Is The ‘Big Hit’ Mentality Ruining The Hobby?

We’ve all seen the videos on YouTube…

Those box breaks where, pack by pack, the layers of the onion are peeled back – I know that’s an appalling analogy but just go with it – and all of a sudden…


A Mike Trout Autographed Patch card #’d/25… Very nice!!!

A Bryce Harper Auto Refractor Bat/Patch Combo #’d/10… Awesome!!!

A Hank Aaron Bat Knob/Patch/Auto/Refractor/Jersey Combo Refractor Combo Bat Barrel #’d 1/1… Sick!!!!!!!!!

(Does anyone else get tired of seeing the words ‘sick’, ‘mojo’, ‘nasty’ and ‘ill’ used to describe great pulls??)

As collectors these are the moments we live for!! These are the moments that define a generation of card collecting!! The ‘hit’ of a lifetime! The realisation of the totality of our collecting dreams!! The apex of…

Hold on a second!! Is it really all that? To be perfectly honest, I don’t really think it is! Sure it’s a nice thing to happen (notice the way that I downplay the whole thing? The sure sign of someone who’s never had it happen to them) but is it really the be-all and end-all of our collecting lives?

Later on in life, when we look back at our binders stocked full of [insert the name of your sport of choice] cards, will that one big hit be THE thing that defines our whole collections?? – I sure hope not!

But it does worry me that the ‘big hit’ is becoming THE most important thing to some collectors, even to the point where everything else that gets pulled from a pack or box of cards holds little or no value any more!!

There seems to be a current collecting mentality that if you break a box of cards and you don’t get a return on what you originally paid then this is somehow a disappointment! A ‘bad’ box! Don’t get me wrong, I love stories where collectors pull these big cards – but it isn’t the norm! For every box that yields a big hit there are dozens and dozens more that are opened and don’t get anywhere near that level of ‘success’.

Have a read of Craig Parker’s review of an 80-case break of 2013 Topps Baseball carried out by Brent Williams a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the link –

The 10 Best Cards From a 2013 Topps EIGHTY Case Break!!!

Both Craig and Brent are no strangers to the pages of this blog, and one of the things that struck me about this article was that, in Brent’s own words this was a ‘terrible break’ as he didn’t hit one card that would fetch over the $500 mark. Don’t misunderstand, this isn’t Brent being greedy! After all, he’s done dozens of huge case breaks over the last several years, but in past breaks he’s always pulled at least one card with a ridiculously high monetary value… But not this time!!

And that’s 80 cases folks!!! I’m going to say that one more time… 80 CASES!!! That’s how high the odds are stacked against you!

Obviously you could always turn to the high-end releases like Tribute, Museum Collection, Tier One, Triple Threads and 5-Star to increase the chance of getting the big card that you so desperately crave. But with these products you’ll end up spending well over $100 a box/pack and you’re still not guaranteed to strike gold!!

Lets use 2013 Topps Baseball to illustrate another example.

A 2013 Topps Hobby Box guarantees you one (at least) Game-Used Relic or Autographed card. I’ve just looked over the checklist for all of the ‘standard’ relics and autographs and there are 58x ‘Chasing History’ relics, 39x ‘Chasing History’ autos, 39x ‘Chasing The Dream’ relics and 20x ‘Chasing The Dream’ autos. That’s 186 different cards

After a cursory glance over the list of players I’d say that there are probably none of the relic cards that will make back the cost of what you paid for the box. If you’re lucky enough to pull one of the autographs then I’d say your chances increase dramatically with the likes of Hall of Famers and new stars in the form of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout littering the checklist. However I’d estimate (based upon a couple of case break videos that I’ve seen) that the ratio of relics to autographs is about 5:1, stacking the odds against you even further!

So, if you’re one of those types of collectors who busts open a Hobby box of 2013 Topps Baseball and walks away disappointed after only pulling an Ian Kennedy or Joel Hanrahan relic jersey card then it’s worth taking a long look in the mirror and asking yourself why you’re collecting in the first place!

