The baseball card hobby is full of parallels these days.

You know the stuff, right?

Card manufacturer A issues their normal set, then also issues all sorts of variations on that set … keeping the same basic design and player photos … changing border colors or adding a hunk of foil or painting-izing them … inserting them one every 1, 10, 1000 packs.

It’s been going on for awhile, too, at least in test form.

Anybody remember 1975 Topps Minis?

Yeah, those were parallels.

Baseball itself is full of parallels, too, and sometimes those bleed over into the hobby.

I mean, if ever there were two parallel and contemporaneous careers, with baseball card profiles to match, they would be those of George Brett and Robin Yount, beginning, cardboard-wise, with their rookie cards in that (those) 1975 Topps set(s).

Sometimes, the parallels sweep across the ages.

Like that time Ryne Sandberg was Babe Ruth.

Now, of course, Ryno never really rivaled Ruth in terms of revolutionizing the game — few have.

But, as the 1992 season dawned, Sandberg was inarguably one of the best players in the game and already one of the greatest second basemen to ever step foot on a Major League diamond. He was also a Cubs legend.

So it was little surprise, though maybe still a bit eye-opening, when Chicago signed him to a four-year contract extension worth $7.1 million per season.

The date was March 2, 1992.

By then, of course, the hobby had already begun to go crazy with the multitude of issues available at any given moment. Long-time collectors were being forced to deal with the realization that we had little hope of completing our run of baseball cards for any given year — you no longer could get one of everything.

If you had an eye for history, though, or just liked your cards to look a bit different, Donruss Studio had you covered.

For the second year in a row, Big D took a bunch of major leaguers, plopped them down in front of the background from your school picture day in the 1970s, and asked them to smile (or brood) for the camera.

In 1992, the published Studio backgrounds ended up being black-and-white action snaps of the players in question, but Donruss still gave us a shot at reliving those good old days when you ended up with your eyes closed in the school yearbook through their Heritage Series inserts.

Not parallels, exactly, but included in packs of Studio.

And one of those Heritage cards belonged to none other than Ryne Sandberg, showing him in an old, old Cubs uniform — like Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance old.

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Why, those togs made their splash even before George Herman Ruth himself!

Not by a lot, though, because just six years after the Cubs won their last World Series of the 20th century (1908), Ruth made his debut — as a pitcher — for the Boston Red Sox.

He was a mound superstar by the next summer, 1915, but the baseball gods have different things in mind for him.

So, after the Sox sold him to the New York Yankees late in 1919, and after Ruth showed the world what a real power hitter looked like after giving up his pitching duties (mostly), Ruth entered the 1927 season as maybe the most recognizable figure in the world.

And he rode that fame and skill to a relative fortune.

Because, on March 2, 1927, the Yanks announced that Ruth would take home the princely sum of $70,000 in each of the next three seasons, making him the highest-paid player in MLB history.

Of course, things worked out well for all involved, as Babe hit 60 home runs that summer to break his own records, and the 1927 Yankees went down as one of the greatest teams of all time.

In 1991, the Charles Conlon Collection was one of many baseball card issues and hunks of memorabilia to honor that club, with Babe himself showing up in a sort of pensive mood:

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If that’s reminiscent of, say a Studio card, well, it’s probably not purely coincidental.

After all, it was 65 years to the day after Ruth became the game’s richest star that Sandberg laid claim to the same title.

Mere coincidence or a bit of cosmic diamond kismet?

You can decide for yourself, but there’s no denying that baseball, and our hobby, are rife with fascinating parallels.


Hobby Wow!

If you want a sort of oblique piece of Ryno memorabilia, check out this listing on eBay:

That’s a vintage Wrigley Field box seat, #23, same as Sandberg’s uniform number.

Check out the full listing on eBay right here (affiliate link).

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