This year is no exception.
Every year, my wife asks me what I want for my birthday, and invariably I request a hobby box of the newest Topps Allen & Ginter set. And that’s what happened this year.
A hobby box typically yields three hits, but mine had four, so I was lucky in that sense. Three were memorabilia cards and the fourth was a Murad T-51 framed cloth card, numbered to 51.
But first, the basics.
The A&G set contains 300 base cards and 50 short prints. It is a nice touch that card No. 1 this year is Hank Aaron, since “The Hammer” died earlier this year. There are 24 packs to a hobby pack, and eight cards to a pack. Every pack has a least one mini card — either a parallel from the base set or an insert.
The box I opened had 126 base cards and 12 short prints. What is wonderful about Allen & Ginter sets is the attention paid to the Hall of Famers. The box I opened had 26, including three short prints.
For example, my hobby box included Alissa Nakken, the first full-time female baseball coach. There were also comedians (Roy Wood Jr., Jimmy Pardo and Sarah Tiana), hockey announcers (Mike Lange), actors (Mark Anthony, Jason Biggs, Steve Carlson and Jeff Garlin), baseball announcers (Daniel Kim), baseball GMs (Kim Ng), football players (Trevor Lawrence and Jaylen Waddle), chefs (Jose Andres), BMX stars (T.J. Lavin), reporters (Jesse Sanchez), softball players (Kelly Wrangham) and soccer players (Rose Lavelle).
There’s even an alter-ego (Uncle Larry, played to the hilt by Andrew McCutchen).
And for odd uniform choices, Jose Canseco is featured in a Devil Rays uniform (who remembers the “Hit Show”?)
This year’s design is not as blocky as the 2020 product. Last year, players were framed in a rectangular gray outline, with the Allen & Ginter product name flush left at the bottom of the card. This year’s version features the player in a more ornate setting, with his photo placed inside a rounded design. The Allen & Ginter product name is centered and bolder looking in gold lettering. The background surrounding the player is a subdued gray.
There were 10 base mini parallels in the box I opened — including one short print — plus six others with Allen & Ginter advertising backs. There were also three black-bordered parallels.
Collectors should be on the lookout for other parallels, including No Numbers, of which there are 50 copies pers player; gold-bordered retail; Brooklyn backs, numbered to 25; a hobby exclusive wood parallel, numbered 1/1; and 1/1 glossy and framed printing plates.
As usual, there is an eclectic mix of inserts.
The T51 Murad Reimagined set contains 50 cards, and I pulled six of them. The set pays tribute to the college series sets of the early 1900s, complete with a team pennant and seal.
Historical Hits is a 50-card subset that highlights some of the most significant hits in baseball history. I pulled six inserts, which included cards of Honus Wagner, Willie Mays, Scott Podsednik, Magglio Ordonez, Cal Ripken Jr. and Salvador Perez.
Birds of a Feather, meanwhile, is a 10-card subset that concentrates on parrots. The hobby box I opened had two of these inserts. Rallying Back also concentrates on animals, but on endangered species. There are also 10 cards in this insert set, and I also pulled two of them.
There are mini inserts, too, and I found two Far Away cards, one Good For You card (gotta love those green beans), one World’s Largest card and one Mascots in Real Life card.
The big hits in the hobby box were two uniform swatches (JaCoby Jones and Gio Urshela), a framed bat card of Nolan Arenado and a T51 Murad Cloth frame card of Jose Altuve, numbered 11/51.
Every hobby box also offers several times of boxloaders. I pulled a large card of Giants catcher Buster Posey.
All in all, a very nice haul.
The Allen & Ginter set is always fun to collect, although completing the short prints can be a pain. Some collectors even like to chase and complete the base and SP parallel minis, which can certainly be a chore.
But since 2006, Allen & Ginter has been my midsummer night’s dream. This year is no exception.