30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Gift That Kept On Giving

Whenever you hear about the benefits of being a teacher, the typical response involves making a difference in students' lives, the summer break, or possibly the healthcare benefits.  But there are four times a year that I'm reminded of another perk: gift cards.

It starts in June when my 8th graders move on to high school and a few show their appreciation with them.  Then at the end of July, there are always a handful of my 5th grade summer school kids who hook it up.  In September, I receive anywhere from 1 to 7 gift cards for my birthday.  But the big haul obviously takes place in December during the holiday season.

My students constantly see me drinking coffee, so a large percentage of the gift cards are for Starbucks.  This leads to me buying more Starbucks.  Which leads to more Starbucks gift cards.  It's a vicious cycle.  I'm not complaining though.  I really can't function without my caffeine boost in the morning.  

Sometimes I hit the jackpot and receive a Target gift card.  It's hands down my favorite place to shop.  Seriously... the store has just about every possible thing you could imagine.

Well everything except for 2017 Topps blasters.

Thanks a lot Aaron Judge!  You single handedly helped boost our hobby's popularity in 2017 and because of that, I don't recall seeing a single Heritage, Bowman, Ginter, Gallery (yeah, I know these were a Walmart exclusive), or Stadium Club blaster in my area in 2017.  And even the handful of flagship and Topps Bunt blasters I saw dried up must faster than normal.

So when I walked through the doors of my favorite store this past Sunday, I wasn't expecting much.  In fact, I almost didn't bother checking the card aisle.  But luckily I did, because I discovered the one thing I really, really wanted:  a 2017 Topps factory set.

I wasn't looking for just any factory set.  I wanted the one with the Derek Jeter relic card and to my surprise there were six or seven of them sitting on the top shelf of their trading card display.

2017 Topps Jeter Reprint Relic #DJ-93

Topps produced five different Jeter reprint relic cards available only at Target in specially marked boxes.  I saw the rookie card relic back in August when I visited my parents, but don't think I've seen one since.  I guess it was my lucky day, because there was only one left.

Normally, I'd never even think about dropping $59.99 for a factory set.  But thanks to my current and former students, I didn't have to.

In addition to the Jeter relic, there was also a pack of 5 rookie image variation cards:

After comparing the two Judges, the card backs seem identical.  But if you look closely under the card number, you'll notice the words "complete set".  The regular card says the series number.

This set turned out to be the gift that kept on giving, because I was quickly reminded that Topps never collates their cards in their factory sets.

So Monday morning,  I woke up and sorted the cards into stacks of hundreds, then tens, and about an hour later, I had a complete Series 1 and 2 baseball card set ready to be put into a binder... one day.

By the way, I didn't walk away with just this set.  I also consolidated the stack of gift cards onto one gift card.  So in addition to the factory set, I walked away with a $100 gift card plus I still had one of the original gift cards still sitting in my wallet. 

So bring it on Topps.  If I stumble across any of your 2018 Stadium Club or Archives blasters at my local Target... I'll be ready for you.

Okay... it's your turn.

If you could have a gift card (let's say $25), where would you want it from?  What would you buy?

By the way, I also received two Amazon gift cards for Christmas (+ one that I received from a summer school student).  It wasn't easy, but I miraculously found a way to spend all three of them on another Topps factory baseball set.  However, I won't spoil the surprise until I actually have it in my possession.

Until then... happy Wednesday and sayonara!


  1. Nice, the factory sets play a part in an upcoming post I have planned.

    As for your question, I'd want a $25 gift card for either eBay or iTunes. If it's on eBay I'll buy stuff I'll regret spending other people's money on later instead this other new thing that I'm suddenly chasing.

  2. Well, I got gift cards for Christmas from my kids as well.. Of course, since I'm a new driver for them, they just defaulted to what they got the old driver.. So by the break, I had $140 in Tim Horton's gift cards.. I never drink coffee.. In fact, I still have a $15 Starbucks card in my wallet from last summer..
    Since we don't have Target up here anymore.... I think WalMart.. Though I hate going there too.. That said, I did get a $50 Walmart card as well.. lol But not from my kids.
    I'd like to get a factory set one of these years. Last one I got was 1992 OPC.

  3. Excellent post and nice new addition to your card collection. It's great to check off sets that you want. And to still have money left over is a definite added bonus. Good luck with the blasters! If you have trouble finding one when they're out, why don't you let me know and I can have a look in my area. I'd be happy to work something out!

