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1999 Bowman Chrome Series 2 Baseball Review

A couple weeks ago, Tim at 90’s Box Breaks busted a box of 1999 Bowman Chrome Series 1. Today, we’ll take a look at Series 2, the portion of the set containing most of the big names from the ’99 class. These names include C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Alfonso Soriano, Adam Dunn, Carl Crawford, and Josh Hamilton, just to name a few. With a list like that, it should come as no surprise that these boxes can be a bit pricey, often running in the $75-100+ range. The Baseball Card Exchange currently has these priced at $65, the lowest price I could find so I bit. But was it worth it?

Box Details: 24 packs per box, 4 cards per pack, $65
From: Baseball Card Exchange


Base set: As you gathered from Tim’s review, Series 2 contains 220 base cards: 70 red veterans and 150 prospects/rookies. My box yielded 72 of 220 basic cards (roughly 33%, 22 red, 50 blue) with 15 duplicates. Ironically, all 15 of my dupes were reds.

Rookies of note: C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Joe Nathan, Freddy Garcia, David Eckstein, Aubrey Huff


International (1:12 packs): One big difference between Series 1 and Series 2 is the distribution of the International parallels. In Series 1, they are seeded at a rate of 6 per box. In Series 2, only 2 per box. My first pull was Tom Davey, who pitched 4 seasons in relief with the Jays, Mariners, and Padres, compiling a 7-6 record and a 4.41 ERA. My second pull was Kevin Eberwein, who played minor league ball for 5 seasons. I love city skylines on cards and wholeheartedly agree with Tim. These cards look a thousand times better on chrome than they do (regular Bowman) foil.


Refractors (1:12 packs): Of course, no chrome set would be complete without the refractor parallels! In both Series, these are seeded at a rate of 2 per box. I pulled two rookie refractors: Brady Clark and Corey Patterson. It’s too bad Patterson never panned out the way many thought he would. It’s also too bad I didn’t pull this card in 1999. This card was huge then (just like that 2000 Asadoorian I pulled a couple years ago).

International Refractors (1:50 packs, numbered to 100): The International Refractors in Series 2 are a little easier to pull than those in the first series (1:50 packs as opposed to 1:76 packs). Check out the scan. These cards are stunning. Even though I pulled Garret Anderson (059/100), I’m not entirely disappointed. That should say something about these cards.


2000 ROY Favorites (10 cards, 1:12 packs): A common insert of past Bowman products, the 2000 ROY Favorites showcased some of baseball’s best prospects from a decade ago, including Pat Burrell and Alex Escobar. Refractor versions are found 1 in every 100 packs on average.


Impact (20 cards, 1:15 packs): While the ROY Favorites set focuses only on prospects, the Impact set features a mixture of both veteran stars and prospects, as evidenced by the Joe McEwing and Alex Rodriguez above. Both sets are exclusive to Series 2. Impact refractors are seeded 1 in every 75 packs.

Final Thoughts/Grades:

Collation: C-

15% of the box’s contents were duplicates. That drives me particularly insane when there are only 96 cards in a box and 220 cards in the basic set. If you go back and do the math, you’ll see that I got 37 red cards but of only 22 different players.

Condition: A

The greatest thing about this box was the fact that the cards were in tremendous shape. No dings, creases, scratches…nothing. I was very pleasantly surprised by this as I usually get at least one card in every box that is mangled straight from the pack.

Pulls: B-

Overall, I was hoping to score one or two more big rookies, rather than David Eckstein (ugh). Despite the fact that some of the pulls were very lackluster, the International Refractor brought this box’s score up a bit, to a little better than average in my opinion. And like I said earlier, the Patterson would’ve been a big card around this product’s time of release, but who would want it now? If any Cubs fans in the blogosphere are interested, let me know.

