Completed insert set – 1994 Topps Black Gold

22 12 2014

Topps came out with their second year of Topps Black Gold in 1994, and it never seemed as popular as the first year.  By 1994 there were much shinier things out there – Upper Deck had Michael Jordan baseball cards for crying out loud! I finished this set back in November 2013.  And it’s been sitting in my queue as a “I need to do this” draft post since then.  It seems less than that, but time can get away from you.  Well, I’m using these completed set posts to get me back into the Lifetime Topps project – so this is certainly a good one for that!

Info about the set:

Set description:  Staying in line with the Gold theme that Topps adopted in the early 90’s in the flagship product for all 4 sports, the Black Gold cards had gold foilboard at the top (the team) and bottom (the player).  The background is completely blacked out of the player photo on the front.  The Topps Black Gold logo is shown next to the photo on series 1 but is mysteriously missing on the series 2 cards.  The back of the card has another photo of the player with a his statistics and positional ranking for those stats against a wood background.  The set has 22 players from each league.

Set composition:  44 cards

Inserted: All packs of 1994 Topps.  1:72 hobby odds.  22 cards per each series (AL in series 1, NL in series 2).

There were also redemption cards inserted at a more difficult rate that could be exchanged for 11, 22 or all 44 cards in the set.

Hall of Famers: 7

Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor, Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux

How I put the set together:

  • 2 from my series 1 & 2 wax boxes
  • 3 cards from trades
  • 39 cards from Sportlots

Thoughts on the set:  I like the 1993 set better.  I always thought Topps was pretty inferior to Upper Deck for card technology and for inserts in the early and mid-90’s (because they were).  And while these are decent cards, they aren’t as nice as the first year.  That may be why they didn’t stick around into 1995.

Card that completed my set:  #41 – Mike Piazza

One of 3 cards I picked up on Sportlots back in November.

Highest book value:  #18 – Cal Ripken, #27 – Barry Bonds

Best card (my opinion):  #43 – Robby Thompson

How often will you ever see a non-parallel insert card of Robby Thompson?  And it’s a pretty good photo?  Count me in.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.  I knew there was a reason I didn’t like this set.

1994 Topps Black Gold set

1994 Topps Black Gold set_0001

1994 Topps Black Gold set_0002

1994 Topps Black Gold set_0003

1994 Topps Black Gold set_0004





Completed set & Master set – One last look at 2012 Gypsy Queen

20 12 2014

I finished the 2012 Gypsy Queen master set (meaning the inserts and all of the , so this is the wrap-up post on that.  I finished the base set quite a while ago – but the inserts took quite a while.  The Gypsy Kings insert set was my final frontier here.

Info about my set:

How I put the set together:

169 cards from my first hobby box

88 cards from my second hobby box

4 cards from the first 2 boxes were replaced by Topps after being damaged

4 cards from a retail jumbo pack

35 cards from a trade with the Dutch Card Guy

Card that completed my set: #227 – Ralph Kiner (1 of about 20 cards I got in a trade from the Dutch Card Guy in early June).  See the picture below.

General Set Info:

Set composition: 300 cards (246 current players, 54 retired players)

Earliest active player from this set: #229 – Ty Cobb.

When I’ve done this for sets from my Lifetime Topps project, I usually do “last active player”.  For these sets I’m doing first active player.  This is easily Ty Cobb – who along with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are the only players in the set who finished their career before World War II.  Cobb debuted in 1905.

Player with the most cards in the set: There are 300 different cards and 300 different players with 1 card each :).

First Card and the Hundreds: #1 – Jesus Montero, #100 – Derek Jeter, #200 – Felix Hernandez, #300 – Babe Ruth

A former Yankee.  A current Yankee.  The all-time greatest Yankee.  And a future Yankee.  Oh, and 2 Mariners.

Highest book value: #253 – Cal Ripken Jr.

Most notable card: #250 – Ken Griffey Jr.

Hard to pick against this card – getting Griffey back into the mix after he retired was a big deal.

Best card (my opinion): #250 – Ken Griffey Jr. (see above)

For the same reasons as above – the 2nd best player ever born on November 21st in Donora, Pennsylvania.

