Searching for a Simba Autograph

Simbaauto_mediumI know that I’m not the only Atlanta Braves fan looking to get his grubby little hands on as many Andrelton Simmons autograph cards as he can find. I can tell because there aren’t very many to be found on eBay and the ones you can find are going up in price. I acquired my first 2012 Bowman Chrome autograph of Simmons for a measly twelve bucks, but now they’ve shot up to 25 dollars. The blue parallels are now going for around 80 dollars. The orange version is topping 250 dollars. I’d love to have a few parallels, but that’s far too rich for my blood. I also took notice of Simba’s Bowman Black autograph, but I can’t pay 125 dollars for an autograph of a player whose only had a few good weeks in the big leagues.

On the sell sheet for 2012 Topps Pro Debut, I took immediate notice of the great looking Andrelton Simmons autograph. The picture shows the kid from Curaçao in the awesome green uniform worn by the Lynchburg Hillcats. His signature, in blue ink, looks great. (It is, unfortunately, on a sticker, but for a product like this, there’s little that Topps can do about that.) It is simply a great looking card and I consider myself desperate to add it to my collection. I’m not sure that it’s going to happen.

I’ve been checking eBay as often as I can, and they show up few and far between. There are seemingly dozens of Braves 2011 first round draft pick Sean Gilmartin available for just a few dollars. Matt Lipka’s autograph card looks great with the shot of his name and uniform number, although his signature is a little messy. It is also plentiful and affordable. There are no issues locating the Carlos Perez autograph, even though it also includes a terrific photo. There are four Braves autographs in the set. Three are everywhere, and the one I want most, is nearly impossible to get.

I’m not playing dumb here. I get why the Simmons cards are more expensive than the others. He’s been called up to the big leagues and has been playing like he belongs. It’s one of the great stories of the season so far and has been immense fun to watch. I can see why his autograph from 2012 Topps Pro Debut has been selling for 35 dollars on those rare occasions it shows up. (His gold parallel autograph, limited to 50 cards, is nearing a hundred dollars.) I just don’t understand why there are so few of them. There are no indications that the Simmons card has a shorter print run than the others. Are collectors watching the prices of his cards rise and hoping to sell them off at a higher price? I imagine that the majority of the people who have pulled his autographs are not Braves fans.

I’ll have to play the waiting game. Perhaps when Simba hits his inevitable first slump, the quantity will rise and the price will drop and I can add this beautiful card to my collection.

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Topps Pro Debut was introduced two years ago when Topps acquired an exclusive license to manufacture Minor League Baseball cards on a national basis. The set is a short set of minor leaguers done in the style of base Topps from the season. It is inevitable with these types of sets that the majority of the players will never make any kind of mark in the big leagues. There are a lot of reasons people collect cards, but for me, I’m looking for memories of baseball played. I don’t get out to see many minor league games and I have utterly no interest in minor league players in any system other than the Braves. As such, minor league sets, and sets largely devoted to prospects don’t interest me. In fact, I utterly hate Bowman.

Still, every year, Pro Debut gives me reason for pause and I consider collecting the set. Topps does so much right with this set. The players are mostly pictured in their minor league uniforms rather than in Spring Training MLB uniforms. Topps uses the official logos of the minor league teams rather than the big league team’s uniform. The cards simply look great. There is a minimum of crap in the set, unlike base Topps which is loaded with bad inserts and stupid gimmicks. It is a simple, uncomplicated collecting experience that never strays from its mission. No matter, I’m going to pass again this year on Pro Debut. I’ll pick up as many of the Braves as I can, but I’ll pass on opening a box. Perhaps if the product wasn’t available in hobby stores only, I’d open some packs, but that’s not going to happen.

If YOU however love minor league baseball, you should consider breaking a box. If you go to lots of minor league games, buy it up. If you like to get minor league autographs, these cards should be great for that. (In fact, there is a larger than you would expect group of people online who look to get hand signed versions of every card in the set.) Boxes are selling in the 60 to 70 dollar range on eBay right now. Who knows, if Simba keeps playing like he’s playing, it might even drive up the price of the set. If you like collecting prospects and minor leaguers, and you like base Topps, I don’t think you can go wrong with this set.

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2012 Topps Pro Debut Braves Checklist

Thanks to Sports Card Radio for the checklist.

Base Set (also available in Gold parallel and printing plates)

All-Stars Insert Set

  • AS-AS Andrelton Simmons
  • AS-JTE Joe Terdoslavich

Pro Debut Autographs

  • PDA-AS Andrelton Simmons
  • PDA-CP Carlos Perez
  • PDA-ML Matt Lipka
  • PDA-SG Sean Gilmartin

Side by Side Autographs

  • SSA-GP Sean Gilmartin / Carlos Perez

Baseball Cap Logos Relic Cards

  • MLL-CB Christian Bethancourt
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