30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Against All Odds

Remember when pulling a printing plate or a card #'d to ten made you feel like you won the lottery?  They're still pretty cool to pull, but they're definitely not as big of a deal to me as they were twenty years ago.  Heck... over the past few years, I've even pulled five or six and at least two of them were from blasters.

On the bright side, they make me appreciate the days when pulling a rare card was something special.

Today's post centers around one of those cards:

2002 Topps Autographs #TA10

At first glance, this looks like your run-of-the-mill Barry Bonds autographed card.  However after doing a little research, I discovered this card was one heck of a pull back in the day.

2002 Topps baseball utilized a tier system for their signatures and Bonds was in the A1 group, which were inserted into 2001 Topps Series One hobby boxes at a rate of 1:15,402 packs.

Please allow me to rephrase that... that's one A1 signature inserted into every fifteen thousand, four hundred two packs.  In other words... one A1 signature per 35 hobby cases.

Now those are tough odds.  And things get even crazier when you consider that there were three other guys in the A1 groupIvan Rodriguez, Mike Mussina, and Johnny Damon.  Assuming all four guys signed the same amount of cards, a collector might need to open 140 hobby cases to pull the Bonds autograph.

I couldn't find any information on how many Bonds autographs are out there, but this autograph was so tough to pull that after 18 years, it's still listed in Beckett as one of those "no pricing due to scarcity" cards.

These days, I try to spend $50 to $65 for certified, pack pulled, on-card autographs of Bonds.  However I opened my wallet up for this card and dropped $100 (+ $3.94 shipping) a few weeks ago.  When you consider that I only spend triple digits on single card purchases once or twice a year, this purchase is definitely a rare occasion for me.

I probably won't make another $100 purchase anytime soon, but if I do... odds are it's going to involve a vintage Mantle.

Okay it's your turn to chime in...

Have you ever beaten the odds and pulled a really rare card?  If so, what card?

Well that's it for today.  Happy Thursday and sayonara!


  1. I once pulled a John Elway 1 of 1 from a pack, and still to this day, it isn't even listed that a 1 of 1 existed. But sure enough stamped right on the card 1 of 1. Other than that, never ever pulled a plate or another 1/1. I've pulled a couple of /5's and /10's.

  2. I've pulled 6 or 7 1 of 1s. I don't even remember anymore, which is not a reflection of not caring, but my poor memory. I pulled one in the 1990s, which is pretty tough. I pulled a Wayne Gretzky quad patch SN 1/2 out of my second or third hobby box from the sport.

    I'm still excited by any new card I get, rare or base. And with my lousy memory sometimes I get what I think is a new card and eventually find out it's not!

  3. I've pulled two printing plates and one superfractor. But I think the rarest cards I've ever pulled were the Torrens cards I actually needed. Torrens has 100+ different cards/parallels, of those I've only pulled two of them myself out of packs.

  4. I’ve pulled an ‘07 Upper Deck Jose Contreras printing plate, and an ‘17 Topps Mark Canha printing plate, but I think my best one was an on-card Alex Rodriguez autograph ‘93 Bowman reprint from ‘05 Bowman’s Best. The only card in that set that was better at the time was a mirror image card with an A-Rod autograph and an autograph of the guy you mentioned, Bonds. One day I will bite the bullet and get a Bonds auto. Congrats on getting this one.

  5. I don't rip much wax so I can't say I ever pulled something of that magnitude.

  6. That is a pretty cool card back when it meant something to pull them! I’ve pulled a few autos from packs, but nothing special!

  7. Best I’ve done is autos numbered to 25. But one was a McGwire, which is pretty cool.

  8. I pulled a 1993 Donruss Elite Barry Bonds numbered out of 10,000 in 1993. Still my greatest pull ever. (still have the card) Also, pulled a dual auto in chrome of Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson (card has not aged well) that was 1 in over 8000 packs. That was cool too.

  9. Whoa, sweet Bonds!

    I really have little to no lucky pulling rare cards. I think I pulled a 1:1000 card for a basketball lottery redemption set from Collector's Choice in the mid-90s. But for regular purchases nowadays, I barely ever pull a relic or an autograph, so it's still sort of a big deal for me.

  10. Very nice card and I think you got a good deal on it. No, I've never been lucky in that regard but I won't be opening too many packs any more... So the odds are...

  11. My best pull was a 1994 Topps Archives Gold Hank Aaron autograph. I don't think anything will ever top it. Pulling a card like that at 10 years old is like unearthing a gold bar.

  12. I've pulled a couple of printing plates and at least one other 1/1, but maybe my best pulls have been a babe Ruth bat card on two separate occasions.

  13. The rarest card I've ever gotten from a pack was probably the Ronald Acuna nickname SP I pulled from a pack of Heritage earlier this year. They fall about one per eight cases & it funded an entire card show for me.

  14. johnnys trading spot - if you're gonna pull only one... elway is a good one to pull. what product is it from?

    billy kingsley - oh man... congratulations on that gretzky. you have a great attitude towards collecting. i wish i'd get equally excited between seeing modern base and 70's base.

    zippy zappy - pulling two torrens is pretty insane. that's like me pulling a kurt suzuki parallel. come to think of it, i'm not sure i have. i have pulled some cool gwynn cards... and i did pull a rickey autograph from a pack a few years ago

    jeremya1um - congratulations on pulling that a-rod autograph. i probably should run out and grab his autograph soon. i think i have one of his signatures, but it's a sticker

    collecting cutch - i've slowed down on busting wax too, but just recently pulled another printing plate. too bad it wasn't baseball. it was a wwe printing plate

    sumomenkoman - lol. wish i could have been the one to pull this bonds. oh well, i'm still proud to be the owner

    brett alan - not too shabby. big mac doesn't sign a lot compared to most players

    brad's blog - dang 1:8000 is very impressive. and you lived the hobby dream of pulling one of those early donruss elite cards. i think a lot of collectors would be jealous of that accomplishment. myself included.

    the lost collector - 1:1000 is a really, really nice pull. do you remember the set/sport?

    pk steinberg - yeah, i'll be cutting down the number of packs i bust as well

    adam kaningher - oh man. that's a dream card of mine. congratulations!

    gcrl - wtf? are you serious? two ruth bat cards? yeah... you beat the odds there. congratulations!

    nick - that's awesome nick! i really need to start flipping unwanted cards to help fund future purchase.

  15. I've pulled 3 printing plates in my life; no superfractors (yet). The first was a Jason Heyward mini from '16 Gypsy Queen. Then, a Ken Griffey Jr plate from a $15 box of 2007 Fleer that I bought at the baseball card show.

    The final was a gorgeous Magenta Plate of an All-Star insert of Prince Fielder from 2014 Topps Gypsy Queen, but it was smudged the moment I pulled it from the pack. It stinks, because the card itself is truly a beauty.

  16. The best odds breaking pull of my life came out of a 2001 Topps Heritage box. I pulled a Bonds Classic Renditions autograph, right around 1:20,000, which would have been a great pull in and of itself. However, I also pulled a Garciaparra red out of the same box. Best box ever.

  17. I've pulled a printing plate or two out of recent Topps, but they were nobodies.
    My best one is a Heritage autograph from the '59 (2008) year, a Bill Mazeroski red ink /57. At the time, I thought only the last few were red ink, but now I don't think that's right.

  18. These things remind me of wonderful memories with wonderful people! Thank you very much!