Only Built for Series 1 No. 1s

Tyler Suddith is the Top Series 1 No. 1 Collector

Date: Apr 2, 2024
Author: Greg Bates, Senior Writer
Topics: 2024 Topps Series 1, Baseball, Greg Bates, How To Collect, Juan Soto, Mariners, MLB, Ronald Acuña Jr., Seattle, Seattle Mariners, Shohei Ohtani
Length: 1108 Words
Reading Time: ~6 Minutes

It’s a tradition unlike any other for Tyler Suddith.

Each year, when the Topps Flagship product drops, Suddith stocks up on packs. He opens them to search for one specific card: card No. 1.

Ronald Acuña Jr. earned that special distinction for the 2024 Topps Series I set.

After pulling an Acuña, Suddith prepared for an annual moment he absolutely cherishes. With the card held snug in a ONE-TOUCH Magnetic Holder, Suddith recorded video of himself ceremoniously carrying the Acuña into a room, where it’s placed in its forever home on a shelf. The Acuña is flanked by Juan Soto, card No. 1 in the 2023 Topps Series I set.

Fascinated by the mystique of Topps’ 70-plus years of shaping The Hobby, Suddith pays homage with an impressive display featuring No. 1 Flagship cards from 1951-2024. He needs just five vintage cards to complete his masterpiece.

Dubbed the “Topps History Wall,” it’s an exhibition any collector would revel in.

“I wanted a wall where I could quickly stand in front of it and see the progression of the game, of baseball cards, and the change of technology—you look at the pictures of the ’50s and ’60s compared to now,” the 41-year-old Suddith said. “I just wanted a way to stand in front of the entirety of Topps Flagship quickly.”

Return to Collecting With Topps Series 1 Baseball

Growing up in the small town of Negaunee in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Suddith was a New York Yankees fan. His grandfather served in World War II with a former Yankees player, so Suddith’s family formed a bond with the men in pinstripes.

A product of the 1980s, Suddith’s first memories of collecting are buying 1987 Topps with its instantly recognizable wood-grain borders.

“Whenever I see the wood-grain borders, it takes me back to being a kid because that’s what I remember,” Suddith said. “That’s like my childhood.”

Collecting through his early teen years, The Hobby took a backseat when Suddith joined the Air Force. He hadn’t thought about cards in about 20 years until 2018, when a friend texted him a photo.

“He was at a gas station and found a pack of 2018 Topps Gypsy Queen,” said Suddith, who currently lives in a Seattle suburb. “He sent it to me, and I was so taken back. At that point, I hadn’t done anything with cards in years. So to see the way Gypsy Queen looked, I was shocked that so much had changed in the card world since I had collected in the ’80s and ’90s.”

That moment sucked Suddith back into The Hobby.

Suddith had an idea of constructing a card display in his house once his kids were older, and he wouldn’t have to worry about the cards being tampered with. A walk-in closet in Suddith’s home office became a perfect place to showcase his collection.

One weekend in 2021, Suddith mounted rails to two adjoining walls where 350 cards in holders could be set up. Early on, Suddith didn’t know what direction he wanted to take with his display—whether to highlight his favorite players or take a museum approach where he could rotate cards in and out.

“Ultimately, once I started putting up my favorite rookie cards from Topps Flagship, I found myself staring at all of the different card designs and thinking how neat it was to see the history,” Suddith said. “That’s what led me to go ahead and pull card number 1 since the beginning.”

Nearing the Series 1 No. 1 Finish Line

From when he collected as a kid, Suddith already had the number 1 cards from 1982-98. When Suddith returned to collecting in 2018, he purchased the No. 1 cards from 1999-present.

That left Suddith needing to find the first cards from the 1951-81 sets.

Suddith has purchased most of the cards for his project from eBay and his local card shop. He isn’t too concerned about the condition of his No. 1 cards, just as long as they aren’t ripped or have glaring creases.

“One of my favorite things to do at night is sit out by a fire in the backyard and scroll through eBay singles,” Suddith said. “I put them in my watch list or shopping card. I may not always buy them, but it’s like window shopping.”

Suddith recorded his first reveal video in 2022 when he placed a 2022 Topps Series 1 Shohei Ohtani No. 1 card in its rightful spot. When Suddith posted a video in 2023 of him putting his Soto card on his Topps History Wall, a collector reached out to him. He wanted to help Suddith with the project and sent him the iconic 1952 Topps Andy Pafko card.

“That’s another thing I love about the hobby. There’s just so many great people,” Suddith said.

Suddith has just five No. 1 cards remaining to close out his project. They are the 1951 — either the blue or red back — ’53 Jackie Robinson, ’57 Ted Williams, ’58 Williams, and ’66 Willie Mays.

“My favorite card of all of them is the ’53 Jackie,” Suddith said. “Unless I come across an unbelievable deal, my plan has always been that the ’53 Jackie would be my final purchase to close it off.”

Suddith’s Topps History Wall doesn’t just feature his card No. 1 collection. It also includes sections of cards with his favorite non-Mariner Nolan Arenado, Sapphire cards, his favorite Flagship rookie cards from his birth year 1982 to present, some Flagship short prints (SPs) and super short prints (SSPs), and his favorite Yankee and Mariner players.

There isn’t a day that Suddith doesn’t admire every angle of his Topps History Wall. It’s a full-blown history cataloging Topps’ rich tradition in baseball.

One of Suddith’s morning routines is grabbing a cup of coffee, heading to his office to fulfill any online eBay orders, and falling into a trance due to his cardboard creation in front of him.

“As cheesy as it sounds, it brings me an unbridled amount of joy to just be standing in here looking at my favorite cards,” Suddith said. “My wife always jokes that if she’s in the house and she’s not sure where I am, the first place she always comes and checks is my card closet. It’s not uncommon to find me just standing off and staring in the distance at my cards.

“I spend a lot of time in here with these guys.”

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