The 1952 Topps Baseball set is an undeniable classic, and rightfully one of the most famous sets ever. That means Topps likes to get as much mileage out of it as possible, which in turn means that Topps Rookies 1952 Edition - which features current rookies on cards that look like those from '52 - is back for another go-round to help close out 2007.
Hobby boxes of 2007 Topps Rookies 1952 Edition Baseball come with 20 eight-card packs, and collectors can expect to find three autographed cards per box.
Base Cards and Parallels
Not much needs to be said about the look of '52 Edition - it lives up to its name by duplicating both the fronts and backs of the cards that first helped launch Topps into the hobby. In keeping with the rookie theme, all but one of the 221 base cards (that would be Mickey Mantle on card number 7) depict players who made their big league debuts in 2007. A late release date means there are plenty of true rookie cards in the set, which is definitely nice.
The random hobby box I opened to review had decent collation, as I ended up with 122 base cards and 12 duplicates. I also found three cards with black card backs instead of the usual red, including Houston Astros slugger Hunter Pence.
Chrome parallels and Refractors are also part of the product mix, though only 95 players get the Chrome treatment. These cards appear to fall about one in every other pack, as my sample box held seven Chrome cards (numbered to 1952, appropriately), two Silver Refractors (#'d to 552) and one Gold Refractor (#'d to 52).
Autographs and Relic Cards
Falling three per box on average, the '52 Signatures cards are definitely one of the main hooks of this product. The design of the cards really lends itself to autographs by simply replacing the facsimile signature on the front with a real one. You can't get much cleaner than that, and the inclusion of many on-card signatures makes them even nicer.
The checklist has plenty of interesting names from the 2007 rookie class, like Alex Gordon, Joba Chamberlain and Ryan Braun. Gary Sheffield and NL MVP Jimmy Rollins highlight the handful of veterans who also signed for the set. Ten dual autographs can also be found, but at odds over 1:1000 packs they should be plenty scarce.
There's also a lone relic insert called Diamond Debut Tix Relics. As the name suggests, these cards incorporate a piece of an actual ticket from the player's first MLB game. A total of 22 players are featured, including Daisuke Matsuzaka.
The expected three autographs emerged from the About.com sample box: Brett Carroll, Edwar Ramirez and Levale Speigner. All three were on-card signatures.
Insert cards are kept to a minimum this year, and the ones that are present fit in well. Dynamic Duos use horizontal photos to capture two young players (not necessarily rookies) from the same MLB team. Debut Flashbacks take 15 veterans and put pictures from their rookie seasons on the 1952 design - they also come in numbered Chrome versions.
And we finally reach the end of the A-Rod Road to 500 series that has been winding its way through all Topps baseball releases in 2007. Homers 476 through 500 are represented, meaning this insert is finished until Rodriguez gets to 600.
Like the parallels, inserts appear to come about every other pack. My review box produced five Dynamic Duos, four Debut Flashbacks and one Road to 500.
The Last Word
It's hard to knock a set with a timeless look, and rookie card collectors should be pleased to grab lots of affordable first-year players. Topps definitely knows how to pay homage to the past, it's just that this set isn't especially creative - we've seen this before, and I'd hate to think we're going to get a new "1952 Edition" release every year.
Still, it's a lot cheaper than buying cards in top condition from the real 1952 set, and the autograph checklist is strong. Like other "past meets present" products from Topps, this one is worth a look.