Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Rookie Class

24 09 2013

I completed another insert set earlier this year but couldn’t post the completion (under my strange and unwritten “rules of the blog”) until I actually completed my 1998 Topps background posts.  Yesterday was Clemente, today is Rookie Class.

Info about the set:

Set description: Replacing the Clemente tribute cards from series 1 is a 10-card set of the top rookies coming into the league in 1998.  The cards feature an action photo in the foreground with a tinted background.  There is also a second photo of the player in the background, and the words rookie class going up the side.  The back has another player photo along with 1997 stats and a write-up.

Set composition: 10 cards, 1:12 odds in series 2

Hall of Famers: None yet.  Todd Helton and Paul Konerko – maybe someday.

How I put the set together:

4 cards from my series 2 hobby box

1 card from a card show

4 cards from Sportlots

1 card from Beckett’s marketplace

Thoughts on the set:  This set is OK.  Not the greatest rookie class – Helton has been a pretty good player who just passed 2500 hits.  Konerko has had an excellent career.  For what it’s worth, I think Helton should be a Hall of Famer, but Konerko probably not.  Derrek Lee is also in the set.  Overall, not a bad set, the

Card that completed my set: #R10 – Ben Grieve

I got this card from Beckett’s website in May.  Grieve was the 1998 AL Rookie of the Year, but had only one season after 1998 that compared to his rookie campaign.

Highest book value: #R3 – Todd Helton

Best card (my opinion): #R5 – Mark Kotsay

I like the picture of Kotsay following through on his swing, and the teal Marlins uniform seems to go well with the card design.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

1998 Topps Rookie Class


1998 Topps Rookie Class_0001

Completed insert set – 1998 Clemente Tribute

22 09 2013

I completed an insert set last year but hadn’t gotten to posting my foray into 1998 Topps.  I just finished up my posts on 1998 Topps, so now the wait to post about this set is over!  This was a 5-card tribute set for Topps “hero of the year” in 1998 – Roberto Clemente.

Info about the set:

Set description: “Clemente tribute cards featuring color photography that has never appeared on any trading card”.

Set composition: 5 cards, 1:12 odds in series 1

Hall of Famers: 1. Obviously.

How I put the set together:

3 cards from series 1 hobby box

2 cards from COMC

Thoughts on the set:  I wasn’t too excited about this set at first, but given the recent state of Topps baseball card photography – having 5 completely new pictures of Clemente is actually pretty cool, and must have been at the time!

Card that completed my set: #RC2 – Roberto Clemente

One of 2 cards I got from Check Out My Cards during their Black Friday special last November.

Highest book value: all are the same

Best card (my opinion): #RC1 – Roberto Clemente

Clemente picking his weapon of choice is my favorite photo.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

1998 Topps Clemente Tribute complete set

1998 Topps ’90 Reds Cards

11 09 2013

After going up to 9 of the 25 1990 World Series team members in the 1997 Topps set, there was a decrease of 4 players represented in the 1998 set – down to only 5 players (but no subset cards).

There were 5 players gone from after having cards in the 1997 set:

  • Jose Rijo didn’t have a card in the set as he was out of baseball for five years.  He would get one again in 2002 – he was the second player in baseball history to play in a game after receiving Hall of Fame votes.
  • Eric Davis was not in the 1998 Topps set even though he was in a bunch of other sets in 1998 – including Topps Gallery.  Davis played for Baltimore in 1997, but was diagnosed with colon cancer and only played about 40 games.  He would be back in the base set in 1999.
  • Mariano Duncan’s last Topps card was in 1997.  He helped the Yankees to their first World Series title in nearly two decades in 1996.  He was decent for the Yankees and Blue Jays in 1997, and he did have some cards in 1998 from Pacific.  He played his last baseball in Japan in 1998 for the Yomiuri Giants.
  • Norm Charlton had his last Topps card in 1997, and like Duncan did have a card in some Pacific sets in 1998.  He actually pitched through 2001, but was largely ineffective for 5 different teams.
  • Randy Myers had also had his last Topps card in 1997.  This is kind of shocking – he led the AL in saves and won the Rolaids Relief award in 1997 while pitching for the Baltimore Orioles.  He had cards in other sets, just not in any Topps products.  Myers would be out of baseball soon thereafter, though.  He saved 28 games for the Blue Jays in 1998, but had an ERA over 4.  He was picked up off waivers by the Padres in one of the biggest waiver blunders – the Padres claimed him to block him from the Braves getting him, and thought the Jays would pull him back.  But they just let San Diego have him.  He did pitch for the Padres in the World Series, but did not pitch well.  He was injured and never pitched after the 1998 season.

