I got to admit, the late ’90s were a bit of an odd time for Topps cards. It’s past the junk wax era, not yet at the big-hits era, and there were a ton of brands/variations out there. Their baseball set sizes were about half what they are nowadays — about 450 cards, compared to about 750 among Series 1 and 2. And looking back at the rookie crop, there are very few that stand out.
But me being the baseball card addict I am, I still love them.
So when I stumbled upon a box of 1999 Topps Series 2 retail box for a whopping $15, I had to pounce. And I’m glad I did, but more on that for later.
Let’s see what this box turned up.
The set starts with card No. 243 (Tom Glavine) and goes all the way through the checklists at 463. Card No. 461 is a Sammy Sosa with 66 variations, one for each home run he hit in ’98. My box had all of the base cards in it (most of them had duplicates, too), and two variations of the special Sosa card. Get ready for a bunch of doubles if you get a box.
Not bad for being stuck in a package for nearly 20 years. As expected, some of the gold foiling flaked off of the player names, but nothing too noticeable. I was worried when I saw the pack fronts were faded, and all the cards kind of stuck together when opening the pack, but all in all, not too bad on the front. A few had bad dings or other markings, but overall a solid stack. Most of them had some fading on the back, but that’s not really a big issue for me.
There are some recognizable names, but definitely nobody going to the Hall. Closest one would be Matt Holliday. But you also have familiar names like Brad Lidge, Doug Mientkiewicz, Jason LaRue, Austin Kearns, Gabe Kapler, Adam Everrett, Pat Burrell, A.J. Burnett, Billy Koch, and Vernon Wells in the group on rookie and prospect cards.
Inserts were pretty limited in this box. The most common were the Record Numbers. Cool design, but were obviously miscut. Oh well, these are just for my collection, anyway.
A little bit harder to hit are two foil-heavy sets, All Matrix and All-Topps Mystery Finest. Both sets carry a pretty decent listing price on COMC if you hit the right one. I had no such luck, but again, I’m not opening the box to make a profit.
The final insert set in the box was the big one, the Nolan Ryan reprints. Ryan had been out of the game for a few years at that point, but Topps decided to feature him, going with its pitching theme (the box/pack design featured Roger Clemens). There are two types of the reprints, the base and refractor. I forgot to look at the pack odds, but the refractor is a pretty big hit if you can find one (as an aside, I remember a trip to Wildwood, NJ, one summer growing up, I had enough tickets at an arcade to get a pack of ’99 Topps. I pulled an awesome Nolan Ryan 1987 refractor).
This box delivered two normal reprints and one refractor. The base reprints are of his 1978 and 1981 cards, and his refractor is… his rookie!
When I pulled it, I thought it was a nice hit, but nothing crazy. Then curiosity got the better of me, and I started looking at its prices. COMC has a pair (at the time of writing) between $5 and $15. A recently sold one on eBay got up to $40, but a PSA 10 one sold for a whopping $250! The one I pulled looks a little off center, but everything else looks pretty good. I’ll get it graded one day and hold onto it. But if I wanted to sell it, I could probably pay for the box with just that one card.
All in all, a very solid box. If it weren’t for all the duplicate base that I don’t want sitting around my room, I would be tempted to open another box just to see what hits I could pull, and maybe flip a few. But for what it is, I’m very happy with my purchase.
As a note, I plan on doing more and more of these box breaks, spanning all years and sports, now that I have a bit more disposable income. So stay tuned!