For several years, one of the few themes we heard constantly from collectors was to bring back the Stadium Club brand. After all, Stadium Club began in the early 1990’s, was the first super-premium release by Topps and featured many incredible photographs over the years.
In the early years of Stadium Club such important plays as the 1992 Lonnie Smith card which featured a collision during the previous year World Series with Brian Harper, were found. From the NBA issues, there was a memorable photo of John Starks dunking over two players, including Michael Jordan during the key moment of an NBA playoff game. While those photos are great action shots, there were also plenty of great close-ups. In fact, there is the chance that having to come up with such great photographs every year for a product with diminishing sales may have helped to derail the Stadium Club brand.
The announcement of TSC’s return and resulting checklist warmed the hearts of long-time dealers and collectors. After all, with the return of cardboard fans who began in the 1990’s and their growing impact on the hobby as adults, it seemed like a smart move. Topps even put Ken Griffey Jr. on the front in a nod to those returnees.
While Topps has toyed with the brand over the years, it hadn’t been seen in any form since 2008. One important difference is instead of packs in a standard box, the new iteration of Stadium Club includes three mini-boxes which all contain a player-touched autograph card. There are five cards per pack and six packs to a mini box. This does give dealers the option of selling packs either in mini boxes or by the pack but the owner of a local shop mentioned he would have much preferred the pack method.
Triple Cards here in Plano, TX was selling the mini boxes at $40 with a full box about $115. Currently leading on-line retailers are at $75-80 and have mentioned the original retail price was a high as $119.99. Obviously, at the lower price level, the mini boxes are far more appealing to collectors than the original price point.
2014 Stadium Club has today’s stars and many players who had been on cards during the original Stadium Club run. What that does is bring back memories to those collectors who originally opened these packs and let them have a touch of today as well.
Some collectors and dealers who have opened multiple boxes have had issues with poor collation of autographs.
So how did we do from our box?
Base Cards: 77 of 200. This means one needs as least three full hobby boxes to complete a set. As always we loved the photography and some of the images are really cool such as David Ortiz now famed selfie with President Obama or a shot I had never seen before of Babe Ruth posed with enthusiastic fans. Great photographs such as that truly do dot this set.
Rainbow Parallel: Alex Guerrero, Matt Holliday, Jayson Werth. (Frankly I could not quire figure out which cards had which parallel variations. A better color background delineation would help). I also personally believe Topps would have been better service on the parallel cards to have brought back the First Day Issue parallels.
Gold Parallel: Duke Snider
Field Access: Hank Aaron, Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire, Babe Ruth
Legends Die-Cut: Sandy Koufax
Triumverate Luminous: Jose Abreu
And yes, if we received all that for our $75 investment we would certainly be feeling better about what we got at the $120 level. As the owner of Triple Cards explained, all of his customers who opened the boxes raved about the photo quality and their opinions of the autographs were either “who?” or “wow”. While Wong certainly had a big impact on the Cardinals’ playoff run and looks to have a bright future, we didn’t exactly hit the jackpot.
The die-cuts are nice and we did score with the Abreu Triumverate Luminous.
As for the base set, I think that is a real keeper and very worthy of the Stadium Club tradition.
You can see 2014 Topps Stadium Club on eBay here.