Lou Piniella was manager of that Mariners team – but Topps still didn’t have manager cards for the fourth straight year.  He’d be back in Topps sets in the future, though.

There was 1 player back after not having a card in the 1997 set:

  • Joe Oliver was a bit of an alternator.  He was in the ’94 set, then gone from the ’95 set after injuries basically eliminated his 1994 campaign.  He was back in 1996, but kept out of the ’97 Topps set despite playing over 100 games the season before.  He was back in 1998 – with the Reds!

There were no subset or insert cards other than the Printed in Cooperstown parallel that each base card had.

1998 – Jeff Reed, Hal Morris, Barry Larkin, Paul O’Neill, Joe Oliver

1998 Topps Reds

1998 Topps Autographs and Memorabilia

10 09 2013

In 1998, Topps didn’t insert any autographs directly into packs of their base product.  They had done so with Willie Mays autos the year before, and a Derek Jeter auto into series 2.

Clemente Memorabilia Madness Redemption – 19 cards (1:2,400 series 1)

1998 Topps s1 box Clemente Wild Card madness

Series 1 also included a Clemente Memorabilia promotion where you could get a bunch of different memorabilia related to Clemente.  You needed to pull one of the winner cards and also include one of the Wild Cards above.

Here are the prizes you could win:

  • 227 of Clemente’s old Topps cards (3 of his 1955 Rookie Card),
  • 500 uncut sheets of Topps “Minted in Cooperstown” parallels,
  • 10 different autographed Topps cards of Clemente (1 was his 1970 Topps Super),
  • 1 Clemente Game-Used Jersey,
  • 2 autographed Pirates team World Series baseballs (1960, 1971),
  • 3 other Clemente Autographed balls,
  • 3 different signed posters/photos,
  • 4 game-used bats,
  • 4 canceled checks,
  • 1 cut autograph with a photo, and
  • 99 Clemente Pirates jerseys issued by Topps specifically for this promotion.

Here’s a picture of one of the Pirates jerseys you could have won.  A few of these have popped up on eBay over the years – this one was on somewhat recently.  Notice the patch on the upper right arm – it’s the same as the Clemente logo Topps put onto his 1998 reprint cards.


1998 Topps inserts

8 09 2013

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.

1998 Topps s1 Mystery Finest Sosa

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.

1998 Topps s2 Mystery Finest bordered

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.

1998 Topps s1 box HallBound Bonds

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.

1998 Topps s1 Etch a Sketch Bonds

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.

1998 Topps Flashback Ken Griffey Jr

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.

1998 Topps Baby Boomers Jeter

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.

1998 Topps s2 Rookie Class

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.

1998 Topps s2 Clout Nine

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.

1998 Topps Focal Point Frank Thomas

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.

1998 topps milestone bonds

1998 Topps Clemente Reprints

5 09 2013

After issuing reprints from Mantle and Mays in 1996 and 1997 flagship set, Topps continued the theme in 1998 with Roberto Clemente.  Clemente was the theme elsewhere in the product, too.  He was given card #21 (his uniform number) in honor of the 25th anniversary of his passing, and there is a 5-card tribute set in series 1.

As always – odds below are for hobby packs.

Clemente Tribute (5 cards, 1:12 series 1)

This 5-card tribute set covers some of Clemente’s career highlights and was included in series 1.  The borderless cards had some new photos of Clemente (new at the time) and has the Clemente tribute logo on the front with a Puerto Rican flag as the backdrop.

1998 Topps s1 box Clemente tribute

Clemente Reprints (19 cards, 1:18)

1998 Topps s1 box Clemente reprints

Topps had the same inserts for Clemente as they did for Mantle and Mays before him, but they did it a little differently.  In the past, series 1 had the reprint set and series 2 had the Finest versions.  For Clemente in 1998, Topps inserted both sets in both series; the odd years came in series 1 and the even years came in series 2.  The reprints are glossy, but other than that there are only small differences from the originals.  There is a gold foil stamp on the front to designate the cards as “Roberto Clemente Commemorative” reprints, and a small extra line on the back noting the card number for the insert set.