    For $25 I'd probably go lame and say Starbucks. I stopped drinking their coffee for the most part (from the stores, I still by the ground stuff when it's on sale for the house), but I'd say there for when I travel. It's usually the easiest & most convenient place for a cup of coffee. And since I'm just a black coffee guy, I can make $25 last.

  4. I would want ebay. I know how to stretch it for pc needs

  5. I had no idea Topps didn’t collate their factory sets. I guess I wouldn’t put it past them lol

  6. I would get gift cards for eBay if I could. Nice score on that factory set!

  7. I would be happy with an eBay gift card. I hadn’t heard that Topps doesn’t organize the complete sets, that just seems like an odd thing to do.

  8. I hate Jeter, but that is a sweet card of his.
    I don’t know if they make them, but a COMC gift card would be great. I would try to get some auto/relic cards of my PC guys.

  9. Amazon or COMC here. No idea what I'd spend the Amazon on but it'd be useful to have.

    And at least Topps splits the factory sets into series 1 and series 2 so you can sort half the set, take a break, then sort the second half.

  10. That Jeter RC relic is definitely the one I'd want out of all the choices.

    I have to go Target, eBay, or Home Depot. I know, I know...but I need stuff for the house constantly. Home Depot gift cards are quite handy.

  11. Ebay then I can hand pick autographs I want or items I can have signed. I got one for xmas and spent it on a Luis Tiant SI to get signed a Dave Robinson Goal Line Art Card to get signed and a couple of autos I needed.

  12. I'll join the eBay crowd. Or maybe a sushi place.

    I actually found a marked-down blaster of 2017 flagship (Series 1) at Wal-Mart the other day.

  13. I think the most annoying thing about factory sets is that they are never collated properly. It's probably for the best though because otherwise the cards would just sit in the box untouched.

  14. Not sure they have gift cards, but my first choice would be SportLots. Then COMC, eBay, and Target.

    I like that you have to sort the set. I always feel like I'm just blindly hoarding if I don't at least take a moment and look through a set and enjoy the cards a little. Otherwise, the only thing I've probably seen of them is the numbers.

  15. Gift cards? Target all the way for me...

    I only recently started seeing eBay gift cards, so that might be a close 2nd now.

  16. I've been collecting for a long time [started during the junk wax era] and I thought a common assumption was factory sets were never collated in order.

    I have a $50 gift card to Target and a $100 gift card to Amazon I wish I could turn into eBay gift cards - I'll probably wait until a Topps Target exclusive blaster to pop up in order to get something on Target.com.

  17. Serendipitous Jeter Complete Factory set relic your reward, well deserved, for educating our youth.
    A gift card to COMC or a Visa/Mastercard gift card are welcomed for any occasion.

  18. Congrats on finding the set you were looking for. I got a $25 eBay gift card from my sister-in-law, which is great. So far I've spent about $7.00 on 12 old postcards and 3 first day covers.

  19. Zippy Zappy - look forward to reading it

    Mike Matson - 1992 OPC? That's a while back. I got a Walmart card too (from last summer). Went to both of my local ones and neither had cards. Ended up spending it on food and cleaning supplies, since I have no immediate plans to return there.

    Peter K Steinberg - Thanks for the offer, but I'll pass. I don't ever plan to spend my own money on blasters again. I'd only use gift cards. I'm more of a hobby box guy... but I've even put those on the back burner for now.

    JayP & Corky - Not sure if that's the case with all of their sets, but it's been the case for every factory set I've ever purchased.

    Jeremya1um - I think COMC has gift cards. Not 100% sure though.

    Nick Vossbrink - That's true. They did split them into two series.

    The Lost Collector - Lol. I actually have a Home Depot gift card I received from one of my brothers a few years ago. I probably should just go ahead and use it, but I end up going to Orchard Supply and Lowe's because they're closer to my house.

    Dion's IP Autos only - nice. I've always liked signed SI covers.

    Brett Alan - Thanks. Now I'm craving sushi.

    ketchupman36 & GCA - good points

    Laurens - I hadn't cracked open one of their factory sets in a few years, but I remembered it wasn't collated as soon as I pulled out the first card.

    xavier higgins - Thank you for the kind words.

    Hackenbush - Post cards are really trending right now. Seen at least two posts this weekend featuring them.

    And survey says...

    eBay gift cards are hands down the most popular! COMC and Target were the only other places to receive multiple votes.

    eBay x12
    iTunes x1
    Walmart x1
    Starbucks x1
    COMC x4
    Amazon x1
    Target x3
    Home Depot x1
    Sushi Place x1
    Sportlots x1
    Visa/Mastercard x1