2017 Bowman Baseball Box Break & Review

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Seven decades ago in a galaxy far far away, the first Bowman baseball set was released.  It was a small set only consisting of (48) black-and-white cards.  The checklist is packed with rookies of Yogi Berra, Stan Musial, Warren Spahn, and Ralph Kiner.  Other notable Hall of Famers include Bob Feller, Johnny Mize, Phil Rizzuto, Red Schoendienst, and Enos Slaughter.  Despite being the first “Bowman” branded product, this same company under the name Gum, Inc. issued the Play Ball sets between 1939 and 1941.  Topps rose to power and purchased Bowman in 1956.  Over thirty years later in 1989 Topps revived the Bowman name and labled it the “Comeback Edition!”.  Its been a hobby staple ever since, and the #1 product to go to for a player’s prospect/rookie cards.

2017 Bowman has one of the nicest designs I’ve seen when it comes to this prospect-driven brand.  The core part of the set has completely gotten rid of the borders.  It gives the cards a very freeing and unrestricted appeal.  They almost remind me of something you’d see in Bowman’s Best.  Combine that with the on-card autographs, and you have some fantastic looking cards.

Given that this is the 70th Anniversary of Bowman, Topps included some cool nods to past sets.  First up are the 1948 Bowman Chrome inserts.  These pay tribute to 1948 Bowman.  Black-and-white photography on chrome stock looks amazing.  Its a perfect mix of old school and modern day.  Parallels include Green (retail) #’ed/99, Gold #’ed/50, Orange #’ed/25, Red #’ed/5, and Superfractor #’ed/1.  You can also find autographed versions that have Superfractor parallels as well.

The homage to 1951 Bowman is my favorite.  That painted look on chrome stock is top notch.  Parallels include Green (retail) #’ed/99, Gold #’ed/50, Orange #’ed/25, Red #’ed/5, and Superfractor #’ed/1.  Topps got artist Bob Hepner to hand-draw one-of-one sketches based on these.  Its not very often you see sketch cards in Bowman.  Sketch cards drawn to look like a vintage set with a mix of current and older stars was a great idea I’d like to see done again.  Check them all out!

1992 Bowman makes an appearance.  We all remember that set.  That’s the one which pictures many players in casual everyday clothes.  Parallels include Green (retail) #’ed/99, Gold #’ed/50, Orange #’ed/25, Red #’ed/5, and Superfractor #’ed/1.  Autographs can be found too.

Buybacks are plentiful.  Most come with the Bowman 70th Anniversary foil logo ranging in a bunch of different colors.  John Smoltz, Mark McGwire, Frank Thomas, Chipper Jones, Randy Johnson, Mike Piazza, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, and Roberto Alomar all have buyback autographs.

With the 70th Anniversary celebration, 2017 Bowman offers a great mix of new prospects and veterans.  This might be my favorite version of it.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • C.J. Hinojosa Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor Auto #’ed/250

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Parallels

  • Cole Hamels Bowman Orange #’ed/25
  • Willy Adames Bowman Purple #’ed/250
  • Mitch Keller Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor #’ed/250

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Inserts

  • Brady Anderson 1993 Bowman Bronze Foil Buyback
  • Jeff Bagwell 1993 Bowman Bronze Foil Buyback
  • Yadier Alvarez/Willie Calhoun/Cody Bellinger Talent Pipeline
  • Justin Dunn/Amed Rosario/Brandon Nimmo Talent Pipeline
  • Aaron Judge 2017 Rookie of the Year Favorites #9
  • Alex Reyes 2017 Rookie of the Year Favorites #14
  • Tyler Glasnow 2017 Rookie of the Year Favorites #7
  • Brent Honeywell Bowman Scouts’ Top 100 #44
  • Sean Newcomb Bowman Scouts’ Top 100 #56
  • Cody Sedlock Bowman Scouts’ Top 100 #70
  • J.P. Crawford 1948 Bowman Chrome
  • Brendan Rodgers 1951 Bowman Chrome #20
  • Rafael Devers 1992 Bowman Chrome
  • Yoenis Cespedes 1992 Bowman Chrome

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Other Notable Cards

  • Aaron Judge RC #32
  • Dansby Swanson RC #57
  • Yoan Moncada RC #25
  • Andrew Benintendi RC #23
  • Mickey Moniak #135
  • Blake Rutherford #121
  • Blake Rutherford Bowman Chrome #121

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Flashback Product of the Week: 1998 Upper Deck SP Authentic Baseball

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Its no secret that box prices can get expensive.  Sometimes an older product might take care of that pack busting itch for a much lower cost.  Just because that new box guarantees ten “hits” doesn’t mean you’ll come close to pulling something anywhere near what you paid.  One “hit” from an older set could easily be better than ten from that newer product.

