Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for TBO.com on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.
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Collect call: 2012 Topps Series 1 baseball
Posted Feb 29, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo
Updated Feb 29, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I had a good feeling after opening my first pack of 2012 Topps Series 1 baseball. I didn’t pull anything outrageous, but it was card No. 7, Mickey Mantle. And that made me smile.
I am always eager to open a box of Topps’ flagship product, and this year’s Series 1 did not disappoint. I am a set builder at heart, although I enjoy pulling a nice autograph or game-used card. But building sets has been my passion since I opened my first pack of Topps cards in 1965 (back when there were seven series of Topps cards, spread out over several months).
So collation is a big deal to me. A hobby box of 2012 Topps Series one contains 36 packs, with 10 cards to a pack. There are 330 cards in Series 1 (actually, 332 if you count the two hastily added short-printed cards of Albert Pujols in an airbrushed Angels uniform and Jose Reyes in an airbrushed Miami Marlins jersey. The box I sampled yielded 292 of the 330 base set cards with no duplicates, or 88.4 percent of the set.
In addition, one pack contained a variation card of Mat Latos, one of several “celebration” variations sprinkled throughout the set. I did not find a Rally Squirrel variation of the Skip Schumaker card, but I did get a “normal” card.
Topps promises one autograph or relic card in every hobby box, and the card from this box was a Derek Jeter game-used memorabilia card from the Golden Moments insert set.
As usual, Topps loads up on inserts, with no fewer than eight different subsets for a collector to chase. Minis in the style of the 1987 Topps wood-grain cards are seeded one in every four packs, and this particular box was right on the money with nine cards. Not sure why 1987 was chosen; if you’re going to pick a wood-grain set, I would have chosen the darker 1962 version, but I guess since 2011 Heritage used that format last year that would have been repetitive. But that’s my vintage bias showing. The minis do look rather nice.
Other insert sets include Golden Moments (I found nine); Gold Futures, which highlights rising young stars like Craig Kimbreland Mark Trumbo (also nine cards); Golden Greats, which pays tribute to great moments by Hall of Famers (nine cards); Gold Standard, which captures Hall of Famers’ milestone moments like Tom Seaver’s 300th victory, Mantle’s 500th home run and Stan Musial’s 3,000th hit (six cards); Classic Walk-Offs, which recalls memorable game-ending home runs (four cards); and Timeless Talents, which compares a former star with a current one (six cards).
Parallels of gold, sparkled cards are also seeded one in ever four packs, and there were nine in this hobby box.
Topps also has two special promotions in this set. The first is the Prime 9 Redemption, which showcases nine of the game’s greatest home run hitters. Collectors receive a redemption card numbered one through nine, and Topps has revealing the players’ identity every Friday; cards 1 through 3 are Willie Mays, Babe Ruth and Henry Aaron. Collectors can take the cards to a local hobby shop, or fill in their information on the back of the card and send it to Topps.
I pulled cards 5 and 7, and I would hope that card No. 7 is Mantle. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
The second promotion is an online contest called the Golden Giveaway. Topps has been running this type of promotion the last few years, where collectors can build a virtual collection of cards, logos, caps, etc. This year’s promotion allows the collector to unlock digital gold coins of Hall of Famers, current stars and team logos. There is also a chance to find gold chrome die-cut cards and cards that contain actual pieces of gold.
The design for this year’s cards retains the crispness Topps has displayed over the past few years. It’s clean, not cluttered, and the focus is on the player and not a photographic gimmick. If I could add anything, I would have included the player’s position on the front of the card.
But I believe this is another solid effort to start Topps’ 2012 run.