Ted Taylor's Collector's Corner
Ted Taylor has been a life-long baseball fan and collector of baseball cards and sports memorabilia. He began writing a hobby column back in the early 1970s and has been writing it someplace ever since. He was first president of The Eastern Pennsylvania Sports Collectors Club and co-promoter of the Philadelphia Baseball Card & Sports Memorabilia Shows. He served as VP of the Fleer Corporation (1991-97) and was co-founder and the first President of The Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society (1996-99). Ted can be heard playing big band and swing music from 8 a.m. to noon every Tuesday on WRDV-FM (89.3), and you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for information on Ted's latest book . . .
“20th Century PHILLIES by the numbers”
Or . . . You can’t tell the players without a scorecard
July 4, 2017
Happy Birthday America!
This continues our 42nd Year of hobby columns
Ted Taylor’s Collector’s Corner
Topps Archives, Truly a set for collectors
There’s no “reason” for the 2017 Topps Archives set to exist. It isn’t really one that serves any purpose (not already served by their other sets) but for pure entertainment value it may well be the best thing they produce all year. As you might suppose, I really like it.
It comes in a colorful box (with a variety of card designs pictured) with 24 8-card packs and a guarantee that you’re going to get two on-card autographs – and boy did I. Ok, I got one of Joe McEwing (who?) but the other one was Cal Ripken Jr. (19 of 20). I do know who McEwing is because he’s local – born in Bristol PA. FYI he played for the Cardinals, Mets, Royals and Astros between 1998-2006.
2017 Archives is far from the only set Topps produces to rely on nostalgia. 2017 Heritage is another example. But what makes Archives more distinct is that it pulls in lots of elements from several years – Bazooka ’59, Topps ’60, ’82 and ’92. Heritage is more focused on one product. In the instance of 2017 Heritage, it’s 1968. The Archives boxes are going in the $110 range.
The good news is that Archives has no short prints in the base set like Topps normally does. However, their press release says that some cards have variation versions that are tough to come by (if you care about such things).
Hobby packs have four basic levels of parallels, all of which are serial numbered: Peach, Blue, Red (/25) and Black (1/1). Each section of the base set also has its own partial parallel set. 1960-style cards (#1-100) have Grey Backs. The next group of 100, which are based on 1982 Topps, have No Signature versions. Finally, there are Gold Winner parallels for the final 100 cards. Got that?
What do I like best? Well, I can bust a pack (I love doing that) and come up with 50 or more cards of the likes of Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax, Ty Cobb, Sparky Anderson, Curt Schilling, Phil Rizzuto – even Bobby Abreu. Pure fun.
Among the regular players are many of the usual suspects though there are some rookies sprinkled among them.
Now that Topps has signed Derek Jeter to a card and memorabilia deal they are revisiting the Yankee legend’s cardboard career. 2017 Topps Archives inserts reprints of more than 20 of his original cards released during his playing career. They date back to his original 1993 Topps Rookie Card and go through to his retirement in 2015. I got one from 2003 and another from 2014, each has a silver stamp on the front saying “Archives 1993-2015”.
Topps Series 2 Baseball Closes out basic issue
Topps, as usual, has come out with a second series of baseball cards. This set adds 350 more cards to series 1 and goes a long way toward rounding out the basic card coverage for the year. Clayton Kershaw adorns the packaging and you get 36 ten-card packs.
But before we go any further here’s a note to whomever selects the players for the sets. Peter Bourjos does not play for the Phillies yet here he is as a Phillie in series 2, this comes after they dealt him in to Heritage earlier in the year. The Phils released him on November 3, 2016. He was then signed by the White Sox on January 30, 2017 and then sold to Tampa Bay on March 28 (and he’s currently with them). It’s not like Peter is a big star or anything, Maybe they’ll get him on the right team in the traded set in October.
You’ll spend around $65 for hobby box and you’ll have a great time busting the packs (as I always do). You are promised an autograph or a relic – as usual, I got a relic and it’s a white swatch from Jameson Taillon (who?) of the Pirates. In itty bitty type the usual disclaimer tells you that this didn’t come any game, etc.
Series 2 Baseball variations include surprise card versions for retired greats as part of the flagship short print lineup. There are also the standard image changes for active players in the base set. You will likely go nuts trying to figure our what is what here. I did because I got not a single variation card of anybody in the 360 cards I pulled from the packs.
Speaking of driving you crazy, the final Series 2 Baseball checklist did not include the variations, but collectors still knew to expect them.
While they were gone for a few years, the former legends are likely a welcome sight for many. These aren't the common image differences seen more recently in sets. Instead, the SSP Legends cards essentially replace the base player at that spot in the checklist with an entirely different card.
Between the legends and the other photo variations, the final tally is 50 super short print (SSP) cards. These are tough to pull just like Series 1, with just one in every three to four cases, on average.
I found a liberal assortment of “Rediscover Topps” cards which are, really, vintage cards with a new imprint. Essentially these are commons (at least my six finds were) plus variations on the Heritage theme/format from 1968. In the Memorable Moments sub-set you’ll find legendary stars (I’m up to three alpha binders, now, of oldtimers from recent sets) and other oldtimes in “Perspectives”.
Topps 2017 “Bunts” in a nice looking product
2017 Topps Bunt Baseball stands on its own as a physical product. However, just like last year it also brings in elements and unlocks digital cards for its namesake app. Not being an “app” guy this aspect of the set loses me. I find that Bunt is also one of the cheapest products of the year and Topps says that you should be able to find for around a dollar a pack (I paid 99-cents-a-pack at Target). And since I bought my cards in both single and 24-card packs for the sake of variety I completely missed any autographs or relics.
At 200 cards, the 2017 Topps Bunt Baseball base set is on the small side but the pictures are among the best on any Topps product this year. Rookies – though I didn’t get many - are included on the checklist alongside top veterans. I did find some Hall of Fames – Ralph Kiner and George Brett and some other old-timers (such as Doc Gooden).
The number of parallels has jumped significantly from 2016 going from three colors plus Printing Plates to six plus Printing Plates. Of course I got not a single printing plates, but the expanded color thing seems odd.
All parallels were numbered last year but that’s not the case here. Blue cards are one per pack (when I saw my first one I thought it was a printing error) while Black versions are one per box. I got a number of blues, not a one black. The remaining parallels do have serial numbers, though: Green (/99), Orange (/50), Purple (/25) and Red (1/1). None of these either.
A hobby box costs around $30.
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As usual - Thanks to Ted Silary for including this column in his web-zine and to all of you for regularly reading it.