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Griffey retires as all-time leader ...


And speaking of only buying stuff you really enjoy rather than to include as part of your stock portfolio, what are we to make of a number tossed out on Chis Olds’ blog on

Actually, there are two numbers: 13,252 and 1,224. Those are the numbers of different Ken Griffey Jr. cards produced over the course of his career, with the smaller figure being the number of different autographed cards from the same span.

Think about that for a moment, let the number kind of sink in a bit. Thirteen thousand, two hundred and fifty-two cards. I can't tell if I like it better spelled out that way or in numerals, but either way I am pretty sure that, like the national debt, the scale of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the continuing popularity of something called Lady Gaga, there’s absolutely no way on Earth than I can begin to comprehend it.

I can, however, imagine it being a useful number for everyone to have handy when someone from outside our cloistered little group asks the question, “What’s happened to the baseball card hobby?”

I know the number doesn’t seem too goofy to some, especially younger types who grew up over the last two decades in the Bizarro World of modern card collecting. When there are 80 different baseball card sets produced in a single annum (think the late 1990s), the idea of maybe 600 different cards of a single player doesn’t necessarily sound quite as insane as it might have otherwise. But that’s an illusion. It really is insane.

That 600, by the way, came from me and my handy-dandy circa 1987 teenie-weenie plastic calculator, and it represents Griffey’s per-annum average over his 22 seasons.

And it’s not over yet, for there certainly will be additional Griffey pasteboards in years to come, including several more from this year and whatever post-retirement versions spring forth in the years to come.

Griffey may be the all-time champion in that regard, but Derek Jeter might have been able to mount a challenge had the number of companies producing baseball cards not been so decisively pared down over the last couple of years.

And there may be some comfort in knowing that there are still records that can be challenged post-mortem, but there’s something telling me that nobody is ever going to offer much of a threat to Mickey Mantle in that regard. Short of a number of illustrious figures from the various religions around the globe, probably nobody has ever had their mug as widely disseminated as Mickey has in the years following his death, and he’s only been gone 15 years.