A few days ago, Topps Trading Cards released their 2015 Allen and Ginter deck.  For those who aren’t card collectors, the Allen and Ginter deck is different from your basic baseball card in a few different ways:  first, A&G is a specialty collector’s deck that features vintage-styled “painted” artwork on the cards meant to throw back to the original artwork on the first-ever trading cards that came in cigarette packs in the 1800s.  Second, A&G is a specialty deck that features not only mainstream professional sports athletes, but celebrity personalities and an eclectic variety of specialists, champions and athletes from other sports and competitions (here’s this year’s checklist).  I’m writing about the 2015 Allen and Ginter pack because I am featured in this year’s deck!


It’s been a fun process meeting and working with the guys at Topps in order to be a part of this year’s A&G.  I even got to take a trip to the NYC office in order to do the signing for my signature cards back in the spring (I posted about it on Facebook).  Thanks to Topps, and thanks to USRowing for supplying the photo for my card!  I have already gotten a bunch of autograph requests from people all over the place for these cards, and it is always really cool to connect with people I wouldn’t otherwise get to meet.

But here’s the real story:

My brother is the collector in our family.  This whole thing really came about because of his enthusiasm for card collecting.  He has been very excited (maybe more excited than me) about the card release, and I have been happy to share his excitement over the past several months that this has been in the works.  But then a few days before the release date, I got a text from him:


So what does this mean??  This means that I now have somewhere in the range of 1-3 degrees of separation from the biggest celebrity crush that I have had in/for my whole life.  As a teenager, for me Val Kilmer was absolute aces.  He was arguably at the peak of his A-Listing during the mid-to-late nineties after blockbuster roles as Batman in Batman Forever, and the infamous Doc Holliday in Tombstone, plus an incredibly-legit portrayal of Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s the Doors.  Things started to get a little dicey after The Ghost and the Darkness and The Island of Dr. Moreau… plateauing with the Saint and then hitting rock bottom with Red Planet.  But there have been a few gems since then–see the Salton Sea  and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.  But it was really his 80s roles that have always stayed with me, and still get me.  I was introduced to Val via his role as ICE MAN in Top Gun (a favorite movie of my Dad’s that we watched a lot at home because of the sounds of the jet engines taking off through the surround sound), and then I started watching more of his other movies, where I also loved him as Madmartigan in Willow and my all-time favorite:  Chris Knight in Real Genius.


So anyway.  I had the posters and watched all his movies, and was generally fascinated by this much-older-than-me person who was out there, with all this talent, doing the things he wanted to do in all sorts of varied roles, with all sorts of varied success. And just kept on doing what he wanted to do.  I wasn’t even deterred that he had a terrible reputation in Hollywood for being really difficult to work with.  Takes one to know one, I guess.  But now after all these years, I’m just a little bit tickled that I’ve reconnected with this part of my young-adulthood in this very random way.  Since some of my younger teammates don’t seem to know who he is… (I KNOW, I was devastated too), maybe a screening of Real Genius is in order.  Or Willow?  Or maybe Top Secret! …. 

(P.S. Val does all the vocals for the Top Secret! soundtrack and I may own a copy of it on vinyl…)

Anyway, if you’re out there, Val, fellow Allen & Ginter subject for 2015, if you’re ever in NYC or Princeton, let me know.  We can trade cards and I’ll buy you a drink.


Long Live the Dream,



4 thoughts on “2015 Allen and Ginter

  1. Topps Allen Ginter Baseball marks the tenth year since the old-time tobacco brand was revived. Just as it has for a decade, the set delivers an old-fashioned feel with ample autographs, memorabilia cards and quirky inserts that reach far beyond the baseball field.

  2. And you’re not only in with Val Kilmer but with author Malcolm Gladwell and soccer great Julie Foudy, too. Very fine, congratulations!

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