Stars Come Out For Derek Jeter —Cagle


PEOPLE WHO work in prepress and creative have entirely too much time on their hands. At least that’s the case for the creative department at Topps, the sports card specialist, in its handling of the 2007 baseball card set that hit shelves in February.

Card No. 40 in the set features New York Yankees player Derek Jeter, engaged in the at-bat of a lifetime. His audience was considerable; in the card’s background, standing in the dugout, is a 1950s vintage image of Mickey Mantle. (Last time we checked, the Mick had been dead for more than 10 years.) And if you look in the stands, just above Jeter’s bat, is a smiling and waving President George W. Bush. (The last time we checked… Nah, fill in your own gag.) Looking at the card, the chief executive seems to have lost his left arm somewhere along the line. On the blown-up image Topps sent in, however, the arm was intended to be obscured by fans and seats.

Through the magic of digital enhancement, these two American icons found their way into the ’07 Topps set, much to the surprise of Topps (snicker, snicker; wink, wink). Without naming names, Topps spokesman Clay Luraschi said that the gag card had been spotted on the final proof, but the company thought it was hilarious and decided to go ahead and print it anyway. That, and a very minor detail—they didn’t want to delay the shipping date. Yet another example of why the final proofing stage can be a waste of time.

You would think that, given it is Jeter’s card, rumored one-time girlfriend Mariah Carey could’ve been deposited into the stands. Better yet, Jessica Alba. Now there’s value-added.

Could it be that this is just a stunt to bolster flagging card sales? Nah. But it was interesting to see copies being hawked on the eBay auction site for $200-plus. Even several days after the story broke, a couple of thousand auctions were generating between $20 and $40 each. Topps doesn’t release print run figures but, suffice to say, the Jeters won’t disappear any time soon. If you want speculative investment material, wait until the “corrected” versions come out in the 2007 Topps factory sets. More often than not, corrected versions always command higher bucks because they come out later in the year, when collectors have already finished their sets, and are in shorter supply.

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