with star power, or what I like to call "nine-pocket power".
Because the established players often wear numbers as low on the numerical scale as possible, the first nine cards in the 2013 set overflows with notable players as you can see here. They're not as notable as they could be because there are stars who wear double digit numbers, too, but in general, this page has significantly above-average nine-pocket power.
And it provokes the question, since a lot of collectors operate in a binder-and-page world: what's the best group of nine consecutively numbered cards?
The above nine cards are actually cards 1 through 10 because there is no No. 7 in the 2013 Topps set since Topps let its deal with the family of Mickey Mantle (the most famous No. 7 wearer ever) run out (I'm not sure why they can't just put someone else at card No. 7). So if we were going by a strict definition on what is the best group of nine consecutively numbered cards, 2013 Topps might be disqualified.
So what other options are out there? What page has the best nine-pocket power?
I don't know the answer to that. I have a job and a family, you know.
But I think I've come up with a pretty good candidate:
I was flipping through my 1972 Topps binder yesterday when I came across cards 433-441, which you see here.
That is one impressive page. Looking at that page is like wandering out onto the field during an All-Star Game in 1971.
That just might have the best nine-pocket power of all-time.
There is the back, so you know there's no funny business. (The Maury Wills In Action card, No. 438, is a new Nebulous 9 need, because I need one for the Dodger binders). I love those newspaper mastheads.
Now, 1972 Topps has a little built-in advantage because of the In Action cards. And '72 Topps tended to group the In Action cards together like this. And since the In Action cards generally feature stars, we have giants of the game exploding off the page like we do.
There are plenty of nine consecutively numbered cards that feature nine-pocket power that I would disqualify because it's a subset of some sort -- league leaders, record-breakers, what have you. 1976 Topps All-Time Greats, I'm looking at you.
But the hunt is on to see if there's anything that exceeds and the 1972 Topps page in nine-pocket power.
As an early start to research, my mind went right to 1993 Topps, which famously began the set with the biggest stars at that time.
But then it fizzled:
It's as if Topps inserted Jeff Tackett to throw off anyone who figured out what Topps was doing. "See? We're not grouping all the stars at the front of the set! Jeff Tackett!"
But this is a project to dive into in the future. I'm sure I'll find something that matches that 1972 Topps page, something from the 1950s or the 1990s, I'm guessing. I'll probably have to set a "minimum number of cards" stipulation because there are all those small 100-card-or-so sets from the last 15 years that are filled with almost nothing but stars.
That's nine-pocket power on steroids.
I'm looking for all-natural nine-pocket power.