Back down the rabbit hole I go...
Last year I listed the top Red Sox cards of 2019. It was a maddening exercise, but ultimately a fun one. Enough so that I decided to do it again this year. While I ended up with less candidates than last year (to be expected when you follow up a World Championship with a rather sub-par season) getting the list down to 10 cards was no less exhausting. There were many fantastic cards left out, that in all honesty, may be preferred upon future viewings. I even asked for help to get those last few cards in place! Ultimately, I got it done. I made my choices, and I'm sticking with them (for now). For you entertainment, may I present my humble opinion on the 10 best Red Sox cards from this past year:
#10. Stadium Club #99 Nomar Garciaparra
Stadium Club always has great photos, and the last spot came down between a couple of Stadium Club depictions of Red Sox shortstop - one from the past (Garciaparra) and the present (Bogaerts). In the end, it was the little details on Nomar's card - the spray of dirt near his shoe, the batting gloves in his back pocket - that made the difference.
#9. Topps #388 Ted Williams (SSP)
I'm guessing most collectors are like me when it comes to short prints - hates the concept, but accepts that Topps puts out some amazing ones. Every now and then, these base short prints (or in this case super short prints) are every bit as magnificent as their Stadium Club companions. Ted makes this car look insanely small by virtue of just stepping into it.
#8. Topps #314 Rafael Devers (SP)
Another short print - but rather than go back to the days of old, we get a peek behind the scenes in a modern clubhouse. You see Devers on the field and you see his youthful face and fun demeanor. Then you look at this card and see the size of the weight he's pumping and see someone who is all business.
#7. Archives #308 David Ortiz
In my opinion, Archives hit a grand slam with this nicknames subset. These cards are creative and look fantastic. Ortiz is a larger than life personality, and this card captures that beautifully. I especially love the people on the field engulfed in his shadow.
#6. Big Leagues #119 Andrew Benintendi
It's a great shot. You have two guys precariously close to colliding with each other, each with arms up and only one foot apiece on the ground. Baseball is a dance, and Benintendi's dance is called "Call me safe, Ump!"
#5. Topps #60 Roger Clemens (SP)
I try to get a wide representation of sets in this list, at least that's the hope. For whatever reason, these Topps short prints have really been fantastic this year, and this interview with the Rocket is my favorite. Roger's shirt screams the eighties, and if that's not enough you have the camera equipment, the locker name plates, even a guy on the side with a pen and notepad.
#4. Project 2020 #293 Ted Williams
Last year, I pretty much dismissed Topps' online exclusives as pretty run-of-the-mill. Project 2020 would never be called that. There's a lot of cards in the set which, well, let's just say they don't fit my personal artistic tastes. Then there are cards like this, so amazing in design that you head to eBay and check out the prices. Does anyone know the story behind Sylvester the Cat riding a bat? I'm genuinely curious.
#3. Opening Day - Spring Has Sprung
#SHS20 Rafael Devers
For the first time, an insert has cracked the list! This card wonderfully captures a candid Spring Training moment. Devers is joined by Xander Bogaerts and Eduardo Nunez in some conversation, and once again it's the details that make this card shine. Even millionaires have to sit on buckets sometimes!
#2. Archives #307 Chris Sale
As I mentioned above with the Ortiz card, I love this subset that Archives put out. This card of Chris Sale is awesome. I love the old style locomotive in the background. Sale's nickname was given to him by none other than "The Laser Show" Dustin Pedroia, because Sale "punches tickets".
#1. Stadium Club #58 Jason Varitek
This is my favorite card. It's simple but powerful. If you told me that Topps took this photo from the pages of a Sport Illustrated magazine, I wouldn't be surprised. It the perfect card for a guy who wasn't a superstar, but quietly did his job day in and day out. This is a card of a professional ball player.
So which one is your favorite? Did I exclude one that should have made the list? let me know!