2003 Topps Tribute Contemporary baseball cards came out the same year and near the same time I got back into the hobby after a 5-year hiatus. In a way, summer of 2003 was a milestone moment in my life. It was a troubling time for me and baseball cards were the one thing that kept me calm. In a lot of ways, baseball cards are life savers. I know how strange that sounds but sometimes we have to revisit our roots to find peace in our present. For me, the roots are the constant, always there helping me find peace.
When I came back to the hobby in the summer of 2003, I revisited the local card shop I used to frequent as a kid. They were still selling sports cards. I had a look at what they had and, of course, I went through every single Frank Thomas card I could find in the store. I bought whatever I didn’t have, which was most of it. I had a pretty decent single 3-inch binder at the time that was specifically reserved for my Frank Thomas collection, which hadn’t made any progress since 1998. So I proceeded to fill it with the cards I picked up at the shop. It wasn’t long before I needed a second binder.
During that visit to the card shop in summer of 2003, I watched a guy open pack after pack, box after box of 2003 Topps Retired Signature. This was a new experience for me and I envied the customer’s buying power as he opened all of those packs. It was excited just to see what he pulled out of those packs even if I wasn’t going to buy anything from him assuming, of course, I even had the chance.
Anyway, in a small way, 2003 Topps Tribute Contemporary reminds me of that summer and that one memory. I’m not sure why since both products only share the flagship brand name. The Tribute release is an interesting and striking one. For one, the vibrant holofoil finish is absolutely stunning. Something I really like about the 2003 release is that there are only 3 parallels to chase. As with many high-end Topps sets, this one features a small number of cards. The 2003 Topps Tribute Contemporary set is made up of just 110 cards. The small number lends itself to exclusively featuring superstar talent. Upon initial release in August of 2003, these were $50/pack. This per-pack price point would only increase with future Topps Tribute releases. I can remember a $60/pack price point for the 2010 Topps Tribute release.
Often, but not always the case, high cost is coupled with high quality. This would, in fact, be one of those cases. These card are of superior quality and feature a beautiful design. If you’re looking to pull together a 3-card run of a single player in the set, here’s what to expect:
Base: These feature an holo-foil finish with gold foil print.
Red: These feature an holo-foil finish with red foil print, and a stated print run of 225 copies.
Gold: These feature a gold holo-foil finish with light blue foil print, and a stated print run of just 25 copies.
Each of these cards is stunning in-hand. Again, I like the simplicity shown here. It’s not too much and not too little. 3 different cards present somewhat of a manageable challenge to pull together. Gold parallels for superstars have proven to be difficult to find as many of them are ending up in private collections. As with many high-end parallels, I can only assume the difficulty associated with tracking these down will only increase as the set continues to age.