This post started out as an early attempt to do something unusual for my 2000th post. It turned out to be not interesting enough for 2000… but just interesting enough to not throw away.
The general idea was to go through my collection’s database and try to figure out which player for each team has the most cards. I knew up front that this exercise was going to be dominated by the 1990’s and early 2000’s, when cards were plentiful and my expenses were relatively few. Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun and maybe give me a little insight into… I dunno, something.
Now these results would never stand up in a court of law, given that many of my oddballs are not in my database and – depending on where I got the checklist information from – not every set in my database has team information. Plus there are combo cards and league leaders which wouldn’t show up under a particular player’s name. What it all comes down to is that none of this is worth my spending a week on data analysis.
In order of greatest to least population…
Baltimore Orioles – Cal Ripken, 188 cards
I expected Cal to be on top. There may have been more cards of Cal than any other Oriole, plus I make a moderate effort of collecting him for a number of reasons (not least of which is because Mrs. Shlabotnik loves Cal and she likes to check out any new cards of him that I get… which is as far as her interest goes, but I realize this is still more than most collector’s wives).
New York Mets – David Wright – 87 cards
No big surprise that David Wright “won” the Mets, for a good long while he seemed to be in every insert set put out… but I was surprised that he narrowly beat out John Franco.
I sometimes feel a little guilty that I don’t LOVE David Wright. I mean, I like David Wright and I appreciate everything he’d done for the team, but there’s always been someone I liked more on the Mets (like Jose Reyes or R.A. Dickey)
St. Louis Cardinals – Ozzie Smith – 71 cards
I’m not sure why this is, but if one of my friends is SUPER into a player, like my friend Ann is about The Wizard Of Oz, then I tend to kinda sorta like that player as well. This is despite the fact that Ann has never seen my collection.
San Diego Padres – Tony Gwynn – 69 cards
Tony Gwynn’s presence this high on the list is something I’ll attribute to the fact that I respect him and he was everywhere on cardboard for a while.
Seattle Mariners – Edgar Martinez – 60 cards
I always thought Edgar Martinez was an underrated player and as a result I kinda sorta almost collected him. Even now, as a HOFer, he still seems underrated.
Texas Rangers – Rafael Palmeiro – 58 cards
(*sigh*) Raffy, Raffy, Raffy. I really liked him before the whole PED situation. I’d like to think he was innocent but I honestly don’t know what to think.
New York Yankees – Derek Jeter – 58 cards
Sheesh… I really do not like his Jeterness and yet I have 58 cards of his? I did a slightly different query on my database and found that I have *NINE* cards of his from various 1999 sets and eight from 2007 sets.
This will definitely be addressed.
Kansas City Royals – George Brett – 57 cards
I’ve got a complete run of George Brett’s Topps base cards from 1975 to 1994… for what that’s worth given that I’m not a particular fan of Brett’s… I like his brother Ken better, TBH.
Oakland Athletics – Rickey Henderson – 56 cards
I’m a little surprised that Rickey isn’t higher on my list, it seems like I have more of his cards than this… but I guess when you consider that about a third of his career was spent on teams other than the A’s, I guess it does seem about right.
Atlanta Braves – Tom Glavine – 53 cards
Glavine narrowly beat out John Smoltz, Chipper and Andruw Jones
Chicago White Sox – Frank Thomas – 52 cards
The fact that this is Frank Thomas and not Robin Ventura (who I like far, far more than The Big Hurt) means that I’ve got too many Frank Thomas cards… and need more Robin Ventura cards.
Washington Nationals – Ryan Zimmerman – 51 cards
I saw Ryan Zimmerman play before he made his MLB debut, so he’s a favorite of mine even though I generally don’t like the Nats. FYI, I’m counting relocated franchises separately, so there’s another entry coming up for the Expos.
Houston Astros – Craig Biggio – 50 cards
Biggio is about my age and grew up in the same county on Long Island where I grew up (Suffolk County, NY), and while I collect other players who are from Suffolk, I don’t collect Biggio… and I honestly can’t say why I don’t. I will say that I sometimes lose interest in collecting a player when there are too many cards.
Cincinnati Reds – Barry Larkin – 49 cards
For all the Barry Larkin cards I own, I had surprisingly few Barry Larkin cards among my scans. That’s why I had to dip into the 2002 MLB Showdown well for the third time in this post.
Philadelphia Phillies – Mike Schmidt – 49 cards
Um, I don’t have much to say about Mike Schmidt.
