718 cards in the set – 364 in series 1 and 354 in series 2. This is a bit of a decrease from the 790 in 2001. Card #7 was still retired at this point in honor of Mickey Mantle (this was the 6th year Topps excluded Mantle’s number 7 from the set).
- Subsets: Season Highlights (#332-336), League Leaders (#337-348), Postseason Team Cards (#349-356), September 11 Tribute (#357-364), Managers (#277-305), Prospects (#307-325, 671-690), Draft Picks (#326-331, 691-695), Team Checklists (#641-670), Award Winners (#696-719), and Barry Bonds HR Tribute (#365). The September 11th Tribute cards highlighted games played across 8 ballparks when baseball resumed. Manager cards were back for the second straight year, and award winners was a new subset that had winners in both leagues of the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove awards. The prospect and draft pick cards were single-player cards this time, after typically depicting multiple players in the past. Topps did a tribute card for Barry Bonds honoring him for setting the new record of 73 homers.
- Set Design: The card fronts feature an orange border with a colored ribbon and team logo in the top left corner. The words 2002 Topps are in white type across the top right border. There is another ribbon at the bottom with the player name in gold foil and the Topps logo in the bottom left (also in gold foil). This was the sixth straight year Topps didn’t have a white border. The backs are oriented horizontally, with a small player photo on the right. The player’s name, position and card number are across the top, with biographical information right below that. Seasonal and career statistics are below that, with a write-up if there’s room at the bottom.
- Packs: Topps stayed at 10 cards per retail and hobby packs (36 per box). Topps no longer listed MSRP on the packs or the boxes themselves, but it was the same $1.29 from the previous few years. The jumbo packs were HTA (hobby) exclusive and contained 12 packs per box, 38 cards per pack. I’ve also seen 2 types of blaster boxes, both with 7 cards per pack. The first has 15 packs (14 + 1 “bonus”) for $13.99, while the second has 22 packs (20 + 2 “bonus”) for $19.99. I’ve never seen retail jumbo packs online but wouldn’t be surprised if they exist.
- Rookies: After a pretty big rookie card in Ichiro from the year before, Joe Mauer made it into the draft pick portion this set as a big rookie card. Also included are RC’s of Rich Harden, Jason Bay and Kaz Ishii.
- Hall of Fame: 15 Hall of Famers in this set, a decrease of 8 from the year before. Most of this was due to the Golden Moments subset from the 2001 set that had a bunch of retired players. There were 8 Hall of Famers in that subset. Aside from that, Cal Ripken was gone after the 2001 set. Tony Perez offset the loss of Ripken – he was in the manager subset as the skipper for the Marlins.
- Variations: There are 73 variations of Bonds’ Home Run card #365, one for each home run he hit in his record-setting season. Each card is just as common as the others, making these cards individually short-printed compared to other cards in the set. Additionally, there is an interesting error with Albert Pujols’ card #160. Placido Polanco is actually on the back of the card. The opening day set does have a different picture with Pujols on the back. I’ve read that there’s a corrected version out there, but I’ve never seen it on an actual Topps base card.
For the second year in a row, Topps featured multiple current players on the flagship packaging. Series 1 boxes had a red and black background, with Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Pedro Martinez.
Series 2 has a blue lines on the side with a gold and black background. Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols were featured on series 2.
The “Topps” logo is large at the top, and the write-up tells you the box has Major League Baseball Cards Series 1/2. Advertisements on the box promote inserts and the fact that original Topps cards and autoproofs are inserted.
Topps came back with pre-production cards in 2002. There was a set of 3 cards again previewing what the design is.
Topps again issued a Traded set in packs. It was called Traded & Rookies, and this was the third Traded set to be issued exclusively in pack form. There wasn’t much as far as rookie cards in the Traded set this year – Jose Bautista grew into the biggest name in the set. Topps Chrome Traded was again included in the same product.
There are 3 parallel sets in 2002 – the same ones as 2001 except there was no Employee set this year. Only one of the parallels was inserted into packs – that was 2002 Topps Gold. Topps Gold cards were numbered out of 2002, though cards number 332-365 and 696-719 were not included in this parallel.
There other 2 types of full parallels available via factory sets. First was Limited Edition factory sets, which were made in the idea of the old Tiffany sets, with only 1,950 sets produced. These have the words “limited edition” on the bottom and were printed on thicker stock than the base cards. Home Team Advantage sets were back for the 2nd year – they are stamped with a “Home Team Advantage” logo. The foil cards in the HTA set don’t have the HTA logo, so other than them being in the set, cards #332-364 aren’t distinguishable from the base set.
- Gold – 660 cards (1:19 s1, 1:12 s2)
- Home Team Advantage – 718 cards (in HTA factory sets)
- Limited – 718 cards (in Limited Edition factory sets)
Topps continued reprinting old cards as inserts for the for the 7th straight year. This year, Topps went back 50 years and included glossy reprints of the 1952 Topps cards with a gold border. There were also cards that highlighted the ’52 World Series done in the Topps style from that year. These were inserted in both series 1 and series 2. The East Meets West cards took Masanori Murakami’s dual player Topps rookie card from 1965 and put other Japanese-born ballplayers on to the other side.
