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The Tom Brady Baseball Card. Yes, We Have to Talk About It

By now you’ve heard about the Tom Brady baseball card that was inserted into packs of 2023 Bowman Draft.  In real life, Brady was picked by the Montreal Expos on the 18th round of the 1995 draft, the 507th player selected overall.  Brady, of course, turned down the Expos’ offer of a Minor League contract to accept a scholarship to play football at Michigan.  I’d say he made a wise choice as most players selected in the double-digit rounds of the Draft rarely, if ever, even come close to making the Big Leagues, and are there, mainly, to fill out a low-level Minor League roster.  Not unlike a sixth rounder in the NFL Draft.

The card itself is done in the style of the 1995 Bowman set and is printed on chrome stock (even though Bowman Chrome wasn’t a thing until 1997).  The usual multi-colored galaxy of Refractor parallels and autographs were also included, with Brady adding inscriptions on autoed cards serial-numbered 12.

What I really liked about this card was the marketing behind it especially the minute and a half YouTube video where Larry Walker, Pedro Martinez, and Vladimir Guerrero, Sr. are reminiscing at a Montreal spots bar about the multiple World Series championships their leader and catcher Tom Brady brought home to Montreal.  After all, if not for Tom Brady, the Expos would have had to move!  Probably to some jabroni town like Washington D.C.

Equally hilarious is the fake used car commercial starring Brady that airs on the bar’s TVs – although it would have been even funnier if Brady tried to speak French.

This commercial worked because, there’s a certain nostalgia, especially from Gen-Xers like me, about defunct teams from that era.  The Expos, Seattle SuperSonics, and Hartford Whalers all seem to be having their moment. 

So yeah, this alternative universe where Tom Brady wins seven World Series, saves baseball in Montreal, and opens a used car lot in Trois-Rivieres, is a little far-fetched.  And yes, a Tom Brady baseball card is a gimmick.  It’s still great though.  But leave it to Topps to take a great idea and botch it by not printing enough of the cards.

I want you to imagine, for a moment, that you’re “The Cousin from Boston” from those Sam Adams beer ads. Let’s call you “Tahmmy from Quincy.”  You have Patriots season tickets.  Your house is a shrine to all things Boston sports.  You listen to WEEI ten hours a day.  In short, Tahmmy from Quincy is the type of “consumer” that Fanatics would like to convert into a card collector.  If you’re trying to “Ten-X” The Hobby, you’ll need fans like Tahmmy.

So, Tahmmy hears about this Tom Brady baseball card.  He had no idea Tom Brady was drafted in baseball, but he  sees the YouTube clip on social media, and immediately has to have this card.  It’s been a while since Tahmmy bought any baseball cards, but no matter.  This is the one card he must have.  $560 might seem to Tahmmy a litte steep for a box of cards, but this is Tom Brady we’re talking about.  The G.O.A.T!

A few days later, a package from Buffalo arrives Quincy.  Tahmmy rips it open all the packs and ….

No Tom Brady baseball card.

Tahmmy did get a whole bunch of cards of players he’d never heard of before – this is Bowman Draft after all.  He wonders why some of the cards are printed on paper and others on this metallic stock?  Why do some of the cards have different border colors?  Tahmmy pulled a couple of cards that were autographed by the player – but then again, he has no idea who these players are.

“Oh well, must be bad luck,” Tahmmy thinks to himself.  “Maybe I just need to buy another box to get my Brady card?” he’s thinking.  So, off goes another $560 to Dave & Adam’s and a few days later another box arrives.

Again, no Tom Brady card.

Tahmmy then notices the fine print on the back of the wrapper: Odds of finding a Tom Brady card 1:2712/packs.  That’s one in every 226 boxes!

Of course, that is only for the base Brady, and not for the many Refractors and autographs.  If you factor those in, the odds of finding any Brady would be in the 1:100-150/boxes range.  But still, after spending over $1100 on packs and not finding a Brady, our fictional Tahmmy from Quincy is starting to feel like he’s been had.  He’s been made to feel like a chump.

(If this sounds familiar, this is the same issue I wrote about a couple of months ago regarding the Babe Ruth Bowman Chrome card.)  

Look, I’m an economist not a marketer.  But even I know that making potential customers feel like chumps is not how you “Ten-X” The Hobby.

It’s 2024 and with that we’ve come across the 30th Anniversary of what I called fifteen years ago “The Last Great Year.”  1994 was a great year to be a baseball card collector. The Hobby was coming out of The Junk Wax Era, and with many of the speculators and investors that plagued The Hobby all but gone, all six licensees were going all out to get us, the remaining collectors to buy their products.   Fleer put out, what I still consider to be, the greatest “flagship” set ever: 1994 Fleer Baseball.   Upper Deck introduced The Hobby to Holoviews.  Pinnacle released the greatest parallel set ever: 1994 Pinnacle Museum Collection.  ’94 was the year Bowman went borderless and Stadium Club went EXTREME.  Even the products that kind of sucked (think Score Rookie/Traded or Fleer Extra Bases) weren’t really all that bad.     

(Amazing what happens when you have competition, huh?)

I’ll be taking some time this year to highlight some of my favorite 1994 baseball sets.  Let me know which ones you’d like me to start with and let me know what some of your favorites from that year are.

I’d like to apologize to you for being a tad bit late with this month’s column.  I got the flu over Christmas and followed that up with a severe sinus infection in the new year.  I’m still not 100 hundred percent, and with this being the “dead period” on the baseball card calendar, this month’s column was a grind.  The cough syrup I was prescribed sure isn’t helping.

With all that said, if you got any questions, comments, trade offers, you can slip into my DMs, or shoot me an e-mail.  All my wantlists (separated be year) are up on my website.  In addition, I will be appearing on the February 3rd edition of Hobby Hotline at 11:00a Eastern (12:30 in Newfoundland) with Brody The Kid and Drew the DH.  Look for it on YouTube if you want to listen live.

Keep on rockin’ in the free world.


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