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Collect call: 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen baseball

Posted Apr 18, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Apr 18, 2013 at 07:07 PM

The third edition of Topps Gypsy Queen baseball still retains that old-time feel, and there is a wonderful assortment of players, past and present, that make this a nice set to collect. It’s fun to open a pack and get consecutive cards of Albert Pujols, Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax, Prince Fielder and Bob Gibson, for example.

Topps does try to stay true to the original 1887 Gypsy Queen (N175) set design, although there remain a few deviations. For example, the original set only listed the player’s last name, position and the city he played in. This year’s set continues Topps’ recent tradition of using the player’s last name, followed by his first initial, and listing the team name and not the city.

I have to say that the card backs are a little disconcerting — almost a neon yellow, and it really takes away from what is supposed to be an austere product.

On to the particulars. A hobby box of Gypsy Queen contains 24 packs, with 10 cards to a pack. Each pack contains a mini card, and hobby boxes have a special box topper with 10 mini-card variations. Since there are 100 variations … well, you can do the math to see how difficult this subset will be to complete.

The base set contains 300 cards with an additional 50 short prints, and the box I opened had 185 total. Of those, six were short prints; Topps inserts the short-printed cards in the middle of the pack, and it is obvious due to the card being turned around (after looking at five card fronts, card No. 6 is displayed back-first — that’s the tip-off).

There are also 25 variation cards.

Topps promises two autograph and two relic cards in each box. There are 67 different autographs in the set. The box I sampled yielded an on-card autograph of Brewers shortstop Jean Segura. It’s a great-looking signature and it fits well.

The second autograph was sort of disappointing, only because it is going to take some time to get it. It was a redemption card, but the good news is that it is one of Cubs Hall of Fame outfielder Billy Williams.  Worth the wait, at least.

The two relic cards were good and had some star quality to them. The first one was a framed mini card of Josh Hamilton, which contained a nice dark blue swatch; there are 74 different ones in this design, and they fall one per box.

The second relic was a full-size card of White Sox pitcher Chris Sale. The card of the former Lakeland High and Florida Gulf Coast University star had a mostly white swatch with part of a pinstripe. There are 73 different relics like the Sale card, and also they are seeded one per hobby box.

There are 100-card parallel sets of white and blue framed cards, and there are 300 mini cards. There are mini parallels too, and the I pulled two black-bordered cards of Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson and Jim Palmer, both numbered to 199. Robinson, by the way, has a big presence in the packaging for the 2013 Gypsy Queen set, as he is featured on the box top and on every pack wrapper.

The inserts offer an interesting mix of honoring certain baseball skills. Glove Stories consists of 10 cards, and pays tribute to great defensive plays, like John Jay smashing face-first into the outfield wall to make a catch, or Manny Machado’s barehanded grab of Evan Longoria’s slow roller and his subsequent fake throw to first. That allowed Machado to catch Rays runner Rich Thompson napping as he rounded third; Thompson was caught in a rundown between third and home and was tagged out to end the top of the ninth and preserve a 2-2 tie. The Orioles went on to win 3-2 in that Sept. 12, 2012, game (Machado led off the bottom of the ninth with a single and scored the winning run on Nate McLouth’s RBI single).

I found four of those cards in the hobby box I sampled.

The No-Hitters insert set contains 15 cards and includes no-no’s from 2012 and other years, too. The box I opened had six of these cards.

Sliding Stars features some of the game’s greatest base runners and sliders, and the 15-card set counts Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith, Bryce Harper and Lou Brock among the players honored. One interesting inclusion: Prince Fielder. The box I opened contained four of these inserts, including Fielder.

Collisions commemorates some of the best plays at the plate, and there are 10 cards in the subset. It’s missing one of the greatest plays at the plate: Pete Rose bowling over Ray Fosse to end the 1970 All-Star Game. But that’s because Topps owns an exclusive license from Major League Baseball, and players banned from baseball are not included in the set. That flap happened earlier this year in a Topps set; the decree by MLB still holds.

There were three Collisions cards in the set I looked at.

Dealing Aces is a 20-card insert set, and there were five in the box I opened. Like a deck of cards, the diamonds and hearts (American League players) are red-bordered. The club and spades are black-bordered and feature National League players.

Although I didn’t find any in my hobby box, Gypsy Queen does offer some big-ticket surprises for lucky collectors. There are autograph relic cards, and dual and triple auto relics. The bat barrel cards are particularly nice, and include such hitters as Reggie Jackson, Duke Snider, Fielder, Longoria, Frank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez. There also is a bat barrel card of Steve Carlton, which seems a little incongruous until you look up his career hitting numbers. While he batted just .201, Carlton did have occasional power, smacking 13 homers and driving in 140 runs. And remember, the last three seasons of his 24-year career were spent in the American League, so he didn’t bat in those years.

Book cards are a possibility, as Topps has produced 15 of them numbered to five and has included some big names like Henry Aaron, Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Don Mattingly, Bryce Harper, Harmon Killebrew, Johnny Bench and Ken Griffey Jr.

The other intriguing pull will be the 50-card button relic set, in which a player’s uniform button is embedded into his card. All of those cards are numbered to three.

It all adds up to another challenging set to complete. There is plenty of reward, and certainly the on-card autograph and relic cards should be a nice lure.

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