My First (Hobby) Love

I began collecting baseball cards by accident in 1990. I was 10 years of age and shopping with my mother at Ames (1958-2002) when I noticed a small box of what I perceived to be playing cards. I had only been in America for two years and while I grasped the native tongue very quickly, I had not even began to explore the realm of sports, or sports merchandise. My young life revolved around going to school and coming home to kick it to Def Leppard and WWF (now WWE) wrestling.

As you can imagine, I became a fan of sports cards despite not knowing anything about the sport or its players. I did take a liking to one particular player so from that point on I bought as much baseball cards as my mother would purchase in hopes of finding more of that player, a guy two years removed from winning the Most Valuable Player award unanimously. My introduction to baseball cards was with Topps Company and over the years even though my love expanded to other companies, I was going to forever be a Topps guy. Pinnacle Brands came close to stealing me away but they were gone just 5 or 6 years after their debut.

With all that history, it wasn’t really until Topps introduced Finest that I fell head over heels in love with collecting. I had always just bought whatever I could afford or singles for my player collection but for the first time, I went after a particular brand and only that one brand when I discovered Finest in 1996, three years after their groundbreaking debut. By 1997, there were three Finest-style products to choose from and I delved deep into all three and Topps’ brilliant Refractor technology head first. For me, 1997 was the greatest year for trading cards as some of the most insane, 90’s style cards were released that year. That however is another story.

As you can imagine, 1993 Finest is one of the most important trading card products of all-time. It didn’t feature any certified autographs or game-used memorabilia, nor did it carry a great overall design but what it did have was the very first Refractor and they were seeded at just one per box. At $8-$13 a pack during its release, that was considered a huge gamble. By 1993 standards, that price tag was just insane for a young collector like myself who was gouging on cheap packs of Donruss and Fleer so you can imagine how badly I’d love to bust a full box of 1993 Topps Finest. Consider it on my hobby bucket list.

Unfortunately, this is one wish that is unlikely to come true. As the years continue to pass and Finest comes close to being 25 years old, there is of course much less unopened wax out there to find. Add to the fact that there wasn’t much of this stuff to begin (48,000 boxes) with and you’re looking at a product that will be one of the most expensive unopened products to bust before we hit 2020. Currently, there are two boxes on eBay with price tags of $350 and $429, respectively. As much as I love Finest, there is no card I could pull from that product short of a super star Refractor that will justify that price.

As for the Refractors, which were a true rarity in 1993 and not a throwaway card like it is today, there is supposed to be just 241 of each of the 199 cards in 1993 Finest. That being said, hobby legend goes that several Refractors hit California by way of the back door during Finest’s inaugural release. Unfortunately, no one will ever truly know except those involved and we are as likely to get a confession as we are to seeing the player below enter the baseball Hall of Fame.


Categories: The Topps Company | Tags: | Leave a comment

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