1991 Topps Rookies Baseball Cards: Retail

1991 Topps Rookies RetailHere’s an interesting piece of history from 1991. I recently discovered this pack and found it to be somewhat peculiar. Let’s have a look at what we have here. This is a ‘retail only’ pack of 1991 Topps Rookies. This package wasn’t licensed by Topps but released under what was then known as Quality Baseball Cards, Inc. I know next to nothing about this cooperation but I will say this, they weren’t entirely in touch with the hobby in 1991. According to this pack, some of these “rookies” will be future hall of famers. If you look at this package from a purely marketing standpoint, it’s misleading and classifies as false advertising. I say this because upon review of this packs contents, although there are indeed some rookies in here, there is also a number of veterans seeded in as well. Quick note about the rookies in this pack, many of these guys have floated around the minor league farm system, some for as many as 10 years prior to 1991. With that in mind, let’s look at a complete list of the players:

Scott Aldred, John Barfield, Mike Benjamin, Greg Colebrunn, Scott Coolbaugh, Milt Cuyler, Jeff Gray, Dave Hollins, Daryl Irvine, Jeff Kaiser, Dana Kiecker, Jeff Manto, Mickey Morandini, Chris Nabholz, Francisco Oliveras, Vicente Palacios, Bill Sampen, David Segui, Anthony Telford, Sergio Valdez, Mike Walker and Craig Wilson.

Before we move onto the bold statements made on the back of this package, let me ask you this, you may have heard of some of these guys but do you think any of them will ever make it to the Hall of Fame? I’ve been in this hobby for a long time and the only name I even remotely recognize here is Mickey Morandini and I think that has something to do with the brief success of his 1988 Topps Traded USA card and the fact that he was an All-Star in 1995. Other than that minor stint, I know very little about the rest of these dudes. Judging by the stats on the backs of these cards, most of these guys didn’t amount to much on the field. Some of these guys even spent an entire decade being shuffled around the farm system. I do believe in blooming late but I don’t care who you are, if you’ve spent 10 years in the minors and you still haven’t been called up, It’s fair to say that the odds are stacks too far against you to have any chance at the Hall of Fame. But hey, you know what, I could just go with the overly used verbal cliché of ‘anything can happen.’ I think I’ll pass on that and just stick with my opinion by saying, none of these guys are HOF material. No hard feelings guys, it just wasn’t meant to be.
1991 Topps Rookies RetailI like this little bit of advertising due to it’s verbiage. The sentence just underneath the where is says baseball cards is incredibly unnecessarily. The players made it to the MLB, there really is no need to validate why/how, the fact is that they did. Whatever the reason, it was evaluated prior to the call up. I don’t know, I mean, this statement just goes without saying. When I first read this, I immediately thought about MLB licensed baseball cards and how they simply do not necessitate any need for follow-up statements in conjunction with the MLB logo. Why even print something as preposterous as this on a pack of major league baseball cards? When they show up in the hobby on major league baseball cards, it’s automatically known that they professional ball players. Just my $0.02.

1991 Topps Rookies RetailNote the hyperbole on the back panel of the package. It was likely meant to be taken seriously at the time but I think that in today’s market, it’s considered more satirical maybe even cheesy. As time has passed, this exaggerated statement became a lie, perhaps even a liability. My guess is that this type of claim was strictly meant to push the product and ideally increase profits. It’s just too bad this sales strategy was implemented during the over-saturation era. Even if there was a HOFer in there, (i.e., Chipper Jones), it won’t ever be worth more than a few bucks due to 1991’s production rate. If Jones was found in this pack, we wouldn’t be having this discussion anyways. I’m not sure if this strategy would work in today’s market due to the amount of skepticism in the hobby with regard to rookies. Time and again, year after year, the hobby hypes some superstar into super fame before he even hits the fields and by the time he completes his first game, he’s already considered a legend. That fact aside, this type of release might perform well in the retail environment if targeted to uninformed and out of touch parents during the holiday season when shopping for stocking stuffers last minute. In this context, this type of inflated statement might be substantiated. Personally, I would stay aware from making such claims for legal reasons but hey, it makes for an interesting product.

1991 Topps Rookies RetailSimilar in look to current POP promotions, this sticker displays sales jargon (i.e., Super Value) commonly found plastered all over the retail world. What I like about this particular sticker is the use of the word, ‘Centered!’ I’ve never and will likely never see this word used again on stickers for sports card packaging in the retail sector. I’m not sure what they want us to think when reading that word. Is it a claim that all of the cards in this pack are indeed, centered with respect to picture placement? Was Quality Baseball Cards, Inc. so ahead of it’s time that they foresaw the popularity of card grading and took it as a sign to use one of the four main grading qualifiers as a selling initiative to entice buyers? Even if that was the case, did the general public even care to notice in 1991? Why this word was used on this sticker in 1991 remains a mystery to say the least.

Due to the sheer amount of 1991 Topps that was produced, common cards (which comprise most of this set) aren’t worth but pennies on the dollar. I’ve known many collectors over the years that simply couldn’t move this stuff from their collections because there’s very little to no market value for ’91 Topps. In this instance, these guys just end up throwing this stuff in the trash. That said, perhaps a more realistic revision of the statement might read, ‘Someone’s Coming Out of the Pack and into the Garbage.’ Ha! Relax, it’s just cardboard…

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