Friday, December 17, 2021

The Greatest Red Sox Cards Of 2021

It's that time again. As I have done the past two years, I have thrown myself down the rabbit hole to gather together the 10 greatest Red Sox cards from this year.

This year was weird, to say the least. Lack of product in stores meant I haven't had a real opportunity to see a lot of these cards in hand. Delays in products like this year's Big League set have left a gap in available contenders, and overall it was tough to put this list together. But put this list together I did, and although I think this year doesn't quite match up to previous ones, there are some gems in here that are well worth celebrating.

Here, for your entertainment and mine, are my completely biased rankings for 2021:

10. 2021 Donruss - Unleashed Diamond

#UNL25 Rafael Devers

It took 3 years, but Donruss has finally overcome a lack of license to produce a card worthy of my list! These inserts are fun, and love the menagerie of animals poised and ready to strike. (And how weird is it the the base version of the Unleashed inserts are serial numbered, but this Diamond parallel isn't?)

9. 2021 Topps Allen & Ginter

#240 Bianca Smith

Sometimes a card doesn't land on a list like this because of the design, but rather the history it represents. The Red Sox hired Bianca Smith in 2020, making her the first African American women to coach in professional baseball. 

8. 2021 Topps

#66 Ryan Brasier

Middle relievers in general don't get good cards, if they get cards at all. The red hues surrounding the bright light behind him almost makes you think your looking at a sunset. The philosophical look on Brasier's face as he's turned away from this "sunset" gives it an almost deep, rage against the dying of the light feel.

7. 2021 Topps - Stars In Service

#SIS-15 Pedro Martinez

On the front, you have a whimsical shot of Pedro in a polo shirt playing volleyball. Somehow, that's connected to main focus of the set, as the card back detail Pedro's humanitarian efforts. What does volleyball have to do with Covid-19 relief efforts? I have no clue, but baseball players playing other sports is always fun.

6. 2021 Topps Archives

#121 Cy Young

It's blurry, it's colorized, but it's Cy Young in someone's backyard. You have the white fence, the grass in need of a mow, and one of the greatest ball players that ever lived in full uniform. Maybe he's about to enjoy a post game barbecue?

5. 2021 Topps Now

#914 AL Wild Card

One of the top plays from this year's postseason, the action was so fast the best Topps could do was a picture where the only faces you can see are the ump's and the crowd's. Judge flopped over like roadkill while Vazquez applies the tag is just a nice thing to see on cardboard.

4. 2021 Topps

#436 Shopping Cart Surf

First of all Topps, it's a laundry cart not a shopping cart! Regardless, team celebrations are always fun to see on cards, and this post-homer ride ranks right up there with the Betts/Bradley/Benintendi "Win/Dance/Repeat" dances from a few years ago.

3. 2021 Stadium Club

#49 J.D. Martinez

Surprisingly, Stadium Club only fielded one entry on this year's list. This one is a beaut though, and spent some time as my computer's wallpaper!

2. 2021 Topps Project 70

#372 David Ortiz

My wife, like most white suburban women in their forties, enjoys gangster rap. It's not unusual to see her singing and dancing along to the Notorious BIG. While rap was never really my forte, I can appreciate it's cultural significance and know exactly what this card is trying to achieve. It's well done, and overall a fun card.

1. 2021 Topps

#465 Enrique Hernandez

Hernandez is one of those players who always seems to get great cards, and his first base card with the Red Sox is no exception. Completely airborne, with a look on his face that just exudes confidence that the landing will result with a ball in glove and an unfortunate out for the other team.

So which one is your favorite? Any glaring omissions?


  1. I really like all the cards 6-10. #5 is what got Phil Nevin fired.

  2. all good looking cards - i am not familiar with any of biggie's catalog, but even i recognize the basis for that ortiz image. enrique hernandez' 2020 topps card was one of my top 3 favorite dodger cards last year and this one would have been, too, if topps hadn't photoshopped him in to red sox gear.

  3. I'll choose the Smith as my favorite for the significance. The Pedro is weird but I definitely want one.

    The Cy Young loses points because Topps used the same picture on a 1977 design for the Vintage Legends insert set in 2010 Update.

  4. Terrific, thoughtful list. Wonder if I can do this for the Dodgers. Like you say, cards were tough to come by.

  5. the JD Martinez was stunning from when I first pulled it. Still the best

  6. I like the Cy Young, despite not normally caring for cards like that.