Came across this article in the NY Times this morning, from Saturday’s paper, about how Topps has seemingly altered their secret and unacknowledged numbering “system,” which apparently has assigned the number one card and the “double zero” (such as 100, 200, etc.) cards to “superior” players. For example, in 1969, some of the players with “double zero” were Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Bob Gibson, and Tony Oliva. So, even though Topps has never said that there’s a system, sharp-eyed card collectors knew there was. And so, if you were wondering if Tom Seaver was any good, one look at the back of his 1970 card would show you that he was #300, and so you would know, yes, Tom Seaver is a pretty good pitcher.
Their new non-system — which they also do not acknowledge (Topps, why so mysterious? Why so secretive? What are you trying to hide?) — seems a little odd. This year, apparently, the best players get to have the same card number as their uniform number. The example they give is Clayton Kershaw, who was a double zero card last year, but this year is card 22, because he wears 22 on his uniform. Other “lesser stars” are then assigned numbers like 122, and 222. (Not sure if these are other stars, or other stars who wear the number 22.)
Got it? Yes — down this road lies chaos. I’m not sure baseball will survive this scandal.
But then, I don’t know if their numbering system was ever a very valuable tool. I suppose, if you knew nothing about baseball and were collecting baseball cards, it would be helpful. But perhaps, now, that safety net is gone.
Because baseball cards are in the news, I will slap one of my old cards up here. Stan Musial died this year, and I was surprised to find out that I had a Stan Musial card in my collection.
This is a 1962 card. I’ve always liked that year’s design, with the faux wood background. You’ll note that he was card number 50 that year; perhaps Mr. Musial was a minor star of some sort, certainly not “double zero” worthy, but perhaps a well-known player to certain astute St. L. Cardinal fans. The drawing on the back seems to be of some other player, though. Doesn’t look much like Stan at all. I like the big hand coming out to greet “Stan” as he approaches the plate — almost as if it’s your hand, welcoming Stan home, to your collection.