We have documented in past reviews how the Topps Baseball flagship brand helps set the tone for the year, the highlights of the set and the company’s hope that something magical occurs to get the national media talking about the new baseball cards. This time, I think it’s serving a different purpose. It's cold in the Dallas area and for us this has been a significantly colder than usual winter season. However, it’s nothing compared to the various parts of the country which have been getting beat up with seemingly constant snow and arctic temperatures. The recent Super Bowl dodged a bullet with near perfect winter weather for the game but this has been a long, hard, wet winter for much of the country. Spring does eventually arrive, however and by February 1 we start counting down the days to the exhibition games in Florida and Arizona.
We know when Topps Series One is released that pitchers and catchers will report to their camps in a matter of days and there is light at the end of the frozen tundra. Nothing brings warmth and sunlight to collectors and baseball fans than seeing the brand new cards. They’re back and while the internet is full of debate over whether it’s a good product, Topps' flagship baseball series is a 62-year-old tradition that celebrates past and present. Some collectors complain that Topps doesn’t change things up enough and once again, they use white bordered approach on the base set with similar fonts and the usual bells and whistles. Topps takes us back 25 years with its inclusion of the "future stars" logo on the bottom of some cards. It reminds one of the 1989 set where the "future stars" logo was used for players such as Gary Sheffield and Gregg Jefferies. Depending on the length of the player's career, the cards have biographical stats, some verbiage about his career and then year by year and career statistics.
My local card store (Triple Cards, Plano TX) reports good sales at $64.95 per box and I walked in on trade night where his collectors were swapping with each other to finish sets, which is always cool to see. Hobby retailers are between $50 and $55 per box.
Topps updates some of the cards where players made off-season moves to other teams but it’s kind of hit and miss. Series Three should push everyone to the proper roster.
There are a ton of inserts and parallels for those ‘master set’ collectors but you’ve probably read about 2014 Topps Series One already, so let’s get to the box and tell you what we pulled:
Base Cards: 308 of 330. I did not see any duplicates and that is more than 90 percent of the set. Pretty darned good I'd say.
Red Hot Foil Parallels: Henderson Alvarez HL, Matt Davidson, Ian Desmond, Evan Longoria, Mike Minor, Miguel Montero
Gold Parallel (#d to 2014): Onelki Garcia, Jason Kipnis, Brandon McCarthy, Chris Tillman
Power Players: Aroldis Chapman, Paul Goldschmidt, Carlos Ruiz, Joey Votto
1989 Design Mini Die Cuts: Yogi Berra, Robinson Cano, Manny Machado, Yasiel Puig
50 Years of the Draft: Johnny Bench, Joe Mauer
All Rookie Cup Team: C.C.Sabathia
Before they were Great: Joe DiMaggio. Pedro Martinez
5th Anniversary Stamped Buy-Back Cards: 1968 Don Nottebart (love to see the authentic original cards pop out of new product but the condition of this one leaves something to be desired. Well loved, I suppose). 1969 Paul Lindblad (I would call this one ex or better).
Trajectory Relic: Zach Wheeler
Topps promises one autograph or relic per box and we didn't hit an autograph this time.
There hasn’t been a huge national buzz so far this year, but after opening the first baseball card box of the season, I feel warmer already. Seeing the Florida sun on the Don Nottebart card reminds me of younger days and some of my earliest packs of baseball cards.
A lot of 2014 topps has been openedso far. Over 35,000 listings are currently on eBay. Click here to see them.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]