March 09, 2012

The Toppslopedia

I've been interested in checklisting for a few years now. Back in 2007, Dayf at Cardboard Junkie and I created a "fan set" using the Topps sets from 1980 to 1989 that we dubbed The 792. Clocking in at, yes, 792 cards, it featured the "best" card at each checklist number, choosing from the ten sets from the Topps 80s. It was a fun exercise, with the end product being a "new" best-of set that any collector could put together, cards 1 through 792, for under $150. [I will post a complete checklist of The 792 soon.]

This time I'm shooting a little larger. I'm a fan of the Alphabetical Checklist book that Beckett published about 10 years ago, and flipping through it got me thinking about those players who only appeared on one card (Like John Doherty in 1975 Topps). I'm also getting tired of the idea of collecting every set, or every card of a certain player. What about just one card… but of every player? 
I'm in the process of putting together what I'm calling the Toppslopedia, an alphabetic roll-call containing every player who ever appeared on a Topps card, with year and checklist number. With the exception of those players who only appeared on one card, I didn't necessarily choose a player's rookie year or last year, or even best year (all Topps concepts over the years). Instead I just chose a random card. I didn't include combo cards or all-star cards or even team cards. I did, however, include other subsets where players appeared individually, like All-Time Greats (1976), Record Breakers, Turn Back the Clock (1977), and Highlights. 

Conceivably a collector could put this "set" together, but I'm more interested in the comprehensiveness of a project like this.

I've done the 1970s and am halfway done with the 1950s. I'm planning on doing individually checklists for each decade, from the 1950s through to the 2000s, then a comprehensive, 60-year checklist when each decade's is complete. Then I will post it as a shared Google document, so anyone can access it. 

Surprisingly, for all their merchandising of their back catalogue, Topps has never done anything like this before. No coffee-table book, no special collector's set, nothing. I would love to see a large full-color hard cover like the Topps Baseball Cards: 1951–1990 book that I have, and though detractors may say that the Toppslopedia is just a different permutation of that book, I disagree. Instead of overwhelming the reader with every card ever made, it's a more intimate facebook. Because the population is much smaller than 30,000, or whatever the total individual cards add up to from all those sets, there's more space for stories or blurbs about a selection of the players, from one-card wonders like Bob Strampe and peripheral guys like Rick Sweet, to solid guys like Ralph Garr, perennial all-stars like Orlando Cepeda, and baseball lifers like Alvin Dark.

But because the likelihood of Topps doing anything suggested by a fan is slim to none, I should find a way to get this online as a searchable, browsable database and gallery. Maybe as a separate blog? Or a full-fledged Web site? Or as a part of the Baseball Cardpedia

As I mentioned above, I'll make the list available as a Google spreadsheet when it's finished.


Bo said...

I'm kind of doing this now on my blog. I have individual cards of 6,733 players (not just Topps and many are minor league cards) and am profiling one a day alphabetically.

Marco said...

I bet The Trading Card Database could write you a query to pull this stuff together:

Insomniac #4 said...

I wish there was a coffee table book about Topps cards, and your Toppslopedia idea sounds like a very ambitious project. Hope you follow through on it and keep us posted, it would definitely be a handy resource for collectors.

Mike F said...

I have the Topps Baseball Cards 1951-1985 Book and in the back there's an index with each player and all their cards for those years. Are you using that as a starting point, or are you going through the sets themselves? It seems like that book has done a lot of the hard work.