If you’re looking for an affordable box from the 90’s that has an autograph checklist which hasn’t dwindled, I’d suggest 1998 Upper Deck SP Authentic Baseball.  Upper Deck introduced the high-end SP brand in 1993, but in 1998 they changed the name to SP Authentic.  This was mainly due to each box containing an autograph.

The 1998 SP Authentic set consists of (198) base cards.  I really like the way these look.  They’ve got a foil-photo in the middle which is then surrounded by an all white border.  Magglio Ordonez is the most notable rookie of them all.  David Ortiz has a somewhat popular second year card too.  As far as inserts go, there really is only one – Sheer Dominance.  These come in Silver, Gold #’ed/2000, and Titanium #’ed/100.

What you’d be opening a box for would mainly be the autograph.  Glancing over the checklist you’ll notice its fairly solid.  Of course there are some duds, but what product doesn’t have those?  Key autographs include Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Mussina, Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra, Paul Molitor, Roberto Alomar, Roger Clemens, Scott Rolen, Tony Gwynn, Todd Helton, and Vladimir Guerrero.  Every Chirography autograph is signed on-card.

Upper Deck included various Trade Cards for oversized 5″ x 7″ jersey cards as well as full size autographed memorabilia.  If this were 1998, you could redeem them.  Given that they’re nineteen years old, I highly doubt you could receive anything for them today.

On the bottom of the box, Upper Deck lists how many of each Trade Cards was made, and the approximate retail value of that item.

  • Ken Griffey Jr. Signed Mariners Jersey #’ed/30 – $399
  • Ken Griffey Jr. Signed Glove #’ed/30 – $449.95
  • Ken Griffey Jr. Life Size Standee #’ed/200 – $29.95
  • Ken Griffey Jr. Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50
  • 5″ x 7″ Ken Griffey Jr. 300th Home Run Commemorative Card #’ed/1,000 – $10
  • Robin Ventura Signed Baseball #’ed/50 – $89.95
  • Raul Mondesi Signed Baseball #’ed/100 – $89.95
  • Albert Belle Signed Baseball #’ed/100 – $89.95
  • Brian Jordan Signed Baseball #’ed/50 – $89.95
  • Roberto Alomar Signed Baseball #’ed/100 – $89.95
  • Tony Gwynn Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/415 – $50
  • Greg Maddux Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50
  • Alex Rodriguez Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50
  • Gary Sheffield Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50
  • Jay Buhner Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50

Browsing over this price list is fun.  I certainly wouldn’t use it as an official guide though.  There is no way to know if everything on that list was even redeemed.  Quantities could be lower.

If you’re patient, boxes can be found for $50.

2017 Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball Box Break & Review

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Easter weekend was spent in Bethany Beach.  I took a box of 2017 Gypsy Queen to break along on the trip.  While walking around, I did come across a card shop though.  As expected, the prices are very high given that its a tourist destination.  The shop I was in asks $5+ for single base cards from modern day products.  My money was better spent at D.B.’s Fries.

From the artistic design to the Portrait Art Patch OriginalsGypsy Queen has always been an entertaining product to break.  You’ll notice that box prices for 2017 are lower compared to previous years.  That drop in price comes with a cost.  Instead of (4) “hits” box breakers will only find (2).  Other aspects like the mini and framed paper parallels did not return either.  With that being said, 2017 Gypsy Queen still packs a punch and comes with a slew of great cards to hunt down.

This new configuration introduced us to the oversize Chrome-like box toppers called GlassWorks.  You get one of these per box, and they look really cool.  Gypsy Queen is not the typical product where you see many foil-based cards.  Certain collectors will find parallels of these box toppers which include Purple #’ed/150, Red #’ed/25, and Black #’ed/1.  On-card autograph versions also exist #’ed/25.

Rich and deep easily describes the base set which comes in at (320) cards.  The last (20) are of retired and/or Hall of Famers and are short prints.  Base parallels include:

  • Missing Blackplate
  • Missing Nameplate
  • Purple #’ed/250
  • Green #’ed/99 (retail)
  • Black & White #’ed/50
  • Green Back #’ed/50
  • Red #’ed/10
  • Black #’ed/1

Photo variations include:

  • Capless
  • Throwback Uniform
  • Card Back Content (Gum Ad)

Although it might be difficult to see for some people, Topps did use different codes on the card backs to distinguish between the photo variations.

