Completed insert set – 2000 Topps MVP redemption set

12 08 2017

Unlike the redemption set from 1999 – which can be found on occasion for less than 30 bucks on eBay – the second of the two Topps MVP redemption sets is a really tough set to complete.  I’ve had a saved search on the Bay for at least 3 years, but any supposed hits have turned out to be incorrect.  Until a month ago, when a legit full set came up.

Info about the set:

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Set description: Topps had a promotion tied into a parallel set from 1999 and 2000 (this being the latter version).  Inserted at a limited rate into hobby packs were cards with a Topps MVP stamp on the front.  If the player depicted won MVP of the week in 2000, you could send that card in for a set of cards honoring each of the 25 winners.  There were only 100 of each of the parallel cards made, so that means there were at most 2,500 of the MVP redemption sets.  Particularly in 2000, there seem to be much fewer complete sets than that since the redemption expired after a year or so.

The cards in the set are the 25 weekly MVP “winners”.  They have a shiny foil background with the bronze word MVP going down the right side.  There’s an arch behind the players and 3 stars, with gold foil for the player’s name, team and week they won the weekly MVP distinction. The back of the card show the stats from the “MVP” week and a description of what the player did to earn the weekly distinction.

Set composition:  25 cards, send-in redemption

Hall of Famers:  3.  Pedro Martinez, Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell.

How I put the set together:

I gave up trying to find a complete set and started trying to buy single cards.  But this became pretty expensive.  When one showed up on eBay for bid, I kept my eye open.  I actually had a decent chunk of the set collected, but was missing some of the better players, and the Jeter seems to be going for $40 or so individually.  So I pulled the trigger on the full set for 80 bucks.

So now I have quite a few of these to put up for trade or sale!

Thoughts on the set:  This was probably a pretty cool concept in 1999, then lost steam in 2000.  Which is always a good way to make something rarer and thus harder to purchase 15 years or more later.  

I like the design of this set significantly more than I liked the 1999 set, and I think the idea of keeping fans linked to the season with their purchases cards is a great idea!

Card that completed my set:  N/A – bought it as a full set.

Best card (my opinion):  #MVP18 – Will Clark, MVP21 – Adrian Beltre

I love the design for this set, but the photo selections aren’t anything to write home about.  If I went on photo, I’d pick either Jeter or Giambi.  But for the coolness of the card, I was between Will Clark.  One thing I love about baseball is how often you can have one generation meet the next.  Will the Thrill first gained notoriety in the early 1980’s when he was the “Thunder and Lightning” duo at Mississippi State alongside Rafael Palmeiro.  Adrian Beltre just passed the 3,000 hit milestone – for folks reading this post 5 years from now, it’s 2017.  They meet in the middle in this set when Beltre is just getting started and Clark is finishing his career.  Since I think it’s so cool they’re in this set together – I’m picking both!

My Favorite Reds card:  #MVP9 – Dante Bichette

I was surprised to see Bichette got this but Ken Griffey Jr., who had a great season in his first year as a Red, did not.  But Bichette had a ridiculous week where he had 12 hits, 4 homers and an OPS over 1.600.  Makes sense.

Any other tidbits:  2000 NL MVP Jeff Kent did not get a card in this set – meaning he was never “player of the week”.  This isn’t too surprising – many folks (myself included) view Kent’s placement over his teammate Barry Bonds in 2000 as one of the more controversial selections for the award.

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Sunday Stories: Major League Memoirs #8 – “The Big Bam” by Leigh Montville

6 08 2017

I originally set out to do this post back on February 5th – which was believed to be Babe Ruth’s birthday for a long time (later they found out he was born on 2/6/1895 – a day less than a year earlier than originally believed).  I started the book in mid-January, put it down for a while due to life being hectic, and then picked it back up and finished it in May.  Then more hectic life – finally, I’m doing the post for it today!  

If you count the book about the first All-Star game, Ruth has been the primary subject for half of the 8 baseball books I’ve read over the past 2+ years.  I find his life fascinating, which is probably why I’ve read so many books about his life.

Title/Author/Publisher: “The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth” by Leigh Montville (Random House, 2006, 416 pages)

Description:  There have been a lot of Babe Ruth biographies – and as I mentioned, I’ve read a few.  After reading this one, I still think the one by Robert Creamer is still the definitive one – even though (or maybe because) it was released 43 years ago.

