After a three-year hiatus, Topps again issued a “Traded” set in 1999. They went back to the boxed set format that had existed in all years except 1995. There was a slight name change in 1999 – the set name became a more accurate (but more cumbersome) “Traded and Rookies”. Just as previous years, the cards were numbered separately from the base set with a “T” suffix. There were 121 cards in the set, 11 different from the standard 132 and off from the 165 in 1995. The set contains cards of rookies, free agents and traded players (no new managers, draft picks or subsets in the 1999 set. The design is the same as the base set.
The box design was back to a square box as well (in 1994 the box was flat), with Pat Burrell shown in a fielding pose on the front and advertisement for the autograph in the box. Topps put some organization into this set – out of the 121 cards, the rookies are the first 75 cards and the traded players represent the next 46. There are actually 122 cards in the box – because Topps was capitalizing on the idea that developed in the 90′s of inserting autographs into baseball card products. Each of the 75 “rookies” autographed cards for insertion into the set. Given the rookie class in this set, that means you had a chance to get a pretty good autograph – including a future MVP and a Cy Young winner among them.
I did not do quite so well in my boxed set. I pulled Ryan Rupe, whose 8 wins and 4.55 ERA in 1999 represented his best season in the big leagues. As you can see, the card is the same as the base card, except for a white tone at the bottom for the autograph and the Topps Certified Autograph stamp.
There is one card of a Reds 1990 World Champion member.
- Eric Davis signed as a free agent with St. Louis in the 98/99 offseason after two seasons with the Orioles.
There are no Hall of Famers in the set, though at some point a few of these guys have a good chance.
There are also some pretty good rookie players worth showing here. There’s a “big 3″ in my opinion for this set. CC Sabathia and Josh Hamilton are very notable rookie cards – they’re the two future award winners I mentioned above. And Alphonso Soriano is also a really big rookie card as well. Too bad I didn’t pull one of these autographs!
Those are the 3 biggest names and the most accomplished players, but there are also some other very good rookie cards in this set. There are two notable Reds players – Adam Dunn, who is probably going to end his career with over 500 homers and will also probably hold the career strikeout record, and Austin Kearns. I remember in the early 2000′s when those guys were the future of the organization – and along with Ken Griffey Jr., that future looked bright.
The next tier behind Sabathia and Hamilton includes Carl Crawford, A.J. Burnett and Carlos Pena, all of whom have had very successful big league careers. Pat Burrell, Mark Mulder and Felipe Lopez also became solid Major League players for a while. There’s 8 all-star game selections and quite a few accolades for the 6 guys below.
There were some decent free agent / traded players in this set, though since Topps got some guys into series 2, this set doesn’t have quite as many of the big off-season moves. For example, both Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens are featured in series 2 with their new teams (Diamondbacks and Yankees), so they didn’t need a Traded card. But there were some other notable players in their new uniforms – including David Wells, who the Rocket was traded for. Mo Vaughn signed a big contract with the California Angels in the offseason. Albert Belle, who probably should have won the 1995 AL MVP over Vaughn, had just come off of two great seasons with the White Sox, and signed a lucrative deal with the Orioles. Both were fairly productive for their teams over the next couple of years, but neither quite lived up to their contracts.
My Reds were involved in a number of smaller – but still significant – offseason moves that made this set. We traded Bret Boone for Denny Neagle (though Mike Remlinger and Michael Tucker were in this trade – and also in this set, I didn’t feel like re-scanning when I realized that). Despite what I originally thought – this trade actually went pretty well for the Reds. We had Boone signed for the next two years, and after that we probably wouldn’t have resigned him in free agency. Boone wasn’t all that great for Atlanta and San Diego those two seasons, while we got Neagle for a season and a half where he was a good starter. Michael Tucker was actually a better player than Boone those two seasons as well. Remlinger did pitch very well for Atlanta as a reliever over the next two years.
The biggest trade was giving up Reggie Sanders for Greg Vaughn. This was a pretty even – by the numbers I’d say the Padres got the better end of the deal since we only got Vaughn for one year (and had Sanders signed for two more years). But Vaughn was universally accepted as a great clubhouse guy and a catalyst for the 1999 success, so I think the deal was pretty even. One of those that’s good for both teams. It’s funny the way I laid this out, as the Padres actually traded Sanders for Boone at the end of the 1999 season.
The next trade was probably the worst one out of this group. It’s nothing against Mike Cameron – he had a very good career going forward, but Konerko is a borderline Hall of Famer. Still, with Sean Casey and Dmitri Young, this trade made sense at the time and I don’t think you can really consider it all that bad.
As is the case with these Traded sets, you’ll almost always see some guys who are at the tail-end of their careers. Will Clark, Jose Canseco and Ron Gant are the representatives in this set. Clark had good numbers in limited time for Baltimore and St. Louis over the next two years, but he retired after the 2000 season. Canseco had one last good year, knocking 35 homers for Tampa Bay in 1999, but he hit 31 more after that. Gant had two moderate seasons with the Phillies but was basically done after that.
The last card I’ll show is of Eric Valent, just because it’s my favorite picture in the set. Valent didn’t have much of a big league career – he didn’t make the show until 2001 and he played less than 2 seasons worth of games. And this picture is clearly contrived – but it’s cool the way you can see his shadow, so I like it.