Frequently Asked Questions 
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If you have a question you'd like answered, either here on this site, or personally, e-mail Heidi at heidig@sportscardplayground.com. All e-mails will be answered. All questions were written or updated in November 2016.

Q. I see different packaging for the same year of Topps Baseball factory sets. Do they have different cards

A. Not in a meaningful way. Topps typically releases a "Hobby" and "Retail" version of the same set that we carry (as well as sometimes a "Holiday" or "All-Star Game" packaging, among others). The basic card set is the same in each set. What varies is two-fold...the packaging itself (color of box, players featured, etc.) and possible bonuses that come with the set. The Hobby and Retail sets (for the past 10 or so years) have each had a DIFFERENT 5 card bonus pack. The hobby bonus pack has been 5 random parallels from any of the cards featured in the set (so, bonus packs can be different from each other). The Retail bonus pack has been 5 rookies selected by Topps for that year (so, each 5 card pack is the same).

Q. How can you tell if a baseball card is a rookie card

A. This answer got more difficult in 2006, when the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) changed the guidelines of what makes a rookie card a true rookie card (and added a special Rookie card logo to each card falling within their new guidelines as of that date). Topps' Bowman brand historically featured many rookie players before their major league debuts. Bowman scouts did a tremendous job finding and featuring minor leaguers early on and producing their first official rookie card in the Bowman set. The rookie rules change in 2006 was multi-fold, and affected the rookie classification of Bowman cards (among others). The rules mandated that to be considered a true rookie card, the player must be on the major league team's 40 man roster; so players now must be in the major league to have an official rookie card. Bowman still features the first cards of many MLB players. They just don't have a true rookie classification. It's a confusing issue and one not easily understood (or always agreed upon) by many hobby enthusiasts.

When in doubt, look up the card in a Beckett magazine. True rookies should have an RC listed after their names.

Q. What is the difference between HOBBY and RETAIL packs

A. The difference varies by manufacturer. Generally speaking, a RETAIL pack is one found at a mass merchandiser (Target, Wal-mart, etc.) or convenience store (7-11, gas station, etc.), while a HOBBY pack is found at a trading card store/hobby shop (like ours!). Often, there is a different number of cards per pack or packs per box in hobby vs. retail. Sometimes, there is a hobby-only or retail-only insert set that you can only get in one version. Still other times, the cards themselves are different design-wise in hobby vs. retail (different colored borders for example).

But the difference that seems to matter most to our customers and what drives them into hobby shops is often the markedly better odds of pulling "hits" (jerseys, autos, etc.) from hobby packs (which is one of our advantages being that we're a hobby store). Many of our hobby boxes boast 3-4 hits per box, whereas the corresponding retail box may not even guarantee one hit. This also accounts for the cheaper retail pack price in some cases (and why we carry certain retail boxes in addition to our normal hobby). If you're curious about the difference for a specific product, just ask us. We usually know.

Q: What's a relic card

A. Sometimes people get confused by this term. A relic card is synonymous with a memorabilia card. For baseball, this could be a card with a piece of the player's jersey, patch, number, name, tag, MLB logo, button, bat or even dirt from the field! For football, it could be a piece of jersey, patch, number, name, tag, NFL logo, helmet, shoulder pad, or game used pilon, goal post, or grass! A "relic" is just a generic and all-encompassing term for a piece of anything game-used.

Q. What does "event worn" mean

A. "Event worn" items are worn by a player, but not during the course of a game. You mostly see event worn items in the case of rookies. Because manufacturers want to feature relic cards of rookies as soon as possible (even before the rookies have been able to play in their first pro game), they use "event worn" clothing pieces (jerseys, patches, hats, etc.); often worn by players at the rookie photo shoots.

Q. Why does Topps no longer make football cards

A. As of 2016, Panini secured an exclusive with the NFL. All four major leagues have made exclusive deals with manufacturers. Topps has an exclusive with MLB. Panini has an exclusive with both the NFL and NBA. And Upper Deck has an exclusive with the NHL. You'd be hard-pressed to realize that only one manufacturer is serving each market though, as each company produces many brands. Topps, for example, produces regular Topps Series 1, 2 and Update; Bowman, Bowman Draft, and Bowman Chrome; Heritage, Heritage High Number, and Heritage Minor League; Allen & Ginter; Topps Chrome; and Gypsy Queen (just to name a few) under their licensing agreement. Each exclusive deal lasts a finite number of years, at the end of which, other manufacturers could potentially join the market (or try to negotiate their own exclusivity).