2017 Topps Baseball Brings #7 Out of Retirement (And It’s Not Mickey Mantle)

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1952 Topps Mickey Mantle

By Ryan Cracknell | Hobby Editor

The flagship Topps baseball set is one that’s rooted in tradition. Even as hallmarks evolve, any bit of change in the set is met with scrutiny because it changes that tradition.

With that, 2017 Topps Baseball is changing course on something that has been in place for two decades. To honor Mickey Mantle following his passing, #7 on the base set checklist (Mantle’s jersey number) has belonged to the Yankees legend — or nobody — since 1996.

Although Topps doesn’t have a deal in place with Mantle’s estate, the card maker has unretired the number. Gary Sanchez becomes the first player other than Mantle to be #7 since 1995 Topps Baseball.

In 1996, Topps honored Mantle with a memorial card and announced #7 was retired. It was similar to how a team retires a jersey number. Between 1997 and 2005, the flagship Topps set left #7 off the checklist. It was only the main release that this applied to, not inserts or other brands.

From 2006 to 2012, #7 came back but it was reserved for the Hall of Famer. Topps had reached an agreement with Mantle’s family for their products. Mantle was included in the set using the current design.

However, that deal ran out in 2013 and there haven’t been any Topps Mantle cards since.

With the return of #7, it means no more empty spots in nine-pocket pages or in boxes with sets. While the move was originally made out of respect to one of the most important figures in the hobby’s history, it also created some confusion, particularly in more recent years. Newer collectors may not have known about the missing spot or the reason why.

But now it’s back, albeit with a different face.

“This is such an exciting time for baseball fans with such a strong and impressive young group of players as the face of MLB right now. After more than 20 years, we wanted to offer the spot of Card No. 7 to a young, emerging star, but we also wanted it to still be a New York Yankee. Gary Sanchez is part of a re-emergence for the Yankees. He is bringing that magic and mystique back to the team, and was a natural fit for Card No. 7,” said Kevin Eger, Topps Brand Manager.

What do you think of Topps bringing back #7? Let us know in the comments below or tag us on Twitter.

Comments? Questions? Contact Ryan Cracknell on Twitter @tradercracks.

When you click on links to various merchants on this site, like eBay, and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission.

Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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  1. JDonovan 27 January, 2017 at 15:25

    Good. I appreciate the sentiment of the original idea, but have always hated needing to put a filler card in the bottom left corner of my front page in order to keep numbers aligned correctly.

  2. Bill 27 January, 2017 at 19:58

    This is horrible news. I can’t believe Topps would disrespect Mickey Mantle like that. They originally retired the number “forever” … guess they actually meant 21 years. Sad.

  3. Raylon Ruggles 28 January, 2017 at 09:06

    I just wish Topps continued with Mantle’s cards with their base sets as #7. I’m sure Topps has a library of photos that no one has ever seen or released in public over the years.

    • Ryan Cracknell 30 January, 2017 at 11:12

      Raylon > If it were as easy as that, they probably would. Mantle is a draw. However, they need a license from Mantle’s estate to use his image. May be a case where Topps isn’t in complete control or price is too high.

  4. Mitch 29 January, 2017 at 10:49

    That stinks. Retired means retired. It’s not all that confusing to most intelligent card collectors and I’m sure the concerns of an ‘open spot on a nine pocket page’ isn’t such a big deal, but only can be used to physically illustrate the emptiness felt with the passing of someone that was important and synominous with the hobby. Seems Topps is more focused on the monetary value and not the sentimental value of the original and thoughtful gesture. Topps … you’re truly showing your ignorance by reneging a retirement. How would the country feel if MLB un-retired #42?
    The more and more Topps does stupid stuff like this, the more and more I’m attracted to Panini.

  5. John Bateman 29 January, 2017 at 16:01

    Good idea, they never should have retired in the first place but got caught up in the moment back in 1996. Mantle was not number 7 in the 1952 set.

  6. Zeprock 30 January, 2017 at 08:27

    Retired means retired. You should not be able to “unretire” a number. No team has ever taken a retired number off their wall. It looks as if this is just sour grapes on Topps part but it comes across as being disrespectful. I’m a Red Sox fan but still I think they need to leave the Yankee legends number retired. Shame on you Topps.

  7. JDonovan 30 January, 2017 at 12:46

    I’d love it if MLB unretired #42 for all teams except the Dodgers. My favorite team is the Rockies. I hate seeing the retired number of a Dodger that died 20 years before the team even existed there. And I’m pretty sure that opinion does nothing to impugn my intelligence.

  8. CJ 30 January, 2017 at 12:58

    Topps not following up on a promise they took great pains to promote is most worrisome in a hobby already viewed by many as being shady in many respects.

  9. Trey 31 January, 2017 at 00:35

    Great idea bring the number back. Topps confuses customers enough with it’s short prints, parallels and inserts.
    That said, I never understood the idea of Topps retiring Mickey Mantle’s uniform number. The more logical idea would have been retiring #311 for his 1952 Topps card (but that would have caused even more headaches with collectors).

  10. peteg 6 February, 2017 at 06:50

    I think it is a shame. Mantle has always been the pinnacle of baseball card collecting. Retired means retired! I think collectors shouldn’t have a problem counting when they place their cards in a 9 pocket sleeve.

  11. Card Opinionator 10 February, 2017 at 00:27

    It was a bad idea. They tried to fix it 10 years later, and that didn’t last. So here were are, fixed after 21 years. A better idea would have been #7 ALWAYS being Mantle. Should have signed a perpetuity agreement.

  12. Dax Allison 11 February, 2017 at 08:57

    It should have stayed retired. Sorry if some Naceys can’t learn how to skip a spot on the first page. There will always be only one number 7.

  13. Mike Bresina 23 March, 2017 at 10:28

    Glad to see that such a stupid gimmick has been put to rest. I long for the days when Topps put out a good, honest set that included every player who could reasonably expect to play that year, with a one-to-one correspondence of cards to natural numbers. This is the first step that launches every journey.

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