It’s a Squirrel, Not Mickey Mantle

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In their upcoming 2011 series of cards, Topps will be inserting a limited number of the above “Rally Squirrel” card with Skip Schumaker’s foot in the picture under the guise of it being “Schumaker’s” card.

His name’s on it anyway.

Schumaker called the promotion “ridiculous”.

It’s entirely understandable that Topps has chosen to try and generate buzz and sell their products by using a blatant promotion that will appeal to a wide range of people, baseball fans and not. But with the way the sports card market has crashed from what it once was, those who are expecting a Mickey Mantle rookie card or Action Comics number 1 windfall in a few years from having a baseball card with Schumaker’s foot and a squirrel running across home plate are sadly mistaken.

Everyone wanted to get in on the sports memorabilia market when it was at its height and there are still those who buy and sell what was once considered junk to be placed in a box in the garage as if it has a distinct value, but once people start collecting and trading these treasured items for money rather than sentimentality, there’s going to be a saturation in the market and devaluing of the items.

Any item is only worth what someone will pay for it and keeping it to collect dust as an asset only works if it’s eventually sold. If the squirrel card is seen as an investment, it’ll be hot for awhile but it won’t pay off someone’s house if that’s what starry-eyed lottery players are envisioning when they buy boxes of Topps wax packs hoping to hit on the Schumaker-squirrel card.

It’s a faux value because it’s not going to last—a bubble.

The Mantle, Honus Wagner-type cards are worth a lot of money because of their perception and attention they’ve received, how rare the cards are, who the players were and what they represented.

If an individual isn’t willing to pay big money for a product, it’s not going to garner big money.

No one with any logical foresight is looking for cards as a means of accumulating wealth as they were in the 1980s when the boom began and resulted in the aggregate values declining.

If that trend continues, perhaps the prices of the cards will rise again as the interest dies down. But people hoarding these things in the hopes that they’ll eventually be worth thousands will be disappointed.

The Schumaker card is getting Topps in the headlines and will increase sales, but not enough to make it a “collectors item” or return the industry to the overpriced days of 30 years ago.

In the end, it’s just a squirrel. It’s not Mickey Mantle.