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Re-entering the Hobby: Reflecting on 2019 Bowman and the 2019 Topps Series 2 Retail Challenge

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Re-entering the Hobby returns where I talk a bit about some of the 2019 releases that have come out and set some goals for my collecting in the coming months.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

For those that are not aware, this is a series I started recently about my foray into the baseball card collecting world after a long absence. If you want to read about my decision to do this and why, you can look at this link right here.

Welcome back to Re-entering the Hobby which is a series that chronicles my re-entry into the baseball card collecting world. What started as a fun re-exploration of a hobby that I have a ton of affection for has predictably turned into a full-fledged obsession for me as I chase down cards and research new releases. It has been a ton of fun and the support has been overwhelming.

First of all, I know,I know...it has been a while since I updated you all on my baseball card collecting activities. There are a few reasons for that: one, I had to buy a new car rather suddenly after the clunker that I had been nursing through its golden years died a spectacular death. As a result, I didn’t have as much disposable income to play around with while I got that sorted out. Second, in the periods of time where I wasn’t dealing with car issues, my luck had been quite poor (more on that in a minute) and while that is an important lesson in collecting anything where luck is involved...it isn’t a particularly interesting one. However, I have returned with some thoughts on some sets, some projects I am working on, and a challenge for myself that I am going to be conducting over the next few months.

2019 Bowman is great...with some catches

My last article in this series was a preview of my attempts to tackle 2019 Bowman. My initial impression was that the Braves were not going to be particularly strong in that product and...well, that was correct. There are some interesting cards one can hit for sure especially if you are bullish on Kyle Wright or if you are insanely lucky and hit some of the hard to hit (like around one per case...not per box, per case of boxes) insert autographs that the Braves do have.

Well, I am not insanely lucky...at least I wasn’t in this set. Despite getting multiple spots in 2019 Bowman breaks, I did not hit a Braves insert auto. In fact, I didn’t even hit an Isranel Wilson autograph at all. I did get a numbered Kyle Wright rookie auto which is quite nice as well as three Derian Cruz auto (one of which was numbered). There were some numbered non-autographed cards as well, but nothing crazy or noteworthy.

All of that said, Bowman is actually a great investment opportunity. There are several players whose cards (autographs and non-autographs) that are in high demand right now including Wander Franco, Joey Bart, Victor Victor Mesa, and others so even though the Braves cards aren’t particularly compelling, you can get some cards that you can parlay into the Braves cards you are looking for.

Also, here is this little nugget: only at Target, there are Mega Boxes of 2019 Bowman that contain packs of Bowman as well as a line of inserts that only come out of those boxes. If you are a more patient person than me (I have yet to even see a Mega Box in a Target and if I did, I would open it probably before I left the parking lot), you can buy those boxes at $20 a piece and either sell them on eBay immediately for the current going rate of around $30 a box or hold on to them for a while and sell them for more. Just a thought...right now I am just hoping to find a box one day.

Other 2019 Releases

There have been other sets that have come out over the last several weeks, but my experience with them has been limited. If you have had trouble finding 2019 Bowman packs (again, they are in high demand) and/or need to satiate your MiLB fix with a limited budget, Topps Pro Debut is most definitely an option. It has the same card design as the Topps base sets but focuses on minor league players. There are autographs in the set and the prices on hobby boxes are around $70 a box which is….significantly cheaper than their Bowman counterparts. Topps Finest also came out which is more of a mid-level product that focuses on MLB stars and has a great checklist with autographs from lots of stars and rookies, but is a little pricier and I have noticed that cards from Finest don’t seem to hold value on the market as well for some reason (I could just be wrong about that).

For the high rollers amongst you, Topps Definitive came out as well. When I say this set is for high rollers, I am not kidding. A box of Topps Definitive goes for around $1,000 and there are only 8 cards per box. That is….a lot. You ARE guaranteed to get six autographs and two relics (with auto relics being very probable among your six autos), but that is too rich for my blood. One non-licensed product (no team logos) that I do endorse is Panini Prizm which does have a retail option and contains autographs at a higher rate, although they will not be as valuable as their Topps counterparts.

This leads us too….

The 2019 Topps Series 2 Retail Challenge

So I have gone back and forth on Series 2. It was readily apparent that Austin Riley debuted too late in the year for his rookie card to be in the set...that would have made the decision easy to invest a bit. When the checklist was announced, it was revealed that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would have a rookie card...but it was going to be short printed which does increase the value of them, but also makes them harder to get and he isn’t a guy I personally collect so the appeal wasn’t particularly high.

However, as I was looking into the set...I started to think about one of the main tenets that I had when I started this series and that was the accessibility of this hobby. You all could read about the eBay auctions I win or the cards that I get in breaks or from COMC or whatever and that would be fun for the collectors out there. However, I want this to be an exploration of all aspects of the hobby that I enjoyed when I was a kid and at the end of the day….I just love opening packs. I love going to Target or Walmart or wherever and finding players I like. That aspect of collecting has stayed with me even as I have pursued the more advanced/expensive parts of the hobby.

Also, the checklist started to grow on me. The Vladdy Jr. rookie card was short-printed (and oddly enough without a set number), but still occurs with some regularity, plus there are rookie cards of guys like Peter Alonso, Eloy Jimenez, and Fernando Tatis Jr. to add some value to the base set. There is also a card called Strike a Pose that has both Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies on it that gave me another rainbow project to work on as well.

That leads me to a little challenge I have set for myself. I am going to buy Topps Series 2 retail products fairly regularly. Sometimes it will be a sizable amount of product as a way of treating myself, sometimes it will be just a pack like I did when I was a kid. However, my goal is to show that one can just collect the old fashioned way and still come out with cards of value and still participate in the hobby in a meaningful way. So, at the end of August (with some periodic updates in the interim), I am going to take all of the value in said Series 2 retail cards that I open between now and then and turn it into a single card. I have some goals in terms of cards in mind...but I am going to go where this path takes me as well as chronicling my planning and results.

Other collecting projects

Beyond that, I have a goal of having at least one autograph of every player on the Braves’ 40-man roster that has a certified autograph). Fun fact, I bought an Arodys Vizcaino autograph and he was released three days later….so that was neat. I still don’t own a Freddie Freeman autograph mainly because I am being picky as to which one I get, but I hope to remedy that soon. There are some others (Donaldson, McCann, and a few others) that I don’t have, but I have made a lot of progress there.

I am also quite happy that I completed the Ronald Acuna Jr. Walmart insert set (30 cards total) from Series 1. As I indicated, one doesn’t have to just chase autographs and shortprints to enjoy collecting and I thoroughly enjoyed chasing down those. I did end up buying two of the ones I was missing, but that was mainly because Series 2 was coming out and I didn’t want to have to hunt down Series 1 packs from Walmart.

I am still working on the 2018 Topps Update rainbow of The Future is Bright and I am now down to two missing pieces after I pulled the trigger on the first Vintage Stock parallel of it that I had seen period. Still missing the Black and the Memorial Day, but I can at least see the finish line now.

Finally, I have quietly been working on a Mike Soroka rainbow as well (I am sure none of you are that surprised). One of the first cards that he had with his rookie card shield on it was in 2018 Bowman Chrome (not regular 2018 Bowman) and I have slowly been trying to get all of the parallels of it. After a very lucky eBay auction where I got the orange for cheaper than I should have, I am only missing the gold and red parallels.