New box cards!

Every month or so it seems like Jason and the rest of the Chicago SABR guys get together for a junk wax rip party. The rest of us on Twitter get to look on jealously as they post the pile of boxes to be ripped as well as the resulting haul. Their most-recent party included a few boxes of 1994 Topps Stickers and, much to my surprise, I realized that there were box cards on them.

Yes, box cards have existed for decades before the 1980s with Hostess in the 1970s, Post in the 1960s, Bazooka in the 50s and 60s, and Wheaties in the 50s (to name but a few). But the idea of having box cards on baseball card boxes was something that I thought first happened in 1985.

To be clear there is something special about the 1985 Donruss cards in how the box cards are of the same design as the rest of the set. That doesn’t take away anything from the fact that there were Topps cards on the 1984 Topps Stickers boxes though. There they were, box cards a year before I realized they existed.

As a box card lover I was suitably impressed and Jason was generous enough to offer to send me a panel. No Giants or Stanford guys in the set but I was also not at all picky. I will take any and all box card panels I can get.

The panel I got has two fan favorites in Bill Madlock (ex-Giant!) and Eddie Murray. It’s kind of a wonderfully awkward design. Blank backs and just a photo with the yellow bat looming over the players’ heads. For some reason Topps included the team and batting information outside of the cut lines too. Add in the weird border around the cut lines and you have something that may actually look better as intact panels.

Jason included a bunch of other cards in the mailing. The two highlights are a 1980 Squirt cover card and a 2022 Buster Posey Home Run Challenge card.

The Squirt looks like a boring cover card: corporate logos, “get three cards free with  purchase,” and “good while supplies last.” The back though is not what I expected at all. Instead we have a list of the active players with lifetime .300 batting averages.  It doesn’t look like there are any others versions out there though but I like that Topps actually did something interesting with this card. Also, despite the decline in batting for average in the modern game, a card like this in 2022 would still have eight guys and the highest average would be .310.

The Posey card is just hilarious. The idea is that you scratch off the code on the back and pick in which game you think Posey will hit a home run. If you guess correctly you win a special card. Kind of a fun gimmick except that Topps had to go to press before Posey retired so now this card is a guaranteed loser. Is definitely a fun one for the album though.

Nine cards from the 1990s (well one from 1989) including a bunch of 1994 O-Pee-Chees which I didn’t have. Never saw these as a kid. Not the hugest fan of the knocked-out team name but the laying effect OPC did is pretty neat. Not easy to do without computers. Probably not that easy to do with computers in 1994 either. The black is not overprinting the image and is instead getting trapped with it. Also I need to remind myself to keep this player name treatment in mind moving forward.

The last batch of cards is from the 2020s. I’m not entirely sure why the Patino is here unless it’s Jason giving me a hard time about him winning his first career game against the Giants (okay it could be the ponle acento action with the tilde). The rest of the cards though are obvious.

I actually do need the “2002” Mays and “1955” Irvin since I don’t collect Archives. Though that Irvin is the kind of thing I hate. I don’t like but can tolerate Topps reusing all of its designs.* I really hate it though when Topps essentially remakes a card with apparently zero awareness that it’s doing so. Monte Irvin on a 1955 design? That had better be saying something interesting about his existing 1955 Topps card.

*Tolerate even though I don’t like it. It fits in with a lot of the way my generation in particular has approached nostalgia as something to be strip mined, repackaged, and drained of all meaning through constant reuse and an inability to grow up into new perspectives. So many things—especially movies and TV shows—from my youth are getting remade with zero desire to actually look at them with new eyes. And in the rare instance someone tries to update a property to today’s standards or values, my generation loses its shit and has a hissy fit about our childhood being “ruined.”

And I need to mention again that the Heritage Mays features the fantastic Hamm’s Beer advertisement only with the beer colored red. I’ve assumed it’s because Topps doesn’t want to feature a beer advertisement in the same way that they changed all the cigarette references in their T206 remakes.

Very cool stuff Jason. Thanks!

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

2 thoughts on “New box cards!”

  1. 94 O PEE CHEE!!!! I actually really dig this little design. Like I said, it’s on the shortlist of things to recreate.

  2. I had never seen those 1994 OPC cards before. I know I was more into basketball that year… but I’m still kind of surprised it took me almost 30 years to see them.

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