Clemente Reprints Finest (19 cards, 1:72)

Clemente Reprints Finest Refractors (19 cards, 1:288)

1998 Topps s1 box Clemente refractor

Topps again inserted Finest and Refractor versions of each set.  The card above was the only one of these I pulled in two boxes – but it’s a refractor!

Clemente Memorabilia Madness Redemption – 19 cards (1:2,400 series 1)

1998 Topps s1 box Clemente Wild Card madness

Series 1 also included a Clemente Memorabilia promotion where you could get a bunch of different memorabilia related to Clemente.  You needed to pull one of the winner cards and also include one of the Wild Cards above.  I’ll do a separate post with some of the details on those later.  And tomorrow I’ll go over the rest of the inserts from 1998.

1998 Topps parallel sets

4 09 2013

After having none in 1996 or 1997, parallel inserts were back in the 1998 Topps set.

Topps Minted in Cooperstown – 503 cards (1:8)

This parallel set was called “Minted in Cooperstown”.  The cards have a bronze Hall of Fame stamp on them – and all the cards were printed in Cooperstown using a portable press.

1998 Topps s1 Minted Cooperstown

Topps Diamondback and Devil Ray Factory sets

Just as they’d done in the expansion year of 1993, Topps also produced 2 special factory sets for sale at both the Diamondbacks’ and Devil Rays’ team stores.  The cards are stamped with a logo of the respective team.  These sets also have 8 random inserts included.

1998 Topps Devil Ray factory set

1998 Topps Griffey Diamondbacks parallel

1998 Topps scans

2 09 2013

Next up is my favorite (and longest) post for each set – scans of the base cards.   The 98 Topps design was different – they went with a gold border.  Now they put gold borders on cards, stamp a black number on the back and call it a “parallel”.  But, I do have to give Topps credit for trying something different.  They don’t seem to do that any more with the base set.

First off, there’s another tribute card – after Aaron, Ruth, Mantle, and Jackie, Topps went with Roberto Clemente as card #21 in honor of  the 25th anniversary of his passing.  Since I didn’t pull this card in series 1 – I had to snag a photo from the internet!

Clemente 98 Topps

Next is my standard scan of the first card from each series.  Tony Gwynn got card #1, while Tino Martinez got card #284 – the first card of series 2.

The last card is of this guy.

1998 Topps A Rod

This is easily the most notable card in the set.  It’s card #504, which is the last card in series 2.  It was clearly a late addition by Topps – it falls after the two checklists at 502 & 503.  Super-agent Scott Boras had kept A-Rod from signing with Topps in all his great wisdom, so this was his first Topps card.  You could have found Upper Deck, Fleer, Pinnacle or Donruss cards of A-Rod in the past – but not Topps until this card.  They must have gotten something done just in time for the series 2 release.

Next up is my standard picture of my 2 favorite players (non Eric Davis) – that’s Griffey and Rickey.  But wait – there’s only Griffey in this set.  For some inexplicable reason, Topps did not include the all-time base stealer in their 1998 set.  Weird.  But this is a cool card of Junior.  What card isn’t?

1998 Topps Griffey

Another grouping I’ve  usually posted on occasion – the pitching trio from the Braves.  Gotta love Glavine in the jacket rounding the bases.  One of the best hitting pitchers ever.

1998 Topps Maddux Glavine Smoltz

And these guys are a good twosome to put together in 1998 Topps – when you’d have bought these cards, these two guys were in the midst of a battle for the home run record and baseball history.

1998 Topps McGwire Sosa

The other big news from the start of the 1998 season was the Marlins’ fire sale after their 1997 World Championship.  Here’s some of the guys who were no longer in Florida uniforms after that title.

1998 Topps Marlins fire sale

A big selling point for 1998 Topps (and probably other products) was the inclusion of expansion players from the Diamondbacks and Devil Rays.  Topps had some cards with a slightly different design as a bit of a “subset” for these teams.  The two first overall picks from the expansion draft were included on their own cards:

1998 Topps Expansion Draft

(as mentioned in the last post, that AS Rookie Cup is an error)

And there were some other Diamondbacks and Rays of the veteran and prospect variety.

