Back in 2011, Tier One was released with little fanfare, as many baseball collectors were disappointed with the quality of the checklist as it was delivered in packs. In 2012, Topps added Bat Knobs to the product, which have become a staple for two years now. These cards, despite not having autographs, are extremely popular with the hobby, to the point where they are penetrating other sets and other companies.
Here are some of the major ones up so far:
These types of cards have been used in many prior products, but it wasnt until Tier One made them its champion, that they received the otherworldly level of attention. Topps even has used them over the course of their calendar back a few years ago, but nothing like in they have in recent releases. This year, they are receiving as much focus as ever, even more so when adding in autographed versions as well. Collectors have always valued jersey swatches and uniform pieces over bat relics because of quantity available, but the Knobs and Barrels have become luxury pieces in many collections ever since they have become a prime display item in many high end sets.
Im curious to see how long we can sustain a lot of these methods, as it is painfully obvious that there is not an unlimited supply of game used items from older HOF stars. As the card companies cut up more and more of the relics, its going to become exponentially difficult to find more to use. Eventually the demand for the history will outweigh the supply. When the hobby eventually reaches that point, like we have with Mantle and Ruth, what do we do?
I have never truly supported cutting up the history of the game for the purposes of producing collectible items, but I see the appeal and I see why so many collectors dont care. Its clear that there is enough to go around, as there are quite a few people who can outbid the card companies to keep the items for their personal collections. We are seeing that Topps is already expanding the checklist more to current and recently retired players to prevent cost from going through the roof, and I will not hesitate to support that practice. Adding in masterpiece level cards in products like this is a huge win, and I hope it continues. I will never stop wondering if this is a part of the hobby that will eventually burn itself out. Either through lack of supply or pure over-saturation. Then again, the player collectors out there will never let that happen.