Thursday, July 19, 2018

Ten years of being an Allen & Ginter fan


I don't remember exactly how I discovered Topps' reboot of the Allen & Ginter brand.

I know it was in 2008, but I didn't find out about it from the blogs. I was already buying some of the stuff enthusiastically by the time I started my own blog. So, I think I probably just found some packs in Target, thought to myself "this looks interesting" and brought them home.

I've been attached ever since. Although my appreciation for the product has ebbed and flowed over the last decade, I still look forward to Allen & Ginter's arrival every summer. The only annual card excitement that can touch A&G is when flagship makes its first appearance.

Since I first discovered A&G in '08, I have purchased its cards every year. I have completed A&G sets from 2008 through 2014. It is my opinion that A&G was never better than in 2008 (even though it started in 2006) and has kind of regressed since, but I remain a faithful fan of the style, the quirks and all the unexpected delights that go into the product.

(Every year someone doesn't hesitate to tell me how they don't like/understand Allen & Ginter. I simply don't have time for that kind of input. I think A&G is a riot. You don't like it? All I can do is shrug).

Today, my family and I enjoyed a delightful summer day by the lake. On the way back, we stopped at Target, my daughter's suggestion. I stopped at the card aisle, expecting to find Big League Baseball maybe. Instead, Allen & Ginter was fully stocked. Equipped with birthday cash, I bought one of those 3-pack value packs, a 14-card value pack (everything's got the word "value" on it) and a blaster.

Let's see what I got for the 10th year of A&G on this blog.

Three-pack value pack first because that's what I opened first:


PACK 1


96 - Wil Myers, Padres

This is the design for this year. I'm lukewarm about it at best. The paper-roll effect does not look realistic and it plain interferes with the design. Also, it that the cards have a yellowed or tinted effect on the borders.


248 - Aaron Nola, Phillies



FSRA-TE - Theo Epstein, relic card

Well, well.

I don't think I've ever pulled a hit so quickly in my entire life. Such an interesting one, too. Theo Epstein, as the Cubs' president of baseball operations, obviously, does not wear a uniform. Perhaps this is from some publicity uniform he wore? Or perhaps we are to take the back of the card literally when it says "This is a genuine Topps Allen & Ginter relic card that features memorabilia from Theo Epstein." Epstein does run the show. All the Cubs' equipment is from him, right?

Anyway, pretty cool. That was the highlight. You can stop reading now.


272 - Ryan McMahon, Rockies, A&G back mini



WT-12 - Yoenis Cespedes, Mets, World's Talent insert

This is the giant insert set for A&G this year.


PACK 2


#293 - Alex Verdugo, Dodgers

The first Dodger of the A&G season and the guy NOT traded for Manny Machado yesterday.



#250 - Bryce Harper, Nationals



#51 - J.D. Martinez, Red Sox



#317 - Mitch Haniger, Mariners


MM-2 - Europa, Magnificent Moons insert set

I like the design for these. Europa is a moon of Jupiter.


PACK 3


#231 - Michael Brantley, Indians


#36 - Trevor Story, Rockies



#20 - Joey Votto, Reds

Lots of All-Star Game flashbacks with these cards.



#350 - Jen-Ho Tseng, Cubs



MFF-8 - Claustrophobia, Folio of Fears mini insert

This insert set seems kind of cool in a creepy sort of way. I might want to collect it.


WGB-10 - Harbour Island (Bahamas), World's Greatest Beaches insert


The 3-pack value packs contain special gold-bordered minis as they have done the last few years. My three minis were not interesting at all:


Moving on.

The 14-card MORE VALUE pack was next. I'll show you most of the cards all at once:


Two former Dodgers in the top two spots. The middle guy is Phil Coyne, who has been a Pirates usher for more than 80 years.


The 10th card is a short-print, #322, Corey Dickerson.



The two full-size inserts are a World's Talent card of Javy Baez and a rosin bag card! I was looking forward to the Baseball Equipment of the Ages insert set. Kind of odd how they present the equipment, but there's probably only so much you can do.


The two minis are a rookie card of the Yankees' Gleyber Torres -- the card to get in Series 2 anyway -- and card from the Flags of Lost Nations insert set.

Next up is the blaster.

I'll show these cards together, pack by pack. It's been a long day.


PACK 1


#33 - Nicky Delmonico, White Sox
#209 - Fernando Rodney, Twins
#87 - Alex Wood, Dodgers (Yay!)
#301 - Whit Merrifield, Royals
BEA-11 - Vintage Baseball, Baseball Equipment of the Ages insert
MPR-13 - Baden 9 Kreuzer Error 1851, Postage Required mini insert


PACK 2


#131 - Greg Maddux, Braves
#241 - Jesse Winker, Reds
384 - Marine National Monument, Undersea Preserve
#178 - Jon Gray, Rockies
WT-21 - Max Kepler, Twins, World's Talent insert
#298 - Jameson Taillon, Pirates, A&G back mini


PACK 3


#296 - Taijuan Walker, Diamondbacks
#176 - Claire Smith, sportswriter
#92 - Barry Larkin, Reds
#350 - Jen-Ho Tseng, Cubs
WGB-9 - Cozumel (Mexico), World's Greatest Beaches insert
MIH-14 - Chief Pontiac, Indigenous Heroes mini insert

A couple of observations:

Claire Smith is a pioneering sportswriter for the New York Times. I remember reading her stories back in the '80s and then later as a young sportswriter in the mid-1990s.

