My Player Collections – Jim Gantner

Editor’s Note: Similar to the “Favorite Common” series, here is a chance to see and read about some of the player collections out there. If you have a player you collect, let us know!

Jim Gantner was my favorite Brewer when I was growing up, and he still is today. He was a fixture at second base for the Brewers during his 17-year career. Gantner teamed up with Hall-of-Famers Robin Yount and Paul Molitor for a Major League record 15 seasons (Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera have since broken the record with the Yankees).

Gantner was not a power hitter (47 home runs in his career), but he made contact, as evidenced by his .274 career batting average and the fact that he only struck out more than 50 times in a season once (51 in 658 plate appearances in 1984).

Gantner’s tenacity and blue collar attitude made him a fan favorite. His defense was solid and he finished with a .985 fielding percentage that places him in the top 50 all time at second base. His grit showed when he came back 10 months after a torn ACL and MCL he suffered at the age of 35.

His collection was relatively easy. Since I only collect Topps Main and Update (or Traded) sets, there are only 15 cards. Technically, I already had all of them in my Brewer collection, but I felt that I needed to have another set of them to properly showcase one of my favorite players. He was never an All-Star, so there is only one card each year from 1979 through 1992, as well as a 1977 Rookie Infielders card.

Speaking of that Rookie Infielders card, that is the only card in my collection that I have had signed. I knew I was going to bring a card when I saw the announcement about his signing at AJ Collectibles, but it took a while to figure out which one. I finally settled on his rookie card. It was amazing meeting one of my idols and shaking his hand.

Interestingly, of his 15 cards, eight of them show him with a bat in his hand, one is of him by the batting cage, and the rest are portrait cards. For a man known more for his glove than his bat, it is surprising that not one of his Topps cards showed him in the field.

My favorite of the set is 1983. It has a head to toe shot of the follow through of his swing from a game in 1982, which is the only year that the Brewers made it to the World Series. He’s also wearing the powder blue uniform, my favorite Brewer uniform. On top of all that, 1983 Topps is one of my top five favorite series.

One card that I was sure would be worth some money when I first laid my hands on it was his 1987 card. The image is flipped and the logo on his hat is backwards. Unfortunately, Topps did not correct it, so it remained a common card.

So there it is, my smallest non-current player collection. Jim Gantner will forever be my favorite player.

Author: DJ

Hi! My name is Dave. I graduated with a Master of Science in Data Science in May 2020. I enjoy playing baseball, watching baseball, writing about baseball, and thinking about baseball. My favorite place to be is the ballpark, any ballpark. I will watch every level of baseball.

18 thoughts on “My Player Collections – Jim Gantner”

  1. My favorite player was Travis Fryman, drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the first round of 1987. He debuted on July 7, 1990 and I thought he might be a hall of fame player so I collect as many cards as I could find by trading with a many other collectors, sending them players from their teams. I had traders on a waiting list in the late 80’s until the card manufacturers began pumping out too many different cards. Suddenly no one was collecting the same brand or style cards any longer. My Fryman collection ended at 256 different cards although I did somehow gather another 811 of them! My interest waned around 1997 when he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks and the quickly to the Cleveland Indians.

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    1. Fryman is one of my “fringe” player collections, by which I mean I pull Fryman cards if I come across them in packs or lots I buy and put them with the player collection, and occasionally I’ll pick up some Fryman cards if I’m buying a bunch of cards from one seller and see an interesting Fryman, but I don’t regularly search for his cards. To speak to the volume of different products, I have almost 300 different Fryman cards without really focusing on him. However, that’s only about a third of his total cards listed in Beckett.

      I can’t imagine being a player collector for players of this era. Justin Upton is a good ballplayer, with a career length and a career WAR about the same as Fryman. Upton has over 4600 items listed in Beckett, Fryman around 900. George Sisler, even with some recent products that focus on historical players, only has around 800 cards.

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    2. It’s always a shame when your favorite player gets traded away. As far as how many different cards that are out there, that is why I have such a narrow focus.

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    1. Gantner is just one of my collections. The first collection that I started was all of the Brewers. I quickly realized that I needed to narrow that down, so I chose to do just the Topps main and update or traded sets. I stuck with that focus for all of my other collections.

