The Topps Binder Project


I have lots of cards. Sometimes I feel I have too many cards. My wife might agree with that last statement, as I’m sure many your significant others would raise a glass to her as well. Most of my cards range from 1952 to the present day with Topps being a vast majority of them.

Sure I have my Red Sox All-Time Collection, my vintage and 1980s Topps sets I am building, my 1980s Oddballs project … but what do I do with them rest of them? My big question I am always battling with is how to organize my cards in a way I can truly enjoy and have fun looking through them?

I started down the road of doing a “Topps Through the Years” project, but realized once I got in the 1960s I was leaving too many cool and great cards by the wayside. This project was to capture one to two pages for each Topps baseball flagship from 1951 to present (still could happen with the leftovers from new project) depicting nine base cards and then a sampling of nine that might an include an All-Star, player combo, manager, leaders etc, etc. I battled through till I got to 1970 when I hit pause and pulled all the cards out of the pages.

It seems like I have always had card piles dedicated to themes. For example, no-hitters, players who hit for the cycle, players from Massachusetts and so on and so on. And then one day, I was looking at someone’s Twitter feed when I noticed a retweet of another collector’s post. It came from a collector known as gritz (@__gritz__). Gritz was building a binder of pages depicting Topps cards, but only ones printed on actual cardboard. There are a couple of exceptions (1985 Topps Tiffany of Rusty Kuntz, some 80s Traded cards on white stock) but none of todays over-glossed, foil stamped, white card stock. He also includes some inserts from the 1960s such as the 1968 Topps Game and 1969 Deckle Edge issues, as well I believe some Drake’s issues as they were printed by Topps and reside on their gray cardboard stock.

For him, like myself, condition didn’t matter, all it needed to be was fun to look at. In many tweets back and forth, he mentioned there was an arbitrary method to his “organized chaos.” While at one point there may have been themes, they have been long absorbed and no he just sticks the card where it ends up in the cycle of page building. Gritz told me it’s the only binder of cards he routinely pulls out to look at. I was fascinated with these pages and the many cools cards I had forgot about or didn’t realize existed—I was hooked.

And here’s where my new—fun project comes in. As much as I would love to have my Topps Mike Trout rookie card next to, say a 1974 Dave Winfield, it just doesn’t look right. I actually tested a couple of pages and tweeted them out to fellow collectors. One page had just gray cardboard stock (1957–1991), the other page was the same as the first, minus several cards that were replaced with white card stock (1993–present) versions. The gray cardboard won hands down. I don’t know what it is, but modern day cards just don’t look good in sheets nor do they carry that smell that old cardboard carries.

So how am I going to organize this new Topps binder project? Well I have always liked themes so that is where I am going to start. My goal is to try not to have pages full of just star cards unless there’s a good sound reason/theme for it. The below are themes not limited to just one page as there are too many atrocious airbrushed beauties and bad 70s hairdos to limit this collector.

  • Shane (players named Shane)
  • Born on/happened on April 2
  • Card number 1
  • Pitchers who threw No-No’s
  • Players who hit for the cycle
  • All Decades Team: 1960s
  • All Decades Team: 1970s
  • All Decades Team: 1980s
  • ROY winners
  • MVP winners
  • Cy Young winners
  • All-Stars
  • All-Star Gane MVP winners
  • Rookie cards (solo cards for each position)
  • Rookie cards (multi-player rookie stars)
  • Airbrushed beauties
  • Hairdos
  • Specticles (eyeglasses and shades)
  • First team to field an all non-white starting line up
  • Tragic endings (Hubbs, Clemente, Munson)
  • Last cards
  • Managers
  • League Leaders (group by cat; HR, Wins)
  • Player combos
  • Checklists
  • Team cards
  • Post-season/World Series
  • WTF/crazy shiz happening
  • Cups of coffee
  • No bat, all glove guys
  • All about the bats (cards with bats/bat racks)
  • Bunting poses
  • On-deck perspectives
  • Pitchers; behind the plate perspective
  • Catchers (posed, gear, foul pop shots)
  • Same name, not THAT guy (Bob Gibson, Mike Tyson)
  • Oddballs (75 minis, Drakes, box bottoms)
  • From Massachusetts
  • Fron New England (Fisk)
  • Cape Cod Baseball League stars (Will Clark, Cory Snyder)
  • Animal names (Moose Haas, Craig Swan)
  • Dick/raunchy names (yes Rusty Kuntz and Dick Pole)
  • Color names
  • Names with a baseball theme
  • Players who became managers
  • Players who became broadcasters
  • Players who move into front-office
  • Multi-sport guys
  • Fathers and sons
  • Bothers
  • Linked (1970 Pete Rose & Ray Fosse)
  • Hitter feats (oddities)
  • Pitcher feats (oddities)
  • Ballpark shots (cards with just Wrigley ivy, Green Monster (Fenway))
  • Masterpieces (1971 Pinson, 1976 Bench, 1982 Fisk IA)
  • HOFers
  • Hall of Very Good (Pinson, Allen, Simmons, Whitaker)
  • Lots of stats (card backs showing nothing but stats, think 1987 Phil Neikro)
  • World Series Heros (Joe Carter)
  • World Series Goats (Buckner)
  • Cameos (this 1971 Chris Short with Pete Rose leading off second base in the background)
  • Great action shots
  • Great poses

I know I might be missing other themes but the above is just top of my head. I would love to hear your feedback and even card submissions. Hell, I love to trade so would gladly trade for these as well—just drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter (@ShaneKatz73).

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