With all due apologies to the chicken and the egg, the original cause-effect conundrum may well have sprung from the 1981 Topps Squirt Rickey Henderson baseball card.

I mean, at least from a collector’s perspective.

In case you’re not familiar with this beauty, here it is ….

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And in case you’re not familiar with Squirt issue overall, the gist is that Topps teamed with the soda brand to release a set of 33 different player cards in the summer of 1981.

The cards came in two-player panels, chained together vertically, and with a Squirt-logoed loop at the top. Said loop would get hooked over one of the eight bottles in a carton of squirt OR the whole panel would get slipped into one of the slots where a bottle sat.

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Either way, these cards really livened up the soda section that summer when a) Topps was fighting off upstarts Fleer and Donruss and b) that lowdown, no-good, dirty rotten Strike rent the season in two.

Four cards were short prints, with Rickey being one of them.

No real surprise that Henderson made the Squirt lineup, as he had exploded onto the scene with 100 stolen bases in 1980. Right on his heels, though in the National League in his lone season with the Montreal Expos, was Ron LeFlore, with 97 swipes.

Interestingly, LeFlore was also a short print in the 1981 Squirt set, appearing at number 26, with Henderson at #28 and Steve Kemp in between them.

But speedster asides aside, the real intrigue with this second-year Rickey card is that it appears to have sprung, whole-cloth, from the far-away wilds of Cardlandia, popping up at your local grocery store to regale the kids.

After all, you don’t get the kind of perfect color-matching that Rickey’s A’s garb and the Squirt card design pull off outside of HGTV … or nature itself.

And, sure, I know those were sort of the Squirt colors, anyway.

And those were the A’s colors, too.

And, sure Tony Armas was in this set, too, also looking pretty good in all that Green and Gold.

But that Armas card is not quite as perfect as Rickey’s.

There had to be some inspiration here, right?

Was it divine? Or did Squirt copy the A’s, just to make the Human Hot Dog look so good? Or did the A’s copy Squirt to divert attention from the Colosseum?

Or did Topps do some trickery with their color matching to make Rickey and Squirt *pop* so brilliantly?

So …

Which came first … the chicken or the egg?

The hot dog or the soda?

In the end, it’s a question for collectors to ponder through all the hot summer nights and the cold desolation of winter.

But, thanks to the 1981 Squirt Rickey Henderson card — which sells for $50 or more top raw condition — at least we have some appealing eye candy to light our contemplations.

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1981 Topps Squirt Rickey Henderson Oakland Athletics A's #28 ⚾

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1981 Topps Squirt Baseball Miscellaneous Lot 16 Panels

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1981 Topps Squirt Rickey Henderson #28

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