Below is a card that I have avoided like the black plague for years on end. It comes from a respected brand and a company that in 2001 was clearly in its glory days. The card features a beautiful photograph and an on-card autograph of a player I have collected almost exclusively since I was ten years old or 24 years and counting.
It makes no sense, right? Why avoid an early certified autograph of my childhood idol? Well, the reason is simple. All you have to do is take a closer look. Let’s start with the team Jose Canseco is playing for in the card. The Angels. Whether it was Anaheim or California back then, many collectors who even know of Canseco don’t know he was an Angel.
Well, I guess he was an Angel for 39 Spring Training at-bats in which he hit zero home runs, missed 10 games, and was cut before the 2001 season began. He came back in 2002 with the Montreal Expos but again was cut before the season began and never again played in the Majors. It was the last time I watched and followed baseball.
Thankfully, there are only two cards featuring Jose with the Expos from Topps’ flagship and Topps Chrome and the card is just awful. There is Jose, looking bloated and sleazy with his jersey un-tucked looking like he woke up from an alcohol binge an hour prior to the shoot. If you look closely, you can almost see the sad look of desperation in Jose’s eyes.
The card below is different, though. Base cards in Topps’ flagship and Topps Chrome are to be expected. For decades, even the lowliest bums in baseball have had their face plastered on Topps cards. The SP Authentic card was a high-end product and the card below was something you would expect from a superstar.
For the first time in Jose’s long, gloried career … his card was THE worst card to pull. The man whose 1986 Donruss rookie card carried The Hobby on its pimply back had now been reduced to a junk hit, dare I say, the opposite of “MOJO”. To make matters worse, his once Adonis-like physique had all but vanished and been traded in for a pudgy, injury-prone shell filled with more baggage than any team could handle.
As for his status in the industry today, despite never reaching the potential many expected, including that of a once 10 year old kid, Jose’s cards demand high prices thanks to a group of “super collectors” who still spend anywhere from $500 to over $1,000 on some of his more rare cards. As for me, it’s time I drop a $20 and pick up this forgotten, black sheep of a card and bring it home where it belongs.
Oh, and in case you thought I was exaggerating about spending thousands …