In 2013 I was slowly dipping my toes back into the hobby. Topps Archives was my gateway drug. The nostalgia was overwhelming after opening a blaster box of Topps Archives found on my local Wal-Mart shelf. That was in 2012. Fast forward a year and Allen & Ginter also became a hobby favorite. And then I found a Cubs Topps Archives giveaway from Wrigley Field. I was all in.
After working the summer of 2012 with the Cubs minor league affiliate, Peoria Chiefs, I quickly became a Javier Baez fan. I was buying up Javier Baez minor league cards, and Bowman cards, and anything I could find of the team’s top prospect. One day I discovered a quirky “Future Stars” card of Baez with Jorge Soler and Albert Almora in the style of 1982 Topps. I was born in 1982, so it’s one of my sleeper favorite Topps designs.
What is this? Is it a custom? Is it a Topps Archives I’ve never seen? Not quite. This card was part of a stadium giveaway at Wrigley Field. The Cubs and Topps collaborated on an 83-card Topps Archives set featuring stars and fan favorites through the years using archived Topps designs.
I had bought a few of the 20-card sets that came with the Baez card, but never did acquire a complete set. A few weeks ago, Brian Garza reached out to me. He said he had a sealed set of these cards with the Season Ticket Holder stamp and could send one my way. Garza mentioned he was a Chicago Cubs employee. He buried the lead. Garza is the Director of Ticket Services (more on that in a moment) for the Cubs.
The cards arrived a few days later with the cellophane wrapped Archives set of 83 cards. Brian also tossed in some other cards I had never seen before. It was another stadium giveaway set for Summer Camp Day from 2018.
What I like about this set of eight cards is that it includes some of the lesser known Cubs players. Aside from superstar Kris Bryant, the set includes relief pitcher Justin Wilson.
Other cards in the set: Jose Quintana, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, Willson Contreras, Brandon Morrow, and Steve Cishek.
Another card Brian included was a Topps Now that was a Cubs Convention exclusive from 2017. I did not see these at Cubs Con, nor have I seen one of these cards, so I’m glad to have one in my collection.
Now…on to the 2013 Archives set. When it arrived I opened the cellophane wrapper and flipped through the entire set to check it out. I must start off with “Mr. Cub” himself, Ernie Banks.
How about Ryne Sandberg, with mustache, on a 1962 Topps design.
Or Ron Santo appearing on the 1990 Topps design.
The set also includes fan favorites with long careers like Rick Reuschel. Reuschel’s rookie card was his 1973 Topps card as a Cub. He was in the organization in 1972, so might his Topps card from that year look something like this…
Scott Sanderson was another fan favorite with some really good years for the 1980’s Cubs teams. Here’s Sanderson on the 1964 Topps design.
Another 1964 Topps design features former Cubs pitcher and TV color analyst Steve Stone. “Stoney” is an analyst for the Chicago White Sox.
This next card is among my favorites for two reasons. First, Bobby Murcer is most often known for his time with the New York Yankees and his Cubs tenure overlooked. Second, 1996 Topps is vastly underrated as a design. It’s ahead of its time with the homage to the headshot of 1963, 1983, and 1984 Topps with new age twist.
Starlin Castro was a young Cubs star in 2013 and received the wood grain love made famous in 1987.
And how about another 1972 design with Mark Grace.
So, as I flipped through all of these amazing looking Cubs cards, I had to reach out and thank Brian for these cards. That’s when he let the cat out of the bag. He says, “I had a lot of fun putting that set together with Topps.”
Wait! What??? It’s true, Brian helped design the set with Topps, as Sports Collectors Daily reported on in 2013. The part of the story that fascinated me the most was that the idea behind this set was formed when Brian saw a blaster box of Topps Archives at a Target in the summer of 2012. The same time that I discovered Archives and it quickly became a favorite of mine.
Another really fun story on the journey to collect one million Cubs baseball cards.