RotT gets carded

The other day I picked up my first 2010 Topps cards (these included Jose Valverde as an Astro and Aubrey Huff as a Tiger). For some reason it seemed like a good idea to look back at the past few years of card designs so that we could all discuss the finer points of their design without really knowing what in the hell we’re talking about. It is the finest RotT tradition we have.


Oh, look who it is!
things I liked:
–relatively simple team-color border on white
–use of team-specific font
–year easily visible on the front (if I have multiple cards of the same player, I sort them by year. Having to hunt for the year on the back just slows me down, yo)
things I disliked:
–holy redundancy, Batman! (Ugie repeated twice, Tigers repeated twice. Plus the photo is clearly of a guy on the Tigers, so… WE GET IT)
–border side tabs. Useless as per above point, and it’s annoying to have text oriented multiple ways on the front.
–naked metallic text at the top. This is a gold foil, and it is much lighter in real life than it is in the scan.


things I liked:
–simple team-color border
–player positions listed on the front
–no redundancy
–visually interesting but not overly gimmicky name banner
things I disliked:
–placement of the Topps logo

Overall this is my favorite of the recent designs. It’s clean and classic while still looking like a baseball card and not some space-age modern monstrosity. The design is centered and symmetrical, the text and border don’t overwhelm the player photos. It avoids aggressive stupidity. It also looks much sharper in real life, where the silver bits actually look silver, and not whatever funked-up color they’re going to be for you here. Love you, 2006!


things I liked:
–no redundancy
–if you’re going to do silver metallic text, better to do it on black than white, I guess.
things I disliked:
–Topps logo is more prominent than the team name
–stupid fake signatures on the player photos
–all-black card
–those dotttsssssssss

Sad that my absolute favorite was immediately followed up by my least favorite of the recent designs. Basically, at all times I live in abject fear of the possibility that Topps will decide to recreate their 2007 cards. NEVER AGAIN THE DOTTED TIMES.


things I liked:
–top-weighted design
–prominent use of team colors
–very simple border lets player photos speak for themselves
things I disliked:
–stupid fake signature
–team name design makes me read it as T. I. G. E. R. S… Terrific Inge Grittily Earns Raucous Salutes!
–also kind of makes me think of a circus


things I liked:
–positions listed on the front
–lots of space given to the player photo
–first design in this bunch to deploy the Olde English D
things I disliked:
–minimal use of team colors (no orange, and the blue under the silver dots in the corners is an aqua blue, not Tigers-navy)
–team name is tiiiiiny
–lots of angled design elements, but they’re all small, so the overall effect is less excitingly slanted and more… wonky
–inexplicable dotted triangles


things I liked:
–team font returns!
–orange returns!
–it’s tough to see in the scan, but the ‘Nate Robertson’ text is actually black with a silver outline. So much better than naked foil.
–player position small, but present on the front (lower left corner)
things I disliked:
–soft fade between the orange bit and the player photo
–basically all text stacked on the left
–border swoop translates really poorly to horizontal cards

I don’t buy full sets of baseball cards or anything, I just pick them up on a random and very occasional basis, so it’s always exciting for me to get Tigers cards. It’s like an unexpected bonus of stripey joy. I realize that this is a baseball-specific form of madness (and a slightly anachronistic one, really), but it could always be worse, you know? I could be one of those folks who still yearns for the 1987 wood-panel borders. THOSE PEOPLE ARE THE REAL FREAKS.


27 responses to “RotT gets carded

  1. I actually liked the circus-y feel of the 2007 cards :P

  2. Er, I should say, 2008.

  3. Looking at the cards that came after, it’s like even Topps looked at the ’07 card and realized ‘Holy cats, what have we done?!’

  4. The vast majority of my card collection has the wood border…I actually like it. It reminds me of my childhood.

  5. 1986 topps FTW?

