Skip to main content

The decline of baseball cards in a single pack

Don't you love my overly dramatic post titles?

I'm afraid you'll be disappointed if you're expecting some great truth to be revealed here. I'm just cleaning stuff off my desk this week that's been sitting there too long. This is a pack that was sent to me by Shane at Shoebox Legends.

But the pack got me thinking. I have the entire 1991 Topps Traded set already. But I couldn't tell you how I got it. I probably bought the whole thing for 14 cents somewhere. And those three previous sentences, my friends, is a commentary on how far baseball cards have fallen in the eyes of its collectors.

The 1991 Topps Traded set was issued 23 years ago. And it's treated with a dismissive shrug by many collectors. I let this pack sit unopened for weeks.

But if you were to hand me cards from 23 years ago when I was, say, in high school, I would flip out. Cards from 1959? Are you kidding me? These are the most precious items in the world!

That, to me, sums up how far baseball cards have fallen off their pedestal. Sure, there are still precious cards being made and coveted cards being made, but I don't know if a mere 23 years distance is enough for anyone to care anymore.

So, after throwing cold water all over everything, let's open this pack of cards!!!!

I'll try to say something happy over the next seven cards.

#101T - Ivan Rodriguez, Rangers, rookie card

Well, well. I think this is one of the PROMISING ROOKIES that the pack wrapper advertised so enthusiastically.

Outside of the Jason Giambi USA card, Rodriguez is the most valued card in the set, and I pulled it right out of the gate. 1991 Traded's trying to show me what it's got after all that bad-mouthing up top.

#60T - Reggie Jefferson, Indians

This card always bugged me because you can't see his face. It's much worse in person.

#67T - Pat Kelly, Yankees

One of three Pat Kellys to play in the majors.

This will always be Pat Kelly to me.

#83T - Phil Nevin, Team USA

These USA cards bored me back in the day, and I haven't progressed very much because they still bore me.

But mostly what I notice is how skinny Nevin is.

Here is Nevin in 2004:

And let's compare the vitals on the back:

I need to do a study on whether a 50-pound gain between college ball and mid-major league career is normal.

#18T - Tom Candiotti, Blue Jays

Candiotti is hiding it, but there's a knuckleball coming.

#12T - Mike Boddicker, Royals

I can't say I remember Boddicker as a Royal.

#115T - Franklin Stubbs, Brewers

Don't remember Stubbs as a Brewer either.

Well, that pack went south quickly.

I suppose the best thing I can say about 1991 Topps Traded is it might be the last set ever made on traditional gray cardboard (yes, that's a challenge -- knock yourself out).

I probably should respect it more just for that reason.

I'm sorry I said all those bad things about you '91 Traded.

(Anybody need these cards?)


Dave said…
Just curious... I've never seen the gray backed 1991 Topps Traded. Are they printed in the USA or in Ireland?
JediJeff said…
The '75 Pat Kelly? Yeah - I'll take that.
night owl said…
I think I have a beat up '75 Kelly mini somewhere.
Tony L. said…
Unfortunately, I DO remember Franklin Stubbs as a Brewers. He took over at first base futility from Greg Brock. It's like Milwaukee became a retirement home for Dodger first basemen.
Commishbob said…
Good stuff. I don't remember the traded sets from that time being sold in packs.

I have a factory sealed 1991 Topps Baseball Micro card set on the shelf in the top of my closet. I have no idea what it cost but the last time I looked there were some going for $2 on eBay I think.
Tom_of_Oregon said…
Phil Nevin's birth date is correct on the 2004 Finest (according to Baseball Reference, anyhow). That means you just pulled an error card. See? Better!
Anonymous said…
I gained about 40 pounds between college and now. I'm about the same age as Nevin in 2004 Finest. So that must mean it's normal right!
defgav said…
I've got the factory set of this.. one of the very few sets I've kept over the years. Swing and a miss for me as a cardboard investor. I should probably break up the set.. pull out the 4 or 5 cards I'd care about and jettison the rest.
I got the same kind of the same feeling the first time I heard "Janie's Got A Gun" on classic rock radio.
Classic rock is supposed to be "Dark Side of the Moon", not "Pump".
madding said…
Grey backed 1991 Topps Traded cards are from packs and printed in USA, while the factory set is the usual Ireland-made card stock we are all accustomed to from the '80s. Same goes with the 1990 Traded set. I'm not sure about 1992 or 1993, because I was started to fade from collecting at that point.
Mark Hoyle said…
Never even knew they sold it in packs. I think I bought it as a set. I don't think it's opened. Just sits on the shelf
Anonymous said…
I'm amused by the phrase "Promising Rookies". No, no, don't give me those, I want the other rookies, the ones without any promise!
BaseSetCalling said…
I need all of the Team USA cards. I bought a 'factory set' that someone pulled those out of. I like the box it came in … it looks somewhat print-advertising 50s-esque, with all the blurbs all over the box.