Today’s Card of the Day is a variation card from the 2005 Topps set. It features relief pitcher Jose Mesa, who ranks 21st all-time in saves and 12th in games pitched. He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 2004-05 seasons, when he picked up 70 of his 321 career saves. He played a total of 19 years in the majors, and 26 years in pro ball.
This is just the second time that we have looked at the 2005 Topps set here. The other one wasn’t too long ago, so I decided to go for a variation to change things up. This is the Gold border version of Mesa’s regular 2005 Topps card. He also has a 2005 Topps Total card that I thought about using until I saw this variation. The Gold cards were numbered to 2,005 that year, something that Topps did each year, where the limited numbered cards matched up to the year. Here’s a look at card #423 in the set.
Here’s the front of the card:
I’m always on the fence about the Gold cards from Topps. Sometimes it ruins the design, especially if the borders have a color besides white already. Sometimes they make the card look better. This is one of the better cases, as the gold not only looks better than plain white, but it also works well with the Pirates colors. Topps used team colors for every team in the set, so you still get quite a variation in looks of cards throughout the set. There’s also a very limited black border card (54 copies), which is one of the few examples where I actually like the gold card better.
I’m a big fan of how Topps went with Pirates spelled out like that in the bottom middle instead of going with the logo. I know I’m always saying the logo adds brownie points, but that “PIRATES” looks great like that.
It might be a little hard to read, but above Mesa’s head and below the border, it says “54 years of collecting”. This was Topps 54th year according to them, though they put out smaller sets in 1951, so 2005 would be the 55th year according to how math works. They would usually use anniversary on the cards if they match up to the year, like the 2022 set used 1987 designs with a 35th anniversary logo. Don’t forget, these are the same people that match up 49th anniversaries of designs in their Heritage set, so I can’t explain how their brain works.
Here’s the back of the card:
When I saw the words PIRATES written across the bottom on the front, I thought to myself that it would be cool if they used the team logo on the back. They did, as you can see in the upper left next to the card number. They added a second photo of Mesa. At the bottom of that photo, you can possibly see that it says “1082/2005”, letting you know that this is a 1,082nd card in the print run. There’s also a little baseball field with circles and a sign telling you how many saves he had in 2004, which you can also find in the stats section of this card (basically everything else on the back) in the category labeled as saves (SV).
There are a lot of stats to read here, so be thankful that Topps used black print on a white background. Mesa played another three seasons before he was done, including a mid-season team change one year, adding four more lines to his final career stats. If they included his minor league stats, you would probably just need to take their word that there were stats there because they would be impossible to read.
If you’re interested in getting the 2005 Topps card of Mesa, you have four options on Ebay. His black border card ranges from $10 to $30, with the lower price having a best offer option. The Gold variation has six options available between $3 and $7 delivered. If you just want the plain white border (yawn) version, don’t pay more than $2 delivered. The fourth option is the one autographed copy, not authenticated, for $33. It’s on the regular version of the card.