I recently spent a lazy Sunday down at my parent’s house, the house I grew up in; at least from about 6 years old until I was 20. I spent the most formative years of my life in that home, so, when I get to go back, even if for a day, I find myself remembering what it was like when I was a kid. The house has changed a lot since I left: with new additions, room remodels, and trees that were used as baseball field bases now taken down. My basketball hoop has been replaced by a boat shelter and my teenage bedroom now has antique looking lamps and furniture in it. A lot of things change over time, but memories don’t.
The previous time I was down at the house, I found a stack of old VHS home videos with Christmas, Beach Trips, and Baseball Games from when I was a kid. I had every intention of dusting those off and watching them on this trip, but I got sidetracked by photographs instead. Going to my hometown can trigger old memories in a multitude of ways. I may ride down a street that I haven’t been down since high school and see where an old friend lived. Or I may ride by my old Middle School that is no longer a school at all. I see the baseball fields where I played as a kid, pass my grandmother’s old home, and go right through the heart of town where the great video stores used to be. However, there is nothing quite as nostalgic as going through old pictures.
The first pictures I found that really caught my eye were these Christmas photos from when I was around 3-4. The Steelers pajamas just jumped right out at me. My maternal grandfather was and still is a huge football fan. He had the big 20 foot high dish satellite before they were even popular in most places. His backyard looked like a miniature NASA. But with the satellite, he was able to enjoy “Sunday Ticket” before it was a thing. His teams are the Cleveland Browns (because he’s from Ohio) and the Miami Dolphins (don’t really know why); but I was exposed to the Steelers, the Oilers, and all of the other big name teams. This photo shows how early football became a part of my life.
Here is another Christmas photo from a couple years later. A few things are noticeable in this picture. I distinctly remember that “Trivia Adventure” game growing up. It was very similar to “Trivial Pursuit” but I remember planets being a big part of the design. I also think this had to be my first big-kid bicycle in the background. I wish I could see the PJ’s clearer but I am almost sure they were Transformer’s. Finally, in a weird twist, I am playing with the WWF (at the time) wrestling figures that I remember so vividly but I have the Iron Sheik stomping on Hulk Hogan. I’m not sure if the picture was taken right before Hogan “Hulked Up” and came back to win or if I was a fan of the heels back then. Odd to say the least!
Then there is this masterpiece! If you can get past one of the cheesiest smiles I’ve ever put on for a photo, this was the day that I opened up one of the greatest gifts in history, Tecmo Super Bowl. I had no idea that this moment was captured forever until I saw this photo. Who knew that I would still have that exact same game cartridge some 30 years later and still dream of the fun times I had playing it?
In true “Glow Up” fashion, it was interesting to see how much, and in some cases how little, I had changed over the years. I went through some serious hairstyle changes over the years, moving from no part, a part down the middle, a part on the left side, and then a part on the right. There were also weight fluctuations before I settled firmly in the “Big Boy” category as an adult.
I also found these cool photos from a trip to Fulton County Stadium as a kid. There was the memorable “Chief Knockahoma”, Rafael Ramirez, Chris Chambliss, and Claudell Washington; all staples of the 80’s Braves organization that I fell in love with. I think that is either Dale Murphy or Bruce Benedict in the batter’s box; Chambliss is on deck. And those seats were EXCELLENT! They weren’t quite as expensive in the 80’s and the Braves weren’t selling out a ton then either.
Speaking of sports photos, here are several of this humble blogger trying to be an athlete as a kid. Those were good times! One of my favorites is the photo of me in my football uniform learning how to kiss. I also remember those terrible baseball helmets where the facemask was bigger than my head! And the folks and I got a kick out of the old picture with my Uncle Speedy taking us through fielding drills. He was my baseball coach most of my youth.
One thing became very evident as I sifted through these old photos and remembered the moments they captured; Sports cards have been a part of my life for a really long time. I must have been around 12 or so in this photo. There is some Rain-Blo gum in this package but there are also some nice Cello Packs in that bottom right corner!
