This years set looks really tough with a limited print run of 150 copies per card. Oddly, this years set is half Mets and half Yankees. Needless to say, the price tag on some of the cards from this year's set has been quite high. Last year's Royals issue was also limited and featured Yu Darvish and Bryce Harper. Those two cards are nearly impossible to find for less than $50. However, somewhere in the not to distant past the All-Star Fan Fest patch cards were not serial numbered and the teams attempted to make more of a connection with their hometown crowd, rather than with the card collecting crowd.
In 2009 the All-Star Game was played in my hometown of St. Louis where Topps made three Fan Fest Patches available to fans: Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, and Ichiro. The Pujols card has an obvious St. Louis connection as the star player of the Cardinals at the time of the game. The Howard card was put in the set since he is a St. Louis native, attended the same high school as David Freese, and still has a residence in the area. Ichiro is a little bit more of a stretch, but a cool story and good connection to St. Louis and the baseball history of the town. At the time of the All-Star game, which I did not attend, I was able to track down and trade for two of the three cards:
2009 Topps All-Star Fan Fest Albert Pujols Patch
2009 Topps All-Star Fan Fest Ryan Howard Patch
I was pretty content at the time with the two patches, but I have actually become a little bit of a closet Ichiro fan in recent years. The Ichiro connection to St. Louis actually started in 2004 while he was chasing down the single season hits record in 2004. The record had belonged to St. Louis Browns star George Sisler. During the 2004 season the Mariners played an interleague series in St. Louis against the Cardinals and had the chance to meet Sisler's family. The family took interest in Ichiro's pursuit of the hits record and flew all the way to Seattle to attend the game where Ichiro passed Sisler's old hits mark of 257.
When the Cardinals were awarded the 2009 All-Star game Ichiro actually made plans to take the chance to meet up with Sisler's family again and even visited the grave site of the Browns Hall of Famer. The attention that Ichiro brought Sisler's career and achievements was pretty cool and certainly well deserved since not many people spend time catching up on their St. Louis Browns history. The Cardinals gave a tip of the cap to Ichiro by making sure he was included in the All-Star patch set.
2009 Topps All-Star Fan Fest Ichiro Patch
I was missing the Ichiro for the past several years and actually have seen the card numerous times, but just had never closed the deal, or won the auction, to add this to my collection. Last week, I was able to spot one in the lead up to the All-Star game and quickly snatched it up helping me complete my Fan Fest All-Star Patch Set. The set as a whole is not serial numbered and is actually not difficult to find. The individual cards usually run less than $10 and the set can be had for between $20 and $30. Great find considering that most of the more recent All-Star patch sets run more than $50 for a single card.