  6. Word to the childhood thing. An even bigger deal to those of us that became Tigers fans in the summer of 1987. I remember collecting that set with my father when I was 6 years old. We went to a card show, to get the last card we were missing. U of M alumnus Barry Larkin.

    Recently, we pared down the old collection. We collected sets for a couple years, partially I think because his mom threw away his cards, some of which ended up being really valuable. Inflation, if that’s what you’d call it, in the 80’s made everything worth nothing, and there were tons of guys like my dad doing the same thing.

    We kept that set, because we remembered putting it together. It was probably the first time he could ever do something he actually enjoyed with me….6 year olds being what they are.

    Always remember that every diehard fan who hates that the Tigers traded Smoltz, there’s a former 6 year old that remembers how good Doyle Alexander was down the stretch. Sometimes, they’re even the same person.

    Sorry about the marathon.

  7. Oh, for sure some card years are going to be associated with good baseball memories for some folks. No need to justify that! I’m just talking about the bare design. From a design perspective, that wood border is just… let’s not get into it, ha ha.

    Kurt, the ’86 Topps was pretty sleek. Weird font choices tho.

    eta: wait wait, what I meant to say is, gasp gasp, horror, etc, YOU LOT ARE THE REAL FREEEEEAAAAAKKKSSS! I’ll just be over here, petting my ’06 cards… mmm, my pretties….

  8. eta eta: I actually got a bunch of ’86 cards recently in a random thing from Walgreens, please look at




    (and look at how wee Ozzie was!)

  9. The wooden borders of 1987 were the first series of baseball cards I collected. I’ve got a metric-ass-ton of those, the ’86 update series (with Bonilla, Bonds, Canseco, Mitchell, et al. rookie goodness), and the cards following into the early 90’s — the wooden ones have always held a special place in my heart.

    I picked up a pack of cards last spring from the convenience story, and happened to pull a Carlos Guillen, which made me happy. I think I get the same joy you do Sam when I find a Tiger in a pack. Two, or **bites lip** THREE would just keep me warm for the rest of the day.

  10. You probably shouldn’t look at 1975 Topp’s. (Signatures, weird colors and small pictures. You’d probably like 1976 though.)

  11. Nothing beats 1978 — Trammell (with Molitor on the same card!), Whitaker and Morris rookies (all three which I own and have stored away in safety). What a hell of a year for the Tigers.

    Now if you want abysmal design, try the 80’s Donruss cards, which weren’t even in proper baseball card dimensions.

  12. “Oh, for sure some card years are going to be associated with good baseball memories for some folks.”

    True enough, and I knew you weren’t crapping on that. Love the work you do here.

    And, yeah, the design is not zee best.

  13. For bad design, though, I think its tough to beat this:


    For what it’s worth, I tend to prefer the borderless designs, like this:

    Not a Tiger, but one of the best looking cards I’ve ever seen.

  14. Ha ha, the 1990 Topps suffers from the same problem as the 1975 Topps that Jeff mentioned– RANDOM FREAKIN COLORS. Seriously, how does this or this make sense?

    Upper Deck’s been doing a lot of borderless or almost-borderless cards of late, it seems.

    h2o, I’ve got a ’65 Home Run Leaders card, with Tony C, Norm Cash, and Willie Horton together on it. Given my loyalties, this is basically the perfect baseball card.

  15. What a neat topic. I enjoyed this. When I find time, I’m going to google past baseball designs through the years.

    I have to admit, I liked the circus-y logo of 08′.

  16. “Talking Baseball” is doing an entire program on baseball cards today. Topps apparently has exclusive rights to cards this year, so as a promotion, they are giving away codes in some packs that let’s you request any card they’ve ever made.

    The rest of the show so far is guys talking about the most valuable card their mom threw away.

  17. Recently picked up a 1955 Eddie Waitkus card. (Eddie is famous as the real-life inspiration for a pivotal scene in “The Natural.” The back of the card features a ghostwritten “My Biggest Thrill in Baseball” which begins, “In 1949 I was shot by a deranged girl. …” Talk about your thrills!)