I don’t know if a photo can get any more “early 90’s”! First, I am wearing the airbrush “Can’t Touch This” shirt while I am playing Nerf basketball. And then, if you look at my feet, I have my jeans tight rolled. There is a wind-suit jacket on the chair beside me and for some reason I am wearing a wrist band for indoor basketball. This picture really makes me laugh and cringe at the same time. But the real purpose of revealing this one is the baseball cards in the upper left corner. I remember making that wood plaque in shop class and it said “Oakland A’s” while having #33, #25, #24, , #34, and #42 carved into it. To go along with the numbers, I taped Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Rickey Henderson, Dave Stewart, and Dave Henderson cards to the wall. What a display!
A couple years later, I can be found opening some card pages to go along with my freshly opened baseball card album. Again, there is a lot going on in this photo. I’m not sure what my aunt is wearing here but I am pretty sure she was on her way to a taping of “Solid Gold” after we finished opening gifts. For some reason, I thought the gold chain was a nice touch too. And this shirt my brother is wearing behind me really has no plausible explanation.
Then there is this photo of me from high school, yet again on Christmas morning, opening packs while everybody else opened their presents. I remember that plastic tube beside me was loaded with packs of cards from an era before hobby vs retail took over. I wish I could zoom in close enough to see what I am ripping but there isn’t much from 1994 that still holds value today.
I loved sports cards so much that my cousins and I decided to try and photograph our own cards for a short time. The photography is reminiscent of the efforts that Donruss and Fleer made in 1981, so, there is nothing to write home about here. What is cool though is the Bo Jackson 90’s poster called “Double Trouble”. You can see the baseball image with the Royals but there was also a Raiders picture at the bottom. That was an awesome poster!
Finally, among all of the old photos, there were actually a few baseball cards as well. I stumbled upon this 1990 Topps Rich Yett and 1989 Donruss Tim Teufel. While ’89 Donruss is near and dear to my heart, I never really had a lot of love for Teufel.
Let’s Look at Topps 2019!
As a lifelong card collector, one release each year always carries a little more weight than others. It isn’t because the set is super valuable. It isn’t even because the set design blows me away. It is because it is the one remaining set that hasn’t disappeared from the hobby over the years and has the same cache it had when it was released in 1979, 1989, and now in 2019. Topps flagship Baseball is still the root of all baseball cards that are released each year. It is the first release every year and the design is one that collectors start talking about months in advance; whether they love or hate it.
Series 1 released on January 30, 2019 and is celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Major League Baseball. As has been the trend over the last several seasons, it is also celebrating a previous Topps release; this year is the 35th Anniversary of 1984 Topps, a beautiful release in its day. Series 1 is made up of a 350 card base checklist that features all of the stars of today and rookies that made their debut late in 2018. The staple subset “Future Stars” also returns, along with World Series Highlights, League Leaders, and Stadium Cards.
As for the design in 2019, it partially addresses one of my main complaints over the last few years; a lack of borders. I do like some releases that don’t have borders but I always think that the Topps Flagship product should have borders. I love a good, fun border on a Topps Baseball Card. When I say it partially addresses that issue, I mean that it has a border on 50% of the card. I guess progress is progress, right? There are numerous inserts to be found throughout the release but I will let an expert like Ryan Cracknell share that info with you, as he always does an excellent job with that. Check out his release information on Beckett Here.
There are numerous ways you can get your 2019 Topps Series 1 fix and they include the following:
- Retail Display Boxes – 24 packs per box, 16 cards per pack
- Retail Blaster – 7 packs plus 1 commemorative relic, 14 cards per pack
- Retail Value Packs – 36 cards per
- Retail Hanger Boxes – 67 cards per
- Hobby Boxes – 24 packs per box, 14 cards per pack, 1 Autograph, Memorabilia, OR Commemorative Relic
- Hobby Jumbo Boxes – 10 packs per box, 46 cards per pack, 1 Autograph AND 2 Memorabilia or Commemorative Relics
Some collectors, including Matt Sammon of the podcast Wax Ecstatic, have mentioned that the 2019 set has a 1982 feel without actually ripping off 1982. I tend to agree. Check out some 1982 Topps Images for yourself to see if you agree!