And remember that out of that box that you’ve just opened there are 359 other cards that are just as worthy of your love and attention. And if you take a long and hard look at THESE cards (as well you should) then you’ll realise that these small pieces of cardboard have the potential to hold just as much fun and enjoyment than that one ‘big hit’ that comes guaranteed with every box!


I firmly believe that those out there who spend all their time waiting for that one big hit ARE ruining the Hobby… not for you or for me… but for themselves!

People!! Look beyond the big hit, that one big card that can earn you a small fortune on eBay, and concentrate on what’s best about the Hobby and why you love collecting sports cards in the first place.

And then, one day, if you do manage to pull that Mike Trout Autographed Patch card #’d/25, then surely your collecting experience and sense of accomplishment will be all the sweeter for it…?

Unless of course it’s a bloody redemption, but then that’s a story for another time…


8 thoughts on “Is The ‘Big Hit’ Mentality Ruining The Hobby?

  1. Great article and great points. I guess it all depends on what you’re breaking, the reasons behind your breaking, and even the quantity you break. Those higher end cards have more big hits, but are they really big hits if that’s all the product is? Brent has a right to be disappointed by missing the odds and the dollars, because he broke so much that those cards should have been there for 80 cases and also because he’s buying it for business purposes.

    I don’t think it’s ruining the hobby. I think it’s just another way to approach it. The Big Hit has been around since about 1991 with the Donruss Signature series and Elite cards (maybe earlier, but that’s the first that came to my mind). The concept of a truly big hit has been watered down considerably over the years. Still, it’s all relative. We see on the card company twitter feeds that parents opening cards with their kids are showing off their “big hit” and it’s a Carlos Gonzalez gold border or a David Ortiz insert card. It’s all relative. Maybe if the hit chasers continue to be disappointed, the fallout could change some things for the better overall and make it a little more kid accessible.

    I will say this as well, as I go through my top 50 Jordan countdown, you’re not likely to see too many big hits.

  2. Hi Jon.

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond!!

    I agree, I don’t think it’s ruining the Hobby for exactly the same reason as you state… The concept itself has been around for ages, it’s just the delivery of the concept that’s changed.

    Back in the 90’s there used to be the rare inserts seeded at something like 1:12 boxes, or even rarer. I guess those were the ‘hits’ of the day but back then we just saw them as inserts!

    I suppose Upper Decks inclusion of jersey cards from 1997 seemed to really get the ball rolling from a game-used perspective. Companies just upped the ante from there.

    And you’re right about Brent as well. I was trying to use his experience with those cases to prove the point that even after opening THAT many boxes you’re still not guaranteed to come away with the MONSTER hits! Personally I wish he’d come away with 3 or 4 of them!! Out of all the people I’ve dealt with so far in the Hobby he’s the one of those who deserves it!!

    If I’d have opened 80 cases and not got what I’d have expected to get I’d have been bloody furious!!


  3. I agree with what you writes. Personally, I am much more into finding “humble” singles to complete a set than spending absurd money while searching for elusive mega hits: I’d rather go on the secondary market after the initial commotion for the new set and get nice cards for a fraction of their price. Regarding the “bloody redemption”, you may check this article I wrote recently:

    1. Hey Fabio.

      Sorry for the delay. Nice write up regarding the redemptions. I wasn’t aware that Topps honoured them outside the US and Canada…

      So can they be redeemed internationally?


  4. Yes, and I have to say that the situation has gotten better from the date of the post, I have received the Hellickson auto and…drum roll… the Griffey auto is marked as “shipped”, my first Kid autograph ever..
    Anyway, the Stanton redemption is always “stalled”, so I shipped them the redemption card via regular mail.

    1. Fantastic news, buddy!

      For some reason I’d got it in my head that Topps wouldn’t honour overseas redemptions. This is brilliant!!

      I’m assuming they send overseas free of charge?

      And nice one with that Griffey auto. I’d love to add one to my colle tion, but unless I pull one directly I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford one 😦

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s