They haven’t come with gum for more than 30 years now, but if you’re of a certain age, you’ll still feel the urge to blow a bubble or two at this time every year. Arriving like clockwork for longer than the majority of us have been alive, Topps Baseball is back for another season.
You can find an overview of the packaging, parallels, insert and autograph subsets and have a checklist in our preview here, but just ahead of Wednesday’s official release date, here’s a very early look at what’s actually inside a Jumbo box we received from Topps.
Jumbos offer more cards than Hobby boxes and guarantee at least one autograph, so if you’re ready, let’s throw out the first box of the 2023 season.
Each comes with a box topper and ours was a 1988 League Leaders set throwback of Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. These are oversized cards, just slightly smaller than the box itself.
Below that were the two Silver packs that come inside each Jumbo (Hobby boxes have one).
The Silver packs carry 35th anniversary 1988-style cards with a chrome look and a checklist of both current and former players.
Our second pack landed Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson and a rookie autograph parallel of Adley Rutschman.
Autos aren’t guaranteed in the Silver Packs, so that was a bonus. Overall, the cards in those packs do seem to be a bit inconsistent with centering, however.
Then it was on to the ten regular packs and it was clear from the start that Topps loves shots that have action and emotion. Bryce Harper has clearly hit a walk-off—JT Realmuto may have as well. We landed a pair of Shohei Ohtani base cards in the box. He’s pictured as a pitcher.
The second pack yielded—appropriately—both Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. The two retired Cardinals are pictured doffing their caps to fans.
A nice farewell touch for a couple of future Hall of Famers.
League Leaders cards are back and we couldn’t help but look on the back of the AL Home Run Leaders card we pulled in pack two to see Aaron Judge’s 62 at the top of the list.
The team checklist cards offer memorable moments from 2022 but the execution here isn’t great. “Celebration in Seattle” features an outstanding photo of the Astros after a victory but the back is a checklist and doesn’t offer any details of the specific moment, which is unfortunate.
Seems like just a mismatched hybrid of highlight/moment/checklist. Moments are moments and checklists are checklists and never the twain shall meet.
One of the first inserts we pulled also featured Ohtani and let us be the first to say the “All Aces” inserts are really nice.
There’s a chrome like rainbow look to them while the backs have a traditional playing card design. The online photos you’ve seen don’t do them justice.
Not long afterward we landed our regular box autograph: Lamonte Wade, Jr.
The second year base card of Julio Rodriguez came in our final couple of packs. It has a great image of him flying around the bases with his helmet flying off. Also pictured: a vintage stock parallel of Vladdy, numbered to 199, also celebrating some kind of walk-off hit.
Our pick for the best looking base card goes to Jazz Chisholm.
Out of the 440 total cards in the box, we pulled 58 base rookie cards (there are 53 different in all) including a few duplicates.
Gold foil parallels fall one in every other pack and we would land our requisite 5.
Among the other parallels that emerged: a Red Foil parallel of Jeffrey Springs, numbered to 99 and three Gold parallels numbered to 2023 including Yankees rookie Oswald Peraza. They’re a staple in Topps flagship each year. There were also Rainbow foil parallels of Freddie Freeman, Brian Bello, Carlos Rodon, Tony Gonsolin and Keegan Thompson.
Our inserts included a Major League Material card of Seiya Suzuki (unnumbered) and a City Connect manufactured patch Juan Soto. I think most collectors will say they can live without the latter. There has to be something better Topps could cook up to put into boxes.
There were several regular 35th anniversary cards including Rutschman. It’s actually cooler to see the retired stars like Willie Mays, Bo Jackson, Tony Gwynn and Robin Yount though.
There are Home Run Challenge contest cards again this year.
Whether our box included any rare SSP base cards or image variations is something we’ll have to research.
With a large number of base cards and what seems to be fairly good distribution, I’d suspect we landed a base set or close to it.
As always, the hits are fun, but if you’re buying Topps 1 for that, you’re buying for the wrong reasons. Sure, Jacob deGrom is still pictured as a Met for now, but that’s due to the deadlines Topps faces in getting it out in time for spring training. It’s mid-February, pitchers and catchers are reporting and there are 2023 baseball card packs ready to be opened. Have at it.