So it may have been a bit overzealous to read this particular book.  And frankly, that probably factored in to why I picked it up and put it down.  But once I dove back in, this was a great book.  To be clear, it doesn’t hide from the fact that there were a lot of previous books released.  It uses the research done on the Bambino, trying to put the pieces together.  And it acknowledges that there was so much about this man’s life that we just don’t know for sure – “the fog sets in”.  We know what Babe Ruth did on the diamond.  But we just don’t know that much about his personal life.  For example, his daughter that he raised with his first wife was clearly not his first wife’s child.  But it does appear that Dorothy was in fact his biological daughter.  The book points this out, and moves on (appropriately) to more important things.

It’s been a while since I finished this book, which isn’t ideal as I would probably be able to give some more nuances if I had been more active on the blog and written this 2.5 months ago when I finished the book.  One thing I distinctly remember is that “The Big Bam” delved into Christy Walsh much more than the other books I’ve read.  Walsh was basically Ruth’s PR man – kind of the first personal PR man in American sports history!

My review:  So all that said, I really enjoyed this book.  Again, if you could read one Babe Ruth book – read Creamer’s.  If you can read two – read this one next.

Other Notable nuggets:  One tidbit I found interesting enough to jot down – near the end of his career, Ruth played against a group of Cuban All-Stars, facing off against Luis Tiant, Sr.  The father of the famous Red Sox pitcher from the 70’s.  I feel like you can’t make this stuff up.

1980 The Franchise Babe Ruth Classic #61





Adrian Beltre – 3,000 hits

3 08 2017

#31 – Adrian Beltre – August 30, 2017.  Double off Wade Miley, Baltimore Orioles.  Globe Life Park, Arlington, TX.  (3,001 as of today)

I haven’t posted in a long time – I didn’t post at all in June or July – and I don’t think I’m gonna jump back on the bandwagon right at the moment.  But there’s a few posts I’ve always done since I started this blog in 2010 – and the subject for them all seem to be coming up at once!  One thing I liked doing is updating the 3,000 hit club.  On Sunday, Adrian Beltre stamped his place into that club.  This was the same day as the Hall of Fame induction.  That’s fitting, because this is a milestone will help ensure the writers give Beltre his proper due.  It’s a pretty good bet they induct him into the Hall 5 years after he decides to hang up his cleats.

One thing I found interesting – Beltre has seemed like a guy who was a lock to get to 3,000 for about 3 or 4 years.  But he only has one season with 200 hits, and one season leading his league in hits (and those weren’t the same seasons).  So that made me want to do some research!  Rafael Palmeiro also had one 200-hit season and one league-leading season – but not the same year.

200 Hit seasons – 3,000 hit club

  • 10 – Ichiro, Rose
  • 9 – Cobb
  • 8 – Waner, Jeter
  • 7 – Boggs
  • 6 – Musial
  • 5 – Gwynn
  • 4 – Clemente, Brock, Carew, Lajoie, Molitor, Speaker
  • 3 – Rodriguez, Aaron
  • 2 – Brett, Ripken, Yastrzemski, Wagner
  • 1 – Beltre, Kaline, Palmeiro, Biggio, Yount, Mays, Collins, Anson
  • 0 – Henderson, Winfield, Murray

Leading the league in Hits – 3,000 hit club

  • 8 – Cobb
  • 7 – Ichiro, Rose
  • 6 – Musial
  • 5 – Gwynn
  • 4 – Lajoie
  • 3 – Carew, Brett, Molitor
  • 2 – Clemente, Waner, Wagner, Jeter, Speaker, Aaron
  • 1 – Beltre, Kaline, Boggs, Palmeiro, Henderson, Rodriguez, Yount, Ripken, Mays, Anson
  • 0 – Brock, Biggio, Winfield, Murray, Collins, Yastrzemski

Interesting facts:

Dave Winfield and Eddie Murray both never had a 200-hit season and never led their respective league.  Murray actually never had over 190 hits, while Winfield only cracked that barrier once.

Tony Gwynn had over 200 hits 5 times, he led the league all 5 of those seasons, and he never led the league any other year.  Nap Lajoie had the same distinction with his 4 league leading / 200 hit seasons.