1998 Topps Rays D-Backs

As you can see, Matt Williams actually has two base cards, as shown (series 1 with Cleveland and series 2 with Arizona).

Speaking of prospects, I’d also like to show off the Boone brothers (second year they were in the same Topps set together), with Aaron featured on a prospect card and Brett sliding into second.  Both were with the Reds organization at the time!

1998 Topps Boone Brothers

There are some interesting photos in the set.  They seemed to have a lot of pictures with props in 1998 Topps.  This is kind of cool, but also seems like Topps was copying off Upper Deck from the early-mid 1990’s.  I’ll give them credit for trying here.  There’s a golfer, a couple of fireman shots (though Montgomery won the Rolaids Fireman award in 1993 and Wagner wouldn’t win his first until 1999).  Mondesi taping up his wrist, a juggler, Vlad with a corny but cool-looking pose, and Brian Jordan attempting to capture the Bo Jackson magic from 1990 Score (though it’s not comparable in my opinion).  I love the Jose Guillen by the Clemente statue – in a year where they were honoring Clemente, this was a cool card to get into the set.  That may be my favorite card of the set.

1998 Topps good pics poses

Here’s a few more interesting cards of the “pose” variety.  The Cowboy just doesn’t look right in a Cardinals uniform, butt Jeff King is rocking a money mustache!

1998 Topps good pics poses 2

Here are some more of the best pictures in this set – these are of the action variety.  The first two (Edmonds and Merced) are my favorites.

1998 Topps good pics action

Here’s some subset cards.  Topps brought back a subset they’d had many years ago – highlights of the World Series, but this time with some foil technology.  There were 2 different interleague subsets – one in each series.  And there is a Season Highlights subset too that I liked.  The 3 best ones to me were Big Mac hitting 50 homers 2 straight years, Clemens winning the triple crown, and Nomar breaking Santiago’s hitting streak for rookies.

1998 Topps subsets

Some more subset cards – of the prospect variety.  This was actually a pretty decent set for guys with their first Topps card.  Draft pick cards of Lance Berkman, Vernon Wells and Jayson Werth – all guys who’ve had very successful careers (and 2 of whom have signed fairly large, but disappointing, contracts).  And there are prospect cards featuring the first Topps card of Kerry Wood, Bib Papi and the big one – Doc Halladay.  Those are the first Topps card for Fuentes and Pavano (but not for Richie Sexson).

1998 Topps Draft and Prospects

Chris Carpenter also had his first Topps card in this set, as did the guy who was the newest Japanese phenom at the time – Hideki Irabu.  The card for Abreu isn’t his first Topps card (it’s actually his third), but it’s his first featuring him with the Phillies, where he had his biggest level of success.

1998 Topps first cards

From the prospects to the younger stars who’d made their impact on the majors by now.

1998 Topps young stars

Next up, are the game’s established best hitters.  First of the slugger variety and also of the great hitter variety.  I particularly like the Biggio.  I was missing the card from his counterpart (Bagwell) at the time – so he doesn’t make it into this post.

1998 Topps sluggers


1998 Topps hitters

And I can’t leave the great pitchers of the day out.  Clemens and Pedro were the reigning Cy Young winners at the time, and interestingly this was Pedro’s first Red Sox card while it was the first Topps card featuring the Rocket out of a Sox uni – after 13 years of Topps cards showing him that way.

1998 Topps pitchers

Here’s some “super-veterans”, a few of whom I look at and say “he played for them”?

1998 Topps older players

And, last but not least – the Hall of Famers from the set (excluding Gwynn and Clemente who I showed earlier).  Of course Deion Sanders is a Hall of Famer of a different variety!

1998 Topps HOFers

1998 Topps All-Star Rookie subset

1 09 2013

Topps All-Star Rookies

The 1998 Topps ASR subset features the ’97 All-Star Rookie Team.  I’d say the 1997 Topps All-Star Rookie Team was one of the best all-around classes out there.  There isn’t an all time great player on the team like Derek Jeter from the previous team.  There are three players who deserve some Hall of Fame consideration but not (in my opinion) Hall of Fame induction.  Two of them were the Rookie of the Year winners from their respective league – Scott Rolen and Nomar Garciaparra.  The other is Andruw Jones.  Jose Cruz, Jr. had a solid career, though I think he’s viewed as a bit of a disappointment given the hype he had as a young prospect.  Dmitri Young and Scott Hatteberg – two future Reds first baseman :) – also had very solid careers.  Wilton Guerrero didn’t have much of a career to write home about – but his brother Vlad sure did!  Vlad was eligible for this team, but was probably the 4th outfielder in this case.  The two pitchers were both Angels, but they were the two bigger busts out of this group.

