Monday, November 14, 2016

Here's the pitch


I made an assumption on my last post that I wanted to explore today.

The First Pitch inserts from the last two years of Flagship sets are my favorite recent inserts. They're not interesting enough for me to attempt to complete the sets, but they're interesting enough for me to write about them.

I still enjoy pop culture even though I know far less about it than I did 25 years ago. To give you an idea: I just found out yesterday that Tim Whatley of Seinfeld fame is also Walter White of Breaking Bad. But one of the reasons that Allen & Ginter has interested me all these years is its inclusion of pop culture subjects. The First Pitch insert set is Topps' attempt to do the same in flagship.

I have noted who has been included in the First Pitch cards and how many subjects I know (It's running at about 50 percent). Given that people who agree to throw out a first pitch may not be the biggest stars and also that Topps probably is required to run through a few hoops to gain permission to feature celebrity likenesses, I think the set has done a decent job.

One goal that is probably impossible is fairness in terms of the teams that are featured. It's just a given that some teams are more interested in putting celebrities on display than others.

The Dodgers, for example, reside closer to Hollywood than any other team. I've remembered celebrities in the Dodger Stadium stands for as long as I've been a fan. Before I knew Frank Sinatra was a singer, I knew him as that guy who always hung around Tommy Lasorda.

So, I just naturally assumed that Dodgers were featured on more First Pitch cards than any other team. I sure had to collect enough of them. And on the last post, I showed all of the Dodgers First Pitch cards from 2016:



That's a full eight cards. No other team could possibly match that, right?

Wrong.

Topps bumped the First Pitch total from 25 cards last year to 50 cards this year. That creates room for multiple celebrities for several teams.

There is one team that matches the Dodgers this year, the Mets. Eight people are shown throwing out the first pitch for the Mets in 2016 Topps, Abby Wambach, Gabrielle Giffords, Kristaps Porzingis, Victor Espinoza, Tim McGraw, Jimmy Kimmel, Jim Breuer and Edward Burns.

I suppose that's natural. New York is the city that never sleeps. (Although the Mets appeared on just one First-Pitch card in 2015 -- the famed 50 Cent card).

Two other teams came close to the Dodgers and Mets in terms of First Pitch cards in 2016, the Red Sox with seven, and, surprisingly, the Mariners with five.

In 2015, the First Pitch set was smaller, but both the Dodgers and Cubs produced five First Pitch cards for the most (the Cubs have just two in 2016).

If you take both the 2015 and 2016 sets together, there is one team that is far out in front.


Yup, the Dodgers

Here is the overall rundown:

Dodgers - 13
Mets - 9
Red Sox - 8
Cubs - 7
Mariners - 6
White Sox - 4
A's - 3
Giants - 3
Royals - 3
Tigers - 3
Angels - 2
Astros - 2
Blue Jays - 2
Cardinals - 2
Marlins - 2
Padres - 2
Braves - 1
Brewers - 1
Nationals - 1
Orioles - 1

After going through that list, you may notice some teams conspicuous by their absence. There are 10 of them. The Yankees is the most glaring. How would Yankee-loving Topps not add their team to an insert set?

My guess is because the Yankees, always so super-serious about their team, restrict first pitches to past Yankee greats. The First Pitch insert set is more about recognizing non-baseball players, so that's probably why.

The other teams that haven't been included are: the Diamondbacks, Indians, Phillies, Pirates, Rangers, Rays, Reds, Rockies and Twins.

I suppose this is a blessing and a curse for the teams left out. If you'd rather keep your collection to ballplayers, no worries. But you also miss out on some fun. I think it's a tremendous hoot that I have Frasier Crane, Lorraine Baines, The Dude and April Ludgate in my Dodgers binders.

Some of you may not be aware of all the people who have appeared in the First-Pitch sets, so I've compiled a list. I'm not going to explain to you who everyone is because I don't have the time or interest to look everyone up. But the list is there for you to go nuts.

