In baseball cards, there is no more memorable experience I have ever had than opening my first pack of 1993 Topps finest. As a kid, one day I walked into my local hobby shop, and saw that a product had supplanted Upper Deck as the premium brand. Upper Deck were always what I gravitated towards because of the way the cards looked and felt, but this was different. Topps Finest was on special stock, cost a ton, and catered to my desire to have the best cards available. It was so much a departure from the norm, that it piqued the interest of my father. Like any father would do, I had to save my allowance to get a pack, and it took me 3 weeks. These days it would have taken my entire childhood, but its a different hobby now.
My brother and I both saved up and bought a pack at the same time. Because there were so few cards per pack, we knew they had to be good. We also had heard from another guy at the shop that they had something called “refractors” in the box, which were so rare that they only came one in about 18 packs. It was instantly a treasure hunt. My dad picked up a pack too, hoping we could find it, and we all resolved to savor the moment of opening the cards.
I was floored when I was able to pull Will Clark, a top guy at the time. It was insane – trade bait for years to come, I thought. My dad was able to get one of the Twins in the set, which we were all excited about. My brother pulled the refractor out of the box, and we almost died. It was a crappy player, but it was like we had found the golden ticket. Oddly enough, these refractors are still sought after, and my brother still has the card stashed somewhere at my parents’ house. Crazy right?
Check these out:
Since that time the hobby has changed dramatically, but Finest is still a viable brand. Refractors are now more common than they ever have been, but people still chase the rare cards from this set. Personally, its taken a lot to get me back on board with the Football brand over the last few years, but they have done a great job. I still dont think Baseball is there quite yet, and this year’s product doesnt look to be a step in the right direction. Although there is a great tribute to 1993 Finest, the majority of the main hits fall flat with a boring design, and uninspired use of reprinted insert sets.
Here are some of the main cards already posted:
One reprint does resonate quite a bit with me, and it is the hard signed 1993 autographs that Topps did for this set. They look exactly like they did back in the day, but with autographs added to the mix. They look tremendous, and I wish all of the autos were done this way.
If I collected baseball the way I collect football, I would be all over these cards, as I think they capture exactly what Finest used to be all about. The best cards with the best content. Since that time, Bowman Chrome and Topps Chrome have taken its thunder in baseball, leaving Finest to scrap for the collectors who have some extra money to throw around after cleaning up on the first two products. Not a good marketing plan.