Posts Tagged ‘book review’

topps shelf literature

April 26, 2008

I realize that it is still spring, but it isn’t too early to begin thinking about items to add to your Christmas list. No, not the list you use when shopping for friends and family, but rather the list you consult whenever someone asks what you are hoping Santa will leave under your tree.

If you are anything like me, you regularly get asked if you are sure you just want baseball cards AGAIN. Odds are that more than once you have replied, “Yes, I already have enough socks, thank you.”

Perhaps this item will throw your gift givers for a loop. It is called a book.

The title is Topps Baseball Cards: The Complete Picture Collection (A 35 Year History, 1951-1985). “Written” by Frank Slocum, the book contains an introduction by Sy Berger, and say hey… a forward by Willie Mays. Published by Warner Books in 1985, Topps Baseball Cards was and printed and bound by Mandarin Offset Marketing Ltd. in Hong Kong.

If you aren’t familiar with this book, but are intrigued so far, prepare to have your mind blown. This unbelievable manuscript contains images of the front side of one of every Topps baseball cards produced between 1951 and 1985. The images measure approximately 1.1875 by 1.75 inches, so inclusion of the back sides of the cards really wouldn’t have been feasible. No short printed pages either!

Topps Baseball Cards also contains a nifty index in the back to help you quickly locate the cards of your favorite players. Perhaps by now you are thinking that this thing would be perfect if it also contained lifetime Major League batting and pitching statistics of all of the players featured on the cards. Well… it does!

While sellers are offering “used” to “like new” copies of this out-of-print masterpiece on Amazon from $50 to $500 (I am not kidding!), I was able to pick up a copy on eBay for $21 that I have personally graded as “gently utilized.” Condition really wasn’t an issue for me as I intend to use this reference volume much like one would treat a rental car. Once Aardvark Trading Company opens a physical store, this book will be available for customers to thumb through on cold winter days while they ponder which vintage set they want to chase next.

This monster book measures 14.2 by 10.7 inches, with a wingspan of just over 20 inches while in flight. The 735 pages of this behemoth combined with the hardback cover minus the dust jacket (dust jackets should be illegal in the continental 48 states) weigh in at a lap-crushing 10.2 pounds; so make sure you have a desk, table or industrial-strength book stand handy whenever you decide to flip through this fabulous document.

Unfortunately, the size and weight of the book serve as adequate deterrents for most graphers who may entertain the notion of having players sign the images of their cards. Of course if Topps decides to reissue the book with retractable wheels and a handle, all bets are off.

When you stop to consider that this book will easily serve as that perfect stop-gap catch all for your baseball card collection until you manage to win the lottery and are in a position to put together your dream collection, I don’t think it is much of a stretch for me to claim this is probably the best possible nonfiction book you could add to your library. Certainly if you can think of a better reference book, I would love to hear about it.

So the next time you are standing in front of THE aisle in one of those major retail stores pondering dropping another twenty bucks for one of those rip-off repack boxes, you should also consider the alternative of adding another $20 to your investment fund to purchase your very own copy of Topps Baseball Cards in the condition that best fits your style. You will be glad you did!

– Kris