The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

MAY  2012

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.


The DP Dilemma

by Jerry Keys

Beginning in 2006 Topps baseball cards have produced a parent set with 660 cards (give or take a couple of cards). Their parent set was 792 cards from 1982 to 1994 (with 1993 being an exception). The 660 card set was also issued in 1973 to 1977. A person may ask, "Why is there such a difference in the number of cards?" Topps produced cards 132 at a time, 11 across and 12 down. A 660 card set would require five sheets and a 792 card set, six.

The 132 card sheet was also used by Donruss from 1982 to 1989, Fleer 1981 to 1990, Fleer Update 1984 to 1991, and Score 1988 and 1989. As long as the set could be squeezed into 660 cards or expanded to 792, everything was fine. Topps ran into a problem in 1978 when baseball added two new teams in 1977, the Blue Jays and Mariners. For reasons which are still unknown, there are multiple theories but none of them confirmed, the sets from 1978 to 1981 are scattered with double printed (DP) cards. A double print card is the opposite of a short print (SP) card.

Jerry Keys

A double print is where a card is produced in twice the quantity of all others in the set.  A short print is generally where a card is produced half as much as all others in the set.  The four years where Topps produced sets of 726 cards, there were 66 DPs.  In my estimation, a set of 726 would force Topps to either DP 66 or SP 66; 726 being 66 more and 66 less than 660 and 792.  When baseball cards were issued in different series (1952-1973 and 1993-present), the last series usually was the one which received either DP or SP status.  This applies only to the years of 1952-1973.  Although 1973 was produced as a 660 card set, cards 1-264 were issued as series one, 265-396 series two, 397-528 series three, and 529-660 series four.

In the four series from 1973, a common card is priced at 75 cents, $1, $1.50 and $4.  Obviously series four commons are harder to obtain than any other.  From 1974 to 1992, all cards in the set were issued at one time.  The DP years of 1978-81 were immediately noticed by veteran collectors and it was often said more were in favor of the DP rather than SP after years of dealing with high number cards.  The formula used in choosing which 66 to DP has never been revealed.  One would think Topps would choose lesser known players, team and set checklists, manager cards or league leader cards.  In more cases than not, those cards were dubbed as a DP.  But in some cases, a superstar was tagged with a DP.

Some included in the 1978 DP barrage was Tony Perez, Pete Rose, Ron Guidry, Cecil Cooper, Jim Rice & George Foster league leader, Nolan Ryan & Phil Niekro league leader, Graig Nettles, Sal Bando, and Jack Morris (rookie card).  Some of these players were minor stars or stars of that day.  Others were Hall of Fame caliber players (some eventually reaching the Hall).  The 1979 Topps was by far the worst in DP not just minor stars but superstars.  The following were DP:  Joe Morgan, Steve Garvey, Tom Seaver, Johnny Bench, Ryan & Walter Johnson all-time leader, Johnson & Dutch Leonard all-time leader, Jim Hunter, Buddy Bell, and Reggie Jackson.

The DP was not as bad in the last two years.  1980 offered DPs of Fred Lynn, Dusty Baker, Mike Schmidt, Dan Petry (rookie), Mickey Lolich, Rod Carew, and Carl Yastrzemski.  1981 gave DPs of Al Oliver, Bob Boone, Nettles, Dave Kingman, Schmidt and Alan Trammell.  In the late 1980's and early 1990's, it was common for a superstar's DP card to be lower than his next year's card.  As time has passed the DP tag has slowly began to disappear as a detriment to card prices.  In the past several years the common card DP and a regular common card have been given the same pricing.  The 1978 and 1979 will follow eventually.  As these years fade off into the past, the DP tag will too.  One question remains, especially for the 1979 set, who in their right mind would DP superstars?

Wouldn't it have been a better move in the first year to DP the team cards, manager cards and the set checklist?  With 26 teams, 26 managers and six set checklists, they would have covered 58 of the 66 needed to be DP.  I can see DP a minor star and even a semi-star.  The superstars (Schmidt twice, Rose, Seaver, Ryan etc…) or a rookie card?  Maybe it's just me but it just does not add up.  Yet we all must keep in mind, three of those four years Topps had no competition.  Sets were inexpensive in those days and surely Topps could have found some way to extend the set to 792.  Maybe an All-Star (ironically they did this in 1982 to help reach 792 cards) set, that's 18 cards.  Over the four years Topps did rearrange non-player cards to include prospects from each team.  Was it that hard to find ways to add 66 cards or did Topps just not care because they were the only card company around?