2014 Topps Series 1 Baseball started popping up at a few retail locations over the weekend. It's a few days early, which, naturally, led to a bunch of cards hitting eBay. It has also given us a quick look at some of the fun photos in the set.
One thing that has been overlooked in recent years is the strong photography that has been included in Topps' flagship set. In fact, a lot of the cheaper base brands have upped their game in the image department. 2013 Score Football comes to mind as another example. So does 2013-14 Upper Deck Hockey, but that set has always had strong photography. That doesn't mean that all the shots are perfect, but there are a lot of memorable pictures and fun shots from the ballpark.
It's still very early and not all the images have been uncovered, but here are ten great shots that have surfaced so far. At least one of these appears to be a variation short print, though more could end up as such.
It's an image most every baseball fan has seen (at least from one angle or another), but it was one of 2013's more touching moments. Love the Yankees or hate them, there's no denying the accomplishments and dominance of Mariano Rivera. The fact that long-time teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte greeted him at the mound for a final time was a nice touch.
This card shouldn't work. Morales' back is turned. He's not even in focus. Yet, there's little doubt about who the focal point is. And it's not the teammates waiting to greet Morales at the plate after an extra-innings walk-off home run against the Athletics last June.
Plenty of acrobatic plays have made their way onto cardboard. Many of the 2013 Topps Series 1 variation short prints were dedicated to them. However, this shot of Khris Davis is a standout. There's a ton of motion in this frozen moment of awkward beauty. The twisting of the legs, the smooshing of the padded wall and the flailing of his arms make Davis into something of a rag doll. The helpless look on his face is a moment of a man who has done all he could. And thanks to the magic of the Internet, we can know that Davis did indeed make the catch, that it was hit by Ryan Zimmerman in the third inning and that it happened on August 3, 2013.
(Green parallel pictured.)
Like the Khris Davis card, this Eduardo Nunez is highlighted by motion. The shortstop has a focused stare that's following the ball. What stands out even more is his throwing arm. The way the jersey is dropping, its folds and that small patch of dirt all add to the play's story.
(Blue parallel pictured.)
Whatever David Ortiz's reasons were for putting on the massive helmet at ski goggles following the Red Sox's World Series victory, it made for a memorable visual after a memorable Fall Classic. It seems only fitting that the look make its way onto cardboard as a small piece of history. That said, don't be shocked if Ortiz's fashion statement doesn't make it one, two or even ten more cards this year.
Jayson Werth leaves it up to your imagination. A perfect candidate for a round of, 'Caption This,' Werth could be pointing at just about anything. And the fact that he has his dugout's attention means that he has our attention as well. Werth looks like he's either onto something profound and intriguing or the joke is on him. Either way, it's a fun shot.
It seems that the only joy Vernon Wells brought baseball fans in his twilight years was when he was traded and another team swallowed up most of his ridiculous contract. This 2014 Topps Series 1 Baseball card tells a totally different story. It starts with Wells. That is a look of pure glee on his face. Look a little closer. The crowd is on their feet with their arms raised. The only people not cheering are the Orioles in the dugout who were on the losing end of Wells' walk-off single last July.
(Green parallel pictured.)
Never mind the fact that this is a variation short print (the Series 1 checklist only goes up to #331), but this is another cool shot. Rarely to back shots work on baseball cards, but this is an exception. Waving to the Cardinals faithful, there are a lot of happy faces (and a pair of happy hands) in this shot. And to top it off, we even get an appearance from a J.J. Abrams-esque lens flare.
Paging, Oscar Gamble! That is one epic afro and Coco Crisp knows it. With the sunlight, it's like a swagger-induced halo sitting atop his head. The sunglasses are the cherry of a baseball card that's the definition of fun.