San Francisco Giants – Barry Bonds – 49 cards
Repeat here what I said about Jeter. BTW, this card is a pre-production sample of 2002 Topps Total.
Chicago Cubs – Ryne Sandberg – 48 cards
Montreal Expos – Gary Carter – 45 cards
If I were doing a list of players regardless of team, Gary Carter would have twice as many cards.
Colorado Rockies – Todd Helton – 43 cards
Someone from the Rockies had to be on this list.
Milwaukee Brewers – B.J. Surhoff – 41 cards
I’ve been a fan of B.J.’s from his time with the Orioles.
Boston Red Sox – Dwight Evans – 39 cards
This was a moderate surprise… I do like Dewey more than most Red Sox, but there were a number of players (Boggs, Nomar, Pedro, Rice, Yaz, Big Papi) right on his tail.
Detroit Tigers – Alan Trammell – 39 cards
I thought this was going to be Justin Verlander, but Trammell narrowly won out.
Cleveland Indians – Jim Thome – 37 cards
In another few years this will likely belong to Francisco Lindor… And yes, I know this is a Canton-Akron Indians card, but I also didn’t count it as part of the 37.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Mike Piazza – 35 cards
Players with a Mets connection will always benefit in this rundown. Piazza would probably be higher on this list if I included all of the oddballs from small sets.
Minnesota Twins – Kirby Puckett – 35 cards
Toronto Blue Jays – Carlos Delgado – 35 cards
At one point I automatically picked up any cards of players who had played with the Mets, regardless of how I felt about that player and which team he’s with on the card… Which is not to say that I don’t like Carlos Delgado, but he’s also not a huge favorite.
California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels – Darin Erstad – 31 cards
This kind of surprised me. Tim Salmon came in a close second.
Man, I hate those “Disney” Angels uniforms.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Randy Johnson – 28 cards
I’ve been organizing my 2005 cards lately, so that’s why both Todd Helton and The Big Unit are represented by 2005 Donruss
Florida/Miami Marlins – Jeff Conine – 26 cards
Like with B.J. Surhoff, I’m a fan of “Niner” from his time with the O’s.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Bobby Bonilla – 26 cards
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go ahead and make your jokes about how the Mets are still paying Bobby Bo.
Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays – Aubrey Huff – 21 cards
Aubrey Huff is a divisive figure these days, but I liked him as a player. I would’ve bet a blaster of Topps Opening Day that Evan Longoria would be the Devil Rays champion, but he just missed with 20 cards.
Milwaukee Braves – Del Crandall – 6 cards
I started buying a couple of Del Crandall cards as part of my “Managers of the 1970s” collection, but the more I learned about him, the more I liked him.
Original Washington Senators – Eddie Yost – 5 cards
Eddie Yost was basically the same as Del Crandall – started collecting because he was a Mets coach when I was a kid, grew to appreciate him as a player.
“New” Washington Senators – Frank Howard – 4 cards
I’ve got a number of cards of Hondo in my collection, but many of them came with the Dodgers, Rangers and, from his time as a manager, the Mets.
Seattle Pilots – Tommy Harper and Mike Hegan – 4 cards
I collect the Pilots, so it’s a small surprise that it’s only 4 of each player, but then again this is based mainly on the vintage inserts of each player. Don Mincher was also a contender.
Kansas City Athletics – Ed Charles – 4 cards
Ed Charles has the Mets background so there’s no surprise he’s here.
Brooklyn Dodgers – Rube Walker – 3 cards
Like Eddie Yost, a Mets coach in the 1970s.
New York Giants – Hank Thompson – 3 cards
There’s no real reason why I have a small collection of Hank Thompson cards, it just worked out that way… but I’m thinking I’m going to lean into it.
Houston Colt .45’s – Numerous players tied with 1 card
For the purposes of this post, I’m treating this Astros predecessor as existing from 1962 to 1964, even though some Colt .45 caps sneaked into 1965 Topps.
Boston Braves – no cards
St. Louis Browns – no cards
This last one surprised me… I mean, I’ve got a St. Louis Browns cap, but I don’t have any vintage Browns cards? I thought I had some, but I might be thinking of reprints or TCMA cards or some other throwback which came after the Browns left St. Louis in 1953. Last night I started to address this issue by picking up a Dick Kryhoski card on COMC.
The Boston Braves are likely going to have to wait until I find an affordable early 1950’s Del Crandall card.