  • Base – ends in #1904
  • Short Prints – ends in #1931
  • Capless – ends in #1937
  • Throwback Uniform – ends in #2100
  • Card Back Content (Gum Ad) – ends in #1886/1986

It was a surprise to see that the photo variations also have parallels.  This usually isn’t the case.  I was just thinking about this the other week.  You rarely see parallels of photo variations.

The high-end “hits” from Gypsy Queen have always been a joy to look at.  The Portrait Art Patch Originals continue to impress me each year.  You can see a complete gallery of these one-of-one masterpieces here.  Brian Kong and Monty Sheldon both collaborated on these for 2017.  One of these years I’d like to see these come in booklet form.  Having a hand-drawn piece on one side and a jumbo patch on the other would look awesome.

Here is what I pulled:

Autos

  • Adam Conley
  • Pat Venditte

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Auto/Relic

  • J.D. Martinez Auto/Patch Book #’ed/20

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Parallels

  • Troy Tulowitzki Black Border #’ed/1
  • Jake Lamb Purple Border #’ed/250
  • David Robertson Missing Blackplate
  • Dansby Swanson RC Missing Blackplate
  • Max Scherzer Missing Nameplate

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Short Print

  • Jackie Robinson #308

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Photo Variation

  • Carlos Correa Capless #74

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Inserts

  • Robinson Cano GlassWorks Box Topper
  • Dansby Swanson Fortune Teller
  • Gary Sanchez Fortune Teller
  • Jose Altuve Fortune Teller
  • Max Scherzer Fortune Teller
  • Robinson Cano Portrait Hand-Drawn Art Reproduction #1
  • Adam Jones Portrait Hand-Drawn Art Reproduction #2
  • Mark McGwire Portrait Hand-Drawn Art Reproduction #1

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Card of the Day: Marcus Stroman 2011 Topps Chrome USA Baseball Refractor

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2017 Topps Heritage Baseball Box Break & Review

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The year was 1968.  Adam West’s Batman television series came to an end, Robert F. Kennedy/Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated, and Denny McClain became the first pitcher since Dizzy Dean to win 30 or more games in a single season.  Baseball collectors were introduced to the 598-card, speckle-border, set known as 1968 Topps.  They may not have had Hall of Fame careers, but guys like Jerry Koosman and Ron Tompkins will forever be linked to Nolan Ryan and Johnny Bench due to being pictured on the same rookie cards.

Topps is gradually working through their classic designs and applying them to the Heritage brand.  The 1968 design is up to the plate this year.  If you plan on building the base set, there are (500) total cards including (100) short prints.

Most base parallels are not serial numbered.  I like that as it adds a little mystery.  Obviously the print runs for each type of parallel were announced.

  • Blue Border (50) copies
  • Bright Yellow Backs (25) copies
  • Gray Backs (10) copies
  • Flip Stock (5) copies
  • Base Mini #’ed/100

Chrome parallels come in a variety of colors:

  • Chrome #’ed/999
  • Refractor #’ed/568
  • Blue Refractor #’ed/68
  • Gold Refractor #’ed/5
  • Superfractor #’ed/1
  • Purple Refractor

When it comes to the Blue, Gold, and Purple Refractors, you really need to look in order to see the color.  Its a good thing they’re serial numbered.  I could easily see someone mistaken one color for another.  For some reason those colors aren’t distinct this time around.  The speckle-border may not have shown up as much when those colors were added.  Perhaps that is why they kept the color so light.

Although Heritage is not the only product that contains photo variations, collectors seem to want them more.  Especially the rarer ones.  In a hobby dominated by autographs and relics, its awesome to see the amounts some people are willing to spend on these.  Luckily, all you need to do in order to spot them is check the code on the card backs.  Look carefully.  Those codes are tiny.

  • Color Swap ends in 74
  • Traded ends in 73
  • Throwback ends in 72
  • Action/Rookie ends in 71
  • Error ends in 70
  • Base SP (401-500) ends in 69
  • Base ends in 1867

I was pleasantly surprised to see how collectors responded to some of the box toppers.  Specifically the 3D cards and posters.  Anytime non-autographed and non-relic cards sell well is a positive in my book.