Value: B

I must say that I probably wouldn’t have even considered breaking this box if I had to pay anywhere near the $100 mark for it. Remember, the only guarantees in this box are 2 refractors, 2 Internationals, 3-4 ROY/Impact inserts, and a handful of rookies. There are tons of great names to shoot for and if you’re into the whole grading thing, they should grade pretty high if they come out like my cards did. For $65, I figured it would be worth a shot and while I wasn’t totally disappointed with my results, I surely would’ve been if I had to shell out the extra $35-40 only to find that all but about 4-5 of my rookies were on the level of Peter Bergeron, Bubba Crosby, and Guillermo Mota. I’d proceed with caution on this one, at least if you end up paying top dollar.

Overall Grade: B-

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2003 Finest Baseball Review

The second box I opened on my birthday, this box of 2003 Topps Finest was originally videotaped, but due to the horrible overall quality (lots of lag, audio distortion), the video was never published. As you’ll see, it was a pretty darn good break.

Box Details: 6 packs of 5 cards each per mini box, 3 mini boxes per master box, $75

From:Dave and Adam’s Card World

Uncirculated Box Topper (numbered to 199, 1: box): Each master box is accompanied by a silver pack holding an uncirculated Gold X-Fractor. Numbered to just 199, these gold parallels mirror the entire set, autographed rookies included. It just so happens that my Gold X-Fractor was a signed rookie card of J.D. Durbin (030/199). Durbin was a prized possession of the Minnesota Twins’ Minor League organization, and even received their Pitcher of the Year Award in 2002. He is currently a free agent.



Base set:
The base set is comprised of 100 short set cards, followed by 10 short-printed, autographed rookies. As was the norm with that era of Finest, each base card has a unique color background, influenced by the depicted player’s team. My box yielded 85 out of 100 short set cards (85%) and no duplicates.


Refractors (1: mini box): One of the key differences between 2003 Finest and say, 2009 Finest lies in the refractors. 2003 Finest does not have the bevy of colorful refractors that collectors have become accustomed to in recent years (red, green blue, gold, black, etc.) Instead, only basic Refractor and X-Fractor parallels exist (box toppers aside). The basic Refractors are seeded at a rate of 1 per mini box (SP’s 1 in 34) while the X-Fractors are seeded at a rate of 1 in every 7 mini boxes (SP’s 1 in 68). I did not pull any X-Fractors in this box, but I did pull basic Refractors of Tim Hudson, Larry Walker, and Barry Zito. I’m sure I will be sending the Zito out to New Mexico sometime. As for the Walker, it came out of the pack with significant damage to its back (a giant scrape). Why did it have to happen to a Refractor??


Finest Relics (1: mini box): Inserted into each mini box is a game-used bat or uniform relic. Each relic is designated to a certain “group” based on rarity. The odds of finding a particular relic from each group are as follows:

Bats:
Group A: 1:104 mini boxes
Group B: 1:32 mini boxes
Group C: 1:29 mini boxes
Group D: 1:42 mini boxes
Group E: 1:40 mini boxes
Group F: 1:23 mini boxes
Group G: 1:18 mini boxes
Group H: 1:24 mini boxes
Group I: 1:12 mini boxes
Group J: 1:22 mini boxes
Group K: 1:21 mini boxes

Uniforms:
Group A: 1:28 mini boxes
Group B: 1:11 mini boxes
Group C: 1:11 mini boxes
Group D: 1:10 mini boxes
Group E: 1:19 mini boxes
Group F: 1:12 mini boxes
Group G: 1:34 mini boxes
Group H: 1:17 mini boxes

I pulled bat cards of Nomar Garciaparra (Group A) and Rickey Henderson (Group J) as well as a uniform card of Eric Chavez (Group B).

Team Topps Legends Autographs (10 cards, randomly inserted)
: And now, here are those Hall of Fame autographs I mentioned in my last post. 10 Team Topps Legends signed cards for this special set, and just like the relic cards, each autograph belongs to its own specific group. The complete checklist is below, pulls highlighted in bold.

