At this point in the conversation history relevant to Roger Maris, there’s probably not a whole lot to add. Suffice to say that likewise little elaboration is needed to explain the understated significance of numerical cataloging for the Roger Maris base card issued by Topps following his watershed season of 1961. Or perhaps that decision was neither understatement nor thinly veiled bias–but rather a relative, resounding declaration by those at the helm of cardboard culture. Indeed the entire 1962 Topps set with its unpretentious yet salient background & borders styled in imitation wood grain like sliced cross sections of an ash wood bat seems to be the pronouncement of an era (or at least a season) orientated towards hitter, slugger, launcher of orbs. No, there’s little else to add but nostalgic hyperbole such as this. . . . Then again, a couple of pertinent artifacts might still amuse.
- Take a look at this curious specimen from an online auction listing titled “1962 Topps #1 Roger Maris PSA Authentic.” Consider that last term for a moment. This is not some outmoded printing format for PSA authentication slips. The designation of “Authentic” continues to appear on select PSA graded cards. Nevertheless, I remain dubious. (And the seller’s 0 reputation standing does not instill feelings of confidence, at least not the positive kind; however, it may well suggest the sense of, say, confidence scam.) Moreover, that any numbered grading system is absent from the PSA authentication slip suggests something else may be amiss. At the risk of delving into minutia’s minutia, here it is in short: PSA grading standards state that this designation indicates possible tampering (cutting or otherwise), and that “the ‘Authentic’ label means that the item, in our opinion, is real but nothing more.” In other words, this isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement—especially when it comes to condition. But I’m not an expert in these matters. For all I know the card encased here in its clear, plastic coffin is completely legitimate. . . . Still, I’m tempted to file this under F for Fake.
- As contrast, in terms of both condition and quality of character, allow me to present another copy of the same card. Authentication or no, this other 1962 Topps Roger Maris #1 definitely has my stamp of approval—if only for the sake of utter oddity. To add to its eccentricity: the affixed stamp doesn’t even appear to be a picture of Maris but of another, historically lesser known though vaguely familiar player (possibly a fellow Yankee teammate, though I can’t be certain because the paper peels away precisely where the team emblem would appear on his cap).
Given a choice, of course I’d take the weather-wracked, defaced Roger Maris card, sans flashy slab and authentication. It simply feels more real to me.