Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Nine-pocket power


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.

16 comments:

  1. I recall at one point pulling my '59 binder and trying to decide the best page in there. If I'm going to go dig it out I'm going to have to wait until the A/C repair guys clear the hallway. Yes, it was 105 today in Houston and out A/C is undergoing repairs.

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  2. Donruss was Famous (?) for loading with star players after the Diamond Kings and Rated Rookies in the 1980s

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  3. The knock against your 72 page is it has one vastly overrated yankee and 2 cards of a future loudmouthed one.

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    1. Well, if we're going with opinions here, I can just fill the page with my 9 favorite Dodgers and be done with it.

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    2. Wouldn't that just be a page from a Fleer set?

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  4. Are you looking for 9 consecutive numbers or 9 cards as they would appear on a normal set page (#1-9 and 10-18 would count, while 2-10 and 4-12 would not)? Either way, I would think the winner would probably be an All Star subset or perhaps the All Time All Stars from 1976 Topps. Interesting topic definitely.

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    1. And I just re-read where you disqualified those subsets. I really need to stop commenting until I read entire posts.

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  5. When I read your intro, I immediately thought of the power page from 1972 you show. Yeah, I think that's the king. Even without the In Action cards, it is hard to beat those five guys (Bench, Jackson, Wills, Williams, Munson). I did look at my beloved '73 set and there are three pages with three stars each: Gossage/F. Robinson/Jenkins, Hunter/Murcer/E. Mathews, and Jackson/Berra/T. John. But I don't think anything compares to '72 433-441.

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  6. John Bateman hit it on the nail with the 1980's Donruss sets. For example, 1985 Donruss has the following on one page (cards 55-63); Gary Carter, Buddy Bell, Reggie Jackson, Harold Baines, Ozzie Smith, Nolan Ryan, Mike Schmidt, Dave Parker, Tony Gwynn. I have to imagine that six Hall of Famers plus three Hall of Very Good members will be tough to beat.

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    1. That is exactly the page I was thinking of.

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  7. Topps did a 9-card preview set for the 1994 release (packaged in 1993 Factory sets). Jeff Tackett was one of the 9, along with Kenny Lofton, Wade Boggs, Juan Gonzalez, etc...

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  8. If we DQ LL, All-STar, and HL pages, I would think cards w/ In Action should be DQd as well.

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  9. Found it! 1988-89 Pacific Legends page . 220 card set so not a disqualified mini set. There are 3 or 4 pages that rank right there with your 72 Topps page the best in my opinion is Page 1 = Aaron/schoendist/Brooks Robinson/Appling/Woodling/Musial/Mantle/Ashburn/Kiner.

    Other montionables: Page 5 Wiliams/Minoso/Berra/Maruchal, Page 11 Dimaggio/Feler/Doby/Fingers/Kaline, Page 13 Groat/Spahn/Bench/Jackson/Hrbosky/Matthews/Cobb, Page 20 Foster/Gehrig/Kingman/Ruth/Weaver/Mize

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  10. I'm way too lazy to actually dig through my binders... but I'm very interested in reading everyone's comments. Damn... I'm starting to sound like one of my students.

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  11. Can 1952-56 Topps get a waiver and be considered for 8 pocket pages? I figure having one less card offsets the inherent vintage advantage.

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  12. The fourth page of 1956 Topps would be a close call: 25 - Ted Kluszewski, 30 - Jackie Robinson, 31 - Hank Aaron. Unfotunately, 33 - Roberto Clemente is the first card on page 5.

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