It's been over a year since I picked up a box of baseball cards, but something is a bit different this time around. All it took was a World Series win by my favorite team in one of the most memorable seven games of all time for me to return to the baseball collecting world.
Now, I can't really say I ever left. What it came down to was simply that I didn't spend as much on cards in general last year as I had before, and when I was able to make a purchase, I usually went in a hockey direction. Well, as a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, the thrill of last October reinvigorated my love of the National Pastime, as well as my interest in its cardboard.
My first baseball purchase of 2017 ended up being the first release of 2017 with Topps Series 1. There are two options here, hobby-wise, a regular 36-card box, and a 10-card jumbo pack box. I went with Jumbo, which I always do with Topps, for two reasons. One, you get more hits (3, as opposed to 1), and you end up with a complete 350-card set. I know that some people like the chase of set-building, and I do too, but I think I'll save that for this year's Allen & Ginter, and (maybe) Heritage.
Anyway, each box contains 10 packs of 50 cards. There is also a guarantee of three hits, with one being an autographed card and one being a manufactured patch card.
After collating, I did end up with a full 350-card set, and when you factor in league leaders and World Series cards along with the typical base cards, there were a total of 20 Chicago Cubs cards, with plenty more to come in Series 2. My favorite one, by the way, is the World Series Game 7 card.
As always, there are lots of parallels, of varying rarity, with each pack containing one. The most common are the Rainbow Foil, which I got five of, including a Kris Bryant League Leaders card.
I also pulled three Gold parallels, including an Addison Russell World Series Highlights card. These are all numbered /2017.
Next is a Vintage Stock parallel. This one of former Cub Geovany Soto is numbered 62/99 and features not only a retro Topps logo, but an older-style non-glossy card stock, which is pretty cool.
The rarest parallel that I pulled was of another Cub, Aroldis Chapman, on a World Series Highlights card. This is the black parallel, and is numbered 52/66. It's a great card to have, as Chapman was an absolute beast throughout the postseason. His only weak point was in Game 7, when he was just too overworked. The ironic thing, is that despite giving up a three-run lead, which allowed the Indians to push Game 7 to a tenth inning, he ended up being credited with the win.
Next is a one-per-pack insert set called Salute, which looks at special events (Mother's Day, Father's Day), Throwback Jersey Nights, and also salutes former players.
Speaking of "Salute," Topps is saluting the thirtieth anniversary of one of their most iconic releases in 1987. They used the same front and back design, including the older cardstock. They did put gloss on the front of the cards, which is different from back then, and of course, there's the 30th Anniversary foil stamp.
I also pulled five First Pitch cards, which show various celebrities making the ceremonial first pitch at a game last season. The team designation is made for the home team where the pitch was made, and apparently, the Cubs are well-represented. 3-out-of-5 of mine are of pitches thrown at Wrigley Field.
Next is a buyback of sorts known as "Rediscover Topps." I guess the idea here is to include cards from older sets, designated with a foil stamp on the side. I can kind of see the point, but if I'm buying Topps baseball cards in the first place, do I really need to "rediscover" them?
I pulled one MLB Network card, which is from a 10-card insert set featuring the network's various analysts. Now, many of these are of former baseball players, and it is only fitting that mine is of a former Cub.
These Rediscover Topps Promo cards, I'm not too sure about. The front features a reprint of a classic Topps baseball card, but the back is an add for the various on-line features that Topps provided, like Topps Now and Topps Bunt.
These kind of cross brands, in that they make reference to a current MLB stars' first Bowman cards. I like them quite a lot, actually, and they remind me of the backs of the first few Stadium Club releases in the early '90s, when they would show a player's Topps rookie card next to their stats.
Easily the coolest looking insert set is 5-Tool. They actually manage to somehow fit five photos of the players on the front of one card, and in a way that's a bit cluttered, but still works. I don't have much else to say about them, other than they look awesome.
Now for the hits. The first one is the manufactured one. Boxes will have either a manufactured Spring Training Patch or an All-Star Game medallion. Mine was a Spring Training patch for Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals. The patches are different this year, though, in that they no longer are fabric. With the cards, they are using a textured synthetic material, similar to the World Series patch they put on the sides of the Cubs and Indians hats last year during the Series.
I also pulled a Brandon Phillips Major League Material jersey card. In years past, I know that they took one of the year's inserts and placed a jersey swatch in the same design, but I like how this year, the cards are its own unique thing. Unfortunately for me, though, this card is already out of date, as Phillips was traded to the Atlanta Braes just a couple of days ago.
Last, is the big one. It's tough to pull major hits out of a company's flagship product, as those releases are usually more eared toward set builders. Still, those hits are there, and I managed to hit the jackpot, when I found this card in one of my packs:
This card, of course, make reference to the 1987 design and features Gene Hackman's character of Norman Dale from the movie Hoosiers. The movie was released in 1986 (not 1987), but I still won't complain about this great of a pull. We get the picture and name of his character from the movie, but I love that he signed his own name. Unlike most people in either the sports or entertainment industries, Hackman had a great and (mostly) legible signature. The card looks fantastic, and has, so far, made it to an easy number one spot on my Top 10 Pulls of 2017.
That's it for this box. Of course, they won't all yield an amazing hit as the one I pulled, but when you consider that there is a full base set and three hits to go along with it, the jumbo boxes are definitely the way to go with this release.