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Collect call: 2013 Topps Opening Day baseball

Posted Apr 9, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Apr 9, 2013 at 08:35 PM

The nice thing about Topps Opening Day baseball is how affordable it is, and how it tries to target a younger audience. This is the kind of set that tries to show the fun and even frivolous side of baseball, and Topps has done a nice job projecting that carefree spirit in this year’s set.

A pack can be bought at retail stores in the $1.19 range, and a box of 36 packs (with seven cards to a pack) can be purchased in the $29.99 to $36 range. I saw the cheaper price on an Internet site, so there are deals to be had.

The base set contains 220 cards, and there are several card variations too. It looks like the variations include members of the World Series champion Giants and players who were traded during the offseason. The Giants’ variations cards — Buster Posey, Matt Cain, Pablo Sandoval — depict the players during a World Series victory parade.

Other variations show players during their news conferences with their new teams — examples I’ve seen include former Rays James Shields and B.J. Upton, pitcher R.A. Dickey, Nick Swisher and Josh Hamilton. And another variation shows players mingling with fans and/or teammates — the Bryce Harper, Yoenis Cespedes and Prince Fielder cards come to mind.

The 36-pack box I sampled contained 209 of the 220 base cards, with no duplicates. As a set builder, you have to be pleased. There were no variations in this box, but there were seven blue sparkle parallels, numbered to 2013. The design mirrors Topps Series 1 baseball, the exception being the “Opening Day” logo on the card. Still, it’s a crisp, clear design, with plenty of expressive photographs.
Seven seemed to be a common number among the inserts I found.  The inserts I liked the best were from the Stars 3-D subset. These were very colorful cards, and if you are a young collector the three-dimensional technology will be fascinating. This box contained seven of the 25 in the set.

There were seven Play Hard inserts, too. This card has a horizontal layout and touts players who are inspirational because of the way they play the game. Example: David Ortiz “plays with his heart on his sleeve.”

Another insert with a horizontal layout design is called Superstar Celebrations, and this 25-card set shows (mostly) players rejoicing at home plate after a key play. There were seven of these cards in the box I opened.

The Ballpark Fun inserts have a vertical design and show the wild and crazy things ballplayers do. Lots of shaving cream pie faces and Gatorade baths. This is also a 25-card set, and the box I sampled had seven of these cards.

The final insert set of note is definitely one that will please younger collectors. Mascots show the baseball team mascots, like Mr. Met, the Phillie Phanatic, Mariner Moose and even Raymond from the Tampa Bay Rays. There are 24 cards in this subset, and I pulled eight of them from the box I opened (bet you thought I was going to say seven again, didn’t you?).

Autographs are a possibility in Opening Day, but you will have to be lucky. There are only 10 player autographs, and the biggest names appear to be Hanley Ramirez, Will Middlebrooks and David Wright. Those autos will be seeded 1:463 packs. Even more scarce will be five Mascot autographs, which will be seeded one in 925 packs. But let’s be honest — are you really pining for a card that has an autograph from Mr. Met? OK, perhaps you’re a big Mariner Moose fan. Seems a bit extreme to me, but I guess that’s why the cards are scarce.

Overall, this is a nice, easy set to collect. The hot cards are rare, but the design is pleasant and the chance to complete it is relatively easy.

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