1999 Finest Team Finest Baseball Cards

Frank Thomas 1999 Finest Team Finest #TF13 Red Refractor /50
Frank Thomas 1999 Finest Team Finest #TF13 Red Refractor /50

→ pulling this 6-card run together is a right of passage few achieve ←

The Catalyst of Calculus.

Back in my undergraduate days, I made friends with some Engineering majors. In conversations with some of them over the years, I learned two things:

  1. All Engineering majors must successfully pass through the 3-tier Calculus sequence
  2. Calculus 2 is considered by many to be the hardest and as such comes with a very high fail rate

I learned that Calculus 2 is so hard, in fact, that many of my Engineering friends couldn't pass it in as many as three attempts. Mind you these were very smart, academically accomplished students who achieved high marks in all other course work. While most of them eventually made it through, for some of them the fail rate acted as the catalyst for them to change their majors. Those who muscled through the Calculus sequence, however, went on to become successful engineers with high paying salaries.

Circling it Back.

If you PC a player in the 1999 Finest Team Finest set, take a moment to gather your thoughts and mentally prepare. You're about to enter battle. This run comes with a high fail rate and for those attempting it, expect to spend years getting it done if you're lucky enough to get that far. Here's what you're up against:

The set consists of 20 cards, each made with 6 unique parallels. The roster includes some of the biggest names of this era in baseball. These cards scan really well and the parallels aren't too many; 6 is a good number. Notes while reading:

  • Abbreviations:
    • Series One (S1) and Series Two (S2)
    • Home Team Advantage (HTA)
  • Distribution:
    • Cards 1-10 are found in S1 packs and 11-20 are found in S2 packs

Base:

1999 Finest Team Finest Baseball Cards
1999 Finest Team Finest Baseball Cards
  • Blue: Randomly inserted at a rate of 1:82 (S1), and 1:57 (S2). These were also distributed in HTA packs at a rate of 1:38 (S1) and 1:26 (S2). Stated print run: 1500.
  • Red: Randomly and exclusively inserted in HTA packs at the rate of 1:25 (S1) and 1:18 (S2). Stated print run: 500.
  • Gold: Randomly and exclusively inserted in HTA packs at the rate of 1:51 (S1) and 1:37 (S2). Stated print run: 250.

→ Related article: 1999 Finest Baseball Cards

Refractors.

As with most chrome cards, refractor parallels were made and in this case, they're 10x more difficult to find than their base card brothers.

1999 Finest Team Finest Refractor Baseball Cards
1999 Finest Team Finest Refractor Baseball Cards
  • Blue Refractor: Randomly inserted in Hobby packs at a rate of 1:816 (S1) and 1:571 (S2). These were also distributed in HTA packs at a rate of 1:377 (S1) and 1:263 (S2). Stated print run: 150.
  • Red Refractor: Randomly and exclusively inserted in HTA packs at the rate of 1:254 (S1) and 1:182 (S2). Stated print run: 50.
  • Gold Refractor: Randomly and exclusively inserted in HTA packs at the rate of 1:510 (S1) and 1:369 (S2). Stated print run: 25.

Let me tell you something about these three refractors - they're very difficult to pull together. We've all seen odds worse than the stated insertion ratios but don't be surprised if many years exist between encounters of your player's Gold or even Red Refractor. The only Gold Refractor of my player (Frank Thomas) I've ever seen resides in my collection and I paid handsomely for it back in October 2014.

The Red Refractor, which has a print run twice that of the Gold Refractor, proved to be a monster task to acquire. This card surfaced just three times over the past 5 years with my bid capturing the final appearance. It was the last one I needed so I was aggressive with a bid not all that dissimilar from my bid for the Gold Refractor. While not preferred, I'm accepting of the fact that my example has been peeled. At 20 years out from release date, I can't be too picky of such things. Better to have a peeled example than no example at all.

Replacements.

Like many releases from this era, Replacement examples (exact cards but without serial numbers) can be found for most if not all versions of every card in the set. Phrases like, "Missing Serial Number" or "Without Serial Number" are often used in eBay auctions for these versions. While these non-pack-issued proofs are desirable and technically rarer since they weren't mass produced, they've proven to be more affordable than their pack-issued counterparts. The reason being is that not everyone collects them and I've learned that most collectors tend to prefer pack-issued stuff over what many believe qualifies as printer scrap. While these are nice to have, they're more like cherries on top than anything else and I don't associate them with goal attainment. If you have the 6-card run but none of these, consider the job done.

Frank Thomas 1999 Finest Team Finest #TF13 Blue Refractor No Serial Number
Frank Thomas 1999 Finest Team Finest #TF13 Blue Refractor No Serial Number

→ Related article: Replacements and Why Your Card Doesn’t Have a Serial Number When You Think it Should

Gaining Perspective.

A Hobby box of 1999 Finest Baseball is 24 packs. Let's say you want to pull the Blue Refractor of a specific player in the set. Here's how the math will look:

  • 816 packs / 24 packs = 34 boxes
  • 20 cards in the set
  • 34 x 20 = 680 boxes (16,320 packs)

Before we cap this section off, let me just say there are no guarantees when it comes to pulling anything from packs. That said, however, let's make some assumptions. Mind you, most of these assumptions are factually incorrect but they're put in place for support.

  • The insertion ratios are accurate
  • The total yield of boxes produced is exactly 680
  • Nobody but you is opening these boxes

With those assumptions in place, let's continue...

In order to guarantee the pull of a 1999 Finest Team Finest Blue Refractor of any one player in the 20-card set, you'd have to open 680 boxes (16,320 packs) of 1999 Finest, which in the current market of around $75/box and assuming you can even find that many of them, would cost you $51,000 (before tax and not assuming a bulk discount).

Since pulling the Blue Refractor from S1 Hobby packs is the hardest feat to accomplish among all insertion arrangements, you'd pull all other cards of said player in the process. So technically and regardless of player, your 6-card run should actually be worth $51,000.

→ To see the current eBay auctions for 1999 Finest Team Finest, click here.

Conclusion.

As we can see from our review and analysis, 1999 Finest Team Finest baseball cards are serious event attendees that come dressed to the nines. These cards are desirable in the current market and continue to ripen with rarity as they age. If you're just now chipping away at your run, try to accept the possibility you may never finish it. If you can get at least 4 of the 6 cards, consider it a win but don't stop searching for the other two. Luckily, it's not Calculus 2. 🛠

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