2015 First Pitch

Jeff Bridges, Dodgers
Jack White, Tigers
McKayla Maroney, White Sox
Eddie Vedder, Cubs
Biz Markie, A's
Agnes McKee, Padres
Austin Mahone, Braves
Jermaine Jones, Dodgers
Tom Willis, Royals
Graham Elliot, Cubs
Tom Morello, Cubs
Macklemore, Mariners
Suzy, Dodgers
50 Cent, Mets
Meb Keflezighi, Red Sox

Kelsey Grammer, Dodgers
Chris Pratt, Cubs
Jon Hamm, Cardinals
Melissa McCarthy, Dodgers
Chelsea Handler, Cubs
Stan Lee, Giants
Lars Ulrich, Giants
Kevin Hart, White Sox
Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, Giants
Gabriel Iglesias, Marlins

2016 First Pitch

Abby Wambach, Mets
Gabrielle Giffords, Mets
Don Cherry, Blue Jays
Mo'ne Davis, Red Sox
Evelyn Jones, Mariners
Bree Morris, Angels
Jordan Spieth, Red Sox
Kristaps Porzingis, Mets
Victor Espinoza, Mets
Johnny Knoxville, Dodgers
James Taylor, Red Sox
Bud Selig, Brewers
LeVar Burton, White Sox
Hayley Atwell, Royals
Bill Withers, Mariners
Steve Aoki, Dodgers
Carrie Brownstein, Mariners
Rebekah Gregory, Astros
Tony Hawk, Padres
IronE Singleton, Marlins

Tim McGraw, Mets
Jimmy Kimmel, Mets
Rosie Rios, A's
Billy Joe Armstrong, A's
Nina Agdal, Angels
Jeff Tweedy, Cardinals
Jim Harbaugh, Tigers
Jim Breuer, Mets
Spencer Stone, Nationals
Kyle Larson, Red Sox
Miguel Cotto, Dodgers
Tom Watson, Royals
Edward Burns, Mets
Geoff Britten, Orioles
Lea Thompson, Dodgers
Jim Caviezel, Mariners
George H.W. Bush, Astros
J.K. Simmons, Tigers
Kendrick Lamar, Dodgers
David Hearn, Blue Jays

Jeff Bauman, Red Sox
Jake Gyllenhaal, Red Sox
Warren G, Cubs
Brady Kahle, Red Sox
Keith Urban, Dodgers
Aubrey Plaza, Dodgers
Chance the Rapper, White Sox
Burke Waldron, Mariners
Craig Sager, Cubs
JoJo Fletcher, Dodgers




Conceivably, this could be an insert set that lasts forever. There will always be celebrities and first-pitches. I don't see people not being interested in them anytime soon.

As for me, I'll just take the Dodgers. There's plenty there to keep me away from the celebrity rags in the checkout line.

16 comments:

  1. Love the card of Grapes, never even knew that existed. That might be something I have to pick up and add him as an honorary Blue Jay.

    I have 3 more '56s coming your way, hopefully have them out this Saturday in the mail...

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  2. I have a similar post sitting in my draft queue, but yours is much more comprehensive. This is easily my favorite insert set out of the basic Topps product.

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  3. The Don Cherry is one I need to pick up.. I may have to get the other one as well..

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  4. I need to locate a copy of the Kyle Larson and kristaps porzingis cards. I got the Craig Sager one last week. I like the concept of the set.

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  5. You have Carrie Brownstein listed as Carrie Bradshaw, who is fictional.

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    1. Fixed. Must've been a spell check thing. I had to look up who Carrie Bradshaw was.

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  6. Kudos for Topps for an original idea for an insert set! Whoever thought these up deserves a promotion.

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    1. Thanks. These prove to me that Topps listens to collectors, sometimes.

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  7. I really like this set too. Didn't realize the set is up to 50 cards... but the more, the merrier, right? Off the top of my head, the only set I enjoy more are the mascots out of Opening Day.

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  8. The Pirates don't have a ton of celebrity fans. The most notable right now is probably Michael Keaton.

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  9. I guess my "pop-culture" knowledge is a little weak. I only recognized 21 of the names. I am surprised that Tim McGraw did a Mets card. He used to be a Braves fan.

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  10. My favorite of the set is the Carrie Brownstein card. Rock-n-roll star, extraordinarily funny, and looks good in a Mariners uniform!

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  11. As kids these were cards we would have chucked.I still chuck em' today.

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  12. Last year I was so-so about the this set. This year I got more interested. Now I feel the need to complete both years, even if my Nationals only have one card. I have one maybe two of these I think. UGH I don't even know that. I guess I'll need to hit COMC or Sportlots again for these sets.

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  13. Dang it Night Owl, you listed a boxer in the Dodgers first pitch inserts. Now I have another boxing card to chase.

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