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2002 Topps Gold Label Baseball Review

The first time I ever mentioned this product, I referred to it as an “ugly mess of a product.” I know those seem like harsh and shocking words (in fact, I take them back), especially coming from a fan of the Gold Label series, but in my opinion, this product just never quite measured up to its predecessors. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a nice set. In fact, if I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t have included it in Old School Group Break 2. However, it still is what I consider the “weak link” in the series, which happened to end with this very set. See if you agree.

Box Details: 18 packs per box, 4 cards per pack, $32
Baseball Card Exchange

Base set: The base set is comprised of 200 cards and if you’re into hugely nameplated surnames, this set’s for you! That was actually a small pet peeve I’ve always had with this product (but the biggest one will be revealed later). Anyway, you might notice that these cards don’t shine the way the older GL cards do. Compare. Here you’ll notice a holofoil effect as opposed to a heavily glossed refractor effect, a different look from the “super premium” cards from previous sets. My box yielded 64 of 200 basic cards (32%) and 1 duplicate.

Gold (1:7 packs, numbered to 500): There are 3 parallels that mirror the base set: Gold, Platinum, and Titanium. The Gold cards, the most easily attainable, are seeded 1 in every 7 packs (1 in 11 retail) and are numbered to 500. I pulled 3: Garret Anderson (312/500, there he is again!), Derek Bell (002/500), and Tim Hudson (346/500).

Platinum (1:13 packs, numbered to 250): Slightly harder to find than the Golds, the Platinum parallels are seeded 1 in every 13 packs (1 in 28 retail) and are numbered to 250. I beat the odds and pulled 2 in my box: Tom Glavine (181/250) and Matt Morris (174/250).

MLB Award Ceremony Relics (seeding below): Just as they did in 2001, Topps decided to insert game-used relics into Gold Label with the MLB Award Ceremony set. Like the base cards, these also come in variations of Gold, Platinum, and Titanium, with Gold being the most common. The insertion ratios are as follows:

Gold Bat (1:32 Hobby, 1:84 Retail)
Gold Jersey (1:38 Hobby, 1:106 Retail)
Platinum Bat (1:79 Hobby, 1:217 Retail)
Platinum Jersey (1:57 Hobby, 1:159 Retail)
Titanium Bat (1:158 Hobby, 1:435 Retail)
Titanium Jersey (1:115 Hobby, 1:317 Retail)

My box yielded a Tim Raines Gold Bat and a Steve Garvey Titanium Jersey. I like how the Topps card corresponding with the award-winning year hangs in the background. Overall, the design is decent enough (though not as good as the previous year’s), but it just seems so weird to have cards this dark in the Gold Label brand. The same can be said for the parallels.

Also, new to 2002 were Major League Moments relics, which were considerably tough pulls. There were only 12 different cards, each with the 3 previously mentioned variations. I can’t link to a pictue of one of these right now, but you can Google for them if you’re curious. 🙂

Oh yeah, and these have to be the thinnest game-used cards ever. They comfortably fit in your standard toploader.

Final Thoughts/Grades:

Collation: A
No complaints here. 1 duplicate sure beats out the 15 duplicates from that last box I broke, both of which were made of 4-card packs.

Condition: B
There were a couple minor blemishes, but they were few and far between. I have pulled creased cards from this product before though.

Pulls: B
Overall, I was satisfied with my pulls. The parallel cards (minus Glavine) left a lot to be desired, but I was happy to pull relics of some new players for a change. This product has multiple game-used cards of superstars like Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, and Tony Gwynn, but how many game-used cards does Tim Raines have? Considerably less. That makes it cool.

Value: B
Somewhere in the $30-40 range is pretty decent for this box when most want $50+. Retail boxes sell for a little bit cheaper, have slightly longer odds as noted above, and contain only one game-used card as opposed to the two for Hobby.

Oh, and remember that little peeve I mentioned earlier about this product? Well, here it is. Most of you know that I’ll try all sorts of boxes at least once and in some cases, will try to complete base sets for some of my favorites (such as Fleer Showcase, Topps Gallery, and of course, Gold Label).

Prior to 2002, GL’s configuration was standard:
Hobby: 24 packs/5 cards/100-card base set*
Retail: 24 packs/3 cards/100-card base set*

In 2002:
Hobby: 18 packs/4 cards/200-card base set
Retail: 18 packs/3 cards/200-card base set

So, just to mess with us who like to actually hand collate sets of GL, Topps increased the size of the set while drastically decreasing how many total cards you got per box. Add in the fact that the designs weren’t quite as strong as in years past, it’s not surprising, at least to me, why this brand didn’t last another year.

