It started with the idea of doing a retro Buzz Break in search of an iconic Rookie Card from not that time ago since Ichiro Suzuki is a player on the verge of making history.
It became a reminder of something else — that not all older wax is made alike.
A $25 retail box of 2001 Topps Series 2 — less than $1 a pack — seemed like a fun Saturday pastime. You know, something to do on a rainy day that might provide more than standard cardboard and the basic inserts guaranteed inside. After cracking the first pack, though, it was apparent that there wouldn’t just be rain in June — there also would be a snowstorm.
It’s been 15 years since Buzz busted his last 2001 Topps packs and time hadn’t been good to this box. On the outside, it looked fine. But inside the box at least three-fourths of the cards had stuck together — so much so the cards needed to be carefully peeled apart to hopefully not remove parts of the card’s surface which had adhered to the next one due to the heavy gloss used that year.
Are all this boxes and 2001 Topps sets this way? Probably not, but there are some brands out there, from the 1990s in particular, that are torture to open simply because the grand experiment called printing didn’t hold up over time. Maybe this one makes that list, too. I’m not sure.
Some people have suggested microwaving cards to be able to peel them apart (if foil-free and out of the wrapper) more easily. Others think freezing them is the way to go. Some say just pop the cards by warping them and take the snow that comes with it. Some say slapping stuck stacks flatly and firmly against a table helps break the sticking cards apart. Others say steaming the apart works. I wasn’t about to get all Dr. Emmett Brown on 36 packs, especially given the price, and instead just carefully peeled and popped the cards apart as best I could.
There were no major cards inside my box — my two Gold parallels were Tony Batista and Moises Alou and both were snowed. Had I spotted the edge of a Relic or an autograph — which would have been a little obvious with the 3M sticker adhered to the card back — I might have tried some experiments. Instead, I ripped and ripped only to find an Ichiro in the next-to-last pack. It wasn’t stuck too badly on the front but the back wasn’t savable — the back lost a ton of ink. It was stuck so hard that I actually slightly bent the card trying to get them apart.
Needless to say … this one won’t be graded.
Thankfully there are far fewer boxes out there with this problem then there are without it, and our cards have come a long way since then.
Now that I think about it, Ichiro Suzuki has come a long way, too.
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