Of course there are 2021 Topps Series 2 Baseball variations. Lots of them.
For starters, there are both Short Print (SP) and Super Short Print (SSP) Variations. This means multiple levels of rarity.
Something that’s definitely not a shock is the return of retired legends to the variations lineup. These are consistently some of the most popular each year.
For 2021 Topps Series 2, it also means the return of Mickey Mantle to the Topps flagship for the first time since 2012. Both his SP and SSP Variations have #52 on the back, but it’s definitely from Series 2. It even notes as such under the card number.
Mantle also has a third Ultra Short Print Variation (SSSP). If the photo looks familiar, it’s because it’s the one that was used for his 1952 Topps card.
Mantle isn’t alone with the Ultra Short Prints. Some key 2021 rookies have reverse negative SSSP cards. For these, the images are flipped and things look backwards when you look closely.
Current players are also part of the 2021 Topps Series 2 variations lineup. There’s no unifying theme, although there are many taken during candid moments and before games. Many of the rookie variations are fairly standard in their photo choices and don’t necessarily jump out right away as being anything different.
How Tough Are SP and SSP Cards to Pull?
Curious as to how rare variations are? It might take a bit to gather odds for all pack types, but here’s what we know at this point (odds are per pack):
Hanger Boxes (Retail) – 1:9
Blaster Boxes (Retail) – 1:40
Hanger Boxes (Retail) – 1:248
Blaster Boxes (Retail) – 1:1,187
Odds for Ultra Short Print Variations are not known.
Confirmation Codes for 2021 Topps Series 2 Baseball Variations
Yes, card backs once again offer another way of confirming SP and SSP cards. Like many other Topps sets, including Series 1, you can use the CMP code at the end of the fine print to identify different types of cards. Card numbers and the main checklist are usually the easiest route, but for variations that look like base, this is sometimes the best option. It’s also a quick way to double check and make sure.
The CMP code endings you’ll want to note for telling base cards from variations are:
Base – 423
Short Print (SP) – 441
Super Short Print (SSP) – 442
Ultra Short Print – 443
These codes are not really meant for collectors. They’re part of the production process. But once collectors figured out they offer a clue, they’ve been a popular route in short print identification. It might not be as fun as photos, but it works.
2021 Topps Series 2 Baseball Variations Checklist
Here’s a quick 2021 Topps Series 2 Baseball variations checklist so you can quickly see who to be looking for. This is a list of confirmed names so far. It’ll be expanding in the days ahead as more SP and SSP cards surface. If you’re looking for a specific card, click on the links to see what’s currently on eBay.
A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.