Dozens of sports card products are released every year, but none generate the kind of buzz that the first baseball cards of the season brings. Collectors, dealers and card companies, now united and able to interact via social media, help fuel the fire. It's a time when someone who wouldn't dare pay full price for new shirt will gladly fork over way too much money for the newest gimmick or chase card just to say they own it.
Prices for 2012 Topps Series One Baseball will most certainly drop. A few weeks from now, the bloom will be mostly off the rose as the next product comes down the pike. Higher quality inserts will survive the stampede to a degree, but by July, most cards pulled this week will be ancient history.
For now, though, everyone is in a box busting mode.
Boxes and packs hit most big box retail stores and card shops on Wednesday. If you were selling anything at a competitive price, you had a good chance of selling it on eBay once it came out. Big dealers were breaking down multiple cases (and here's what inserts from 60 opened cases looks like). Collectors were buying. They sampled the product and chronicled it on Youtube (note: the nation's schools need a mandatory video production class). Many sports card shops will see one of their highest traffic days of the entire year.
Like a ceremonial toss on Opening Day, noted collector Keith Olbermann again got the honor of throwing out the first box...er....opening it up. He used to do it alone on the set of his show on MSNBC, but this time MLB Network was there to shoot video for a segment that was supposed to air last night as staff members dined on pizza and ogled box after box. He chronicled the whole thing in his Baseball Nerd blog and it's well worth a read.
Topps' Clay Luraschi was the featured guest--by phone--on the morning show of KTVI in St. Louis, which offered a lengthy interview on the 2012 cards.
More than 12,000 listings were up on eBay for "2012 Topps Baseball" by Wednesday night--a group that grew by more than 1,000 in less than an hour as collectors and opportunists swooped on to try and cash in on the feeding frenzy. Cases. Boxes. Box lots. Blaster boxes. Hobby Boxes. Jumbo Boxes. Sets. Master sets. Set lots. Singles. Parallels. 1 of 1's. Variations. It was all there, already. Among the cards that had been pulled in the first few hours: Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson 1-1 solid gold redemption cards.
Dealers opened cases and sold the Golden Giveaway code cars. One offered a lot of 720 for $2,880. Another had a group of 1,400 jumbo wrappers, good for 100 Gold Rush packs that would yield the special redemption cards, for $1,579.99. An Albert Pujols 1/50 World Series Champions autograph card sold for $350. The Pujols card #331 showing him as a member of the Angels, short-printed and very limited, was being offered for $250-300 (the dealer who opened 60 cases reporting pulling NO Pujols and one Jose Reyes Marlins #332).
The bad news for those who couldn't wait to attack those short prints? The infamous Skip Schumacher rally squirrel card dropped like a stone between Tuesday and Wednesday. Clearly, there were a lot more placed in cases than many had let themselves believe. Those who spent $300 for the much discussed card on Tuesday morning could have landed one for a third of that--and less--just 24 hours later. Savvy collectors remember the first rodent-related Topps baseball card to ignite online craziness--the 2007 Poley Walnuts--selling for big bucks at first. The last one sold on eBay for $9.99.
The 2012 Topps baseball issue will continue with series II once the season finally arrives, but there can only be one national baseball card holiday and this was it.