What Are “Iconic” Cards? Is the Trout Superfractor Iconic?

adjective icon·ic \ ī-ˈkä-nik \

1 : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an icon
2 a : widely recognized and well-established an iconic brand name
b : widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence an iconic writer a region’s iconic wines

(definition taken from Merriam-Webster)

The biggest card story of the month was undoubtedly the $400k Mike Trout Superfractor to well-known “Vegas Dave.”  The buzz was all through the collecting community.  Posts were found on hobby sites like Sports Card Radio and Beckett, as well as his own YouTube page.   He also conducted an interview with Steel City Collectibles.

2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Superfractor (image via beckett.com)

Somewhere among all the posts and interviews I either read or heard it said that this is an iconic card.  I didn’t think much of it in the moment but that phrase kept coming back to me.  I asked myself, IS this an iconic card?

The definition of “iconic” itself doesn’t really help due to its subjective nature.  Nobody’s list of iconic baseball cards is likely to be the same.  For a card to be “iconic” to me, it needs a few things.  There needs to be a “story” surrounding the card.  Intelligent people outside the hobby need to have at least a minimal knowledge of the card, who it is and why it’s popular.  Finally, it needs to “stand the test of time.”

I also feel that to be iconic, it needs to be the very best of the best.  It shouldn’t be like the Hall of Fame, where guys are debated year over year.  It either is, or isn’t, and there’s no question about it.  To me, there are only two “iconic” cards in the hobby.

If you’re a card collector, you absolutely know these two cards.  If you’re reading this and you’re not a card collector, there’s still a good chance you still know something about the lore of these two cards.

I don’t believe that can be said about any other cards.  There’s a distinct break after these two cards.  If you asked 100 collectors to add a third card, how many different replies would you get?  Probably at least ten.  I don’t believe that anyone understanding the hobby and the history can deny these are the two most iconic cards.

Some of the problems I have with calling the Trout Superfractor “iconic:”

  1. Trout’s career isn’t close to over.  Any number of bad things could happen that cause Trout to be viewed in a different light.  I’m not pulling for that to happen.  I’m just saying that it could happen.
  2. In-line with above, the card hasn’t stood the test of time.  The card is about a decade old.  Check prices when Mark McGwire broke the home run record and where they are now.  I understand it’s different because the Trout is a 1/1.  It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but it’s granny smith-to-golden delicious apples.
  3. It’s a 1/1.  It’s a personal belief, but I think that it’s disqualified for that reason alone.  I’m more likely to concede the base Chrome as iconic.
  4. If this card was such a great buy at $400k, why was it for sale (asking price $500k) for so long?  Certainly if this is “the” card of our time, somebody would have scooped it up sooner.

All that being said, I could see the Trout being an iconic card of a generation.  I just don’t see or accept it as that in hobby history.  Feel free to leave your thought in the comment.


I’ve decided to try selling on Sports Card Direct again.  Hopefully you’ll take a look at my page and see if there’s anything you’re interested in.  I can always sell off the site and ship in a PWE if you’re only looking for a card or two and don’t want to pay $3 shipping.

If you shop online and haven’t signed up and used ebates yet, you’re missing out.  I also use it on eBay to get money back from purchases there.  Between referrals and cash back, I’ve gotten over $215 in a little more than a year.  FREE CARDS!

If you’re on Twitter, please give me a follow.  My blog focusing on my card collection is I Feel Like A Collector Again.  I’ve also recently started a YouTube page.  Please check it out and subscribe.  Happy collecting!

One comment

  1. I would add the 89 Griffey Upper Deck as iconic, but agree with you on the Trout. I think the base version might one day reach iconic status if his career continues at the rate it started, but that’s a ways away.

Leave a Reply