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Bob D’Angelo

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 on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.

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Collect call: 2013 Topps Series 1 baseball

Posted Feb 14, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Apr 6, 2013 at 09:05 PM

I’ve been actively collecting baseball cards since 1964. And 49 years later, I still have that feeling of sheer joy and anticipation when I open that first pack of Topps baseball cards. Like many others, I view the release of Series 1 Topps as the official beginning of the baseball season.

So when I opened a hobby box today, I couldn’t wait to open it. If there’s anything that makes you feel like a kid again, it’s opening pack after pack and seeing what big names you pull. The difference now is that Topps has (mercifully) had better collation in boxes of cards. So buying 10 packs of Topps in 1968 might have yielded four Andy Kosco cards; in 2013, the odds for a double, particularly in a hobby box, are much smaller.

To be honest, in 1968 I couldn’t afford to buy 10 packs at one time.

The 2013 version of Topps Series 1 has 330 cards. There is a card No. 331, but it is not a short print as in previous years. That’s because Topps has retired No. 7 again after using a Mickey Mantle card in that spot for the last several years. That’s a shame; it was a nice tradition that I wish Topps had continued.

The collation out of the hobby box I sampled was excellent, as I got 300 of the 330 cards in the base set — a cool 90 percent. Hobby boxes contain 36 packs, with 10 cards to a pack. Topps promises one autograph or relic card per hobby box.

There are also 25 variation cards with different card fronts; I did not pull one in this box, although last week I pulled a Bryce Harper out of a blaster box.

I am really not a big fan of horizontal layouts for baseball cards, but I will make an exception for Will Middlebrooks’ card (No. 64). The Red Sox third baseman is fully extended as he snares a line drive, and the effect can only work with a horizontal design. Great shot. And card No. 224 shows Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay slamming into the wall to make the catch, right next to a giant image of former manager (and Tampa native) Tony La Russa. Then there is card No. 209, showing Cubs outfielder David DeJesus making a catch as he is engulfed by the ivy at Wrigley Field.

Card No. 218 shows a pumped-up Ben Zobrist rising from the plate after sliding home safely. There is some great intensity from Zobrist in this shot.

The backs of the cards include a line about a career chase for each player. Some of them are kind of amusing, like Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson is only 484 wins away from Cy Young’s all-time record of 511. There has been quite a buzz this week about Pete Rose’s name being omitted from the career chase; his numbers are there, but his name isn’t. For example, A.J. Pierzynski has 1,645 hits, putting him 2,611 hits away from the all-time mark of 4,256.

OK, this is old news. Rose has not appeared on an MLB licensed card — in a photo or by name — since he was banned from baseball in 1989. The key word here is licensed. So not sure what the fuss is all about. Topps is following Major League Baseball’s edict that no one who is on the banned list will be mentioned on a card.

Here’s a quote from Matt Bourne, MLB’s vice president of business public relations, which appeared in a story written Wednesday by Beckett baseball editor Chris Olds.

“Since Pete Rose is banned from baseball, he is not included in MLB-licensed products,” Bourne told Beckett.

If Topps defies that edict, then it loses their exclusive MLB license.

So Topps’ decision was obvious. In a tweet Wednesday night, Topps said “we recognize the record on card backs, unable to include Pete Rose name or likeness in product.”

Back to the stuff Topps can include.

The autograph I pulled was a Chasing the Dream card of Milwaukee’s Wily Peralta. On a sticker, but a bold signature nevertheless. There are 20 different Chasing the Dream autograph cards.

As always, there are parallels. Gold cards are numbered to 2013 and are seeded every nine packs, emeralds are not numbered but on average fall six to a hobby box, and pink parallels are numbered to 50; I received a pink parallel card of Dan Uggla.

A really nice addition this year is the mini-card insert in classic 1972 Topps card design. There are 50 in the set, and expect to pull one in every four packs when you open a hobby box. True to the average, I found nine minis — and, I am not sure if this was intentional or not, but it made me smile a little bit — some of the cards were slightly miscut, top to bottom. Just barely, but enough to remind me of those 1970s cards that always seemed to have at least one miscut card in each pack.

The Cut to the Chase inserts are what you’d expect: die-cut cards of current stars and legendary players. Expect to pull an average of three from a hobby box. The box I sampled yielded a Willie Mays along with Adam Jones and Ryan Braun. The cards have a chrome-like texture on the front, and the card backs include a “Thrill of the Chase” vignette about each player, naturally involving some kind of chase (both individual and team). Interesting idea.

Calling Card inserts is a 15-card subset that focuses on a habit a player is noted for, like Albert Pujols pointing to the sky, or Kevin Youkilis’ quirk of sliding his hands up and down his bat. The hobby box I sampled had five of these cards.

The Greats inserts fall two to a box, and they are made of thicker card stock than the rest of the cards. There are 30 in the subset, and the cards I pulled were Johnny Bench and Derek Jeter.
More chasers (I am beginning to think I am at a bar): The Chasing History set contains 50 inserts and highlights a milestone by that particular player, like Adam Dunn’s 400th career homer, or career marks for stolen bases set by Lou Brock and Rickey Henderson. These cards are inserted in every four packs.

Younger players are highlighted in the 25-card Chasing the Dream insert set. The box I sampled contained five.

A typical hobby box will contain six of The Million Dollar Chase redemption cards. It’s a promotion that should keep your interest and might help you learn more about certain players. Go to and redeem the code on your card. You will receive a player.
At the start of the 2013 MLB season, pick players you think will get a hit. If they get a hit, your streak continues. The longer you keep your streak going, the more prizes you can win. And the first person to get hits in 57 consecutive games will win $1 million.

Also, the first 15 collectors to get a 15-game hitting streak will win a complete set of autographs. And the first 1,000 collectors to get a 12-game hitting streak will receive an exclusive autograph.
Players I unlocked were Kyle Seager, David Murphy, Jose Altuve, Jay Bruce, Jason Heyward and Josh Willingham.

Obviously, the more packs you buy, the better your odds of unlocking more players.
The final redemption card I got was a Spring Fever card. Take the card to a participating dealer from Feb. 20-27 and you will receive a five-card promo pack. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay card collectors, there are not that many dealers locally doing this promotion. According to the list released by Topps, Wonder Water Sports Cards in Clearwater (29113 U.S. 19 N.) and Lakeland Sportscards (3114 S. Florida Ave., Suite 2) are the only shops doing the promotion. But if you go watch the Rays for spring training in Port Charlotte, you can always stop by Herb’s Coins and Stamps (2348 Harbor Blvd.).

Don’t forget to keep those wrappers when you open Series 1. Collectors sending in 50 hobby or retail wrappers (you can mix and match), or 10 HTA Jumbo wrappers) of 2013 Topps Series 1 will receive a five-card cello pack of exclusive Silver Slate Parallels. Topps is only producing 10,000 of these packs, so don’t delay.

Wrappers should be sent to:

Silver Slate Wrapper Redemption
P.O. Box 2008
Duryea, PA 18642

Overall, a nice, solid effort by Topps with its flagship product. The design is clean, the action shots are sharp and relevant and it looks as if some thought was given to present a good blend of action shots.

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