Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How Do YOU Define a Rookie Card?

While the question seems easy enough, the answers vary depending on the particular collector you talk with. I recently had a conversation on Twitter (follow me) with Chris Gilmore, the owner of Freedom Cardboard on my disdain for products like Donruss Elite Extra Edition and, even more so, Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects. I know that these products are EXTREMELY popular which makes my opinion one of the minority (what else is new). Reason being is that several years ago now, MLB created, for better or worse, what became known as The Rookie Card Rule and the introduction of the rule's subsequent logo.

The rule was created to add clarity to an increasingly confusing market place that prohibited new collectors and casual fans from understanding, and therefore, being able to simply acquire, rookie cards of their favorite players. However, Topps licensing agreement with the MLBPA allowed them to circumvent the rule by including prospects within a product as long as they weren't numbered as part of the base set. Thus creating the 1st Bowman Card moniker present in all Bowan branded products and particularly with BDPP.

So much for helping to clarify the marketplace Topps.

So what is a rookie card? Some collectors think that a prospect card, sans the RC logo, depicting the player in their major league affiliate's minor league uniform, constitutes a rookie card. Others, like myself, would like to back the spirit in which the rule was created (even though I hate the RC logo and wish, if it must be used, that it be smaller and on the card back) and think that a player, for the forst time, making a team's 40-man roster in September or the 25-man roster out of Spring Training is a "true" rookie card.

Chris counter argued that "any card with (any sort) of professional affiliation, (i.e. cards from BDPP and EEE )can be considered rookie cards."

Ok, if that is true, and we use the banner of "any sort of professional affiliation" as the criteria, does that mean that players drafted by the NFL and designated on a team (creating pro affiliation), yet depicted in their college uniform in cards from Sage and Press Pass, should they be considered rookie cards. Same for NBA draftees released in Press Pass?

Or what about players drafted by the NHL and playing for their minor or junior league affiliates like those from products like Heroes and Prospects from In The Game?

Or is the argument to broad and needs to be limited to; being depicted in their league affiliate's minor league uniform?

Who decides, the collector? That's why it's important that the card companies adhere to the spirit of the rules set forth by the league and quit trying to circumvent them for the sake of the almighty dollar.

I know many of you disagree, so now, the floor is yours . . . how do YOU define a rookie card?


dogfacedgremlin said...

You have to take the rookie card for what it is officially made out to be. However, in my opinion, RC's should be designated as the first card that a player appears on his affiliated team or appears as part of the draft process with that team. Draft pick cards don't bother me, as long as they show the player actually at the draft. With football, for example, I want to see the player with his team, not his college uniform and stat sheet.

I'm not a college/minor league kind of collector. However, with hockey cards, it's kind of hard not to be. It's easy to make an exception to the rookie rule for the NHL because the players are pulled from not only multiple sources (AHL, IHL, ECHL, NCAA, High School teams, European leagues, etc.), but multiple countries. Because of the nature of the game, many times a player will get drafted years before he makes his pro debut. You end up with a "rookie" card of a guy who may not even play for another 2-3 years. Take John Tavares for example. Technically his first cards were in the 2005-06 ITG Heroes and Prospects set. He didn't skate in the NHL until the start of the 09-10 season. Yet those 05-06 first issued cards go for $5-15 while his 09-10 UD Young Guns is pulling $100 or more in most cases.

I think we should just throw out the term and say 1st year, 2nd year, and so on.

PatsCards said...

I think the rule needs to be re-written again so it reads that a player has to play "x" amount of games as a MLB, NBA, NHL, etc. player.

Those cards that are released 2 to 5 years prior to the player playing in "the bigs" shouldn't be considered rookie cards. They should be considered minor league cards. Of course, in some cases like Tavares and Strasburg, those minor league cards will still be available, but without being designated rookie cards. Or, to take it a step further, those cards could be considered the players Triple A, OHL, etc. rookie card, which would still leave their MLB, NHL, NBA rookie cards the ones to get and most sought after.

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