Friday, January 5, 2018
First thoughts on who's first
Here is a topic that I don't care about at all, but it involves making a list -- or rather, updating a list -- so it automatically makes it interesting to me.
Topps' Twitter site has begun stirring about the 2018 flagship set, showing a couple of very uninspiring images, in advance of the release date, which I believe is January 31st.
Before the first cards hit shelves, Topps will announce who will appear on card No. 1. The honoree will be the player who received the most votes in Topps' annual exercise, which has been going on for the last three years.
I've never voted in this because I don't care. I'd actually rather have Topps pick their own card No. 1 without having the masses get their runny noses all over the thing. But, either way, we're probably going to get Aaron Judge as the No. 1 card. I'd be stunned if anyone else is there.
I hope the Judge card will look better than the 2017 No. 1 card. In recent years, the first card has looked fairly decent, but the Kris Bryant flagship card (the first horizontal since 2010) is kind of a cropping disaster.
Judge's selection will be the 36th player to receive a solo card at the No. 1 Topps spot.
Here is a list of the first card in each year of Topps flagship:
1952 - Andy Pafko
1953 - Jackie Robinson
1954 - Ted Williams
1955 - Dusty Rhodes
1956 - Will Harridge, league president
1957 - Ted Williams
1958 - Ted Williams
1959 - Ford Frick, commissioner
1960 - Early Wynn
1961 - Dick Groat
1962 - Roger Maris
1963 - League Leaders (F. Robinson/Musial/Aaron)
1964 - League Leaders (Koufax/Ellsworth/Friend)
1965 - League Leaders (Oliva/Howard/B.Robinson)
1966 - Willie Mays
1967 - Frank Robinson/Hank Bauer/Brooks Robinson
1968 - League Leaders (Clemente/Gonzalez/Alou)
1969 - League Leaders (Yastrzemski/Cater/Oliva)
1970 - Mets team card
1971 - Orioles team card
1972 - Pirates team card
1973 - Babe Ruth/Hank Aaron/Willie Mays
1974 - Hank Aaron
1975 - Hank Aaron, Highlight
1976 - Hank Aaron, Record Breaker
1977 - League Leaders (Brett/Madlock)
1978 - Lou Brock, Record Breaker
1979 - League Leaders (Carew/Parker)
1980 - Carl Yastrzemski/Lou Brock, Highlight
1981 - League Leaders (Brett/Buckner)
1982 - Steve Carlton, Highlight
1983 - Tony Armas, Record Breaker
1984 - Steve Carlton, Highlight
1985 - Carlton Fisk, Record Breaker
1986 - Pete Rose
1987 - Roger Clemens, Record Breaker
1988 - Vince Coleman, Record Breaker
1989 - George Brett, Record Breaker
1990 - Nolan Ryan
1991 - Nolan Ryan
1992 - Nolan Ryan
1993 - Robin Yount
1994 - Mike Piazza
1995 - Frank Thomas
1996 - Tony Gwynn
1997 - Barry Bonds
1998 - Tony Gwynn
1999 - Roger Clemens
2000 - Mark McGwire
2001 - Cal Ripken Jr.
2002 - Pedro Martinez
2003 - Alex Rodriguez
2004 - Jim Thome
2005 - Alex Rodriguez
2006 - Alex Rodriguez
2007 - John Lackey
2008 - Alex Rodriguez
2009 - Alex Rodriguez
2010 - Prince Fielder
2011 - Ryan Braun
2012 - Ryan Braun
2013 - Bryce Harper
2014 - Mike Trout
2015 - Derek Jeter
2016 - Mike Trout
2017 - Kris Bryant
That John Lackey selection still looks out of place. Also, how about that three straight years of Brewers from 2010-12?
Alex Rodriguez still has the most solo cards at No. 1 and has appeared at No. 1 more times even when you factor in players who shared space with another player on a No. 1 card.
I come from an era when the first card was a specific reference to something that happened during the previous season, a record-breaking feat or league leaders. I prefer that over a base card of a particular star.
But, once again, that boat has sailed as there hasn't been that kind of a card at No. 1 since 1989.
If Aaron Judge's No. 1 card could be a record-breaker card, then I would enjoy that quite a bit.
Come on, Topps, there's going to be a dozen Judge cards in flagship anyway. Make card No. 1 a record breaker.