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1999 Topps Chrome Series 2 Baseball Review

Alright. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had the urge to bust some 1999 Topps Chrome lately. While Jeff of I am Joe Collector dediced to go for some football, I busted a box of baseball’s second series. 1999 Topps Chrome Series 2 Baseball has a 221-card set which includes a couple of subsets and a handful of rookies. Unlike its football counterpart, this set’s rookie checklist isn’t quite as impressive, but there are some decent names included such as Pat Burrell, Matt Holliday, Brad Lidge, and A.J. Burnett. There are a few insert sets (and refractors) to chase after as well, including an early version of a “Home Run History” set, featuring Sammy Sosa. As always with Topps Chrome, boxes contain 24 packs of 4 cards each. I paid $25 for this. Let’s see what I pulled.

Base set: I pulled 86 out of 221 base cards in this box, for just under 39%. There were no doubles. Just for laughs, check out the picture of Brian Hunter, complete with Hamburlger mask.

Refractors (1:12 packs): It’s hard to believe that at one time, you’d only pull 2 basic refractors per full box of Topps Chrome. Nowadays, you might find that many in a single Wal-Mart pack alone! My refractors were Al Leiter and baseball’s Energizer Bunny, Jamie Moyer.

All-Etch (1:6 packs): The most common inserts here are found in the All-Etch set. This set is comprised of 30 cards, broken down into the following subsets: Club 40 (13 cards of the players who slugged 40 home runs in 1998), ’99 Rookie Rush (10 prospect cards), and Club K (7 cards featuring the game’s best hurlers). I pulled cards of Juan Gonzalez, Manny Ramirez, Gabe Kapler, and Curt Schilling. In addition, refractor versions of these cards are found in every 24 packs on average. I pulled a Kevin Brown.

Fortune 15 (1:12 packs): Continuing with the colorful insert theme, we have the Fortune 15 set. These 15 cards fall at a rate of 2 per box and feature the players’ images inside a crystal ball. Personally, I thought it would’ve been cool if the card backs had some sort of predictions about the players’ futures (You know, sort of like what Topps Tek did with milestones), but alas, they don’t. An interesting tidbit on the Griffey card tells me that at one point, the only players to hit 50 homers and steal 20 bases in the same season were Willie Mays, Junior, and Brady Anderson (one of these things is not like the other….). A very rare refractor version of this set exists, but they are limited to just 100 copies. Back then, 100 was pretty limited! Interestingly enough, these are the only serially numbered refractors in this product.

Record Numbers (1:36 packs): Just like the name says, this 10-card set celebrates players who have set some sort of signiciant records. My Ken Griffey, Jr. card points out that he became the youngest ever to reach 350 career home runs, at age 28. The fireworks background is a nice touch, but like the rest of the inserts, the design is very busy. The refractor version of this insert is seeded 1 in 144 packs on average.

What WASN’T Pulled: Aside from the refractor versions of the inserts I previously mentioned, I did not pull a Sammy Sosa “Home Run Parade” card. What’s that you ask? Let me refresh your memory. In 1999, Topps decided to make Home Run Parade cards for both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. McGwire cards were inserted into Series 1 while Sosa’s would follow in Series 2. These cards were featured in both basic Topps and Topps Chrome. Each player had one card for each home run hit during their 1998 “bring the fans back!” campaign. The back of each card gave the specific details of the home run depicted on the front. Details include the date, opposing team, opposing pitcher, baserunners if applicable, distance, trajectory, and a little blurb on the bottom. Oh, and there was also a picture of Roger Maris on the back.

If you’re thinking you’ve heard of this concept before, think about all those ridiculous Home Run History inserts of Mickey Mantle and Barry Bonds you’ve pulled from Topps products in the past few years. (insert trademark Chris Harris smirk here) At the time, however, the concept wasn’t ridiculous. Each HRP card came with a refractor version and went for some nice change. Some home run numbers also carried a premium such as the first and last home runs, as well as numbers 61 and 62. Here’s a link to an ebay store carrying one of these HRP cards.

Final Thoughts: This was a pretty solid box. I got just about what I expected for $25. The inserts delivered as expected and collation was good. None of the cards came out of the pack damaged either (a HUGE plus). All in all, this was an enjoyable, inexpensive break. I don’t plan on building the set together at this time so don’t expect to see more of this product on this blog. That, and I don’t want to have to un-stick any more chrome cards for a while! But if you’d like to, go right ahead. 🙂

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

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1998 Topps Chrome Series 1 Baseball Review

1998 Topps Chrome Ser 1
Before they guaranteed a parallel per pack and included autographed “rookie cards,” Topps Chrome was a much simpler, yet collectible set that produced some extraordinary inserts. Today, I shall review a box of 1998 Topps Chrome Series 1. As is the norm with Topps Chrome, this product mirrors the set and a good number of the inserts featured in the regular Topps set of the same year. A box can be had for under $35 and in my opinion, certainly delivers for the price. It helps when you get lucky and smash the odds a few times, like I did in this box. Check it out….

