2004 Finest baseball cards present a parallel challenge for player collectors that's just the right amount of difficult. Here we have a base card and three unique parallels for a total of four unique versions of any single card in the set. From common to rare, here's a rundown of the different versions:
- Base: These are the standard cards from the flagship set.
- Refractor: These parallel the base set and feature the classic refractor finish.
- Uncirculated Gold X-Fractor: These parallel the base set and feature a box-matrix refractor pattern. They're found in manufacture sealed cases and hold a stated print run of 139.
- Gold Refractor: These parallel the base set and feature a gold version of the classic refractor finish. They hold a stated print run of 50.
For the obvious reason, the Gold Refractor parallel is the toughest of the four to find. With 50 copies, however, you'd think these would surface more frequently. Alas, they continue to get harder to find with each passing year. Surprisingly, of all four, the base Refractor was the last one I acquired to finish the run depicted so in my experience, that version was the hardest one to find.
The 2004 Finest Baseball release was an interesting one that presented an unique packaging method that's been used in other Finest releases since - the mini box. Each box of 2004 Finest Baseball comes with three 6-pack mini boxes for a total of 18 packs per box. When I first became aware of this marketing strategy, I always wondered why Topps bothered with all that extra packaging. I guess I always just preferred to see packs as soon as I open a box, not more boxes. Alas, this is another excellent release with lots of luster by Topps.
If you're in the market for something with plenty of life from the early half of the 2000s, grab a box of 2004 Finest Baseball.