Topps Allen & Ginter: Ripping into Rip Cards
The Rip Card. The Holy Grail of pulls from Topps' perennially popular Allen and Ginter release. I've never been lucky enough to pull one, but it happens. Just take a look at last week's box break. Of course, pulling the cards are just half the battle, once you have one you have to decide - Rip It or Don't Rip It? There is a pretty big divergence of opinion on the issue, so instead of adding my opinion to the pile, I thought a little bit of fact to the mix.
We know that there are 100 different Rip Cards. A search of the checklist on Beckett reveals print runs for 93 of them. Here's the breakdown:
- (20) Numbered to 99
- (20) Numbered to 50
- (20) Numbered to 25
- (18) Numbered to 10
- 13 Numbered to 5
So there are 9 unknowns. A search of eBay's current and recently completed auctions reveals that three of the unknowns--Alex Rodriguez, Jake Peavy and Russell Martin--are all numbered to 5, bumping that category to 16. Here, I'm going to make an assumption: The remaining 6 unknowns are numbered either to 10 or to 5 so that there are 20 of each type.
A little multiplication tells us that there are 3,780 total Rip Cards buried in boxes of AandG.
Now, for the hits.
There are 1/1 Wood Minis of every card in the set (350) plus a special extended set (#351-400) only found in Rip Cards. In total there are 400 of the coveted wood minis.
There are 30 1/1 Dick Perez sketches
The rest of the cards are exclusive short-printed minis that are only found in Rip Cards. There are 50 cards, numbered 351-400 in the set, with an unknown print run. Or should I say, it was an unknown print run. We've still got 2730 cards to go. If all the exclusive minis are printed roughly the same, these minis have a print run of 54 or 55.
That would only make them the third most short printed mini out there after the Bazookas (#/25) and No Number Cards (#/50)! With that mystery out of the way--these cards really aren't as rare as they seem, it begs the question: To Rip or Not To Rip?
This is the point where I would normally start searching prices and calculating expected values of ripping vs. not ripping, but I'm guessing that most of you won't care. I'll simplify by letting you know that the expected "rarity" of the card inside your Rip Card is equivalent to a card numbered out of 41.
Opinion Time. If you have a Rip Card numbered to 99, rip it up. You are guaranteed to get a more rare card inside. If you have a card numbered to 50, it is a toss up--you'll get a card that is either equally rare (roughly) or one of the hits. The trick is getting into those low numbered cards.
If you have a Rip Card numbered out of 25, 10 or 5, odds are that you'll be ripping a rare card for something that is less rare. Depending the player on the card and his following in the hobby, you'd be better off leaving that card alone and letting the mystery torment the rest of us. Sure, there could be a hidden gem in there--but there probably isn't, and you're left with a shell that you can still sell, but for a fraction of the price that you could have gotten for it whole. At the same time, if you're so "lucky" to have pulled a low numbered card of the likes of Francisco Liriano or Chien-Ming Wang (players that have little following and little recent success) I say grip it, rip it and see what comes out.
1961 Topps #128 Rip Repulski Redsox
(2) 1999 HILLSHIRE FARMS HARMON KILLEBREW ON-CARD AUTO LOT HOF RIP
1961 TOPPS BASEBALL CARD *COLLECTION SET BREAK* RIP REPULSKI #128 EX-NRMT 8912
1960 TOPPS #265 RIP REPULSKI EXMT *8241