The Bambino featured in Topps’ Living Set as the hundredth card
Most readers of this site know that there aren’t many post-war cards that I collect. And in the grand scheme of things, it’s difficult to even keep up with modern cards, let alone collect them. But the Topps Living set is one of the cooler projects out there, for my money. It’s also relevant to this set in that it includes pre-war players.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, each week, Topps releases three new players for the set. The catch is that players have only one card in the set (or, at least only one with a certain uniform) and that those cards are released for only a week. After that, collectors have to buy them on the secondary market. The other big thing to mention here is that there’s no completion date scheduled. Called a ‘Living Set,’ the idea is that new players will continue to be added for, well, forever. The card designs remain unchanged as the cards have a 1953 Topps layout.
This week (for a couple more days, anyway), Ruth is one of the three featured players. He was also given quite the honor as he was Card No. 100 in the set.
Now, personally, I’d have made him Card No. 1. He would have been the perfect player to kick off the set since he’s the most popular baseball player of all time. Instead, Topps chose to honor current player Aaron Judge as the first card, which could end up to be a bit of a dud if Judge’s career would suddenly spiral downward. Not that I’m expecting that or anything but only three years into his career, his long-term legacy is still unknown, obviously.
Nevertheless, Ruth getting into the set at No. 100 was a great idea, in my opinion. He clearly belongs and, if he wasn’t going to be in the first three cards (No. 3 would have been cool, since that was his uniform number), No. 100 is probably the next best thing.
Pre-war collectors that like seeing old players on new issues are probably a bit disappointed with the Living Set so far. Disappointed might be the wrong word. By saying they were disappointed would hint that they were planning to buy them and I don’t know that that’s the case. ‘Underwhelmed’ might be a better word choice. Only a few vintage players at all have been featured, including the likes of Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente. And besides Ruth, the only pre-war player included in the set to date is Ted Williams. Others will surely be coming as it will hard to leave out players such as Ty Cobb, Cy Young, and many more. But with 102 cards out right now and only two pre-war players, it’s been a slow trickle, obviously.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I can appreciate Topps’ quandary here. Vintage collectors aren’t probably the majority of people buying these cards. While the cards have an older design, Topps is mostly selecting current players as, my guess is that these are pursued mostly by modern collectors. That’s not to say that no vintage, or even pre-war, collectors are interested in them. But I think the majority of them are probably being sold to collectors buying current cards. And if that’s the case, it makes sense to use current players.
I might personally be interested in seeing more pre-war players on them but I don’t know how many modern collectors would be interested in a Living Set card of, say, Hal Chase or Chick Gandil. Collectors of newer cards want Aaron Judge, not Joe Judge. My guess is that Topps will hit the major stars from the pre-war era and that’s really going to be about it.
Still, it’s nice to see Ruth included in the set and on such a landmark number.