That’s because in the final series of Topps’ flagship baseball product, I pulled seven stamped buybacks. Normally, a typical hobby box would yield two, so seven was really unusual.
A hobby box contains 36 packs, with 10 cards to a pack. Topps is promising one autograph or relic card per hobby box.
The base set for the Update set is much larger than last year’s, expanding from 330 cards to 400. That’s even larger than the 350 cards that made up the base sets for Series One and Two baseball.
The design remains consistent with Series One and Two, and I’ve really enjoyed this look. It’s a nice departure from “traditional” Topps designs.
The second buyback appeared in the third pack I opened, with another card from the 1969 Topps set. This was a 1968 American League ERA leaders card, featuring Luis Tiant, Sam McDowell and Dave McNally on the front. Tiant led the league with a 1.60 ERA in the “Year of the Pitcher,” one of five A.L. hurlers with an ERA of 2.00 or lower.
Six packs later, I was surprised to find a third buyback. This was a 1978 card of Andy Messersmith (No. 156). Fans from the mid-197os will recall that Messersmith wore No. 17, and Braves owner Ted Turner, saying that he was putting nicknames on the backs of uniforms, chose “Channel” for Messersmith. Hmmm … Channel 17 was Turner’s SuperStation in Atlanta. After Major League Baseball stepped in and ordered that nickname removed, Messersmith wore “Bluto” on the back of his shirt.
The other buybacks were a 1979 card of Junior Moore, an infielder with the Chicago White Sox; a 1977 card of Giants pitcher Rob Dressler; a 1973 card of Royals pitcher Ted Abernathy; and a 1975 card of Yankees designated hitter/outfielder Alex Johnson.
The relic in the box was an All-Star Stitches card of Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain, a black swatch from his workout jersey.
The inserts are plentiful in the Update set. Pride and Perseverance is one of the nicer ones. This 12-card subset honors players who overcame physical handicaps to make an impact in the major leagues. Players include Jim Abbott, Pete Gray, and William “Dummy” Hoy. There were three of these cards in the box I opened.
Player superstitions are the topics in the 15-card, Whatever Works insert. For example, there is Wade Boggs’ penchant for eating chicken, or Jim Palmer’s habit of eating pancakes on the day he started. There were five of these inserts in the box that I sampled.
Rarities is a 15-card insert set that takes a look at unusual or rare events in baseball history, like an unassisted triple play (Asdrubal Cabrera ), or two grand slams in one game (Frank Robinson). There were four in the box I opened. Tape Measure Blasts is another 15-card subset that commemorates long home runs; there also were four of these in the hobby box I opened.
Both of these inserts fall one in every eight packs on average, so I was right at the norm in this hobby box.
Rookie Sensations is an insert that looks back at a star player’s rookie season. Players in the 25-card set include Hall of Famers like Ted Williams, Cal Ripken Jr., and Carlton Fisk; past stars like Fernando Valenzuela and Dwight Gooden; and current stars like Buster Posey, Jacob de Grom and Mike Trout. There were six in the box I opened.
Retail outlets like Target and Walmart have special inserts, like the 25-card All-Star Game Access and the 30-card First Home Run set that is a continuation from Series One and Two.
The First Home Run set also has a medallion in every retail blaster box, with an occasional relic or autograph card thrown in for good measure.
I’ve opened a hobby box and four blasters from a retail outlet, and I am still a long ways from completing the base set, which is a little disappointing.
The good news is that this set is inexpensive; so I won’t be spending a whole lot.