Sunday, April 28, 2024

Blog Bat-Around: Top 5 Pack-Pulled Cards

A few weeks ago, Diamond Jesters initiated a fun blog bat-around where he shared his top 5 pack-pulled cards
Shortly thereafter, Night Owl stepped up to the plate. 
And then Cards over Coffee joined in. 
Next up, The Diamond King had a go at it. 
Then Joe Shlabotnik took a swing. 
After that, Chris The Collector picked up the bat. 
Then Mr. Fuji kept the line moving.
And those are just the posts I've happened to notice! (If you're a blogger and you don't see your name on the list, feel free to add a link in the comment section below.)

Since then, I've been finding time here and there to compile a list of my own. And now I'm ready for my at-bat. 
Keep in mind that I'm not a collector of modern cards, so you won't be seeing any fancy relics, autographs, or 1/1 serial numbers here. But you will see some great vintage cards, along with a few notable rookies. Here we go, starting with my #5 ranking and proceeding to my #1.

(5) 1980-81 Topps #250, Wayne Gretzky
For those of us who spent a number of years away from the hobby after our childhood or teenage years, there are usually a few experiences we can cite that rekindled our interest. For me, one of those experiences occurred around 2013, when I came across much of my childhood trading card collection in the attic at my mom's house. Among the collection, there were a few sealed wax packs from the 1984 and 1987 Topps baseball sets. For whatever reason, seeing those sealed wax packs was huge for me. And as my zeal for trading cards returned, I found myself buying more sealed wax packs from the '80s and '90s. (Back then, vintage wax packs were much more affordable than they are now.) 
My strategy was pretty simple: 
(1) Buy a few packs from a certain year and brand
(2) Set at least one pack aside to keep sealed in my collection
(3) Open the other ones for that sweet dose of nostalgia 
The Wayne Gretzky second-year card shown above was one of the big hits I pulled from a few packs of 1980-81 Topps hockey I purchased at that time.
(4) 1981 O-Pee-Chee #113 George Brett, #254 Ozzie Smith, #136 Tim Raines RC
These cards all came from the same wax pack, also purchased during those years around 2013 or 2014 when I was getting back into the hobby. Even with a few very roughly cut edges, typical of 1980s OPC, I've got to fit all of these cards into one entry at #4. It was a heck of a pack, especially considering each pack only contained 8 cards.

(3) 1997 Pinnacle X-Press Melting Pot #19, Derek Jeter
In 1998, I spent a brief time back in the hobby. I was a college student, working at a sports collectibles store in a nearby shopping mall. Along with jerseys, other apparel, and autographed memorabilia, we sold plenty of wax packs from all sports. Occasionally, packs that just hadn't sold well during the year were chucked in a bargain basket, and that's where I picked up a bunch of 1997 Pinnacle X-Press. This Derek Jeter melting pot insert is numbered 209/500. That doesn't seem like much now, but back in '98 it was a bigger deal—especially to someone like me, who was just learning about all the inserts and parallels that one could find in these newfangled "modern" sets. It was the lowest serial-numbered card I'd ever pulled, and I'm pretty sure it still is.
(2) 1978-79 O-Pee-Chee #115, Mike Bossy RC
This one goes back a bit further in time, to my young collecting years in the early '90s. At a card show in a VFW hall, I came across a dealer who had wax boxes displayed from previous years, and was selling individual packs from each box. One of the boxes contained packs of 1978-79 O-Pee-Chee hockey cards (Mike Bossy’s rookie card was the big draw). At $3.00 a pack, my dad said I could have four. 

“Pick your poison”, the dealer said, and held out the box. I chose four packs from various spots in the box and didn’t buy much else at the show. When we got home, I opened a pack. Dave Taylor rookie card. Not bad. Second pack? Not much. Third pack? Not much.  

I'd thought about saving that last pack, and maybe just never opening it. But after some mental pacing back and forth, and despite feeling some regret, I peeled open the wrapper that same night. The result?

A Mike Bossy rookie card.
(1) 1983 Donruss #586 Wade Boggs RC and #598 Tony Gwynn RC
Believe it or not, I actually pulled both of these iconic rookie cards from the same 1983 Donruss wax pack. If I hadn't jotted down the event when it happened about 10 years ago, I might not believe it myself right now. I actually still have these two cards right next to each other in top loaders, surrounded by a few other stars from the 1983 Donruss set, as a fun way to remind myself of that amazing pack.

So that's my top 5 pack-pulled cards. (At least up to this point.)

If you haven't taken your turn, why not go for it? Might be a fun trip down memory lane.

Thanks for reading, as always!


  1. A. I actually opened a few 1980-81 Topps hockey packs in the early 90's when I worked at my LCS. Never pulled the Gretzky base card though.

    B. Nice Jeter. I worked at a LCS in the late 90's too (different from the one with the 1980-81 Topps hockey packs) and it was located in a mall (across the street from the school I taught at). We also had a bargain bin that I'd scour (mainly to pick up packs I'd use as prizes in my classroom).

    C. That Bossy is sweet! Pretty sure I opened up some of that stuff too. It's hard to say, because at the time I was only getting into hockey cards.

    D. Finding Boggs and Gwynn in the same pack is awesome! I pulled a Gwynn out of a 1983 Donruss pack back in 1983, but I had to buy my Boggs (it's part of a set).

    1. Thanks for sharing all those great experiences, Fuji!

      A. Opening those 1980-81 packs in the early '90s must have been pretty cool.
      B. I'd love to find a bargain bin these days!
      C. Yeah, seeing Mr. Bossy appear in that last pack was an all-time collecting experience.
      D. Sure was awesome to pull both of those cards in the same pack. I still can't quite believe it sometimes ;-)

  2. Hey! I was second to bat lol. I posted one on both Cards Over Coffee and Sport CArd Collectors which was the first one I did.

    Also, that Jeter is awesome!

    1. Heheh, number 2 in the lineup. Not bad, Matt. I missed your post on Sport Card Collectors. Have to go back and give it a read.

  3. Voting for Gwynn.
    I think 2nd-year Gretzky should be higher than 5 though.

    1. Yeah, I kind of went back and forth on where to place that Gretzky card. Maybe switch around #4 and #5. Always good to see you here, Elliptical Man!

  4. Can't beat that '83 Donruss pack!

    1. Can't argue there, Bo. Fun fact: They've got 6,151 combined hits in those bats.

  5. Thanks for participating! I have a full list of participants here:

    1. Cool! Thanks very much for posting that link, Matt. I definitely missed a few of the other at-bats.

  6. Nice to see some more hockey content in the blog bat around!

    1. Absolutely, Derek. There was no way I was leaving out those two legendary goal scorers. Fun fact: They've got 1,467 goals between them.

  7. A unique list for sure, thanks for sharing!

  8. Even with me not knowing much about hockey cards, I'm guessing that those '78-79 OPC packs sell for a lot more than three bucks apiece these days.

    1. I'm sure they do, Jon! If only I'd opened that pack with the Bossy rookie earlier, I might have kept another one sealed.