Those of you who have been following this blog since the beginning may recall seeing this product busted in one of my earliest breaks. If you need a reminder, check out the Series 1 Jumbo box I opened last April. For Series 2, I decided to try a regular hobby box as opposed to the jumbos. Would I pull as many inserts as last time? Or perhaps more? Here are the results:
Box Details: 24 packs of 6 cards each (Hobby) or 12 packs of 13 cards each (Jumbo)
Base Set: As was the case with Series 1, the base set in Series 2 is comprised of 100 short set cards, followed by 50 shortprints that are seeded one per pack (two per for Jumbos). The SP’s in this series are called Sterling, Gamers, and then of course, Rookies. Of course, not every “rookie” is a true rookie card (Chavez, Beltran, etc.), but there are a handful of decent actual rookies in Series 2, which include the likes of Alfonso Soriano, C.C. Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett. In this box, I pulled 96 short set base cards and 24 different shortprints, for 120 total cards (out of 150). There were 10 duplicates. Also, I should note that the Aaron/McGwire card in the scan happens to be one of the 50 shortprints, a very special card number 300 to finish off the set.
Refractors (1:12 Hobby, 1:5 HTA): Regardless of which box you choose, refractors are going to fall at roughly two per box, though you may pull an extra or two (like I did here) from a Jumbo box if you’re lucky. Remember, there were only regular refractors and gold refractors (/100) at the time, providing a much simpler “rainbow” for collectors. I didn’t hit any golds in this box, but my regular refractors were of Jay Buhner and Mark Kotsay.
Aaron Award Contenders (9 cards, varied seeding): In 1999, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron hitting his 715th career home run, an award was created in his namesake. There would be one winner in each league based on a point system. Each player’s point total would depend on the number of hits, home runs, and RBI they recorded during 1999. The following season, the system was changed to a ballot system and has remained that way since. The inaugural winners of the award were Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa.
This insert set featured nine players who were deemed odds-on favorites for the awards. The odds of pulling each particular player all differ. In most cases, there will be 2-3 of these cards per box, most likely of Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, and Ken Griffey, Jr. I pulled the latter two. The hardest player from this set to pull (by far) is Juan Gonzalez (1:216 Hobby, 1:108 HTA). As for Topps’ predictions, they scored a 50%. Sammy Sosa is a part of this set while Manny Ramirez is not. A rare refractor version mirrors this set.
Milestones (40 cards, varied numbering): In Series 1, there was an insert set called Prominent Figures in which they took five statistical categories (HR, RBI, SLG, TB, AVG), selected ten players who could potentially challenge the single-season record for each stat (some players were in multiple categories), and numbered each card according to what the record number was. In Series 2, there was an insert set with a similar concept called Milestones. This time, they took four statistical categories (Hits, Home Runs, RBI, and Doubles) and numbered them to the following “milestone” numbers:
Hits (3,000 of each) (1:29 Hobby, 1:13 HTA)
RBI (1,400 of each) (1:61 Hobby, 1:28 HTA)
HR (500 of each) (1:171 Hobby, 1:79 HTA)
Doubles (500 of each) (same odds as HR)
Again, there were ten players for each milestone. With that said, you’re probably going to find a Hits Milestone card in your box like I did. My card was of Barry Bonds, (of course! This guy haunts me, though it’s not always bad) numbered 2039/3000.
Double Feature (7 cards, 1:56 Hobby, 1:27 HTA): Here’s yet another insert that borrows a concept from Series 1. Similar to the Split Screen inserts from the previous series, the Double Feature inserts feature a pair of players on each card on opposite sides of a blue boundary going down the center. On each card, one of the player’s side of the boundary will have a refractor finish while the other will not. There are also variations in which both sides refract. They are a much tougher pull (1:168 Hobby, 1:81 HTA). The difference between this set and the Split Screen set is that the checklist here is exactly half of what Split Screen’s is (14 to 7) and the fact that ALL of the pairings in this set feature teammates, ideal for the team collectors out there.
I pulled two Double Feature cards in this box. The first combination was of Chipper and Andruw Jones, with Andruw refracting on the right. The second combination was of Darin Erstad and Mo Vaughn, with Erstad refracting on the left.
Future’s Finest (numbered to 500, 1:171 Hobby, 1:79 HTA): In this prospect-themed set, I pulled a 6’10” fireballing lefty from Seattle. No, not Randy Johnson! Ryan Anderson! A story about the former top pitching prospect in baseball, whose injuries and attitude had him out of baseball before age 26, can be found here. It’s still a very nice looking card, but I’ll have to find a Mariners fan to dump it off to.
Team Finest: At the time that I wrote the Series 1 review, I did not include my now-regular “What WASN’T Pulled?” feature, which describes other inserts/parallels found in the product, just not in my particular box. Therefore, I did not talk about the Team Finest inserts. Team Finest was a 20-card set (10 cards inserted into each series) featuring the game’s biggest stars and young stars. Each card was blue and limited to 1,500 copies and came with five parallels. Here’s a breakdown of this set:
Blue (numbered to 1,500, 1:57 Hobby, 1:26 HTA)
Blue Refractor (numbered to 150, 1:571 Hobby, 1:263 HTA)
Red (numbered to 500, 1:18 HTA)
Red Refractor (numbered to 50, 1:184 HTA)
Gold (numbered to 250, 1:37 HTA)
Gold Refractor (numbered to 25, 1:369 HTA)
Despite having the same number of cards in each series, the blue cards in Series 2 actually have a little more generous odds than those in Series 1. Given the fact that I opened a regular hobby box, I didn’t have a chance to pull any of the Jumbo-exclusive Red and Gold parallels, but I did pull one very sweet Blue Refractor of Tony Gwynn, numbered 034/150! Just look at the insertion ratio on those if you will.
What WASN’T Pulled: There wasn’t a lot I didn’t pull in this box! Like I previously mentioned, there were no Gold Refractors (/100), Aaron Award Refractors, or Double Feature dual refractors. First, there is the 7-card Complements set, which is just like the Double Feature set exactly in terms of both concept and odds. The only difference is that the combinations do not feature teammates (examples: Piazza/Pudge, Gwynn/Boggs, Jeter/Garciaparra). The last set would be the 10-card Franchise Records insert set which are tough pulls at (1:129 Hobby, 1:64 HTA) and also come with a refractor version.
Final Thoughts: This box was LOADED! Whether it be hobby or jumbo (HTA), a box of 1999 Finest Series 2 will cost you less than $40 and will be a total blast to open! As is the case with Series 1, there are some really great, attractive, and unique inserts that are sure to please so go ahead and bust one!
As always, thanks for reading and good luck with your own breaks!