The Tseng card is a dupe, not even a few packs into the A&G season. It's even a so-called short-print, which is annoying as hell.

PACK 4


#47 - Dansby Swanson, Braves
#269 - Phil Coyne, usher
#170 - Bradley Zimmer, Indians
#242 - Yoenis Cespedes, Mets
#FG-7 - Babe Ruth, Yankees, Fantasy Goldmine insert
#259 - Bomb Cyclone mini

Not even the excitement of getting a weather phenomenon card can wipe out the discouragement of two more dupes.

PACK 5


#189 - Ichiro, Mariners
#157 - Bill James, writer/statistician
#258 - Parker Bridwell, Angels
#317 - Mitch Haniger, Mariners (ANOTHER DUPE)
MM-1 - Moon (Earth), Magnificent Moons
MES-6 - Sumo Wrestling, Exotic Sports mini insert

I love the exotic sports mini inserts. Another great topic. I also love the Bill James card. I read everything I could by Bill James during the early 1980s, all his Abstract books. It's about time he has a card.

PACK 6


#102 - Josh Bell, Pirates
#206 - Paul Blackburn, Athletics
#169 - Mike Clevinger, Indians
#91 - Victor Caratini, Cubs
WT-19 - Manny Machado, DODGERS... er, Orioles
#221 - Jeff Bagwell, Astros mini


PACK 7


#255 - Willie Calhoun, Rangers
#85 - Mariano Rivera, Yankees
#140 - Alex Bregman, Astros
#311 - Dustin Fowler, Athletics
BEA-23 - Modern Baseball Sunglasses (featuring Bryce Harper!), Baseball Equipment of the Ages
#215 - Brandon Crawford, Giants, A&G back mini

That was a real ugly pack for a host of reasons. I just want to know if Bryce Harper collectors need to add this sunglasses card to their collection.

PACK 8


#93 - Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
#237 - Brian Anderson, Marlins
#294 - Steven Matz, Mets
#280 - Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!)
FG-46 - Rod Carew, Twins, Fantasy Goldmine insert
#312 - Carlos Santana, Phillies, mini insert

Very happy to see the Kershaw card. Almost has happy to see Carew as a Twin (instead of an Angel).

And that is your tour through Allen & Ginter to celebrate my 10th anniversary of opening the stuff.

I wrote about Allen & Ginter during one of my very first blog posts. I knew very little about the modern collecting landscape then or even how to write a blog post (it's painful for me to read). But you can tell my enthusiasm for the set is there and it has never truly left.

Welcome, another Allen & Ginter season. I've been with ya for 10 years. You must be doing something right.

11 comments:

  1. ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS – EXCEPT EUROPA

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  2. This may be my favorite A&G design, but it still doesn't move me enough to buy any packs. Too much non-baseball for this collector. I do enjoy seeing all the different insert sets though. Thanks for showing everything off!

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  3. I'm with Tom on this, I like the design this year but in general, I've never been a big fan of A&G, mainly because of the non-baseball content. I do like that Barry Larkin card though so I might have to track that down. I'll pick up other singles I want here and there as I come across them, but not going to be opening any packs this year.

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  4. So many things.
    First, there's also a Joc Pederson featured card in the equipment set. Will you need to collect that?
    Second, this opening has me REALLY worried. The exotic sports set is 25 cards large and is retail only... and you only pulled one. UGH... that's gonna be horrid to chase. They are really nice looking though!
    Third, after three boxes so far, that bomb cyclone mini is the only horizontal mini I've seen. It's also a completely different picture from that of the base card. Very odd.

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    Replies
    1. After I wrote this post, I discovered Kershaw's featured in the baseball superstitions insert set, so yeah, I guess I'll be collecting the Pederson and Kershaw ones!

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  5. I have to admit, the "Flags Of Lost Nations" set looks pretty cool.

    I wonder if Topps is going to create an international incident by grouping sumo wrestling with speed stacking, beer packing and quidditch.

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  6. Every year I tell myself that A&G's annual giant insert set is stupid...and yet every year I end up kinda liking the design. Those World Talents seem to stick to the trend. Kinda indifferent about the base look but I'll wait to judge too much until I have the cards in-hand. (Also, please keep me in mind if that Neshek mini doesn't crack your frankenset!)

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  7. That Flags of Lost Nations insert...I'll be chasing those. That's right up my alley. Back before WWII entire sets of flags were really popular. I'd like to see them make a comeback.

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  8. I thought the scroll/rolled up paper design element was a baseball bat at 1st, I think that would have been nice.

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  9. I know the past few years I've been bagging on Topps and their cheesy insert sets... but honestly outside of the awesome checklist, my favorite thing about A&G are the insert sets. Flags of Lost Nations and Exotic Sports? Yes, please.

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  10. Dear Topps: is there a Major League Baseball team in Detroit? I can no longer be certain of this with your products.

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