Group A: 1:168 mini boxes
Brooks Robinson
Goose Gossage

Group B: 1:68 mini boxes
Al Kaline
Stan Musial

Group C: 1:32 mini boxes
Lou Brock
Luis Aparicio
Duke Snider

Group D: 1:23 mini boxes
Gaylord Perry
Paul Blair
Vernon Law

Overall, autographs (rookies, Finest Moments (link), and Team Topps Legends) fall at a rate of 2 per master box.

Final Thoughts/Grades:

Collation: A+

For the second straight break, the box delivered the inserts and “hits” perfectly, all without a single duplicate. Very nice.

Condition: B
Condition was the only issue I had in this box. In fact, if it weren’t for this category, this box would get straight A’s across the board. Only 2 cards from this box came out of the pack with noticeable damage, but considering that both of those were chase cards (Walker Refractor, Gossage autograph – look at the blemish on the front, towards the bottom), I had to drop this down a grade.

Pulls: A
I think it’s pretty obvious that I got lucky with this box. The 2 autographs I was supposed to pull were both Team Topps Legends (as opposed to failed prospects) and I even got a bonus autograph with the box topper! Not to mention that I also pulled the rarest bat relic available in Nomar…

Value: A
Regardless of where you purchase this box, you should be able to find it for less than $80. For that price, you should find a nice little box containing 5 hits (3 relics, 2 autos), 3 Refractors, a Gold X-Fractor, and possibly one more X-Fractor if you’re lucky. I’d say go for it.

Overall Grade: A

1999 Bowman’s Best Baseball Review

Typically, I don’t open very many Bowman products but when I saw a box of 1999 Bowman’s Best out there for under $40, it was hard to resist. The rookie class of ’99 included the likes of Burrell, Sabathia, Holliday, Soriano, Burnett, and many more, all of whom could be found in this product. While they are long shots to pull, there are randomly inserted game-used cards and autographed cards featuring Mike Schmidt, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, Pat Burrell, Troy Glaus, and others. Hey, I’ve beaten the odds before…

Box Details: 24 packs per box, 6 cards per pack, $37

99bowmansbest
Base set: The base set is comprised of 200 cards: 85 veterans (gold background), 15 Best Performers (bronze background), 50 prospects (silver background), and 50 rookies (blue background). The last 50 rookies are shortprinted and seeded at a rate of one per pack. Altogether, I pulled 136/200 basic cards (68%) with just a single duplicate (Barry Bonds)! My notable rookies included Pat Burrell, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Pena, Matt Holliday, A.J. Burnett, Mark Mulder, and Nick Johnson.

Refractors (1:15 packs, /400): Seeded at approximately two per box, the refractors mirror the entire set and are serially numbered to 400. My two refractors were Tony Gwynn (071/400)(PunkRockPaint?) and Doug Mientkiewicz (RC – 015/400). Atomic refractors also exist in this product are numbered to just 100, but I did not pull any.

99bowmansbestinserts
Mirror Image (10 cards, 1:24 packs): The dual-sided Mirror Image insert cards returned in 1999 and they were very…..well….blue. Like always, these cards featured the pairing of a Major League star with a promising prospect from the same team or of the same position or in some cases, both, such as the case of my Greg Maddux/Bruce Chen card. These inserts are mirrored by Refractor (1:96 packs) and Atomic Refractor (1:192 packs) parallels.

Franchise Favorites (6 cards, 1:40 packs): There are six total cards in this set: Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly, Scott Rolen, Mike Schmidt, and combinations of the two Yankees and two Phillies respectively. I pulled Don Mattingly. Each of the six cards has a very rare autographed variation as well. Each of the four single autographed cards have a seeding rate of 1 in 1,550 packs while the duals have a seeding rate of 1 in 6,174 packs.

Future Foundations (10 cards, 1:41 packs, /3,000): This insert set features 10 of the game’s best prospects on a die-cut card featuring a brick background. The regular version of these cards is known as Mach I and is limited to just 3,000 copies. There are two parallels to this set:

Mach II (refractor): 1:124 packs, numbered to 1,000
Mach III (atomic refractor): 1:248 packs, numbered to 500

My pull was a Mach I of former Rockies prospect Derrick Gibson (1796/3000).

