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A proper tribute

If I had held off just a couple more days, I could have done what I wanted to do, which was package both of my Project 2020 acquisitions in one post.

Little did I know that as I was writing about how I was still waiting for the one Project 2020 card that I had purchased (the other was a gift), that it was already on its way to me, likely being shipped out that very day.

Let's take a good look at the Project 2020 card that I wanted so much that I threw the required $19.99 at it:

My goodness, that's a beauty.

I'm not sure if one of the primary reasons I enjoy the card stands out against a black background, so here's another view:

Maybe that stands out a little better? I don't know.

The best view would be if I pulled it out of its magnet holder and scanned it in all its naked glory. But I've already decided that I will keep both the Koufax and the Robinson in their holders.

I plan to display the two cards -- and this is a first for me, because I do not have displays like this for my cards -- in those little stands atop one of my card shelves. It will be perfect -- the two Dodgers subjects in Project 2020, with just one artist's card of each of them.

Now for some super detailed analysis of this particular Robinson Project 2020 card and why I like it so much.

The card was created by artist Efdot, actual name Eric Friedensohn, who often focuses on murals and other illustrations. The elements that mark his creations are why I enjoy this card so much. He makes colorful art. And it's not very complex. He also tries to incorporate optimism in what he makes and I can see that here.

Efdot's take on the 1952 Topps Jackie Robinson card features the familiar Jackie Robinson portrait. But he has added a smaller picture of Robinson sliding inside a circle that is somewhat similar to the 1963 or 1983 Topps inset photos. Around the circle are the words: "Life is not a spectator sport." Ain't that the truth.

To the right of the sliding Robinson is a sign reading "justice," which is what Robinson was all about. To the right of Robinson's hat, and it's very light, is a fist thrust in a black power salute, evoking the famed 1968 Olympic Games track and field medal stand protest.

The bat that Robinson is holding on the '52 card is shattered in the Efdot piece. I'm assuming that is a reference to shattering the color barrier. Efdot also gave Robinson a couple of uniform patches. The one on his left shoulder is a U.S. Army collar pin, which cites Robinson's time in the Army. The patch on his right sleeve down in the corner is difficult to make out. But after determining it is a black panther head and doing a little research, I think it's a reference to Robinson's Army career as he was part of the 761st Tank Battalion, which was called the "Black Panthers".

The Dodgers logo on Robinson's '52 Topps card is replaced by a different logo with an image of Ebbets Field. In the border, it says "Brooklyn 1952," which I'm assuming is a reference to the card.

The most colorful part of the card is contained in the well-known '52 Topps name box. Robinson's name is simply "Jackie" in bright blue letters, except for the "CK" which is in red and stylized to recognize Robinson's Negro League career with the Kansas City Monarchs.

A colorful border with the same red-blue-yellow theme adds more of the neon element that I like so much in Efdot's work. Along the right side of the border, there is a blue M, which must be the reference to Robinson's minor league stay with the Montreal Royals in 1946. Down below that, are tiny sports balls, a baseball, basketball, football, and I'm not sure what the others are. They look like a tennis ball and a golf ball. Robinson was known for excelling in baseball, basketball, football and track in high school. He also was an avid golfer and played tennis, too.

At the bottom of the border in the left corner is the date, 4-15-47, which is the reason this card was created. It's the day Robinson made his big league debut and changed the world.

That is a lot of stuff to jam into a single image, but I think it works exceedingly well. Some may think it's a bit to showy, but I love it. It spoke to me the minute I saw it. And out of all the Project 2020 cards that have been made, it is the one I can justify purchasing. It seems to rise above the level of the other Project 2020 cards.

To me, this is a proper tribute of a well-known card.

Topps goes overboard with its "tributes" to famous cards in its history. I complained about that very fact in my first Project 2020 post and many other times in other posts.

It's simply not a tribute if you regurgitate the same card with a tweak here and there.

I have 10 other cards that riff off the '52 Robinson card in a half-hearted manner:

It all started in 1995 with Topps' Archives tribute to the 40th anniversary of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers team.