Second best card (also my opinion): #249 – Stan Musial

Born on November 21st – in Donora, Pennsylvania.

Best subset card: N/A

Favorite action photo: #217 – Eric Thames

This was actually a really hard one to pick.  Hanley Ramirez has a really good shot, as does Matt Kemp.  There were many cards with a great level of detail considering these photos are touched up to make them look like paintings.  But this Thames card was my favorite.  The level of detail (his eyes are following the foul ball), where the bat is, the color of the uniform make this a winner for me.

Favorite non-action photo: #227 – Ralph Kiner, #241 – Larry Doby

I couldn’t decide between these guys.  I really appreciate that Topps got a couple of great Hall of Famers into this set who don’t always get cards like a Ruth, Koufax or Mantle.  And these are great photos.

My Favorite Reds card: #21 – Matt Latos

Another card with a lot of detail.

Other Notable Cards: I think I’ve covered quite a few.  Like 2011 Gypsy Queen, this is a really nice set, but I also wouldn’t call any cards particularly “notable” for a 2012 set – so there’s either too many or too few to scan.  I don’t like the design as much as the previous Gypsy set, but after going through the set again, the photos are very nice – more so than I had realized.

My Master” Set Info:

387 cards – 300 “base”, 87 “insert”

  • Insert sets: Moon Shots, Sliding Stars, Glove Stories, Hallmark Heroes, Future Stars, Gypsy Kings

How I put the additional sets together: Boxes, packs, card shows, trades and online – various sources, just like I did with the full base set.  I covered each insert set in earlier posts.  Gypsy Kings was the last insert set I finished up.

General Insert Set Info:

Most notable insert card: Glove Stories #GS-WM – Willie Mays

2012 Gypsy Glove Stories Mays

I don’t know if I’d call anything particularly notable in any Gypsy Queen insert set – but this card shows one of the most recognizable moments in baseball history.  Mays with his over-the-shoulder catch from the 1954 World Series.

Best Autograph or Relic card: Autographs #GQA-KG – Ken Griffey Jr.

Best Insert card of any type: Autographs #GQA-KG – Ken Griffey Jr.

Griffey Jr Gypsy

The biggest news I remember hearing about 2012 was the addition of Ken Griffey Jr. to the Topps mix.  The guy who has been synonymous with Upper Deck since 1989, and he’s going to autograph Topps cards in 2012.  That was bigger than Koufax, Aaron, or Mays.  Not because his auto was worth more, but because it represented a changing of the guard in a way.  If you couldn’t move on from Topps getting an exclusive license 2 years ago – well this was a way to bolt the nail in the coffin for you.  This was the card that signified that more than anything.

Best Reds insert card of any type: Indian Head Penny #JBE – Johnny Bench

2012 Gypsy Bench penny

Cards with coins inserted wasn’t new for 2012 Gypsy Queen, but pairing it up with a penny from back when the original Gypsy Queen came out was a great spin on this.  Too bad it’s completely not affordable.





Completed set – 1997 Topps

18 12 2014

I’m way behind on this completed set post – almost two years actually!  I think I forgot about posting this somewhere along the line.  I haven’t finished off the “Master Set” yet – quite a few inserts to finish up to get there.  So it’s just the “complete set” post for now.  This is a pretty cool set – and, interestingly, I think it’s the closest-looking set to this year’s version of the Topps flagship design.

Info about my set:

How I put the set together:

249 cards from the series 1 retail box

216 cards from the series 2 retail box

30 cards from trades

Card that completed my set: #261 – Lance Johnson (received in a trade from Dayf at Cardboard Junkie)

1997 Topps final card - Lance Johnson 261

Like I said – this was a while ago, back at the beginning of 2013!

Set composition: 495 cards (441 individual ML player cards*, 16 Prospects, 13 Draft Picks, 10 Expansion Team, 4 Checklists, 1 Tribute, 10 Season Highlights)

*The 441 individual player cards include 10 All-Star Rookies

Representation of ’96 MLB season:

Out of the 441 player cards, 5 players featured did not play in the 1996 season.  Bill Pulsipher and Jose Rijo both had Topps cards, but didn’t play due to elbow injuries.  Jay Payton, Derrick Gibson and Bartolo Colon each had a Topps card, however hadn’t made the majors yet.  Additionally, 11 of the players in the Prospect subset actually made it to the majors in 1996.