RIP Jim Bunning, 1931-2017

30 05 2017

I haven’t been much for posting lately, but I try to always post a little “in memoriam” when a Hall of Famer passes away.  It was especially weird this week.  I’m in Cooperstown right now.  My wife and I brought the kids to their first Cooperstown trip for the Memorial Weekend festivities they put on.  I may (will?) post about it later.  The whole thing was awesome, and on Saturday night we walked through the museum and then went to the Hall of Fame part (where the plaques are).  That’s when I saw the poster above.  With twitter and all of today’s social media, I’m often up to the minute on baseball news.  But being in Cooperstown has a way of removing you from that.  So I was a bit floored to see this.

First off, Jim Bunning is from Cincinnati like I am.  He graduated from St. Xavier high school – I know plenty of people who did.  He went to Xavier, which was always my favorite local college when I was a kid.  Being both a Cincinnatian and a big baseball fan, I always kind of knew more about him than the average Cincinnatian or baseball fan.  Needless to say, I was sad to hear of his passing.

I can always use a refresher, however.  Reading up a bit, I didn’t realize that he retired as the second leading strikeout pitcher of all-time.  That’s right.  Before Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry and Tom Seaver could flag down the Big Train – they all had to pass Jim Bunning.  He was the first guy with a no-hitter in both leagues, one of which was a perfect game in 1964 for the Phillies.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996 by the Veterans Committee.  His plaque was adorned with flowers on Saturday when I was there.

The way he spent his time after baseball is the more notable part of his life, however.  Representing Bunning spent 12 years as a member of Congress, representing the state of Kentucky.  After his time in the House, he went on to 12 more years as a member of the Senate.

Bunning is the 13th HOF-er to pass away since I started this blog.  The baseball world will miss a man who spent a career in baseball and then another career representing our country.





Completed insert set – 1996 Topps Masters of the Game

4 05 2017

I did the “elusive eight” post yesterday for getting the Kirby Puckett card from this set.  This is the completed set post.  I’m actually getting pretty close to finishing up the 1990’s!

Info about the set:

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Set description:  This hobby only insert highlights the best players in the game at the time.  The horizontal cards have a picture of the player on the front with a view of his home field in the background – all with a bit of the spectralight effect.  The back has particular accomplishments that I guess qualify this player as a “Master of the Game”.

Set composition:  20 cards, 1:18 odds (1996 Topps series 1 hobby)

Hall of Famers:  12.  Dennis Eckersley, Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor, Ozzie Smith, Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, Kirby Puckett, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas

How I put the set together:

  • 15 cards from COMC
  • 4 cards from Sportlots
  • 1 card from Beckett’s Marketplace

Card that completed my set:  #15 – Kirby Puckett

I just got this card to knock it off my Elusive 8 list last week.

Thoughts on the set:  I like the thicker card stock, and the background foil technology is great.  Topps could do something like this today and I would like it.  It would have been nice if they did a foil version of the Mantle tribute (card #7).

Best card (my opinion):  #7 – Tim Raines

I’ll go with the recently inducted HOF member.  It took too long for Rock to make it to Cooperstown.  By this point he was a grizzled vet.  The Mattingly card was a close 2nd – it was released right after he retired.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.  Barry Larkin would have seemed appropriate here – coming right off his MVP season after a decade in the league.

Here’s the scan of the full set.

Any other tidbits:  As mentioned, this card came out after Mattingly retired.

12 out of 20 HOF-ers is pretty impressive, plus you’ve got Bonds and Clemens who are probably the best 2 (or at least 2 of the best 3) historical players in this group.





Updating the Elusive Eight for an 8th time

3 05 2017

This is the 8th time I’ve crossed something off this elusive card list.  I got a new card from COMC, amongst some other purchases:

1996 Topps Master of the Game #15 – Kirby Puckett

This was a legitimately elusive card.  I got the first card toward this set in 2012.  I got the 2nd-to-last card of this set 2 years ago.  I’ve been on the lookout for this Puckett card ever since and didn’t find it until a COMC search a few weeks ago.  It finishes the set, which is always a great thing!

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Here’s the updated Elusive Eight, just in case anyone has these cards available!  Remember – the pictures are the photos I have of other cards in the set.  Since I don’t have them, I don’t have actual photos yet!

