Saturday, February 3, 2024

You need old Jazz to make new Jazz


I love listening to Jazz. Much like enjoying Baseball Cards, I figure Jazz will reliably entertain me basically forever. And as with the subject of this blog, an essential part of enjoying it is knowing the history of the art form. If you find Jazz a little perplexing but you would like to figure it out a little better, I can definitely recommend a sort-of local radio station where I live, which broadcasts Jazz every day after 10 pm Eastern, with live human DJ Lazaro Vega explaining all the new and old Jazz for you on: "Blue Lake Public Radio."

As with music history being the essential building block for musicians to make new music, the same is true in graphic design in a general sense but also on Baseball Cards in a specific sense. Recently I stumbled (my previous post here) across a new-ish Baseball Card that clearly borrowed inspiration from a famous graphic of the past. I knew I had to haves an example of it, and one arrived recently, as seen above in "extra large" detail. 

That is not the card I saw first, which was a 2022 Topps Rip mini (i.e. the cards that come out of the Ripped card) /25 Orange card featuring Derek Jeter, with a price in the high 2 figure range, iirc. Leaving aside my lack of desire to own Derek Jeter Baseball Cards, especially expensive ones, the card I saw first with this design had a different, very problematic flaw - in my opinion: the serial number was stamped on the front of the card. I have never liked seeing this on numbered cards, which seems to arrive just, occasionally, at random. I suspect a random employee at the printing plant determines when this will happen, randomly - who knows?

When I went to the ever useful resource that knows Everything® to figure out what set the Jeter card was from, I made the unhappy discovery that every single version of the card, across 7 or 8 different colors of parallels, all had the serial number stamped on the front. 

But I also made a happy discovery: every card on the checklist has an "image variation" without any color parallel, and no serial number stamped on the front, or the back. A strategy by Topps to make the short printed variations more mysterious, I guess?

So when I continued on down this particular rabbit hole, the natural next step was checking eBay, which illuminated another handy thing about these cards: not all of them are for superstars. And thus, some of them are quite affordable - just a couple-three dollars and one could be mine. 

Even better, one of the cards available that day was for a player for whom I now have a modest Player Collection: Jazz Chisholm Jr.

Now collectors never know which Topps employee designs which card, but I wouldn't be surprised if the same Card Designer first tried out this inspiration-theme in 2021 Gallery:

This was an insert set I admired in a basic sense for "going-for-it" somewhat with a simple colorful design, though it never quite inspired me to put together even 9 of them. I liked the more pleasingly colorful Bo Bichette card from the checklist much better than this Soto card that I pulled first and have a digi image more quickly available. This design also seems to have a further descendent in Topps Cosmic Chrome sets, perhaps. Those have eluded my collecting effort, so far, or I would comparison one up for you right here.

That Soto card there has the key word clue for where that Jazz Chisholm mini clearly pays homage:

Which of course has been heavily re-used by graphic designers for many decades, though I can't recall any nods to it in the world of Baseball Cards, before this one; here is the Chisholm card again -
That's the mini version of the scan, I guess. Back up at the top of this post on the extra large version you can clearly see how Jazz' left shoe says "Road" on it, probably a handy aid for the team's equipment manager; have never seen that on a Baseball Card before. Of course I also quite like that it is almost a Powder Blue shoe; the Marlins have some stealthy connections to that soothing 70s Baseball paint scheme we might see here on the blog some future day.

Now of course I have a new challenge with this beautiful little Baseball Card: where do I keep it? I doubt Jazz even has 9 different mini/"cigarette" size cards yet though perhaps he is getting close. But binder pages for these cards hold 15 entries so a mini-Jazz collection probably won't work out. 

Collecting 14 more from this 100 card checklist certainly will, though; I see many more of these little Great Waves in my future.

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