The 447 players represent 39.2% out of the 1,141 players who played in MLB in 1996.

Earliest active player from this set: #42 – Jackie Robinson, #388 – Dennis Eckersley (active players)

1997 Topps earliest player - Dennis Eckersley

There’s two answers to this – Eck is the earliest active player.  He made his debut on April 12, 1975, pitching the last 1.2 innings of a 1-run Cleveland loss to Milwaukee.  Eckersley beats out Denny Martinez, who debuted in 1976.

1997 Topps F

Robinson is the earliest (and only) retired player – breaking the color barrier on what has become a national baseball holiday – April 15, 1947.  In fact, that’s what this card was honoring.  In 1997, MLB celebrated the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s debut, and made a national day to honor Robinson’s accomplishment, retiring his number across the game.

Last active player from this set: #386 – Bartolo Colon (still active)

1997 Topps 386 Bartolo Colon last active player

There are 6 players from this set who played on September 28th of this year.  Three of them – Derek Jeter, Paul Konerko, and Bobby Abreu, have officially announced their retirement.  Raul Ibanez and Jason Giambi are likely to follow – they at least seem to be better coaching or managerial candidates today.

My point is – right now all 6 of those guys are technically the answer.  But Colon is almost assuredly the only one who will be active in 2015.

Player with the most cards in the set: 10 players with 2 cards:

There is basically only 1 subset, with 10 season highlights cards.

Mike Piazza – #20, #104 (Season Highlight)

John Mabry – #171, #102 (Season Highlight)

Dwight Gooden – #175, #100 (Season Highlight)

Al Leiter – #280, #101 (Season Highlight)

Alex Ochoa – #298, #103 (Season Highlight)

Eddie Murray – #333, #462 (Season Highlight)

Paul Molitor – #138, #463 (Season Highlight)

Hideo Nomo – #440, #464 (Season Highlight)

Barry Bonds – #1, #465 (Season Highlight)

Todd Hundley – #145, #466 (Season Highlight)

1997 Topps 2 cards in set

1997 Topps 2 cards in set_0001

1997 Topps 2 cards in set_0002

First Card and the Hundreds: #1 – Barry Bonds, #100 – Dwight Gooden SH, #200 – Doug Million/Damian Moss/Bobby Rodgers PROS, #300 – Ken Griffey Jr., #400 – Cal Ripken

1997 Topps first cards and the 00s

Highest book value: #479 – Adam Eaton / Eric Chavez DP RC

1997 Topps 479 Chavez Eaton RC

This is about as light as the rookie card cupboard could go – but somehow Beckett has this card listed for a bit more than Bonds, Ripken or Jeter.

Most notable card: #42 – Jackie Robinson TRIB

1997 Topps F

There were no cards from 1997 Topps in the top 60 cards that the company did a few years ago.  To me – this is easily the most notable.

Best card (my opinion): #463 – J.T. Snow

1997 Topps 263 JT Snow best card

I love this card – the color is fantastic.

Second best card (also my opinion): #167 – Ryne Sandberg

1997 Topps 167 Ryne Sandberg 2nd best card

This is Ryno’s last Topps card, and it’s a great way to go out for the longtime Cub.  The Wrigley Ivy in the background, him catching a ball at second base.

Best subset card: #464 – Hideo Nomo

1997 Topps 464 Hideo Nomo HL

I guess I could go with the Jackie Robinson – but I hesitate to call that a subset.  This is the best looking of the ’96 season highlight cards to me.  I’m usually a big fan of anything that highlights Nomo’s delivery.

Favorite action photo: #170 – Carlton Fisk

1997 Topps 65 Chuck Knoblauch best action shot

I like the whole package with the J.T. Snow card.  But I think this Knoblauch card is the best as far as just the action going on.  This narrowly beats a very cool Royce Clayton card.