Then there was the 1997 Topps card, an All-Star Game Fanfest card on the 50th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier. (There is a similar card issued that year recognizing the 50th anniversary of Robinson's Rookie of the Year Award, I don't have that one).

In 2001, Topps celebrated its 50th anniversary with another 1952 Jackie Robinson tribute, as part of the Through the Years insert set.

Then, in a nice bit of redundancy, Topps released an Archives set in 2001 -- and issued another '52 Robinson-themed card. At least the cardboard was gray.

Still not done with 2001. Topps also issued "Archives Reserve" with chromed-out versions of the Archives cards. So this is the first shiny '52 Robinson tribute. There would be more. (Also, there's a chrome parallel of the Through the Years '52 Robinson).

In 2002, Topps placed a gold border around the '52 Robinson card with a stamp that recognizes the 50th anniversary of the 1952 World Series. I still don't know why Topps was recognizing the 1952 World Series. I wasn't collecting then. Maybe I missed something. (There is a chrome version of this, too, and a chrome refractor version).

Topps contained itself for nine long years before issuing another 1952 Robinson tribute during its 60th anniversary celebration. This was part of the 60 Years insert set.

There was a resurgence in Jackie Robinson cards in 2008 and 2009, continuing through today, which makes me think Topps struck upon a contract with the Robinson estate around this time.

In 2013, the most "different" version of the '52 Robinson card to date appeared in one of Topps' factory sets. There was no mistaking this gold-colored Robinson for the original, yet is one of the few '52 Robinson tributes where the word "reprint" is prominently shown.

It's getting fairly apparent now, that Topps' knee jerk reaction to anniversaries is making more tributes to well-known cards. The 65th anniversary came around in 2016 and so did another '52 Robinson tribute.

Not content with one '52 Robinson card in 2016, Topps issued one of the strangest sets I've seen on store shelves since I returned to the hobby. The 65th anniversary Topps Archives set presented images of past cards with a 1975-themed card back. Yup, '52 Robinson was part of that club.

So, that's a lot of 1952 Topps Robinson cards that are not the actual 1952 Topps Robinson card, which I do not own -- yet -- because it ain't cheap at all.

I have so many "faux" 1952 Robinsons that I can fill a whole 9-pocket page with them, which is something I've shown before on the blog.

I admit, that's pretty to view. But I'm already starting on a second page as I own 10 of them total. And, as I've already mentioned, there are other '52 Robinson reprints that I don't own. So, yeah, more and more '52 Robinsons that are not the '52 Robinson.

None of the Robinson reprints that Topps is determined to bury us in is a proper tribute to the card and the man, in my opinion.

I probably won't be truly satisfied until I own the actual 1952 Robinson.

But this ... this is a proper tribute.

Kudos to Topps here for bringing someone in who could figure out how to do that.

As a fellow blogger said to me the other day: "If you're going to buy one of the Project 2020 cards, this is the one to get."

Oh, by the way, next year is Topps' 70th anniversary.

Get ready for another '52 Jackie.


Elliptical Man said…
I think it's better than most of the other Project 2020 cards I've seen. Nice to get all that symbolism in there. Though I'd probably lose the Ebbetts Field logo.
John Bateman said…
Actually his first rip off card is in the 1983 Topps 1952 Reprint set.
gcrl said…
What a great card. Hopefully mine arrives soon.
Zippy Zappy said…
Very cool piece, the endless references that one single card makes to celebrate Jackie's life is incredible.
Fuji said…
Woohoo! They starting to ship out these things. Glad yours finally arrived. Looking forward to finally getting the two I picked up. I'd like to get a Jackie eventually. If I end up digging out another $20... it'll be the Ermsy when that's released.
Billy Kingsley said…
I really like that one! I'm glad you explained all the background because there's a LOT of history in this card. For a non-baseball guy like me I didn't pick up on all the references. They actually make me like it even more.
Matt said…
The usage of the Kansas City logo in his name is nothing short of brilliant!