The year 2020 presented many unprecedented challenges around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For baseball card collectors and hobbyists, 2020 also marked the 75th anniversary of Topps and their iconic baseball cards. Despite restrictions on sports leagues and the postponement of baseball during parts of the season, Topps forged ahead with producing its 2020 baseball card set which collected many achievements and accolades within the collecting community.

Topps has had the exclusive license to produce major league baseball cards since 1952 and the 2020 set continued their tradition of commemorating the biggest stars and moments from each season. Due to changes in the MLB schedule brought on by the pandemic, Topps had to adapt their production timeline and card design. The final master set would total 344 cards after revisions were made to remove players who opted out of the season or were released from teams during roster cutdowns.

Some notable rookie cards in the 2020 Topps set included prospects such as Gavin Lux, Luis Robert, and Cristian Pache who all made their MLB debuts during the shortened season. Veterans like Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Ronald Acuña Jr continued garnering attention from collectors as emerging superstars in the game. Topps also paid tribute to retiring legends with a special “Final Card” designation for players like Felix Hernandez, Francisco Liriano, and Edwin Encarnacion.


Aside from the base cards, Topps incorporated various parallels, numbered inserts, and autograph/memorabilia cards to excite avid collectors. Some of the more coveted parallel sets included the “Gold Label” parallels limited to 50 copies each. Numerous “Rainbow Foil” serial numbered cards spotlighted star players. Exciting autograph cards featured signed swatches or signatures from superstars like Mike Trout, Christian Yelich, and Cody Bellinger. Topps even produced special “Photo Variation” parallel cards that highlighted unique action shots.

The insert sets within the 2020 flagship Topps offering also provided opportunities to chase rare and valuable cards. Some highly sought after inserts included the “Top Prospects” cards on the cusp of stardom like Jazz Chisholm and Gavin Sheets. The “Tribute” inserts paid homage to retired greats with cards of Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, and Mariano Rivera. Baseball fans delighted in the playful “Stadium Club” mini cards recreating iconic ballpark sights. The retro styled “Heritage” parallel inserts also captivated collectors.


The pandemic didn’t stop Topps from producing all their annual baseball traditions. Their popular Allen & Ginter set featured players on unique woodcuts combined with highlights from arts, sciences and history. Their “Update” series filled roster and stat changes midseason. Even their “1984” and “Artifact” subsets bringing Topps card designs full circle with modern parallels. An especially poignant “We Stand Together” insert supported causes for social justice and equality.

Amid the difficulties of 2020, Topps still found ways to deliver collector favorites from decades past. The retro “Throwback Thursday” inserts recreated styles from the 60s-80s. Items surfaced on breaks and group breaks of “Unopened Wax” packs with unclaimed wooden nickel cards from the 50s and 60s. Topps Tribute, a commemorative baseball card product line launched in 2019, continued honoring legendary players, teams and seasons of yesteryear.


When all was said and done, the Topps 2020 flagship baseball set celebrated familiar annual traditions while also responding to an unprecedented season. The final product paid tribute to the perseverance of America’s pastime and provided collectors a reassuring connection to sports normalcy. Widely considered one of Topps’ strongest modern issues ever amid the pandemic, the 2020 baseball release by the venerable trading card company still holds considerable nostalgic appeal and long term financial value for future generations of fans and collectors. Even in a challenging year, Topps managed to maintain their crown as the undisputed “King of Baseball Cards” as they had for 75 years prior.

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