Favorite non-action photo: #450 – Butch Huskey

1997 Topps 73 Butch Huskey best pose

Signing cards for fans is cool.  Seeing the pennant he’s about to sign is cool.  And all the Shea Satdium background – including the apple that goes up when a Met hits a homer?  Very cool.

My Favorite Reds card: #373 – Jose Rijo

1997 Topps Rijo

This card beats out good action shots of Hal Morris and Eric Davis.  The Davis card is also pretty cool, because it’s showing him during his return to the Reds for a solid 1996 season.  But you can’t beat Rijo messing around in a janitor jumpsuit.

Topps Reprints and others:

  • 2001 Through the Years – Nomar Garciaparra
  • 2001 Archives – Denny Martinez, Ryne Sandberg
  • 2002 Archives – Tony Gwynn
  • 2005 Rookie Cup Reprints – Jermaine Dye, Tony Clark, Joe Randa, Derek Jeter, Jason Kendall, Billy Wagner
  • 2010 CMT – Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Jeter
  • 2011 60YOT – Mariano Rivera, Gwynn
  • 2014 Topps Update Jeter Framed Reprints – Jeter

Jeter’s 3 reprints beat out Gwynn’s 2 (at least so far!)

Other Notable Cards: Aside from the Robinson tribute card, I’d say that Eddie Murray’s final card and Derek Jeter’s Topps All-Star rookie are fairly notable.

1997 Topps Jeter

1997 Topps Eddie Murray





2014 Topps Update HTA Jumbo box – the hits

16 12 2014

You get 3 “hits” per box when you get a hobby jumbo box.  And one if them is a manufactured something or other.  They tend to be World Series related, and that means they tend to be Yankees.  I got a Lou Gehrig last year – this year I got a World Series Trophy of Whitey Ford.  I always kind of like these things, and this one is no exception.

2014 Topps Update WS Manu Trophy Whitey Ford

Next up is the autograph.  Another Trajectory Autograph, after I got Matt Adams in series 1, I got this dude Colabello in Update.  I’ve never heard of him, but apparently he had 27 RBI in April.  Maybe I’ll be hearing more about him in the future!

2014 Topps Update Trajectory Auto Colabello

I saved the relic for last.  You’d think the relic wouldn’t be the best one I’d pull – but I got a super rare one.  A double jersey of Kershaw and Puig – can’t beat that!

2014 Topps Update AS Stitches Dual - Puig Kershaw

This card is #’d out of 25!  Anyways, that the hits.  Not too shabby!





2014 Topps update HTA Jumbo box – inserts

14 12 2014

On to the inserts for my next post on the HTA jumbo box I bought, it’s time for the inserts.  As usual, I’ll go in the order of “least favorite” to “most favorite”.

Topps has done 2 150-card insert across all three series the past few years.  One has a retro theme, and the other tends to be my least favorite.  Last year it was Chasing History, in 2012 it was Golden Moments, in 2011 it was Topps 60, and in 2010 it was Peak Performance.  All these sets have one main coincidence – they’re clearly made to “fit” relics and autos.  The set that was continued this year was “The Future is Now”. For this one, the design wasn’t nearly as relic driven – in fact, the relic or autographed versions for this set have a horizontal orientation.  And this set is only 90 cards, but each player has 3 cards, which I think is kind of silly.

The Update versions aren’t consecutively numbered – they are numbered as “CY1, CY2, CY3″.  This differs from series 1 and 2, which went 1-30 and 31-60.  As I’ve said many times before, I don’t like the “lettering” as opposed to the traditional “numbering”.  As a collector – it’s just annoying.  These cards aren’t bad, through, from a design standpoint.

2014 Topps Update Future is Now

The 1989 minis follow up the 87 and 72 minis from the last couple of years.  These have a die-cut theme that also makes the actual border colored instead of the white border that the original 89 design had.  I like the idea of the die-cut, though the 89 design is far from iconic in my mind.  The scanning doesn’t work out perfectly with these cards – it cuts a lot off here.

2014 Topps Update 89 minis

Fond Farewells is the next insert set.  These are obviously tailored for a relic, and I don’t like how much they’ve cut off the right side of these players to make that work.  But the theme is very cool – a look at how some of the best players finished up their career.

