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Topps Adjusts Baseball Lineup in Response to MLBPA Decisions

by Paul Angilly
August 29, 2005

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As a side effect of the recent decision by the Major League Baseball Players Association to limit and take more control over next season's crop of baseball card issues, Topps recently announced that its previously-planned 2005 Topps Traded & Rookies set will be expanded and renamed as 2005 Topps Series 3.

As part of its recent decision to limit next year's licenses to Topps and Upper Deck, the MLBPA is also preventing those companies from releasing their 2006 sets until about the time spring training begins next year in mid- to late-February. Also, only players who have appeared on a team's 25-man roster will be allowed to appear on regular cards, although some subsets and inserts including minor league players and/or draft picks may be allowed.

The 2005 Topps Series 1 set was released in mid-November last year, and prior to the recent licensing announcement, the 2006 Topps Series 1 set was being planned for a similarly early release. But with 2006 Topps now being pushed back three months, the company will offer a bigger and more thorough late season series to keep collectors busy through the holidays.

Although called "Series 3," the new set will actually have a base set numbered T1 to T330 - not as a continuation of the Series 1 and 2 sets - at least partly so the company won't annoy people who have already purchased one of the company's 2005 factory sets, which include all the base cards from the first two series.

The base set will include cards which cover the 2005 postseason, including the World Series, traded players in their new uniforms and 110 rookie cards featuring 20 of the top picks from the 2005 amateur draft.

Included are:

85 traded players, 20 prospects, 20 draft picks from this year, 90 rookies, 5 managers, 5 season highlights, 14 postseason highlights, 12 league leaders, 33 Sporting News all-stars, 20 All-Star Game starters from this year, 8 Home Run Derby competitors and 18 2005 Futures Game starters.

There will also be several inserts devoted to relics from the 2005 All-Star Game: 50 All-Star Stitches (featuring workout jerseys from the game), 10 Touch 'em All (featuring the bases from the game), 10 Midsummer Covers (featuring baseballs from the game), 10 Derby Digs (featuring the jerseys from the Home Run Derby contest) and 10 Celebrity Threads (featuring the jerseys from the Celebrity All-Star game).

In keeping with its recent success in offering cut signature cards of historically significant people (such as the Presidential Cut Signatures Collection), Topps Series 3 will offer the Declaration of Independence Cut Signatures collection, featuring 1-of-1 cut signatures from 50 signers of the Declaration of Independence. There will also be a non-autograph, 56-card Declaration of Independence insert set, featuring each signer of the Declaration of Independence. The backs will feature puzzle pieces that, when put together, will form a picture of the Declaration of Independence.

The Barry Bonds Home Run History set begun in Topps Series 2 will continue with cards for each of his career home runs from 331 to 660.

Other insert cards will include: 11 Nationals Inaugural Lineup, featuring the opening day starting lineup of the 2005 Washington Nationals plus a team shot; 12 Nationals Inaugural Lineup Relics; Hall of Fame Relic cards for Ryne Sandberg and Wade Boggs, plus a dual relic card; and a collection of Signature Moves autographs (with Notations versions numbered to 25).

There will also be parallel sets: Gold, Black Bordered numbered to 30 (Home Team Advantage packs only) and a series of 1-of-1 printing plates in four colors.

The 2005 Topps Series 3 set is due for a Nov. 7 release, with a $1.59 suggested retail price for each 10-card pack.

MLS SET OFFERS CHALLENGE: Occasionally a trading card set comes along that's so scarce, hardly anyone even knows it exists. Such is the case with a set of 22 Major League Soccer trading cards issued one per box in a product called MLS Fruit Snacks.

The cards were printed last year, but the boxes seem to have only started showing up on store shelves in limited quantities a couple of months ago. I searched through several stores that didn't even carry the product before I found one that did have a few boxes. Auctions for the cards on eBay have been limited to just a handful of sellers at most, with winning bids ranging from about $2 to $10.

With the help of other collectors and eBay sellers, a complete checklist has been assembled, as follows (with team affiliations as shown on the cards): card #1, Carlos Ruiz, Los Angeles Galaxy (purple background); card #2, Carlos Ruiz (green); card #3, Carlos Ruiz (yellow); card #4, Chris Armas, Chicago Fire; card #5, Chris Klein, Kansas City Wizards; card #6, Corey Gibbs, Dallas Burn; card #7, Damani Ralph, Chicago Fire (blue); card #8, Damani Ralph (red); card #9, Damani Ralph (purple); card #10, Eddie Gaven, New York/New Jersey MetroStars (green); card #11, Eddie Gaven (red); card #12, Eddie Gaven (blue); card #13, Edson Buddle, Columbus Crew; card #14, Freddy Adu, D.C. United (red); card #15, Freddy Adu (blue); card #16, Freddy Adu (purple); card #17, Jamie Moreno, D.C. United; card #18, Jonny Walker, New York/New Jersey MetroStars; card #19, Kevin Hartman, Los Angeles Galaxy; card #20, Landon Donovan, San Jose Earthquakes; card #21, Taylor Twellman, New England Revolution; and card #22, Pablo Mastroeni, Colorado Rapids.

The four players with three cards each in the set (Ruiz, Ralph, Gaven and Adu) also appear on four different boxes, with soccer tips from each on the back. The set includes at least one player from each team in the MLS last season.

Given their limited distribution and poor collation (if you buy 3-4 boxes at once from the store, you're likely to get 3-4 copies of the same card), this set will be a challenge for anyone to complete.

About the author
Paul Angilly is a sports reporter for The Bristol Press in Connecticut, and has been collecting sports cards and memorabilia for 30 years. He is not a dealer, nor does he make a profit from buying and selling cards. His weekly sports card and memorabilia collecting column appears each week in The Bristol Press and several other daily newspapers in Connecticut.

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