I originally intended to write this piece on a Johnny Damon pickup but figured since a good chunk of this article is about 1999 Finest Baseball and its parallels, I'd do a set review instead.
I found this card at a shop. It was in one of three piles of cards stacked behind a showcase. Most of the stuff in the piles was from the 1990s, which was nice to see given the sheer amount of modern that tends to dominate card shop showcases. No offense to the modern category, of course. The price on the tag is arbitrary. I paid $7 for this 1999 Finest Gold Refractor Johnny Damon. Fair price if you ask me.
A little backstory on these parallels: The 1999 Finest Baseball set featured two parallels for each base card, which includes a base refractor and a gold refractor. The base refractors aren't serial numbered and inserted into packs at a rate of 1:12. The gold refractors are serial numbered to 100, feature a deckle edge and inserted at a rate of 1:26-82 depending on the series, type of pack, and where they were purchased.
In 1999, Topps was still featuring the etched design to its chrome cards. You'll notice it showcased here by the etched outline to Damon's silhouette. This subtle but important feature really makes the refractor parallels highly appealing. To enrich it even further, the gold parallels feature a deckled edge. Topps followed this up with its 2000 Finest Gold Refractor parallels but it hasn't been revisited to any significant degree since, which I can appreciate. An uncommon theme that works needs not be beaten to death. The rare appeal of subtle design features emphasizes the concept of scarce desirability.
1999 Finest Baseball sets itself apart from previous installments in that some of the key players in the base set roster are featured on up to 3 different cards. This adds a bit of excitement to the collectibility aspect while still keeping things relatively simple for player collectors. For Thomas, I had to chase down 9 different cards (3 parallels for each of the 3 different designs). Depicted here is one of the three 3-card runs. It took me a while to track down all three gold refractors. Picky collectors will ensure that all cards are unpeeled. I'm pretty picky but given the scarcity of the golds, I can live with a peeled copy.
Something else to note here is that, aside from the base card, Topps made just two parallels for 1999 Finest Baseball. While this was the 7th installment of Finest and it was clearly a more complex release than its inaugural 1993 release, it was still somewhat easy to collect. The multiple parallel craze wouldn't take full shape until the following decade - another reason to appreciate the 1990s; it was a simpler time.
If you're in the mood for something high quality, relatively easy to collect, and mostly affordable, try a box of 1999 Finest Baseball.