The temperature early Wednesday morning in Roseville, Minnesota was 26 degrees.
That’s 26 below zero. A strong breeze made it feel like -50.
It’s the kind of bitter, crazy cold that can freeze your locks and sear your lungs with every breath. It would warm up by afternoon—to a high of about 13 below.
If there ever was a day when collectors in the Midwest needed something—anything—to remind them that spring would eventually come, this was it. The arrival of the 2019 Topps Series 1 on what was the coldest day of the winter for much of the country was both cruel and comforting at the same time. The thermometer was emphatically stating that baseball games were a long way off, but the cards were a life raft to collectors who have been waiting for baseball since the end of last season.
But in many cases, they had to wait a little longer.
“UPS tracking says the shipment is ‘on the truck for delivery today’, but the details are different,” Tom Frantzen, who owns his own shop in Roseville, told us early Wednesday afternoon. “UPS delivery is usually at 11 AM but today I think they have fewer trucks out and they are larger trucks, so it may be much later. I’m open regular hours today but don’t expect anyone to come in. I advertised on Facebook that anyone who wants a box should message me through Facebook and I will hold a box until the weather is warmer.”
Triple Crown Trading Company in Naperville, IL, owner Tom Morgan opened his doors at 10 AM. Outside, the thermometer read -20.
Morgan’s store was one of the lucky shops that received cases of Series 1 and some bundled up customers made their way to his store in Chicago suburbs. Business hours would be a little shorter, though.
“I’m closing at 2:00,” he reported. “I’m worried my car won’t start if I stay later.”
It didn’t. Morgan was forced to call for a jump start and then bought a new battery.
Across the frozen regions as well as those lucky spots where winter is just a rumor, cases were opened. Boxes sold. Packs ripped. Singles sorted. Autographs, variations, inserts, parallels and relic cards discovered. Instant reviews were offered. An annual rite of spring, even if for many of them, spring was nowhere in sight.
In some parts of the country, the weather was a double whammy. In the Buffalo area, a blizzard forced Dave & Adam’s Card World to send employees home.
Due to the blizzard that is hitting our area, we have just been informed that UPS has pulled all of their drivers off the roads for their safety. Therefore any order placed today will ship as soon as UPS resumes their service. Thank you for your understanding!
— Dave & Adam’s (@dacardworld) January 30, 2019
This is the one time of the year when baseball cards tend to get major news coverage. MLB Network did a short segment. Baseball America talked with some Topps execs for a story about the 150th Anniversary cards.
“It has been a constant discussion,” Brand Manager Jeremy Fullerton said. “With every article we read or player we discussed, there was another item we saw. Things we weren’t able to get into Series 1, maybe we were able to get into Series 2 or Updates.”
It’s (Pack) Opening Day at Topps! pic.twitter.com/A0D0cRAUos
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) January 30, 2019
@dacardworld We pulled a sweet Juan Soto #’d to 50 from our brand new Topps 2019 case today. pic.twitter.com/sRc558LbCE
— Andrew Scott (@aburd48) January 30, 2019
YouTube began filling up with box breaks.
Collectors reported looking for Series 1 blaster boxes at Target and Walmart stores and some were found…
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…but it seemed most had not yet arrived there. Those who ripped into Hobby and Jumbo boxes showed off their prizes.
Have to love @Topps Series 1 Baseball launch day and this beauty! 4/5! First Hank Aaron auto I’ve pulled. pic.twitter.com/e6Fg4vjXDc
— Nate Kane is working on his plate discipline (@thenewjetzzfan) January 30, 2019
If you couldn’t get out of the house (or didn’t want to), Hobby, Jumbo, Retail and Blaster boxes were just a click away with two-day shipping–sometimes less.
Topps baseball wasn’t the only release on Wednesday. Upper Deck’s Game Used Hockey and Panini’s Limited NFL and Optic NBA were also arriving, giving non-baseball collectors a chance to get their minds off the weather, too.
Thursday wasn’t expected to be much better but for those who had cabin fever and were willing to venture out, it was a good day to be a collector.