    The front of the card features that infamous fake wood –but here it’s the cabinet for a console TV, with the player picture framed like a TV screen. In ’55 it must’ve looked futuristic & space-agey (wow –color radio pictures!), but it’s just hokey beyond words now.
    Lesson for card designers: classic simplicity.

  18. Those ’07 cards were interesting and I like the ’08 cards with the team colors behind the team names. On another note, have you seen the Tigers Spring Training photo day pics? Here they are via Getty Images:

  19. Gawd I hated those 1990 cards. Of course I have that complete set. :/

    Sam, that HR Leaders card sounds really sweet!

  20. I’m partial to the 1980 Topps set, for the same reasons most folks on here are citing: childhood and all. Very clean design, though. Wonder what Sam thinks of it, other than the fake signature thing, which, for some reason, doesn’t bother me. Probably because I’m not that big into collecting autographs.

  21. One thing the Tigers have been doing in recent years is to put Topps baseball cards on season tickets. In 2007 and 2008, it was the current Topps set, but I was happy to find last year’s had gone to the 1984 set.

    Miguel Cabrera on a 1984-styled card = awesome.

    You kn0w Topps’ first set was meant to be used as a kind of baseball card game. In that spirit, when my brother and I got our first set (the ’88 series), we set them to teams and made up a baseball game, with the two of us serving as Kell and Kaline.

    The games seldom got past a few innings; we usually spent most of our time announcing the Tigers in the old Tiger Stadium style: “Batting third, at shortstop, Alan Trammell….Trammell.”

  22. “Batting third, at shortstop, Alan Trammell….Trammell.”

    **tears up a little**

  23. Fun blog. It’s been a few years since I’ve bought any cards. Maybe if I’ve got enough disposable income around Opening Day, I’ll find a card shop and buy up a bunch of Tigers cards.

  24. Jules, I definitely don’t hate the ’08 design (it’s no ’07, thank cats). I’m kind of on the fence there. The round, bobble-y fence…

    Oogieball, wait, so that means only Topps will be putting out cards for this year? That would suck. :/

    pocoloco, classic simplicity ftw. I mean, it’s nice to be able to readily determine card year just by looking at it and all, but at the end of the day I don’t want holographics or sparkletext or whatever, I just want my baseball card to look like a baseball card. MAYBE THAT’S JUST ME THOUGH, MAYBE WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS MORE OF IS GLITTER ON ALBERT PUJOLS’ FACE.

    Lauren, yeah, I saw those. Worlds better than last year, at least, ha ha.

    Swampy, 1980 wasn’t too bad… at least the colors were mostly right. Those banners are a little fussy, though.

    And I don’t go after autographs either, but those fake ones just drive me up a wall. I dunno. It’s like, we know it ain’t real, so all it does is clutter up the player photo, which I always think should be the most important element on the front of the card. Clearly I have thought about this way too much.

    Misopogon, ha ha, see, that’s great. I much prefer stories about people actively using/enjoying the cards to stories about The Precious Card Which Must Never Be Touched or Removed From Its Clear Diamond Sleeve or whatever.

    81371, hey, you don’t even need that much disposable income. There’s a Sports Authority near me that sells random lots of 150 cards for $6. The big Red Sox team store across from Fenway sells random bags of 50 cards for $3 each (which is the most you’ll get for your money, ever, when it comes to Fenway).

  25. David O. (13194013)

    I used to play with baseball cards in a very rough baseball game with crappy dice charts and 6 sided dice.


  26. Well, you win the geek war. ;)

  27. I didn’t even realize how repetitive that ’05 card was until you pointed it out. Why did they need everything twice? Just wanted stuff on the sides and couldn’t think of anything else to put there?

    I’m with Jules and ivan though, I actually like the ’08 circus cards. They touch upon gimmicky-ness without actually being gimmicky, which I think is a nice line for a baseball card design to tread.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s