On to my next post about 1998 Topps inserts. The last post covered the Roberto Clemente inserts; today covers the rest.
None of insert sets (other than the Clemente reprints) were “continuous” – they were all specific to either series 1 or series 2. As always, the insert odds reflect hobby packs unless otherwise noted.
Mystery Finest Interleague (20 cards, 1:36 series 1)
Mystery Finest Refractors Interleague (20 cards, 1:144 series 1)
For the fifth straight year, Topps inserted cards with Finest technology into the base product. This set was inserted into series 1 packs, and combines themes from the 2 previous years. The 1996 Mystery Finest idea was back, combined with an interleague theme like the 1997 insert set. There were 4 different players on the back of the card (2 from each team that played in an interleague matchup). You would have to peel the black cover to see which player you got.
The cards were available in refractor versions – I didn’t pull any. I do like the design here – it uses the finest technology well.
Mystery Finest Bordered (20 cards, 1:36 series 2)
Mystery Finest Refractors Bordered (20 cards, 1:108 series 2)
Mystery Finest Borderless (20 cards, 1:72 series 2)
Mystery Finest Refractors Borderless (20 cards, 1:288 series 2)
There was a different series 2 Mystery Finest insert set. This was a new take on the Mystery Finest. You could tell which player you were getting by looking at the back – however, the “mystery” answered by peeling the black case was which version you pulled. There were 4 versions – bordered and borderless cards, and a refractor version of each type. I don’t like this design quite as much as the series 1 card fronts.
Hall Bound (20 cards, 1:36 – series 1, hobby only)
These die-cut cards have the words “Hall Bound” at the top and a banner with the player’s name. The backdrop features a faded image of the MLB Hall of Fame building in Cooperstown. The set has the stars of the era who Topps thought would make the Hall of Fame someday. Of course they didn’t realize in 1998 that there was going to be this whole “steroid scandal” that would change the whole dynamic of how people judge statistics and the Hall of Fame. That said, this set is one of my favorites – Topps did a good job with the die-cut on this and I like the color of the background and how the Hall of Fame building is worked in. Interestingly, Rickey Henderson has a card in this set but not in the base set.
Etch-A-Sketch (9 cards, 1:36, series 1)
This nine-card set features drawings by artist George Vlosich III done on an etch-a-sketch and put onto cardboard.
Flashback (10 cards, 1:72, series 1)
These cards basically feature two different designs with a foil background on each side – one showing the player “currently” (meaning 1998) and another showing the player when he was earlier in his career. I didn’t get any of these in my series 1 hobby box. The word “flashback” is at the top of both design, and I like how the team logo reflects the times.
Baby Boomers (15 cards, 1:36, series 1, retail only)
I bought a hobby box, so I didn’t get any of these yet. The cards have a firework background behind the player photo, and feature young stars in-the-making. It’s a set with some pretty good names – Jeter, Nomar, Helton, Rolen.
Rookie Class (10 cards, 1:12, series 2)
There was a series 2 insert set for youngsters as well – this one for 1998 rookies with a foil background.
Clout Nine (10 cards, 1:72, series 2)
Replacing the Flashback insert set in series 2 was Clout Nine. This featured the player at each position (including DH but not pitcher) who had the highest slugging in MLB at that position. The player is featured in the center and there’s a head shot of each of the other 8 players down the side.
Focal Points (15 cards, 1:36 – series 2, hobby only)
I actually didn’t get one of these in my hobby box for series 2 – so in 1998 maybe I would have been writing in to Topps customer service! This set features an action shot of the player and 3 close-ups of different “focal points” from that picture.
Milestones (15 cards, 1:36, series 2, retail only)
The retail only insert in series 2 was called Milestones. This set focused on career milestones that these individual players were close to at the end of the 1997 season. The front has a foil background with 2 player photos, the back discusses milestones that player could reach in 1998.