2014 Topps Update Fond Farewells

There’s another cool postseason insert set.  Last year it was postseason heroes, this is a 50-card World Series Heroes set.  Again, they went through with the lettering instead of numbering.  That particularly bugs me with this set, which should be numbered chronologically.  They should also sure as hell just add Madison Bumgarner to this set!

2014 Topps Update World Series Heroes

The next card is a remake of the old Topps Gold Label cards.  It’s kind of weird to take a set from 2000.  Is a remake of a card from 2000 a retro set?  Anyways, this is a framed variation.  It’s a gold bar with a front and back kind of glued on.  I don’t know if I like that feature.  It’s pretty cool to hold this card, as it’s very thick.  But the way the front and back are “glued” on makes it seem somewhat cheap.  Overall, very cool though with the crisp pictures here.

2014 Topps Update Gold Label Abreu

I like the next insert set the best – it’s called Power Players.  I just like the design here.  Topps had Power Players parallels in the first two series, and I have no idea if these are the guys who won each week or something.  But the bottom line, I like all the colors in his design!

2014 Topps Update Power Players





2014 Topps Update HTA Jumbo – parallels

12 12 2014

A quick post today – here’s the parallels from my Update Jumbo box.

Red Hot Foil

I got 10 of these, 1 per pack – which is what the odds say.

2014 Topps Update Red Foil

Topps Gold (#/2014)

Same thing with Topps Gold – 1 per pack.  It’s interesting – I think you get more Topps Gold when you buy a hobby box than a Jumbo box.

2014 Topps Update Gold

Black (#/64)

I didn’t get any camo, pink or clear parallels – but I did get a black parallel of former Red Drew Stubbs.  Former Red who hit a game winning home run against my team this year, that kind of started their slide after the All-Star break.

2014 Topps Update Black Stubbs

I also got quite a few variations.  All 3 you can find in fact.  The first is the sparkle variation, that I wish they hadn’t brought back from 2011.  If you can’t see it – the sparkle on this Tepesch card is on his belt.

2014 Topps Update Sparkle Tepesch

The next variation is of Dice-K – who I had forgotten was still in the major leagues!  His regular card shows him pitching, this version shows him attempting to lay down a bunt.

2014 Topps Update Variation Masuzaka

And last but not least is Collin Cowgill.

2014 Topps Update Cowgill

You can’t tell the difference from the front of this card.  It’s a saber metric variation, with all kind of crazy stats on the back!  What did I take away from this?  Cowgill had a really low BABIP when he was with the Mets.  That means his batting average on balls he didn’t strike out on was unusually low.

2014 Topps Update Cowgill Saber variation

Unlike other in the blogosphere, I like the last two variations.  I wish they were combined, though.  You don’t need so many types of variations, and the statistical ones are really easy to miss.  Having a card with the sabermetrics on the back and the different photo on the front would be cool.  I think the Matsuzaka is a good example of a picture variation to employ.  Unfortunately, there’s no theme to the picture variants.  Past years have had specific themes (i.e. – celebration), so you can tell when it’s a variation card without looking it up online.

I got one other card worth showing here – that’s the 75th anniversary buyback.  Another fairly unnecessary insert.  At least 76 Topps is pretty cool.

2014 Topps Update 75th Bruce Miller





2014 Topps Update HTA Jumbo box – base cards

10 12 2014

Along with the series 2 hobby box I bought last month, I also got a Jumbo box of Topps Update.  Here’s my first post for that – taking a look at some of the base cards.

As always, there are a bunch of the same subsets – the first one is the Checklists.  There’s 5 of these cards, and they showcase events from the 2014 season.  As usual – a few are questionable, meaning they just exist to get more cards of certain guys into the set.  The Tanaka and Abreu cards are particularly weird – they have a Rookie Debut subset and a checklist card for making their MLB debut.