* In 2001, the set had 115 cards, 100 base and 15 numbered SP rookies

Overall Grade: B


2001 UD Decade 1970’s Baseball Review (CONTEST WINNER!)

Here it is! The box that you voted for, 2001 UD Decade 1970’s has finally arrived and we’ll finally decide a contest winner! Before I reveal who won, let’s have a look at the rest of the box.

Box Details: 24 packs per box, 5 cards per pack. $55

Base set: The base set is comprised of 180 total cards: 90 basic cards, 20 Rookie Flashbacks, 30 Decade Datelines, 30 Award Winners, and 10 World Series Highlights. The 90 basic cards have variations in color while the subsets all look like those in the scan. Altogether, I pulled 103 of the 180 cards (57%) with 5 duplicates.

Pinstripe Exclusives Box Topper Pack: In 2001, every Upper Deck product contained a 3-card box topper pack called Pinstripe Exclusives. Depending on which product you purchased, you’d find a pack filled with cards of either Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio. Most of the time, one would only find basic cards from a 56-card set but possible game-used and even cut autographed cards were available. I pulled cards number 3, 29, and 39 of Joe DiMaggio. I forgot to include one of these in the scans but I found this auction where someone is selling the exact three cards that I pulled from my pack. Strange.

Decade Dynasties (10 cards, 1:14 packs):
Each card in this set features a player representing a team that was a force during the 1970’s. I pulled two in this box. The first was of Mike Schmidt, whose Phillies were division champions from 1976-78. The other was of Steve Garvey, whose Dodgers won three pennants in the decade.

Bellbottomed Bashers (10 cards, 1:14 packs): Like you’d expect, this insert focuses on the sluggers of the ’70s. Each card has a green checkerboard border and a foil-treated background around the player. My pulls were of Mike Schmidt and George Foster.

Arms Race (10 cards, 1:14 packs): This set focuses on the best pitchers of the decade. The bottom third of the border here is drowned with foil and doesn’t scan very well. This specific area is blue and contains several small stars in case you can’t tell. My pulls were of Phil Niekro and Tom Seaver.

Disco Era Dandies (6 cards, 1:23 packs): It wouldn’t be a ’70s-themed set without at least one real colorful, trippy-looking card so here it is. The card I pulled was Lou Brock.

Super Powers (6 cards, 1:23 packs):
This may have been my favorite insert of the box. There’s just something cool about it. Perhaps it’s the background at which Reggie Jackson is slugging away.

Alright, now that the inserts are out of the way, it’s time to reveal who won the contest. I’m happy to announce that the winning bat card was selected by one of the commenters and that no random drawing was held. Drum roll please….


My box yielded this game-used bat card of Don Baylor which means that Greg A. has won the contest! Congratulations Greg! Shoot me an e-mail (front page) with your info and the prize lot will go out to you ASAP!

Before I continue with my final thoughts, I want to announce that there was an added twist to this contest. After pulling the Baylor early in the box, I didn’t anticipate pulling yet another bat card, this one just a little better than the first:

Holy NL MVPs! A quad bat card featuring Johnny Bench (’70, ’72), Steve Garvey (’74), Willie Stargell (’79), and George Foster (’77)! The combination bat cards are very tough pulls, seeded 1 in every 336 packs, or 1 in every 14 boxes! Now the twist: I am willing to give away a second-place “consolation” prize to the first one who selected any one of these four players. Looking at the list, neither Bench nor Stargell are on the individual bat card list but Garvey and Foster are.

Mike Newman took Steve Garvey with one of the very first selections so he will win the secondary lot consisting of the two Schmidt inserts, the two Arms Race inserts, and the Baylor bat card! Congrats Mike!

Final Thoughts/Grades:
Condition: B.

Overall, the condition was very good with the exception of a couple base cards that had bending corners.

Collation: A.

I’m used to getting absurd amounts of duplicates in my boxes so when they’re limited to just about 4% of the box, I’m happy.
Pulls: A.

It was great beating the odds and getting the extra game-used, especially when it was a case hit (I think, anyway)! There was some nice star power in the inserts, including the Reggie, Seaver, and TWO Schmidts!
Value: B+.

If I could change anything about this product, it’d have to be the number of cards per pack. People who bust this product will likely want to complete the base set so at minimum, I would’ve put 7 cards per pack. A slight extension of the base set might’ve been nice also but overall, I think Upper Deck did a nice job with this set. I think a lot of my fellow bloggers (and readers) would enjoy this set and should check it out if they haven’t already.

Final Grade: A.