I’d have put Livan Hernandez ahead of Dickson for the righty slot – he was 9-3 with a 3.18 ERA whereas Dickson was 13-9 with an ERA above 4.  Plus Hernandez was the stud of the playoffs.  I’d also have put Matt Morris (12-9, 3.19) and Brett Tomko (11-7, 3.43) over Dickson.  Other than that, I think the picks were pretty good.  I’d have also put Mike Cameron (.259-14-55 and some solid defense) over Guillen, who had similar “traditional” numbers but played more games.

The card of “Da Meat Hook” is the only one I didn’t pull from my two boxes.

RHP – Jason Dickson

LHP – Mike Holtz

C – Scott Hatteberg

1B – Dmitri Young

2B – Wilton Guerrero

3B – Scott Rolen

SS – Nomar Garciaparra

OF – Andruw Jones, Jose Guillen, Jose Cruz, Jr.

1998 Topps All-Star Rookies


Strangely, there is this “Rays expansion draft” card of Tony Saunders that has the All-Star Rookie cup on his card.  I can only describe this as an error – he was never on the ASR team in any year.

1998 Topps All-Star Rookies 2

1998 Topps series 2 hobby box break

29 08 2013

As with series 1, I got a hobby box for series 2 in 1998 – the insert options between hobby and retail are about the same, as is the cost.

I had minimal issues with damaged card problems in series 1.  Not the case for series 2.  This was one of the worst boxes I’ve ever had from that perspective.  Basically, in every box, I had to pull the cards apart and keep my fingers crossed that there wasn’t damage from sticking.  Every pack had some damaged cards, sometimes over half the pack wasn’t really salvageable.  I’m a little picky on this – but if there’s “glitter” from the card in front of it on a card, I can’t really include it toward this project.  I even bent the rules on a few cards.  The collation was good, though – I got every card in the series in this box.  So the 33 cards I’m currently missing from series 2 are all from damaged cards.

Just like 1996 & 1997 – is anyone collecting the 1998 set?  I CAN HELP!!!!!!  And I still need some cards!!!!

I got no Clement Finest Reprints – those are 1:72, so after getting a refractor in s1, I can’t complain – just a couple of the regular reprints, which matches the odds.

1998 Topps s2 Clemente reprints

I got 4 Rookie Class cards, which is strangely more than you’re supposed to – they are 1:12 odds.

1998 Topps s2 Rookie Class

I didn’t get the 1 per box insert you are supposed to – Focal Points.  But I did get a 1:72 “hit” – clout nine.  This is an insert that has the best OPS players from each position.  Unfortunately, while this was beating the odds for this box, I got Jeff Blauser.  Nothing against Blauser – he’s a good player.  But Bonds or Griffey would have gone much further toward my “cost” to collect these inserts :)

1998 Topps s2 Clout Nine

I got 2 of these guys:

1998 Topps s2 Mystery Finest covered

Which turned into two of these:

1998 Topps s2 Mystery Finest bordered

I’m pretty happy getting 2 of the easiest pulls.  Those are the two I’ll collect.  You could have gotten bordered, borderless, or refractors of either.  I’m collecting the bordered, so while the sale potential was there for refractors or borderless – I’m fine with the Jones boys from Atlanta’s late 1990’s semi-dynasty.

I also got 5 of the parallel inserts – Minted in Cooperstown.  Which is the expected odds there.  It’s interesting.  Today you have Topps Gold as the main parallel.  Which is basically the same border as the base cards from 1998…

1998 Topps s2 box Minted in Cooperstown

As always, the numbers below don’t factor in the damaged cards – I’m tracking this to know what it would have been if I had bought the cards in 1998 when they came out.

Stats for the box:

36 packs per box * 11 cards per pack = 396 cards

143 doubles

18 triples

221 of the 221 card set. (100% set completion)

5 Minted in Cooperstown

2 Clemente Reprints

4 Rookie Class

2 Mystery Finest Bordered

1 Clout 9

Including the first box:

497 / 503 of the base cards (99%)


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