Base set: The Series 1 base set is comprised of 281 cards. Well actually, the cards are numbered up to 282, but then there’s the vacancy in the number 7 slot in honor of some Yankee player. I received 83 of the 281 base cards, with 4 duplicates. There are several subsets mixed in which feature prospects, draft picks, and highlights of the 1997 season, including the World Series. If you’re reading this Mr. Alejandro, that card on the top-right of the scan is a shoutout to you. Also, I have to point out a classic photograph on card 146, Jose Guillen. He is shown standing outside Three Rivers Stadium, next to a statue of Roberto Clemente and emulating his pose. I’m not a fan of Guillen by any means, but this card is awesome, and one I had never seen before!).

Refractors (1:12 packs): Ah, yes. What would Chrome be without the refractors?? They are seeded 2 per box on average, but I actually pulled 3 from this box. The first was of Luis Gonzalez, who was then on the Astros. The second was Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. Can’t go wrong with that! I was surprised to find a third refractor in my box, even if it was just Todd Hollandsworth. To recap, we had:
Luis Gonzalez (who’s had a nice career and a walk-off World Series hit)
Dennis Eckersley (who had a great, HOF career and gave up a famous walk-off World Series HR)
Todd Hollandsworth (’96 ROY – seriously, he was) EDIT: He was also on the Marlins’ Championship team from ’03

Baby Boomers (1:24 packs): All of the insert sets found in this product (refractor versions aside) are seeded about 1 per box, so these will be randomly listed (if you’ve been paying attention to my blog, you’d notice I usually list inserts from the most common to the most scarce). The first set, entitled Baby Boomers, features the rising young stars of the time. Some of these include Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Jose Cruz, Jr. The cards feature a dark blue, almost purplish background with graphics that resemble fireworks. There is a refractor version that falls 1 in every 72 packs on average. In this box, I pulled both a REGULAR AND REFRACTOR version of Andruw Jones. Boomers, huh? Knowing the companies, if this set existed today, there’d probably be a super-shortprinted card of Chris Berman (AKA Boomer) in there somewhere (with a horrible photoshop job of course). Ok, enough of that.

Flashback (1:24 packs): Flashback was my personal favorite insert set of the bunch. It’s simple yet effective. One side features a current photo of a superstar veteran. The other side features a photo of said veteran when they first broke into the league. Check out the Ken Griffey, Jr. Remember when he was destined to be the king? While I didn’t scan the other side of the card, it should be noted that the sides look nothing alike. The “old school” side has the set’s name in yellow block letters and there’s this strange “yellow-V” theme to the card. I know, the last thing anyone would want to be reminded of is the horrible uniforms worn by the Vancouver Canucks. The “new school” side features the set name in a 3-D style of writing with a purple background (which was popular in this product). Some other players in this set include Barry Bonds, Tony Gwynn, and Cal Ripken, Jr. The refractor version of this set is found 1 in every 72 packs on average.

Hall Bound (1:24 packs): The final insert set is called Hall Bound. As one would expect, the 15 players in this set were deemed as HOF locks at the time of production. I could go into one of my usual detailed descriptions about the cards, but I think I’d rather have JayBee do it instead. In his blog, he made a great post about this very insert set (well, the non-chrome one) and I urge you to check it out. Folks, if you aren’t familiar with BDJ610’s Topps Blog, you’re really missing out on some great stuff so at least check out the homepage if you don’t want to read about the Hall Bound set. Anyways, back to the task at hand. I received TWO of these inserts in my box. They were of Roger Clemens and Ken Griffey, Jr. Yep, just like in my 1998 Donruss Elite box, I once again received those two from the same set! The refractor version can be found 1 in every 72 packs on average (just like all the other inserts!)

Final Thoughts: I think you could probably figure out that I was extremely pleased with this box. In a box where I’d typically hit about 6 inserts, possibly 7, I received 8. The inserts I pulled certainly weren’t short on star power either, even in my basic refractors. When packs have only 4 cards each, it’s typically not good to have a pack’s worth of duplicates in your box when the set is so large. In comparison, my Bowman Chrome and Stadium Club Chrome boxes each had no duplicates. However, this was just a very small flaw which was basically drowned out by the awesomeness of this box. If you liked what you saw here, I’d definitely suggest trying a box. They’re cheap, a blast to open, and everything looks great!

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