(This is the second and concluding part of a blog from yesterday talking about the possibility of Topps and the Baseball Hall of Fame collaborating on an effort to restart the iconic Perez-Steele Hall of Fame Art Postcard series.) – Ed.
So here’s what I envision: Dick Perez makes his artwork available to Topps, the company produces the missing Hall of Famers from the last 10 years, and the two venerated institutions collaborate on a marketing and promotional plan that could include getting some percentage of the cards autographed by the new Hall of Famers.
The autographing could be an important element in enticing the players and the Hall to undertake the project. The players could be given several hundred or even 1,000 of the cards for their own usage (perhaps they could provide a particular inscription to differentiate their inventory), the Hall could get a similar or even larger number for their gift shop and catalog, and Topps would be left with the balance.
Bear in mind that the precise details of how the cards are doled out is far less important than the broader notion of getting the franchise restarted, and in any event the final details would certainly be different from what I describe.
Ideally, the production run of each of the “new” Hall of Famers would be limited to 10,000 to match the original specs of the series, but even that is not as important as simply getting it done, and any number of scenarios could be developed where the number could be adjusted. The original Perez-Steele cards are serial numbered, but I don’t think continuing that – assuming it’s a significant additional expense – is important enough to imperil the project.
Remember, the most important thing here is to allow collectors to continue to keep their HOF Postcard Series up to date, which of course would hopefully make it an ongoing project.
The thought I’ve had is that because of the oversized nature of the Perez-Steele Postcards (31/2-by-51/2 inches) they would be great box toppers for any number of Topps issues. That, in turn, would be a cool way of linking the modern card collecting world to earlier generations.
A total of 39 new Hall of Famers have been inducted in the decades since Perez-Steele was shelved. That’s 390,000 cards. If the concern is that younger collectors would prefer box toppers of their current heroes, the Perez-Steele box toppers could be a separate entity, but as I noted, the precise logistics are way less important than simply getting the plan put in place in some fashion.
Just for arguments sake, suppose Cal Ripken signed 500 of his 10,000 Perez-Steele cards. That number could be evenly divided between the Hall and Topps – or some other configuration – maybe with a specific inscription on the Topps cards and a different one on the Hall of Fame versions. Cal keeps 500 for his own use, again perhaps with a uniform agreement of an inscription that might make it clear to serious collectors where specific cards originated. Then figure that maybe the Hall keeps 1,000 of each (unsigned) for its gift shop, catalog and online sales.
That would leave Topps with about 300,000 cards for simple inclusion as box toppers in whatever products they wanted. Topps has an Omerta code about production numbers that would make the mafia look like the Girl Scouts, but I assume that 300,000-plus is a potentially viable number for the kind of big-scale undertakings that Topps does.
So imagine once again that a collector opens a box of 2013 Heritage product and ends up with an autographed Cal Ripken Perez-Steele Postcard for his efforts. I’m not an autograph guy – and I believe that the Perez-Steele Hall of Fame Postcard Series is a treasure with or without them – but that sounds like something that would get even my limited attention.
Admittedly, a bigger chunk than usual wouldn’t have the autograph potential because of the 17 deceased Negro Leaguers installed in 2006, but that’s hardly an argument against undertaking the project.
I hope that from what I’ve written that the folks at Topps and the Hall of Fame might be able to get a sense of what a historic achievement it would be if the Perez-Steele franchise could be revived. It was only several weeks ago that I learned that the wonderful Conlon Collection Series created by Megacards from 1991-95 is likely to be restarted by John Rogers; resuscitating those two iconic institutions would be one amazing hobby double play if it could somehow be pulled off.
And so I urge readers to e-mail me with their views on this idea. I’m not suggesting any widespread bombardment in any fashion of Topps or the Hall of Fame; I have ensured that both were provided copies of this article, and indeed I’ve informally pitched the idea to HOF officials a number of times and have also mentioned it to some Topps officials as well.
I am more interested in getting reader reaction to the idea. I’ve got a Perez-Steele Hall of Fame Postcard set that my ex-wife got me for Christmas many, many years ago. No offense to my mom and dad, who got me a Revell model of a nuclear power plant when I was 11 or 12, but the Perez-Steele thing is still the best Christmas present I ever got.
If Topps and the Hall of Fame can get together to start it all up again, that might wind up being No. 2.