Heritage has a tremendous following.  A single hobby box can be loaded with stuff.  Topps gives you a lot more to look for than just your traditional “hit”.  I can’t wait to see how they handle the 1971 design.  1971 Topps is notorious for it’s all black borders.  It doesn’t take much for them to get damaged.

Here is what I pulled (Purple Refractor Hot Box):

Relic

  • Miguel Cabrera Clubhouse Collection Jersey

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Base Variation

  • Kris Bryant #500 Action Image

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Short Prints

  • Justin Upton #438
  • George Springer #432
  • Chris Sale #405
  • Mark Trumbo #461
  • Carlos Correa #430
  • Robinson Cano #422
  • Jason Kipnis #448
  • Giancarlo Stanton #401

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Parallels

  • Baltimore Orioles Blue Border (50) copies
  • Freddie Freeman Chrome #’ed/999
  • Aaron Judge/Tyler Austin 2017 Rookie Stars Chrome Purple Refractor
  • David Dahl/Raimel Tapia 2017 Rookie Stars Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Manny Margot/Hunter Renfroe 2017 Rookie Stars Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Ian Kinsler Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Jose Altuve Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Christian Yelich Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Justin Verlander Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Aledmys Diaz Chrome Purple Refractor
  • David Ortiz Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Kenta Maeda Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Danny Duffy Chrome Purple Refractor
  • David Price Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Albert Almora Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Lucas Giolito Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Mike Trout Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Madison Bumgarner Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Jay Bruce Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Giancarlo Stanton Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Todd Frazier Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Corey Seager Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Yu Darvish Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Francisco Lindor Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Bryce Harper Chrome Purple Refractor
  • Aroldis Chapman Chrome Purple Refractor

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Inserts

  • J.A. Happ/Carlos Correa – The Topps News/Tyler Chatwood Advertising Panel Box Topper
  • Aledmys Diaz 1968 Topps Game
  • Felix Hernandez 1968 Topps Game
  • Manuel Lee 1993 Rediscover Topps Bronze Buyback #488
  • Mickey Tettleton 1987 Rediscover Topps Bronze Buyback #649
  • Kyle Lohse 2012 Rediscover Topps Silver Buyback #26
  • David Holmberg 2014 Rediscover Topps Gold Buyback #242
  • Lou Brock/Jonathan Villar Then And Now #4
  • News Flashbacks 1968 – Ivy League Goes Co-Ed #13
  • News Flashbacks 1968 – Civil Rights Giant Slain #2
  • Baseball Flashbacks 1968 – Johnny Bench
  • Mookie Betts New Age Performers #3
  • Manny Machado New Age Performers #8

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’11 Leaf Metal Draft Auto Contest Winner Announced

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Congrats to dawgbones on being the lucky winner of the Ramon Morla 2011 Leaf Metal Draft Baseball Auto.  Once dawgbones sends me their mailing address, I will ship this card ASAP.  Thanks!

Flashback Product of the Week: 1985 Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Baseball

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Yep.  I’m off the reservation with this one.  By now you can clearly see this is not a box of baseball cards.  When Nintendo introduced the NES to the United States in 1985, Baseball was one of the first games you could play on it.  Despite not having an MLB license, Nintendo brought in actual Major League Baseball players to show off the game during the test market launch.  Many accredit Baseball as one of the main reasons why the NES was so successful, given the sport’s overall appeal.

Compared to baseball video games today, Baseball for the NES is basic.  Although there was no license, the initials of the teams are suppose to represent real teams from the Japanese Central League or American Major League.  Retro gaming is popular today.  NES collectors are willing to spend well into the hundreds of dollars for sealed games such as this.  Out of the box and used copies can easily be found for under $10.

While attending the National a few years ago, I remember seeing an autographed photo of Mike Tyson.  It wasn’t just any photograph though.  This was a screenshot from the NES game Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!!  That really caught my attention.

I would like to see more screenshots from classic sports video games worked into the sports memorabilia market.  Finding them in packs of cards would be even better.  Autographed cards featuring pixelated versions of your favorite players from the games you use to play would probably be a hit with collectors.  Heck, they don’t even need to be autographed.

Let us take this a step further.  What if you made a great play in a sports-based video game today, and could instantly order a trading card containing a shot of that play?  That would be sick.  Especially if they could get the athletes to sign them.  Perhaps even letting room on the card for the gamer to sign too.

We’ve seen cards and action figures come packaged with games, but I believe things could get even cooler.