Behind The Wax: In Defense Of 2017’s Fan Favorites Autographs – In case you missed it, this past week has been rife with collectors (myself included) railing against Topps’ choices for their 2017 Archives Fan Favorites autograph checklist.
The Archives checklist has always been a hodge-podge, and purposefully so. While some collectors love the nostalgia (I pulled a Shawon Dunston auto in my first box ever), others see it as a useless product with mostly worthless names such as Tim Teufel and Bobby Thigpen.
Forget about the fact that the likes of Derek Jeter, Peter Gammons, and Hank Aaron are in this year’s throwback product. More importantly, some of the most reviled names in sports also have on-card autos in 2017 Topps Archives, including Skip Bayless, Zack Hample, & (gulp) Rob Manfred.
Of these, none it seems has infuriated collectors more than Hample, the notorious ball-hawk whose card lists him as “Baseball Collector.”
Hample not only has a reputation for pushing kids out of the way in his quest to shag foul balls at pro stadiums, he also notoriously lied, bought, or stole his way into a service members-only game held last year at Fort Bragg.
Collector backlash towards Hample’s card was widespread.
When Blowout Buzz posted the first images of Archives with a Zack Hample pic attached, it received more negative responses than the total responses Zack got when he himself posted the card, this despite having nearly 10x the followers of our friend Buzz.
Another collector, @allsweaty, ran a Twitter poll where only 15% of voters chose to keep a Hample autograph rather than destroy it in some violent way.
Finally there are my own rantings, which prompted such overwhelming response from collectors that I found myself unceremoniously blocked by Hample despite not even having tagged him in my initial conversation.
And yet, for all the personal disdain I feel seeing Hample on a Topps card (or Skip Bayless, or Rob Manfred, or Jim Edmonds), I do also have to applaud Topps for making that choice. Once.
We collectors demand innovation from our products. We demand companies do the same old thing and do new things all at once. We seek for nostalgia and a thrill when we open a pack of cards.
We don’t always see the dichotomy of those two emotions co-existing in a single experience.
Hample is an easy, polarizing example. Less simple perhaps is Jim Joyce, an umpire, a position a small handful of collectors may treasure seeing on cardboard while the masses quiver and bellow at the thought of a precious “hit” being wasted on an ump that once did their team wrong.
For me, baseball cards have always existed to bring me closer to the game. I appreciate Topps trying to find unique ways to bring collectors beyond the diamond and encompass the entire ballpark experience.
At the same time, I hope Topps listens to collectors’ reactions to a particular choice like Hample.
Being on a Topps card is an honor, and infamy doesn’t necessarily warrant such an honor.
Editor’s Note – Ivan’s ability to connect and engage with collectors is a true asset to the hobby. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Behind the Wax. However, the opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
Behind The Wax: In Defense Of 2017’s Fan Favorites Autographs
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