The backs of the cards include a lot of useful information without going overboard. The card on the left is a base back and the card on the right is a canvas variation numbered to 99.
I pulled 3 of these Rainbow Foil parallels, found 1 in 10 Hobby packs, on average.
These Gold Parallels are numbered to 50 and found 1 in 6 Hobby packs, on average.
One of the common parallels in 2019 Topps is the “150 Years” Parallel. These are found 1 in 5 Hobby packs, on average, and are numbered to 2019.
Ronald Acuña is a big focus of 2019 Topps. The Topps All-Star Rookie Card pictured previously is Card #1 in the set. This place in the set has historically been reserved for the previous year’s hot player. The card pictured here is one of the Tribute Cards found inserted in the Blaster Boxes.
This insert set features 150 of the Greatest Players and Moments. I pulled Jackie Robinson, Nolan Ryan, George Brett, and Mike Trout.
The “Equipment Evolution” insert set features some of the changes in common equipment over the years. The front of the card features the equipment years ago and the back of the card features current equipment looks.
One of the more unique inserts for 2019 is the “Grapefruit League Greats”. I pulled Babe Ruth, Nolan Ryan, and David Ortiz. All of these players had stellar statistics in the Grapefruit League.
The Home Run Challenge returns in 2019 with collectors being able to scratch off a code on the back of the card to enter. You have to choose the game you think the player on the front will hit a home run. If you guess correctly, you will win a prize and be entered into the Grand Prize Drawing for a trip to the 2020 Home Run Derby. I think I have a good pull here with Mookie Betts.
One of my least favorite inserts is the “Topps Now Tribute” cards. The general temperature on these cards is pretty cool with them being seen more as advertisements than collectibles. The card isn’t really signed either.
This year’s Tribute Insert is the 35th Anniversary of 1984 Topps. This is certainly a classic from the Junk Wax Era and a welcome insert for me.
The parallels to the 1984 Throwbacks are found in the “Silver Packs”. If your local card shop is participating, you receive one when you purchase a box of 2019 Topps. There are 4 cards in each pack.
My favorite insert of the set is far and away the “Iconic Rookies”. I mean, just stop and take a look at these beautiful cards for a moment!
Another aspect of 2019 Topps (as with some previous releases) that I don’t particularly care for is the “Manufactured Relic”. Why these exist baffles me. They count as one of the relics in the box but they aren’t exactly relics by definition. This Carew was pulled from a Blaster Box.
One of the hits from the Jumbo Box was this Commemorative Medallion. Again, this is a manufactured piece but it does look pretty sharp. It is numbered to 150 and weighs about 3 pounds! Unfortunately, it had a massive ding on one of the corners fresh out of the pack.
The other relic from the Jumbo Box was the more traditional jersey piece. The back of the card says, “The memorabilia contained on this card is not from any specific game, event, or season.” Well, ok then.
The autograph from the box was this Aledmys Diaz, numbered to 50.
The release of the annual Topps Baseball Flagship set brings a lot of joy to collectors. Sometimes the joy is from the cards themselves and sometimes the joy is tied to the timing of the release; because Baseball is right around the corner. The design is much like the photos I found of myself; they have changed from year to year. But I like 2019 Topps better than most since 2010. I also really love some of the inserts; Iconic Rookies, 1984 Tributes, Rainbow Foil, and 150 Greatest.
But there are some things about the set that aren’t exactly my cup of tea either. I don’t like manufactured relics, I think the Topps Now inserts are unnecessary, and I think Topps tries to pack more into the set than needs to be there. The Flagship Set to me would be just fine with a base set, parallels, the great inserts, and occasional autographs. The set should be the most affordable of the year because it’s really the set builder’s product, along with Heritage.
I rank this year’s release ahead of 2017 and 2018 and it does have me salivating for real baseball action. But I likely won’t heavily invest in this set and direct my attention more towards Heritage, Gypsy Queen, and Archives when they release. What are your thoughts on 2019 Topps Baseball Series 1?