Sunday, December 15, 2019

Top 5 Relics/Autographs: Atlanta Braves

During my 74th and final frankenset page, I commented briefly on the Philadelphia Phillies, stating that with the new additions of Zack Wheeler, Didi Gregorius, and Joe Girardi running things, they should find themselves at the top of the NL East next season.

The keyword in that sentence is should because as we've seen, Baseball is wildly unpredictable. I mean, who genuinely thought, following the departure of Bryce Harper, that the Nationals would be World Champions this year?

The Nationals may have surprised everyone when it came to the postseason, but don't forget, the Braves captured their 2nd consecutive NL East title this season with a record of 97-65, beating out Washington by 4 games.  

Ronald Acuña Jr, though slightly overrated in my books, has established himself as one of the game's brightest stars at such a young age, and his teammate Ozzie Albies can't be discounted either. 

The talent doesn't end there; Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, and the possible return of Josh Donaldson complete this intimidating roster.

In my eyes, the Braves are a respectable starting pitcher away from becoming true championship contenders. It'll be interesting to see how Atlanta, Washington, and Philadelphia, as well as the New York Mets, fight it out to see who takes home the division title in 2020.

With all of that in mind, let's take a look at my top 5 Atlanta Braves relics/autographs.

#5 2018 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Framed Relics Greg Maddux
As someone who's an avid collector of Topps Allen & Ginter each year upon its release, I am in full support of eliminating all relics aside from the mini framed versions. Simply put, the standard relics do not hold a candle to cards like the Greg Maddux relic above.

Although both the design of the card as well as that of the frame differ from year to year, the central idea remains the same; the frame always incorporates some sort of tropical-esque plant whereas the design is consistently an off-white color with other distinctive features.

The A&G mini framed relics are so spectacular, especially by the dwindling number of relic cards produced nowadays, that the plain white jersey swatch doesn't bother me in the least.

#4 2007 Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection Relics Chipper Jones
It's interesting how much a seemingly minuscule detail can break or, in this case, make the entire card. Take this Chipper Jones '07 Heritage Clubhouse Collection relic, for example. If not for Topps' decision to use a star as an outline for the jersey piece, this card would be at #5, not #4.

It also helps that I've had this card in my collection since the release of 2007 Heritage over 12 years ago, so it has more sentimental value than, say the Greg Maddux relic. Nonetheless, details like this are what I often look for when it comes to cards, and this one, in particular, helped this card big time.

#3 2003 Topps Gallery Original Bats Andruw Jones
Even if I didn't particularly like these 2003 Topps Gallery relic cards, I'd still give Topps credit for taking a risk with this outside-the-box design. However, the sheer variety of different colors as well as the stacked blocks, in my eyes, is pretty interesting. 

The result? A card that is more than worthy of this top 5 countdown. The card may be undeniably busy, but risks like this were necessary back when Topps had competition from Donruss, Fleer, and Upper Deck. Now, all they have to do is slightly change the design, and they can use the same kind of set every year.

#2 Topps Gallery Autographs Green Parallel Mike Soroka
Mike Soroka had a historic 2019 "rookie" season (he was also a rookie in 2018), so I'm glad I took this rookie autograph of his off eBay and held onto it myself. The card, which is numbered 46/99 on the back, is probably my greatest pull ever from this product.

Soroka's 2.68 ERA with 142 strikeouts in fewer than 175 innings pitched will cement him as Atlanta's ace going into the 2020 season. With the signing of Cole Hamels, the Braves pitching staff seems more than capable of aiding this team in their playoff push.

#1 2004 Topps Retired Signatures Orlando Cepeda
Truth be told, this countdown had far more competition than I originally expected, but even when I was debating what cards would make the top 5, I knew this Orlando Cepeda autograph would occupy the #1 spot.

The old-school uniform combined with the chrome cardstock is a crazy enough combination that it actually works. But the best element of this card has to be the way the blue sharpie pops in contrast to the black border. 

It's like Topps took the best elements of the 1960s and 2000s and combined them into 1 fabulous card. Then, by adding Cepeda's signature, this card becomes a no-brainer for the #1 spot.


  1. I found a huge stack of Soroka Chrome Update rookie cards while sorting a collection I purchased a while back. Sure hope he ends up becoming a superstar so I'm able to recover some of the money I spent on that collection.

  2. Nice Cepeda auto, and I like the Maddux relic, too. The NL East is going to be interesting this year. I kind of though Madison Bumgarner would end up in Atlanta, but I guess they'll have to find another pitcher to put them over the top.