Update: At least one copy of the card has been found — a collector pulled one from a box at Odyssey Cards & Comics in Katy, Texas. By 2:45 p.m., there were just three on eBay.
By CHRIS OLDS | Beckett Baseball | COMMENTARY
There’s no question which cards would be hottest out of the gates as the fifth installment of Topps‘ popular Allen & Ginter baseball card set officially arrives today.
It’s the last-second addition of a Stephen Strasburg mini card — and a redemption card for an autograph.
Both were expected to be short-printed cards, at least the autograph, with the mini card being at least as tough to find as any of the other 350-plus one-per-pack inserts are. (Ever try building that set out of packs? It takes work.)
But, as it turns out, the mini is proving to be a much tougher find.
We asked Brent Williams, an Arkansas-based dealer who specializes in breaking cases in bulk and selling sets, lots and other cards that he finds.
“Strasburg is NOT in Ginter,” he insisted early Wednesday morning. “I have done 25 cases — another guy 13, and another 15. Zero Strasburgs.
“This is just stupid. No autograph redemptions, either.”
That’s more than 7,000 packs opened by Williams alone — not one Strasburg.
Some Topps officials have stated to customers that the mini was not a Rip Card inclusion, nor was it a super short-print. However, by later Wednesday morning Williams said he had talked to even more dealers and collectors with a total surpassing 100 cases opened — that’s pushing 30,000 packs — and still no Strasburgs.
So, is it a collation problem? Or are the cards much, much more limited than previously believed? Could they be in retail packs still to come?
We’ll find out as once as a collector finds one. A message to Topps concerning the relative scarcity of the Strasburg was not returned earlier this week — before the hubbub on this card ignited as the empty mylar wrappers mounted Tuesday evening.
The unfortunate part of this whole equation is that for many collectors — particularly those not part of the prospecting crowd — this card would have been an easy buying/selling point for the product without being immensely rare or any tougher than any other mini card. Like 2010 Bowman showed, the interest and demand for Strasburg cards right now isn’t limited to the rarest of the rare or just the autographed cards. The reasonable possibility of landing a standard Strasburg card has had plenty of collectors buying more packs and boxes than they typically would — and it has created a healthy secondary market for unopened retail boxes.
Allen & Ginter has its own pre-made collecting base — one with different buying and selling habits (typically a long-term hold instead of a sale) — one that hasn’t perhaps tapped into Strasburg-mania just yet. The madness wouldn’t die down if the card in this product were easily attainable — not yet.
While it’s compelling to consider the possibilities if Strasburg is a retail-only inclusion in Ginter, I’d think it to be less likely among the potential scenarios.
But, again, Topps isn’t talking — perhaps you guys, the collectors, will have something to say?
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.