Franchise Best (10 cards, 1:41 packs, /3,000): The Franchise Best inserts are virtually identical to the Future Foundations inserts in that the set size, insertion ratios, and even the parallels are exactly the same. The only difference, of course, is that this set features veterans and not prospects. Once again, the regular version is referred to as Mach I and is accompanied by refractor (Mach II) and atomic refractor (Mach III) parallels. In this box, I pulled both a Mach I (1938/3000) and a Mach II (0528/1000) of Alex Rodriguez.

Final Thoughts/Grades:
Collation: A+

One duplicate. That was all. I don’t think I’ll ever have that kind of great collation again. This grade goes without saying.

Condition: B

Some dirty surfaces and scratches on the glossy backs bring the box’s grade down a little. Most of the cards came out of the packs fine but a few were downright terrible.

Pulls: A

There was no autograph or game-used card, but this box was still very strong: Maddux insert, Mattingly insert, two A-Rod inserts, a Gwynn refractor, and several good rookies. I now also have a nice starter set with minimal extras.

Value: A

I’ve seen this box listed in several places for about $50 or so but if you look, you could get it for as cheap as I did. For $37, you’ll be able to pull a nice array of attractive inserts, a couple refractors, and you’re sure to improve your rookie collection. Some cards may have condition issues but they’ll likely be far in the minority. This box is still a winner.

Final Grade: A

1999 Finest Series 2 Baseball Review

99finestser2Those 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!
-John

1997 Bowman Chrome Baseball Review

97bowmanchromeFollowing in the footsteps of Mario at Wax Heaven, I just opened up a box of 1997 Bowman Chrome. Many of you may recall the first-ever video box break of this stuff about three weeks ago. Now, it’s my turn. Yeah, you all know what’s coming…

Base set: There are 300 cards in the set: 100 veteran “Reds” and 200 rookie/prospect “blues.” My box yielded 30 reds and 53 blues, or 83 of 300 basic cards, for 27.67% There were no duplicates in this box. Some of the key rookies included Miguel Tejada, Vernon Wells, Aramis Ramirez, Kerry Wood, Adrian Beltre and to a lesser extent, Orlando Cabrera and Jose Cruz, Jr.

International (1:4 packs): Inserted into every fourth pack on average are the International parallels which feature the flag of the player’s country of origin in the background. My pulls were of Adrian Beltre (RC), Greg Maddux, Moises Alou, Todd Greene, Marlon Anderson, and Dermal Brown.

Refractors (1:12 packs): Where’s there’s chrome, there are refractors. My refractors were Sandy Alomar (who I didn’t think would ever stop playing) and Brett Tomko (who is surprisingly still playing).

International Refractors (1:24 packs): Since they already had shiny cards and flag backgrounds, why not make shiny flagged-background cards? I pulled a Robbie Bell, who at least had some experience in the Majors, just for some bad teams. Hmm, two Internationals with Braves on it in the same box as the “Evil Alomar.”

Scout’s Honor Roll (1:12 packs): Seeded at two per box are the Scout’s Honor Roll inserts. These inserts are made to look like a notepad and if you look at the back, you’ll see a mini evaluation of the “five tools” each prospect is judged on: hitting, power, speed, defense, and arm. I pulled a Kevin Orie and Wilton Guerrero. A refractor version can be found in every 36 packs on average. I found a refractor of Darin Erstad in this box.

1998 ROY Favorites (1:24 packs): Finishing this box off are the 1998 ROY Favorites inserts. This set features just the best baseball prospects of the time. These cards are borderless and feature an up-close portrait shot of the player. I pulled a Todd Helton. The refractor version of this insert is seeded 1 in every 72 packs.

Final Thoughts: I thought this was a decent break overall. The refractors and a couple of the insert pulls were undoubtedly weak, but this was made up for by the rookie pulls, which is what I was more focused on. It would’ve been nice to pull a Berkman though and really nice to pull a shiny one with a flag background!

As always, thanks for reading and good luck with your own breaks!
-John