- 1952 Reprints – 19 cards (1:25)
- 1952 World Series Highlights – 7 cards (1:25)
- Own the Game – 30 cards (1:12 series 1)
- Hobby Masters – 20 cards (1:25 series 1)
- Ring Masters – 10 cards (1:25 series 1)
- East Meets West – 8 cards (1:24 series 1)
- All-World Team – 25 cards (1:12 series 2)
- Topps Draft Picks – 10 cards (5 per Retail & HTA factory sets)
There were no insert parallels or box-toppers in 2002.
Autographs & Memorabilia
The standard Autographs were down to just 40 cards, after being at 99 the year before. However, Topps continued growing the number of different autograph sets in the flagship product in 2002. Topps made up for this with a very ambitious buyback program. A total of 330 different cards of Hall of Famers were purchased on the secondary market, autographed by the players and then inserted into series 1 and 2 packs. Most of the cards were numbered to 100 (about 15 were numbered to 200 or 300). A total of 27 different players made up the 330 different buyback cards – ranging from Stan Musial (1 card) to Fergie Jenkins (34 cards). Topps also inserted signed versions of the 1952 reprints – 11 total between the two series. There was one reprint in the autograph set that wasn’t in the regular set – Joe Black.
On the relic side – Topps included relics from 3 current players on the East Meets West insert set. They also included old Ebbets Field and Yankee Stadium seat pieces on 1952 reprints of Brooklyn Dodger & New York Yankee players. The Prime Cuts insert program featured bat pieces in varying levels of rarity, while the 5-card stud relics featured jersey pieces with a playing card theme (Aces for pitchers, Kings and Jacks for hitters, deuces for dual pieces and threes for triple pieces).
The Ebbets Field / Yankee Stadium dual relic cards had an autographed version, and 8 of the Prime Cut Barrel cards had autographed versions as well.
- Autographs – 40 cards (1:985-1:15,402 s1 / 1:940-10,071 s2)
- 1952 Reprint Autographs – 11 cards (1:10,268 s1 / 1:7,524 s2)
- Hall of Fame Buyback Autoproofs – 330 cards (1:2,341 s1 / 1:2,431 s2, #/100-300)
- East Meets West Relics – 3 cards (1:3,419 to 1:12,296 s1)
- Like Father Like Son Relics – 5 cards (1:1,304 s1 retail)
- Summer School Relics – 5 cards (1:3,373-4,401 s1)
- Ebbets Field Seat Relic – 9 cards (1:9,116 s1)
- Yankee Stadium Seat Relic – 9 cards (1:579 s2)
- Ebbets Field / Yankee Stadium Dual Seat Relic – 2 cards (1:86,070 s1 / 1:59,511 s2 #/52)
- Prime Cuts Pine Tar Relics – 20 cards (1:4,420 s1 / 1:1,043 s2, #/200)
- Prime Cuts Trademark Relics – 20 cards (1:8,868 s1 / 1:2,087 s2, #/100)
- Prime Cuts Barrel Relics – 8 cards (1:7,824 s2, #/60)
- 5-Card Stud Relics – 15 cards (1:1,180-1,449 s2)
- 5-Card Stud Deuces Are Wild Relics – 5 cards (1:1,962 s2)
- 5-Card Stud Three of a Kind Relics – 5 cards (1:2,039 s2)
- Coaches Collection Relics – 26 cards (1:236 s2 retail)
- Ebbets Field / Yankee Stadium Dual Seat Relic Autograph – 2 cards (1:15,670 s1 HTA / 1:11,908 s2 HTA,#/25)
- Prime Cuts Autograph Relics – 8 cards (1:88,678 s1 / 1:8,927 s2, #/50-60)
There were again quite a few different Topps factory set options in 2001.
First, the hobby factory sets were packaged with a brown background. These sets also had 5 Topps Archives reprints included.
The retail factory set was packaged in a green background. This set had the first 5 cards in the bonus Topps Draft Picks set, and, like the hobby version had just the base set. The retail price was $49.99.
There was a Home Team Advantage factory set, that had the last 5 bonus Topps Draft Picks. It has the same general design as the sets above, except with a blue box.
The Limited Edition factory set was presented in a nice wood box. It’s reminiscent of the Tiffany sets. Limited Edition cards were on thicker card stock.
Topps followed up with the 50th Anniversary “History” promotion from 2001 with another buyback program. They again inserted old cards they had bought back and at a rate of 1:616 in series 1 and 1:431 in series 2. From the wording on the back of the packs – I believe they only bought back cards of Hall of Famers.
Additionally, Topps inserted a logo race card in series 1 each pack. They also inserted sticker cards randomly into packs. If you got all the stickers from a division, you could stick them on the logo race card and send it in to get a cap of your favorite MLB team.
Finally, Topps also inserted Ticket to History Sweepstakes cards which you could fill out and send in. 500 winners were selected to win various 1952-related items from the Topps Vault, like a ’52 World Series program.
Other releases associated with the Topps flagship set
#1 – Topps again issued the “Topps Chrome” product – its 7th year. It wasn’t a full chrome reproduction of the base set for the 2nd time in those 7 years; Topps only included 660 of the 718 cards.
#2 – Topps issued its 6th “Opening Day” set in 2002. Again, the 165 card set was retail only, and features the same photos from the base set. The border is green instead of gold, and there is an Opening Day logo instead of the Topps logo.
#3 – Topps issued a Japanese set in conjunction with Kanebo, a company that I think is a gum manufacturer in Japan. There are 55 cards, most of them done in the same design and photo as 2002 Topps. There are a few cards that are actually the same as the player’s 2003 Topps card. The backs are written in Japanese.