2005 Donruss Champions Hobby Box
24 packs, 8 cards per packLook for (8) Game-Used or Autograph Cards and (16) Parallels per box on average
I have never opened one of these boxes before so I was very excited.
(Click images to enlarge)
The nice thing about this set is that it's a 450 card base that's all about baseball. You won't pull a picture of the Eiffel Tower or a cow standing upright on two legs. There's no goofy fluff that I am aware of. Just baseball.
The base design seems limiting. A small picture combined with a repetitive look makes the cards visually enjoyable in only small doses. There isn't much room for creativity from card to card. The card background looks vaguely like flags from various countries. A shot of the stadiums they play in would have been more pleasing. Or even just green grass and blue sky. I don't know that my opinion on the design is in the majority, however.
I was happy to learn that there are a lot of retired players. Players like Early Wynn, Enos Slaughter, Tony Perez and Al Oliver, along with the usual bigger retired stars.
The design sits better with me when a retired player is shown. There can't be a tangible reason.
There are also several different photos of numerous players.
Four Hendersons! Henderson was the most I pulled of any one player. I also landed three different Gwynn cards. This multi-card idea of the same player is perfect for well-traveled players.
The total cards you will receive comes to 192. 65 of those cards were stars (a handful of doubles). Another 15 or so were retired non-stars.
That 65 stars does not include the hits, which come fast and furious. My box had 15 total hits (7 serial numbered cards, 7 game used cards, 1 auto). At that pace, combined with nice player selection, any shortfall the design may have is steamrolled over.
Impressions Red Inserts: Toby Hall (#214/250), Austin Kearns (#018/250), Toby Hall (#069/250), Ben Hendrickson (#117/250)
Ouch. That's a collection of fail, as inserts go. At least I can say "My Two Toby's" whenever I want to now.
Impressions Green Insert: Charles Johnson (#17/25)
Impressions Blue Inserts: Sean Casey (#096/100), Luis Matos (#099/100)
A bit better. Lower serial numbers, better players. No stars here either though. I definitely had bad luck with the serial numbered players.
But Sean Casey is on the MLB Network. He is a funny dude so I've become a fan. Luis Matos is an Oriole so that always makes me smile. Plus it's serial number 099 out of 100. That means right after this they made one more and then the Warehouse Supervisor punched a big red button and thousands of machines came to a grinding halt. Bells and whistles no doubt. What is the saying? You can't stop progress unless there's a big red button to push?
Backing up, pack one of the box started with this:
If Roberto Alomar is not an overwhelming first ballot Hall of Famer they need to close the doors on that place. In my opinion he is the best all around second baseman in the history of baseball.
Roberto has two things going against him:
1. He spat in the face of an umpire.
2. His decline was rapid and extreme. He had 2389 hits at just age 33. Coming off a .336 batting average in 2001, he would collect only another 335 hits between age 34-36 and would never hit above .263 during those final sad seasons.
What Roberto has going for him is staggering history:
12 straight all-star teams
10 gold gloves
5 times finished in the top six in MVP voting
8 times with 30 or more stolen base
9 seasons with a .300 or better batting average
Lifetime: .300 ba, 2724 hits, 210 home runs, 474 stolen bases
His 'Hall of Fame Monitor' score is 194. On this scale if your score is 100 it means a good possibility of induction, and 130 is a virtual cinch. He obliterates that scale.
His 'Hall of Fame Standard' score is 57. On this scale the average Hall of Famer rates a 50. The higher the better.
I do believe Alomar will be a first ballot inductee but I am not convinced all the voters feel the same way. He is quite possibly the most under appreciated superstar of the last 30 years.
Most of his cards are nearly worthless. Unfortunately the combination of being under appreciated in conjunction with his arrival in baseball during massive overproduction of cards, means his values may never rise much.
He is also a victim of the steroid era diluting his numbers. Not because he is suspected of steroids, but because the steroid users redefined offensive greatness.
His rapid decline did come right around when steroid testing was implemented. But it also came at about the time a natural player would drop off considerably. The arc of his career is in line with a natural career. Some things we will never know for certain.
The voters may be hungry to hang blame on an entire generation of players and in 2010 Alomar may get sucked into the vortex. It will be interesting. I hope it is not heartbreaking.
His rare cards may be a good investment right now. Or not.
After the Alomar hit my hopes were high. But then I was machine gunned with bad hit after bad hit.
Doesn't it seem like a million years ago when Hee-Seop Choi was considered a strong prospect? He's only 30. In 2009 he played for the Kia Tigers in South Korea. He helped the Tigers win the league. He's still hitting home runs (33) and still walking (103).
I had been randomly picking packs from the box. At about the halfway mark my only hit that was actually a star player was the Alomer jersey from the first pack. I had received about half the serial numbered cards by that point. Combined with the above game used, I was beginning to conclude the set had too many junk hits.
But this turned out to be a heck of a comeback box.
In back to back packs I pulled:
Alright! A player connected to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Can't go wrong with Mr. Hodges. The print run on this is 1200 although it's not serial numbered. Not a low count but I don't care.
Wade Boggs! (1500 print run, no s/n.) Chicken before every game. Another wonderful player who doesn't get the attention he earned. Boggs had a swing you could recognize from a mile away.
Cobb used to say he could hit home runs if he wanted to. In fact, as the story goes, he told a reporter he was going to show Ruth that a great hitter can hit home runs at will. He supposedly stated he would swing for the fences for the next two games. Cobb went on to hit five home runs in those two games, no small feat for a man who hit just 112 home runs in the other 3033 games of his career.
They say Ichiro could hit for power if he wanted to as well, citing his batting practice home run shows.
Boggs was another one of those "he could hit home runs if he wanted to" guys. But as all of them say, it would take them out of their game. I've always been suspicious of the whole claim that they chose not to hit for power.
Boggs did in fact hit 24 home runs in a season that he "tried" to hit them out. He also hit .363 that year so it didn't seem to negatively impact his game at all. However that was in 1987 and we know that everyone hit home runs that year. Boggs's power dipped back to its usual level in 1988 (5 home runs).
I am a big admirer of Boggs, home run debate aside.
Now we're cooking!
Three nice hits in a row. (500 made, no serial number.)
Then with four packs left the success of the box was sealed:
Roberto's auto serial numbered 2/9. Wow!
Yes of course I knew I pulled this when I was listing all his stats under his game used jersey card. Look, I'm trying to raise his value through propaganda. No, honestly I am a huge fan and am so happy and stunned to pull this card. The bottom right corner has a small ding but I don't care. I'm thrilled. This is the lowest numbered print run of any auto in my collection.
After having some below average luck with a few different hobby boxes, the last two have been so exciting. This is precisely why I'd rather stay in all night playing with cards than go to a movie. I'm so addicted and I love it.
Below is the checklist for the base set. I've also pictured the stated odds for the inserts. Click 'em to read 'em.
Thanks for checking in and good luck to you all with your fun box breaks!