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: 2013 Topps Tribute World Baseball Classic edition
Posted Jul 14, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo
Updated Jul 14, 2013 at 01:20 AM
If you enjoy baseball cards with an international flavor, then a set honoring players from the World Baseball Classic should be an attractive addition to your collection. Topps caters to that need with its 2013 Tribute World Baseball Classic edition. The look and feel of these cards oozes high end, with thick stock and a shiny front, sharp photography and an attractive design.
The base set consists of 100 cards, with gold parallels numbered to 25, red (5) and purple (1/1). A hobby box contains six packs and average five cards per pack—some packs may have fewer cards because of thicker relics, but it’s worth the sacrifice. After all, collectors will be buying this set for the hot cards and not necessarily the base. Topps is promising at least one autograph or a relic card numbered to 99 or less in each pack.
Players are depicted in the uniforms of the teams they played for during the World Baseball Classic.
The first pack I opened contained a World Classic Baseball Heroes autograph of Mariners pitcher (and Japan native) Hisashi Iwakuma. This is part of a seven-card autograph set that includes Ken Griffey Jr., David Ortiz, Yu Darvish, former Rays infielder Akinori Iwamura, Kenji Johjima and Yoenis Cespedes. That was a very nice way to start off the box.
The second pack I opened also contained an autograph of the Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy, who went to Umatilla High School in Central Florida.
The third pack I opened had only four cards, but one of them was a doubly thick relic card. This was a game-worn Prime Patch of Puerto Rico native (and Giants outfielder) Angel Pagan, numbered to 15.
A third autograph popped up in the fourth pack I opened. This one was of Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, numbered to 35. Cruz, by the way, had 24 home runs in 2012. As of today, he has 22, with half a season to go. He also had 92 strikeouts, well on pace to top his career high of 140 in a season, set in 2012.
The fifth pack also contained just four cards, but that’s because it contained a Prime Patch card. This time it was of longtime maj0r-leaguer Andruw Jones, who played for the Netherlands team in the 2012 World Baseball Classic. Jones is a native of the Dutch territory of Curacao. The card was numbered to 125, which kind of goes against the promise on the hobby box that all relics would be numbered to 99 or less. But it’s a nice thick card with three colors and a colorful patch, so I was not too disappointed.
The final pack contained an autograph card of Reds infielder Brandon Phillips.
Overall, I’d say it was a good haul. There were some nice autographs and a pair of decent patches. Some collectors will get luckier, as Topps has a Prime Flag Patch set and the Tribute to the International Legends, an autograph set that includes big names like Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Juan Marichal and Cal Ripken Jr. These cards are numbered to 15 and would be a fine addition to one’s collection.
Is the set worth the gamble? I’ve seen a hobby box go for as low as $179.95, but if you have the cash and enjoy the risk-reward factor, then it might be worth it for you. There are certainly some very attractive cards and autographs.
The choice is yours.