Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My 1991 Topps Vintage Giveaway Story

Yesterday, amidst Million Card Madness Day, question emerged on the forum on the Cardboard Junkie regarding the first Topps vintage giveaway that took place back in 1991. I'll let you read for yourself.

See, in 1991, Topps was celebrating "40 Years of Baseball," and they decided they would be, if memory serves me right, inserting one of each card from their past 39 sets into packs of 1991 Topps cards. While this seemed to happen to... well... nobody, I'd like to chime in here to state that, yes, you could indeed pull vintage cards from packs of 1991 Topps. But first, the card...

1971 Topps #454 Mike Paul

While I didn't personally pull this card, I am not far removed from the person who did, and I have the word of a blood relative to prove it.

Let me set the stage.
May, 1991.
The elementary school I attended always held a yearly school picnic, not on the last day of school, but right around the week before. The entire school, kindergarten through eighth grade, would walk to a nearby park for fun, food, and games. In 1991 I would have been at the end of sixth grade, and my brother, five years younger, would have been in first grade.
The park had several baseball diamonds, and in my junior high years, the basketball court was turned into an impromptu street hockey area. In the 1980s, lunch consisted of McDonald's grub, cold and soggy after being transported to the park by parent volunteers. By the time the '90s rolled around, lunch turned into burgers and dogs grilled on premises by parents. None of this has any bearing on the Topps cards, but I'm including it to communicate the positive atmosphere of the time.

In the spirit of all of this fun and goodwill towards children, we students often received a "goody bag" of sorts, treats and prizes for us to take home. Well, I'm sure you guessed by now, but for some of us, one of those prizes was a pack of 1991 Topps baseball cards. In all honesty, I cannot remember getting a pack of cards myself, but I am positive that my brother's class received these cards.

At the end of the day, now at home, my brother proudly showed me the pack of cards he got. I remember eagerly thumbing through them before arriving at the 1971 Topps Mike Paul. I simply could not believe it. I had never held a card that old, and, knowing this was not a part of his collection earlier in the day, I inquired as to how he got it. He told me that his friend Steve had gotten it in a pack. Well, why is it yours now?

The answer?
"I told him it was a fake card."

And there you have it, a vintage card acquired by nefarious means. The dude just coughed it up to my brother, and I've been keeping it safe until now. The card you see is the very same one pulled nearly twenty years ago.

If you choose not to believe it, that's fine by me, but I sincerely insist that this was how it went down. If this is the only story of a 1991 Topps vintage pull, I'm proud to have told it to you.

One first grader hoodwinked by another. True story.


Greg said...

Outstanding story. I wonder how many of those cards are still lurking in unopened packs of 1991 Topps? There has to be a million boxes that noone has opened yet.

Fuji said...

I totally remember this promotion... in fact, I was trying to remember the exact year (wasn't sure if it was 1990, 1991, or 1992) to write about it on SCF. Anyways... I pulled several vintage cards from wax... so I know that it isn't a myth.

Rich said...

My Dad bought me a case, with the promise of one vintage card per case. The case was $250.00. I got a 1968 Phil Roof. Couldn't tell you where it is now. I still have 5 unopened boxes.

Fuji said...

Hey Rich... are you thinking what I'm thinking? 5 Box group break of 1991 Topps baseball... Epic break!

Tony Brown said...

I don't know if I believe this tale.

madding said...

Hmm... sketchy at best. I do appreciate the grade school thievery, though. There was plenty of that going on when I was that age.

The weird thing is, I seem to remember everyone SAYING that they were inserting one of every card in the packs, yet I can't seem to find that in writing anywhere anymore. I guess I need to find a box of '91 Topps again or something.

gcrl said...

i know topps did this later (2001 maybe?) because i pulled a 92 joel skinner card out of a pack. shhhweet.

jerry said...

This giveaway was legit. I opened a standard pack from a Favorite Market in March '91 and pulled a #666 1970 Topps Adolpho Phillips. The card was in mint condition. The only reason I think I even remember this was the #666. A card shop owner I visited often, pulled a 1976 Gary Carter (back then was a nice pull). The Chattanooga Times FP AP'd a story in 1992 that a truck driver purchased a pack for his son and found the 1952 Mick. Whether that was true or not.....no idea.

Anonymous said...

My dad and I must have opened at least a half dozen of the 1991 Topps Wax Boxes at that time, and we were lucky eneough to pull a 1983 Topps Gaylord Perry Super Vetran card. That card is worth about the same now as it was then maybe 40 cents.