  • Albert Pujols: 500th Home Run.  Excellent choice.
  • Miguel Cabrera: 2,000th hit.  Another good choice.
  • Yu Darvish: Fastest to 500 strikeouts.  Interesting choice – and one I approve of again.  I didn’t know he’d broken a record held by Kerry Wood.  By striking out his 500th batter in 401.2 innings, he broke Wood’s record of 404.2 innings.  He also did it even quicker if you look at batters faced – he struck out 500 in his first 1,659 batters, while Wood did it in 1,729 batters (Baseball reference is great for things like that).
  • Masahiro Tanaka/ Jose Abreu: MLB debut.  I think the reason for these is that both guys are international stars who debuted.  But it’s a bit unnecessary with the Rookie Debut subset.

2014 Topps Update checklists

I would have rather seen something commemorating the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field.  Or maybe the games the Dodgers and Diamondbacks played in Australia to open the season.  Or one of the no-hitters by Josh Beckett, Clayton Kershaw or Time Lincecum.  Or Jimmy Rollins breaking the Phillies’ all-time hit record.  Or David Ortiz hitting his 450th homer.  And any other events that I didn’t think of.  There were probably a few other things Topps could have honored.  Man, even a Jeter card would have seemed better than these!

Speaking of Jeter, this All-Star card could be his last Topps card.  I’d hope he has a 2015 card, but who knows.

2014 Topps Update Jeter (2)

These could also be the last cards for these three guys.  I didn’t even know Bobby Abreu had signed with the Mets.  And I wasn’t aware Ibañez had signed with the Royals until I started seeing him in the dugout during the playoffs.  Along with Giambi, they’ve all had pretty nondescript ends to their careers.  But they were solid careers, for sure.

2014 Topps Update Giambi Ibanez Abreu

Topps thankfully removed the Home Run Derby subset – it was such a waste to do cards for the Derby and then the same guys would have All-Star cards.  Here’s the subset of All-Star players.  I think every photo is either from the All-Star game or from Monday’s festivities.  That’s pretty cool – even with the unabashed Gatorade advertising from the Chapman and Gomez cards.  I wish they had a more distinct design however, to separate them from the rest of the set.

2014 Topps Update All Stars

I found these two All-Stars interesting.  Same player, but shown in different teams since they were traded for each other!

2014 Topps Update Lester Cespedes

That’s the thing Topps Update does.  It used to be new guys who had signed in the previous offseason.  But starting about 6 or 7 years ago, they started being even more up-to-date, with traded players in their new uniforms who had actually moved in the regular season.  This is a good thing.

2014 Topps Update Traded in season

And just like 30 years ago – Update is still a great source for players in new uniforms who moved in the offseason.  Though now they sometimes make it into series 2 that way.  That is not a good thing in my opinion – I like the base set to be representative of the previous year!

2014 Topps Update Traded offseason

Here’s some of the more notable names in the rookie debut subset.  This isn’t a “base card” – a player could have a card in this subset and a regular card.  Though Tanaka and Abreu made it into series 2.

2014 Topps Update Rookie Debut subset

Of course they do have the standard rookie cards in the Update set.  Here’s George Springer, who hit 20 homers in less than 300 at bats this year.

2014 Topps Update George Springer

He would be right up there in the Rookie of the Year running if the Astros were still in the National League.  Instead, Jacob DeGrom will probably win that award.  He went 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA in 140 innings.

2014 Topps Update Jacob DeGrom

Oscar Taveras was fairly underwhelming in his debut season, but he did hit a pretty big postseason home run in the NLDS.  I actually wrote this post the night his death came out.  I have written much about my unabashed hate for the Cardinals – but that’s very sad.  He had a lot of promise, and it’s sad when the baseball world loses someone too young.

2014 Topps Update Oscar Taveras

Mookie Betts was much better in his call-up, though he had nearly as much fanfare.  however he

2014 Topps Update Mookie Betts

I’m pretty surprised they didn’t get Javier Baez into the set – kind of weird.

Anyways, finishing it up, here are some of my favorite photos from the set.  The first two cards are not celebration variations or anything like that – just the way the cards fell.  Joba makes this list for Update for the 2nd year in a row.   I can’t tell what that ring is for David Ross – it doesn’t look like his WS ring – anybody know!

2014 Topps Update good pics








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