Long time sports card collectors might vary in the sport, era or players that they collect, but one thing is for certain, they share a similar passion and many of the same stories about their collecting history. The cardboard produced by the trading card industry has had a tremendous impact on millions of people, all the while carving a niche in the fabric of Americana. Get collectors in a room together, or these days online, on a forum or message board, or say in a chat room for a popular radio show, or Twitter, and you can toss out a topic such as, "Remember that Billy Ripken card", or "I just picked up some looseys, blisters or jumbos", and a couple hundred people will instantly know what you mean and agree with you, or disagree with you. So for a couple of long-time collectors and writers to put their creative cardboard knowledge to the test of assimilating the top 100 sports cards of all-time, it seemed ballsy, but not so surprising. With the release of Got 'Em Got 'Em Need 'Em, their efforts are contained between a cover that is fashioned after the classic 1970 Topps baseball, or in their case, an O-Pee-Chee baseball card pack.
Collector, product manager, and fellow Star Wars fan Stephen Laroche along with his brother from another mother, hobbyist extraordinaire Jon Waldman took on the task of picking 100 key cards from a span of over 100 years to present to readers as a guide to collecting. First off, the book is not so much a guide as it is a hobby history lesson in words & pictures. They've archived some of the most important, downright ridiculous and ground-breaking trading cards within the book's 291 pages.
From early releases such as the 1948-49 Leaf Jackie Robinson to more recent issues like Adrian Peterson's Upper Deck Exquisite rookie card, they covered nearly the entire gamut of distribution methods from packing cards out with tobacco and gum, to the update set, and let us not forget the ever so exquisitely impressive black box. Each card has a story to tell, and in between the lines you'll get a look at the writers own personal selections, some hobby landmarks, and the cards that are probably best left out of sight, but never quite out of mind.
There is plenty of information for a curious collector to become instantly knowledgeable. However, with a book of lists, there needs to be a certain build-up of suspense, and for some reason the book begins with the White Whale (if you aren't familiar with this term, read the book!) of trading cards and then right off the bat, they give us the #1. The mystery and thrill of peeling back each page to see which card came next is nonexistent. I won't say I was disappointed because it is a great read, but I will say I was confused because a countdown always makes it more suspenseful.
For the most part their selections were spectacular. They have chronicled some of the hobby's greatest legends, some of which were believed to be merely tall tales, and they proved them to be fact.
The matter that they are both of Canadian soil roots (no offense, eh!) can easily explain the abundance of hockey cards on the list and that dreadfully ugly Warren Moon Jogo card making the cut. But, there is one card not on the list that is sorely missed. That card is the first memorabilia card made, not from Upper Deck as the book might lead you to believe, but from Press Pass. It is a memorabilia card of the late Dale Earnhardt, and it was a special card for many reasons. Obviously, it was the first of its kind, but second, it came from a guy that was at the top of his sport and usually only provided pieces of his memorabilia for charity.
Of course everyone has opinions, and if you took 5 random collectors lists, they would be very similar, yet there will be some major differences. Surely you could think of other cards that didn't make the cut, but that's the beauty of the hobby, everyone has their own thing, and there truly is something for everyone. Whether you collect modern, vintage, stickers, non-sports, Gem Mint 10s, etc, etc. you know the score and so do Waldman and Laroche. Got 'Em Got 'Em Need 'Em is must-read material for anyone that has enjoyed or is curious about pulling back that wax or foil wrapping, getting that tingle of excitement, and then enjoying flipping through little 2 ½ x 3 ½ works of art. I eagerly await the next 100.