Today’s Pittsburgh Pirates Card of the Day comes from the 2023 Topps set. It’s a throwback design to the 1988 Topps set, and it features outfielder Bligh Madris. I want to get right into the card before I go into more details because there is a lot to cover here.
Here’s the front of the card:
There really is a lot going on here, which is why I cut short the intro. This is a 1988 Topps design, but I also used a variation card, so it doesn’t look exactly like a 1988 Topps card. The section with his name is the same as the original design, as is the Pirates name across the top. The frame for the picture, as well as the size of the border is the same. This is a black border variation. I really liked how that border looks with the Pirates players, which is why I decided to use it here.
We have a lot more going on here besides the throwback design and the black border variation. You also see an autograph here, along with the little note above his name telling you that this is a “Topps Certified Autograph Issue” and not an in-person autograph obtained later. You also have the rookie card symbol above the 35th anniversary seal, which indicates to you why they went with the 1988 set design. It was a very popular set when it was released because cards were just entering their peak popularity at the time, but the 1988 set has lost a lot of luster since then because it was overproduced. It technically wasn’t overproduced for the 1988 market, but it was for future markets. Luckily my buddy Tim Carroll is trying to help control the population of these cards in a productive way.
The other thing going on here is Bligh Madris on the Pirates in a 2023 set. For those who don’t know, or just forgot, he finished the 2022 season in the Tampa Bay Rays system. He was actually claimed off of waivers by the Detroit Tigers in November, then got traded to the Houston Astros a few weeks later. He was already with his third team after the Pirates before these cards came out. I’m not going to complain, this is still a great card. It’s just an interesting choice to include him in the set with the Pirates.
Instead of leaving you hanging, I went right to the source. According to Bligh Madris himself, he told me that he was still in the majors with the Pirates when he signed these cards. In case you wondered about when these cards were produced, his last day in the majors with the Pirates officially was August 28, 2022. Even though they were released to the public much later, I guess once they are signed, they just have to go with the cards.
Here’s the back of the card:
Usually if a I see a scan that is uploaded crooked like this one, I just go look for another. I could have found one I’m sure, but I wanted to use this one specifically because it matches up to the front in one specific way. In the top right you can hopefully make out “053/199”. These black border variations were limited to 199 copies, and this is card #53 from that group. The backs here use the 1988 look, but they don’t have any stats. They use up a lot of the back to tell you that this autograph is guaranteed to be authentic.
If you are interested in this particular variation, this card is $20 delivered from three different sellers. Another two are active auctions that will be completed by the time you see this article. I’ll note that this card did sell for $20 early in the release, but the prices have gone down since then, so you can get it for less, especially if you wait for a straight auction. One recently sold for $6. If you want the regular version, which looks more like a 1988 Topps card, those end for around $5-$6 each.