The Sports Bookie -- Taking a look at Pope Benedict XVI cards

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The world was stunned Monday by the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI on Monday that he would be resigning as pontiff — the first to do so since 1415. The 85-year-old pope cited his age as a factor for stepping down. The scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church in recent years also may have played a part, but I am not going to speculate about that.

What I do find interesting is that card companies have included the pope in several releases since he took office in April 2005. I have found several examples — and there may be more — but these are representative of the types of cards that have honored the man who was known as Joseph Ratzinger before he was elected pope.

Upper Deck included five cards of Benedict in its 2,500-card 200th Anniversary set in 2009. Topps featured the pope in at least two different sets. One was as a mini insert in the 2008 Allen & Ginter set, card No. 17 in the World Leaders subset. A second one was from the 2009 Topps Heritage set and was a relic card — but not that kind of relic. This card contained a piece of the Yankee Stadium wall, a very nice blue piece of material. It marked the occasion when the pope conducted services at Yankee Stadium in 2008.

From the online-exclusive world, there is an eTopps Allen & Ginter Yankees Tribute card that also referenced the 2008 visit to Yankee Stadium. There were only 1,499 of these cards produced in 2008, and they came sealed in a tamper-proof case with a holographic seal.

As card companies continue to include world events in their sports cards products, it’s a safe bet that the next pope will be included in future releases. It’s a long shot that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, would be elected; some religion pundits have speculated that the College of Cardinals would be hesitant to choose a pope from a superpower country.

I do like his sense of humor, though. The Associated Press today reported Dolan saying it would be “highly improbable” for him to be considered for the papacy. But joking with a reporter, he asked, “Is that why you’re kneeling?”