Imaging a group of executives sitting in a fancy conference room at Topps Company putting together a product release schedule late into 2006 for the next calendar year. Your biggest rival, Upper Deck, is slowly beginning to lose steam and is about to have a disastrous 2007. At Topps, the Refractor, more specifically, the “one of one” Superfractor, is now about to enter its third year in production and has taken control of the entire industry. Things are working out in your favor so often, that you’re just two years away from destroying your longtime, bitter rival and becoming once more, the King of Baseball Cards, thanks to a Topps & MLB monopoly forged in 2009.
…. that’s when someone suggests a 12,475-card set called Moments & Milestones.
2007’s Moments & Milestones was a disaster from beginning to end. It absolutely flooded the secondary market with close to half a million cards no one in their right minds really wanted, watered down the “one of one” to a degree that it never recovered from, financially destroyed card shop owners who bought cases of it from Topps, and was absolutely eviscerated on social media, which back then consisted mostly of message boards. There was very little in the way of spin that could save Moments & Milestones. The set was a calamity that somehow was renewed for a return in 2008 and then was never seen or heard from again. With that being said, let’s try to dig in to some positives, if there are any.
One of the most bizarrely structured card sets ever produced, each of the 169 veterans has multiple variations based on the player’s statistical accomplishments, similar to a mirror insert. For example, Alex Rodriguez’s 2003 AL MVP-winning season is celebrated with 47 different variations (one for each home run he hit that season) of card #27. Like a mirror, each of the 47 cards is identical to each other, with the exception of a large numeral on the front side of the card. Each individual card is serial-numbered to 150 copies, but when all the different variations of each card are factored in, the production runs are much higher — there are a total of 7050 copies of the aforementioned card #27.-Baseball Card Pedia
Perhaps one positive of the set (or negative depending on your viewpoint) is that because the set was so enormous, the odds of pulling a 1/1 printing plate were incredibly in your favor at 1:30 packs. With 18 packs per box, odds were 1/2 that your box would yield two certified autographs, 6 serial numbered parallels, and more than likely, a 1/1 printing plate. You would think those figures would drives sales to the moon but it had the complete opposite affect. Boxes of Moments & Milestones sat unopened in the few remaining card shops all around the country, after all, it was a Hobby-exclusive. Those card shop owners who took the plunge on M & M ended up losing thousands of dollars they could not afford to lose in those times.
Looking back now, there’s no denying that Topps shit the bed with Moments & Milestones but with just a few minor tweaks it could really have become a great set that could still be going today. This was Topps thinking outside (WAY OUTSIDE) the box and taking unnecessary risks, something that the folks at today’s version of Topps wouldn’t even consider doing. Aside from the wacky structure of M & M, the card designs absolutely worked. By 2007, folks were fed up with the same holographic stickers every Topps product carried between low-end all the way to the high-end releases but in this set they hit just right with base cards and all versions of parallels.
Furthermore, the stickers were wrapped in a funeral home-style wreaths, design-wise. Scans don’t do these cards justice, it’s just something you have to see with your own eyes. I’m currently bidding on a few cards with hopes of adding high-resolution videos to my Twitter account (@NotMario33). Another big problem with the set was the autograph checklist, which aside from A-Rod, Vladimir Guerrero, and Andruw Jones … was littered with C-level talent. When you buy a Hobby box and can be left happy with a Nick Swisher autograph, you know the pickings are slim. Also, there were no Superfractors in the set and just two, true rookie cards and both players washed out early in their careers.
Topps has been known to bring back old school products and inserts when the well has run dry and that couldn’t be the case more than in 2021. With Topps’ MLB license running out soon, Moments & Milestones may just be one product that would bring collectors a little bit of joy but only with a less-bloated checklist and those now forgotten holographic silver sticker autographs. Or hey, maybe REALLY think outside the box by producing an all on-card autograph, 2022 Topps Moments & Milestones set. That would really be something to feast your eyes on. I don’t know about you guys but I’d be first in line to give Topps all my money on that one.