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Old-timers would have gagged at cards of politicians

When Fleer and Donruss finally got the chance to wade in and compete with Topps in the baseball card arena 27 years ago, their designers did some innovative things in attempting to carve a niche for their respective companies.

For Fleer, that meant including a number of subsets that provided additional opportunities to picture star players, plus different checklists and some neat combination cards; Donruss opted for some daring card design stuff, a significant presence for the wonderful Dick Perez artwork and even a card of the San Diego Chicken. Presumably his rookie card.

After a couple of years, the pressure to provide something even more unusual got to the point where Fleer pushed the envelope even more, draping a rather scary-looking boa constrictor across Glenn Hubbard’s shoulders, or picturing the wacky Jay Johnstone in a Budweiser umbrella hat.

What seems pretty quaint stuff nowadays was looked at by a lot of hobby old-timers back then as something of a sacrilege. What would they have thought about including politicians?

Hell, we were disgusted that Ford Frick was the No. 1 card in the 1959 set, and that Warren Giles showed up at No. 200.

All this rambling comes amid word that Topps has added Gov. Sarah Palin to a 12-card insert set of presidential hopefuls called “Campaign 2008,” issued with its 2008 set. Since Joe Biden already had a card, Topps may have felt that the other candidate for vice president needed to be included. Either that or they decided to take advantage of the almost mind-numbing media coverage that has enveloped the controversial No. 2 on the Republican ticket.

Hard as it may be to believe, it gets even better. There’s a Sarah variation, too! Her regular card pictures her as she appears today at 44 years old. Her variation (shown) pictures her as an Alaskan beauty queen, and will have a limited print run. As they say, look for packs of 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights available nationwide in mid-October.

I have already asked my friend, Adonis, at the 7-11 store here in Iola to set aside the first case just for me. I am pumped.


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