During the winter of 2005, I opened a box of 2004 Fleer Greats of the Game Football and pulled a Steve Young Game-Used Letterman “U” Patch #’ed 3/5. I took it back in to my local card shop, Shaffer’s Trading Cards, to show the owners. While I was there, I decided to pickup two packs of 2004 Topps Tribute Cut Signature Edition Baseball. The first pack contained a base jersey of George Brett. Pretty cool, but nothing we haven’t seen before. What was waiting for me in the second pack I sure didn’t see coming. My guaranteed “hit” was a Willie Mays Cut Signature #’ed 1/1. This wasn’t just something Topps had Willie Mays recently sign for that product either. The autograph was old, and looked the way he would have signed something when he was younger. To this day it remains the most valuable card I’ve pulled.
Collectors were first introduced to Tribute in 2001. There had been premium products before, but this one stood out the most to me. It has always had such a clean design and lots of on-card autographs. Last year Tribute had a little hiccup when it came to the signature quality, but Topps picked up the ball and made things right with collectors. 2016 Topps Tribute Baseball has zero hiccups, and is everything a high-end collector would want.
The main draw for this brand are the on-card autographs. Especially since they’re on chrome stock. If you’ve got a product with hard-signed autographs on chrome stock collectors will follow. I’m not much of a base card collector, but Tribute has historically had some of the nicest looking base cards. The accompanying parallels are receiving a ton of attention from collectors. Superfractors have found their way into Tribute this year for the first time. Treating Tribute like a Chrome-like product is the best way to go.
One of these years I would like to see Topps make some more hand-drawn sketch patch cards for baseball. Right now those are reserved mainly for Gypsy Queen. I think a super premium product like Tribute could benefit from a feature like that. We have yet to see a booklet sketch patch card with an autograph. That would be something cool to see. Topps has been releasing a lot of really good high-end baseball products recently, and its important that they do something that differentiates each one. If you don’t do that, products can get lost in the mix.
Topps needed to wow collectors this year after the signature problems of 2015. They sure didn’t disappoint. Tribute will always be one of my all-time favorite products to bust. Its certainly not for that collector on a budget, but the cards look great. Right down to the base. A super clean design and on-card chrome autographs can go a long way.
Here is what I pulled:
- Mike Trout Ageless Accolades Auto #’ed/50
- Paul O’Neill Tribute Auto #’ed/199
- Jeff Bagwell Rightful Recognition Orange Parallel Auto #’ed/25
- Fred McGriff Tribute Jersey #’ed/196
- Mike Piazza Tribute Jersey #’ed/196
- Ichiro Tribute Jersey Purple Parallel #’ed/50
- Honus Wagner Purple #’ed/50