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All-Star Game Cards Always Popular Items

by Paul Angilly
July 20, 2004

Over the years, Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star Game has generated a great deal of interest and famous moments. While it pales in comparison to World Series memorabilia, the All-Star Game has been commemorated in all types of collectibles throughout the years -- including baseball cards.

As far back as 1958, Topps included a "Sport Magazine ’58 All-Star Selection" subset within its regular series, although those cards didn’t necessarily reflect players who actually appeared in the annual All-Star contest.

Topps recognized the actual All-Star Game participants from the previous season for the first time in 1974, with a nine-card subset in its regular issue that featured the A.L. and N.L. starters from each position side-by-side on the fronts. The backs included the box score and other highlights from the 1973 game.

The following year, Topps eliminated the All-Star subset but instead put a special "All-Star" designation on the front of the players’ regular cards -- while most players’ positions appeared inside a baseball design on the front, cards of 17 different All-Stars had their position listed inside a star underneath an "AL ALL STAR" or "NL ALL STAR" header.

Topps continued to designate the previous year’s All-Stars in a similar way through its 1981 set. Then, beginning in 1982 and continuing straight through to 1995, Topps again included an All-Star subset within its regular set, honoring starters from the previous year’s game.

In 1981, 1982 and 1983, Topps produced sets of cards on thick plastic (similar to credit cards). Known today as the Perma-Graphics Credit Cards sets, there was one main issue and one special All-Star set made each year. The Perma-Graphics All-Star sets each contained 18 cards picturing the starters from that year’s game, along with the player’s career All-Star Game statistics and highlights.

Also of interest to All-Star collectors are the 22-card glossy All-Star Game Commemorative sets that Topps produced from 1984 through 1991. The cards featured starters from the previous year’s All-Star Game, plus the managers and honorary team captains. The sets were issued as one-per-pack inserts in rack packs.

Perhaps the most comprehensive All-Star sets ever made were the ones issued by Donruss from 1986 to 1989. The sets included every player from the previous year’s All-Star Game, including managers and even cards picturing the stadiums where the games were played. The backs of the cards featured each player’s All-Star Game statistics, along with career highlights.

New Autograph Set: Due out a week from today is a new product from Topps geared toward long-time collectors who like autographed cards.

More than 150 retired ballplayers including the likes of Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Yogi Berra, George Brett, Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken Jr., Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Robin Yount, Duke Snider, Jim Palmer, Joe Morgan, Stan Musial and Paul Molitor will all be part of the Topps Originals-Signature Edition set.

Each pack of Topps Originals-Signature Edition will include one hand numbered Autographed Original Topps card enclosed in a tamper-evident case. Each card will also include the Topps 3M sticker, indicating that Topps witnessed every autograph in person -- the only company to do so with its autographed cards.

Each player has autographed an assortment of his own original classic Topps cards. And the handfuls of different autographed cards featuring their own sequentially numbering also adds increased collectibility to the product. For example, Aaron is signing a different amount of 1968 cards than the 1969 cards and the sequential numbering will reflect this difference. Each player has autographed just one copy of his rookie card.

Each pack of Topps Originals-Signature Edition carries a $50 suggested retail price.

Topps Offers Special Sets: To commemorate the 2004 All-Star Game, Topps will offer its 732-card 2004 Topps complete factory set in a special Houston Astros box. Not only will the box include the complete regular set, it will also include five exclusive cards featuring top Astros prospects.

The set was offered at the MLB All-Star FanFest in Houston, and is also available at www.topps.com and selected retail outlets.

Topps is also offering three other commemorative complete sets -- New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. Each of these sets will also include five exclusive Prospects cards.

The prospects include in the sets are: Houston Astros -- Brooks Conrad, Hector Gimenez, Kevin Davidson, Chris Burke and John Buck; New York Yankees -- Rudy Guillen, David Parrish, Brad Halsey, Hector Made and Robinson Cano; Boston Red Box -- David Murphy, Kevin Youkilis, Juan Cedeno, Matt Murton and Kenny Perez; and Chicago Cubs -- Bobby Brownlie, Felix Pie, Jon Connolly, David Kelton and Ricky Nolasco.

Three Uconn Players in Hoops Set: SA-GE HIT 2004-05 basketball, to be released next month, will prominently feature Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon and Diana Taurasi -- with Taurasi being the first woman featured in one of that company’s draft picks sets. All will be shown in their Huskies’ uniforms.

Among other players, the set will also include 6-foot-7 point guard Shaun Livingston, prep player Sebastian Telfair and college stars such as Arizona’s Andre Iguodala, Stanford’s Josh Childress, Wisconsin’s Devin Harris and Duke’s Luol Deng and Chris Duhon. All of those players -- including Okafor, Gordon and Taurasi -- were contracted to provide authentic autographs and jersey cards.

HIT is filled with authentic autographs and jersey cards with five autographed cards and one jersey card on average in every box. Also, every card is inserted into packs. There are no redemption cards. Product quantities are going to be limited.

About the author
Paul Angilly is a sports reporter for The Bristol Press in Connecticut, and has been collecting sports cards and memorabilia for 30 years. He is not a dealer, nor does he make a profit from buying and selling cards. His weekly sports card and memorabilia collecting column appears each week in The Bristol Press and several other daily newspapers in Connecticut.

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