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  2. I always like reading about player collections, particularly players who were good solid contributors but not necessarily all-stars or hall of famers. Gantner played 1801 games, which is still top 400 all-time; more than Mattingly and Puckett and only a few less than Furillo and Joe Tinker. The 1987 Topps card is great because the team logo in the card design is maybe a centimeter away from the logo on his hat and it’s clear that one of the two has to be reversed. It’s not even like the wrote out the team name and made the mistake with the reversed negative – the logo is right there in the card design!

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  3. Most of the players I collect weren’t star players – Russ Davis, Darrell Whitmore, Steve Kline, Chris Enochs, etc. Nothing wrong with a small collection. I don’t understand why you’re so against collecting sets other than Topps.

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    1. I decided on a narrow focus when I was putting together my Brewers collection. Even with Topps, I narrowed it to just the main and update or traded sets. When I was younger, I used to buy Topps, Fleer, and Donruss, so there are a lot of cards from the early 80s that are very nostalgic for me. However, opening up my collections to the other brands, or even to other Topps sets, would be overwhelming to me.

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  4. DJ – The readers have spoken! We want Fleer, Donruss, food issues, etc.

    Your Topps-only discipline is making us look bad to our significant others for whom we have often resorted to explanations like, “But that’s what collectors do, collect EVERY card!”

    How else do we explain the recent purchase of unopened cases of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese from 1987?

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    1. That would be way too much work for me to research and find every Brewer, team portrait, as well as my player collections. Maybe once I complete the team portrait cards I’ll expand a little. Until then, I have plenty to hunt for and maintain.

      My collection is relatively small, about 2100 cards now in 4 binders with a 5th coming soon. I’m hunting about 350 to complete all of my collections as well as getting the new Brewer cards three times a year.

      I love seeing what others collect. There is so much out there. I also love the stories behind the collections.

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      1. I started to write a comment about the process I used searching Beckett’s online checklist/price guide to create such a list for Mets cards (I did that back in 2015), and the issues I found doing that, and then looked at the Trading Card Database and realized they have a much better list. It’s more complete (they have more items listed) and more accurate (they have players listed with the correct team). But to get some sense of how counts have changed, from my own list created from Beckett (which tends to be a little lower than that from Trading Card Database, but in the same ballpark), the number of different Mets items listed for selected years:

        1964 – about 100
        1974 – about 130
        1984 – about 350
        1994 – about 1,100
        2004 – about 6,000 (Topps, UD, Fleer, and Playoff all with MLB licenses)
        2014 – about 6,000 (only Topps with an MLB license)

        Everything through 1984 is reasonably manageable (though there are some tough issues throughout that time). Even 1994 is likely manageable if purchases were focused on team sets and someone had patience (or a large enough wallet so that patience wasn’t a requirement). But 2004 is unmanageable, with printing plates and autographs and relics and buyback autographs and rainbow variations, even with a large enough wallet. In the late 1990s the ability to “collect them all” really breaks down due to limited print runs, so I’ll try to pick up an example from a particular set if the price is right.

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      2. Wow, I just looked at Trading Card Database and there are over 120,000 Brewer cards. I’ll stick to Topps main and update sets.

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  5. DJ, I wish I had your discipline. I was 10 years old in 1982, and Jim Gantner literally *always* signed autographs after games. I have 11 different cards he autographed including two where he was in a hurry and signed everything with “Gumby” (which was his nickname, for some reason). I even got a gift from a friend who gave me a cancelled check that a hobbyist got for paying Gantner to sign autographs back in 1999.

    Of course, I burned out on trying to get everything…but I still tried/am trying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I do expand for one collection, it would be Gantner. I would still have to limit it, though, as there are over 800 different cards. I think if I expanded, I would just include Fleer and Donruss.

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      1. Interestingly, Ganter is one listing where Trading Card Database and Beckett differ wildly. TCDB shows 884 Gantner items while Beckett shows a much more manageable 183. TCDB has an enormous number of Brewers Police variations each year, which looks like different issues for different municipalities.

        As a comparison, Keith Hernandez has a little under 1300 items listed in Beckett, and a little under 1400 items listed in TCDB.

        Liked by 2 people

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