2013 Topps Tier One Baseball preview – by Ryan Bandy
2013 Topps Tier One Baseball is back for a third year again taking the all thrills no frills approach. Each pack per box of 2013 Topps Tier One delivers two autographs and one relic card, with each 4th pack giving a second relic hit. True to its name, Topps Tier One only has hits and no base cards in a 12-box case. Most importantly, each case of Topps Tier One has a guaranteed case hit – a Tier One on card autograph featuring ink from one of the all time top players (past or present) in the major leagues such as Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Cal Ripken Jr, Stan Musial, Rickey Henderson and Nolan Ryan. No news on whether Musial’s autograph will actually be included or if a sticker auto will take its place. Topps has announced a total of 25 names that can be found as Tier One autographs with none numbered higher than /199.
2013 Topps Tier One is a dream break for anyone ripping a case as you are definitely going to hit a big name autograph. However, the Topps Tier One autographs are not the only big hit in this release. Fans of epic patches, bat knobs, booklets and multi-signed cards will get their fill here. Tier One relics include bat knobs from over 70 big name players, jumbo All-Star Game patch relics and autographed versions of both. The Tier One bat knob checklist should not be overlooked as there are superstar names from the past (Jackie Robinson, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays), the present (Jose Bautista, Yadier Molina, Joey Votto) and the future (Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton).
Any fan of ripping wax knows you will get your share of scrub hits in any product, and that of course includes Topps Tier One. If card manufacturers only put A-list names in every pack, the price would be astronomical, not to mention the value of those top players would plummet if they were easy to acquire. However, once you get past the “On the Rise” autographs of the younger guys found in every pack, the rest of the checklist is only the top players. That’s not to say you can’t pull a name such as Manny Machado or Jurikson Profar in this subset – just be prepared to have one of your two autographs in each pack be closer to Todd Frazier or Casey Kelly.
A step up on the 2013 Topps Tier One Baseball autograph checklist is found in the Crowd Pleasers subset. This is where the typical hits start getting more fun. Albert Belle, Will Clark, David Wright, Bruce Sutter, Juan Marchial and Evan Longoria all put their ink on cards numbered no higher than 299. It should also be noted that Topps Tier One took the time to make the autographs very appealing to the eye. The typical pulls will all feature blue ink on a white background which keeps these looking very crisp and clean. There are parallels as well with red ink (/25), silver ink (/10) and gold ink (/1) which help the cards stand apart better than just a simple change in numbering with some background shading found in many other products. Early 2013 Topps Tier One sell sheets show these parallel cards having black backgrounds – it will be very interesting to see how red ink shows up on a black card. If done right, these will be very unique and could jump in price due to the aesthetic value.
With the third (and sometimes fourth) hit in each pack being a relic, these can often be overlooked. However, 2013 Topps Tier One Baseball is making sure some of these outshine the autographs. Look for dual and triple patch cards found as Tier One Relics (numbered to /99 and /25 respectively) and Tier One Legends Relics (numbered to /25 and /5 respectively). Even better are the jumbo Prodigious Patches which have impressive swatches outlined by gold foil. With these numbered /10 and not being 1/1’s you have a much better shot of hitting something more than a plain jersey relic in each case. Also, there are autographed parallels of most of the relics as well.
Strong autograph checklist, multi-piece relics and jumbo patches alone can usually make a good product, but remember this is 2013 Topps Tier One Baseball! To make sure the collector knows they are getting a high end rip, Topps couldn’t stop there and chose to add even more beautiful pulls with dual relic autographed booklets featuring two current superstar or retired players also numbered /10. These booklets will have sticker autographs due to the difficulty of having multiple players sign the same cards which is the only drawback, but seeing some of the early images, the stickers don’t appear to detract too much from the appearance.
Returning from previous Topps Tier One Baseball releases are the clear acetate rookie reprint cards which also are rumored to have on card ink. Only 25 top players have reprinted cards and looking at previous years, these are some big money cards. A Ken Griffey Jr. recently sold for over $400 even a year after its initial release. Names in 2013 Topps Tier One Baseball include Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Rickey Henderson, Frank Thomas, Buster Posey and Willie Mays. The pack pulled cards are numbered to 25, but look for oversized versions as well numbered only to 10! Topps has not indicated if the oversized cards will be inserted as box loaders or redemptions.
There is hardly enough time to cover everything crammed into 2013 Topps Tier One Baseball this year, but also worth mentioning are dual (on-card) and triple (some stickers) autographed cards in addition to rare cut signatures. On paper, this looks to be one of the most well balanced, exciting releases of the year so far. In case breaking format there will always be a couple big hits, and this certainly looks like a product in which you would get the best value opening in bulk. Whether you are looking for Hall of Famers or current Superstars from your favorite home team, 2013 Topps Tier One has you covered.