So how do you get on a baseball card? Former Twin Josh Rabe details the process
QUINCY (WGEM) - With the fanfare of Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season, comes another tradition.
That’s the time-honored opening of baseball card packs, tearing off the wax paper in hopes of uncovering an elusive star card like Shohei Ohtani.
Millions of collectors of all ages own cards but how many players are actually ON a card?
The number varies but during the 2021 season, the 20,000th player appeared in an MLB game. Baseball cards date back to the 1880s when they came with tobacco products. Not all those players appeared on a card, so that makes the number even fewer.
The last Quincy area player to appear on a regularly issued card brand is current Quincy University athletic director and former baseball coach Josh Rabe, who appeared on 2006 and 2007 Topps and Upper Deck issues.
| View Josh Rabe’s Topps card here.
Rabe, who went to high school at Mendon Unity, is one of several area residents who have appeared on a Topps card. Some others include Elvin Tappe, Jim Finigan, Rick and Paul Reuschel, Jimmy Qualls, Terry Bogener, and Scott Sanders among others.
Also, numerous former QU players, Quincy Gems, Quincy Rivermen, Quincy Cubs, and Quincy Giants have appeared on cards. Way back in 1934, Quincyan Fritz Ostermueller appeared on a card produced by Goudey.
Rabe, who spent time with the Minnesota Twins during the 2006 and 2007 seasons after a Hall of Fame career at QU, detailed the process of a player appearing on a baseball card.
“One of the first days of spring training is a service day,” Rabe said of how his 2006 Topps 52 card developed. “On that day, we get our physicals and official team headshots.
“Then, all the video game companies are there. They take about five minutes and shoot video from all different angles with multiple cameras.
“Next the baseball card photographers take pictures, asking for different poses, such as the one when I’m holding the bat that was used in that particular card.”
The 2006 card, based on the style of Topps first full run set in 1952, also has a facsimile autograph.
“To get the autograph, they give you three index cards and have you sign your name three times, " Rabe said. “Then they pick one and digitalize it onto the card.”
The back of the card usually contains the player’s year-by-year statistics, metrics and a brief biography.
What does Rabe think of his bio?
“I’ll be blunt. I don’t even know what it says,” Rabe said.
And what did Rabe think when he first saw his own Topps card?
“Honestly, I really didn’t give it much thought,” Rabe admitted.
Rabe also appears on a 2007 Upper Deck card, an issue that is popular among autograph collectors and even more difficult to complete the set because it was short-printed. His card number is 1117.
The photo shows Rabe signing autographs for fans prior to a game.
“I remember the day that picture was taken,” Rabe said. “This guy was just following me around taking pictures. I thought it was kinda weird.
“He later told me he was assigned to take pictures of me and that’s the picture Upper Deck used.”
Rabe said collectors have told him it’s a difficult card to unearth.
“I’ve been told it’s a hard card to find and really rare. It’s hard to pull it to complete the set,” Rabe said.
Rabe said as a youngster he never gave much thought to being on a major brand baseball card which at that time also included Donruss, Fleer and Score as well as Topps and Upper Deck.
The baseball card-collecting hobby has bitten Rabe’s two sons, Cal, 7, and Cam, 5, according to Debby Rabe, wife, and mom.
“The boys are proud of their baseball card collections,” Debby Rabe said. “One of the dads of their Mayhem youth team had cards of each of the kids produced and they have Josh’s card right next to theirs in their binders.
Daughter Paige, 9, wasn’t bitten by the collecting bug.
“She could care less,” Mom said. “Soccer and volleyball are her thing.”
Rabe says several times a month he gets cards in the mail from autograph collectors asking him to sign cards. He says as long as a self-addressed stamped envelope is included, he will sign the cards and return them.
A lot of the cards Rabe gets asked to sign are minor league cards. According to Beckett Baseball Card Guide, Rabe has appeared in eight minor league team sets.
“My kids think that is funny,” Rabe said of the mailed autograph requests.
“Oh yes, that can turn into a real family event,” Debby agreed. “They will argue about who gets to open the envelope.
“They are really entertained that people want his autograph. Even though they collect cards, to them, he’s just Dad.”
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