2003 Leaf Baseball Box Review

If any of you missed our video yesterday, or just didn’t feel like watching the thing, I’m here with a good old fashioned text & picture review of the 2003 Leaf Baseball Hobby box we opened for our giveaway.  I think we had a pretty good box and hopefully everyone will be happy with their respective stacks.

24 packs per box, 10 cards per pack.

Main Set

Benito Santiago is not amused

The Bonds card on the bottom left of the scan is the back of the Passing Through Time subset.  The shows a normal 2003 design exactly like you see elsewhere, while the back shows what Leaf was like a decade earlier.  This probably wasn’t the smartest idea in the world.  You don’t want to showcase your shortcomings by flaunting previous success.

The look of the set is bland, uninspired and oddly pixelated on the right side.  Maybe they were going for a computer-y feel, but if that’s the case they missed the information superboat by a few years, and the 8-bit gaming era by nearly 20.  Contrast that with the suave elegance of 1993 and the ugly duckling that is 2003 Leaf just stood next to the homecoming queen at the dance.

The photo selection is nothing to right home about, but occasionally you get an interesting show like the Beltran multi-bat or the Randa skipping strikeout.  You’ll also see a lot of players in old uniforms since Leaf chose not to airbrush anything after trades. I know that bugs a lot of people.  I’m personally okay with it as long as the “Traded to” label is clear enough.

You can see that the rookie design is slightly different from the rest of the set.  I would have loved to see that extra splash of color across the entire 320-card set.  It may not be much, but that little fading strip of team color at the top paired with the tiny gold bar at the bottom does make the set slightly easier on the eyes.

Shipping note: We decided that the passing through time cards would go to the team featured on the front.  It seemed like the best way to handle it.

Inserts and Parallels

That's 1,000+ homers there in the proofs

The entire set also comes in parallel form.  There is the Red foil Press Proof, which fall 2 per box, and a blue foil proof numbered out of 50.  We did get one of those, but I’ll show that off later.  There is nothing else especially different or interesting about the parallels.  I’m also fairly certain they wouldn’t have been used as actual proofs in the pressing, but what do I know.  Maybe they were.  The other card you see is the Leaf Certified Sample.  Consider it a promo card for another product, because that’s exactly what it is.

The Hard Hats and Gold Leaf are shinier than they appear

We got to see a nice selection and variety of inserts in our box.  The top three are Leaf ’60, a 50-card set falling 3/box.  The Away insert has a Home companion that was missing.  Both fall 1:34 packs.  Slick Leather has a little bit of a matte thing going on.  Those are 1:21.  The Gold Leaf rookies are one per box and pure foil.  The Hard Hats have 1:13 odds and a very reflective surface.  Lastly the Clean Up Crew are found 1:49 packs, so we lucked out a little bit there.

Unfortunately, none of the inserts that have numbered versions made an appearance in our box.  Still, I enjoy seeing such a wide variety of designs in a product.  I guess if you could complain about anything, its that there’s no cohesiveness between the set and the inserts.  These designs could be for any year’s product.  That’s nitpicking, though.  They threw a bunch of styles and looks against the wall and most of it sticks.

Hits

Much better than expected

I honestly had no expectations for a single hit in the box.  There were no promises made, just hopes and dreams.  I think we’re going to make a few collectors pretty happy with the results.  As you can see, I threw the Blue Griffey Jr. Press Proof in with the rest of the hits.  I know it’s not the traditional definition, but I don’t care.  Out of 320 cards and a lot of commons to choose from, we found what many consider a future hall of famer.

The Bagwell (another should be HOF’er) bat card is numbered out of 400 and even is from the era when card companies showed you where the relic came from.  There’s a picture of Bag’s bat on the back.

The Soriano auto was a complete surprise.  It’s the unnumbered Bronze version, since you can’t tell from the scan.  There are also Silver /100 and Gold /25 out there somewhere.  The sticker isn’t nearly as obvious or obnoxious as it is in the scan.  In fact, I down right like it on this card.  It’s a good example of sticker auto done right.

Conclusion

By 2003 standards, I’d say we hit a gold mine.  By 2012 standards, I’d say we found a hidden gem.  You really can’t ask for much more out of your hits, the collation was great as I don’t recall seeing any doubles.  The inserts were varied and prominent and the parallels seem infrequent enough to stay special.  Overall, the only major thing holding this set down in the design.  If the set simply looked better, I’d be considering opening more just for inserts and hits.

I hope everyone out there enjoyed the break.  We should be getting these packed and shipped throughout the week.  Thank you to all!  It was a lot of fun!

Design – *
Set Collecting – ***
Inserts/Parallels – ****
Hits – *****
Overall – **** out of 5

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