1995 Topps Pre-Production Spectralite #PP5 – Travis Fryman

1995 Topps Pre-Production Spectralite Sandy Alomar

This was one of 4 cards on the original Elusive Eight that has stayed on the whole time and I’m still yet to obtain, and to me is the one that might prove the toughest.  I’m guessing that whenever I turn over the full original list – it will be this card that gets me there.

1996 Topps Masters of the Game #15 – Kirby Puckett

96 Masters of Game

Another EE original – I am surprised I haven’t found this guy yet.  The hunt continues…

2012 Topps Archives In Action #82IA-JE – Jacoby Ellsbury

Trade Night Owl June 2012 Archives

This is another original list card that I just can’t seem to find.  As a retail-only set, these aren’t common by any means, but I’ve seen the other cards in this set so much more frequently.

2013 Gypsy Queen #218 – Adam Wainwright

2013 Gypsy Queen Gwynn

This was on the original list, but unlike the others this is a card I could go out and buy now if I wanted to.  I just haven’t had the burning need to complete the Gypsy Queen set from 2013.  It’s not something I need to pounce on, but hopefully I get this by end of 2016.

2012 Topps Archives Combos – #58-YE – Yaz/Ellsbury

2012 Archives Combos Bench Votto

So this card was on the 2nd list, and has been on there ever since.  I had 2 needs for this set, so couldn’t fit it into the original, so once I got one of the originals, this card and its counterpart replaced…

2012 Allen & Ginter Giants of the Deep #14 – Bottlenose Whale

2012 Ginter mini Giants Deep Bottlenose Whale

So technically this was on the original list, but not continuously on.  I think I’ve bumped it off two times.

1998 Hall Bound #1 – Paul Molitor

1998 Topps s1 box HallBound Bonds

Ugh, I actually thought I bought this card on COMC in the same purchase as the Puckett Master of the Game.  It showed up and I realized it was the Chrome version.  D’0h!

2002 Topps Traded #1 – Jeff Weaver

2002 Topps Traded Tim Raines

This is the card I’m adding to replace the Cabrera/Kaline card above.  I’m going to do this going forward – keep 1 of these 2002 Topps Traded cards on my list.  See, it’s going to be the hardest base set of this Lifetime Topps Project for me to complete.  Topps short printed the first 110 cards and they now go for $3-$5 a pop.  I’m hoping this helps me focus on these.

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Here are some other cards that would be knocking on the door to make the list.

1998 Milestones  cards #3 (Dennis Eckersley) & #4 (Juan Gonzalez)

2001 Topps MVP redemption set – a very expensive set, I have about 10 of the 25 cards

2003 Topps Nolan Ryan Record Breaker – 3 very difficult cards to go

2003 Topps Traded – 5 cards to go

2004 Topps – 5 cards to go

2012 Topps – the Bryce Harper 661 card





Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Roberto Clemente Finest

1 05 2017

I got caught up on all of my completed insert set posts last year.  Then I started posting at a far lesser clip, and I’ve finished off a few more sets.  The Clemente insert set is one of them.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  Clemente was the 3rd historic player honored with a reprint set (after Mickey Mantle in ’96 and Willie Mays in ’97).  Clemente was a good choice, as 1998 marked 25 years since his tragic death.  This set had reprints of the full run of his base Topps cards during his career.  Reprints of his 19 regular cards from 1955-1973 were issued across both series.  The 10 odd years come in series 1, while the 9 even years come in series 2.  There is a gold Clemente logo, created just for this set.  There was a chrome version and a regular – this is the finest version, which came one every other box.

Set composition:  19 cards, 1:72 odds (1998 Topps series 1, 2)

Hall of Famers:  1 – just Clemente.  None of his multi-player cards are included.

How I put the set together:

I got none from the boxes I bought.  I did actually get one refractor – just no regular finest versions.

  • 17 cards from COMC
  • 1 card from Beckett Marketplace
  • 1 card from Sportlots

Card that completed my set:  #13 – 1967 Topps

I bought the last cards I needed from Sportlots a few weeks ago.

Thoughts on the set:  Retro sets are everywhere you look these days, but in 1998 there weren’t that many, and they were almost all reprints.  I like the Finest versions of these cards.  And, to be honest, I kind of wish Topps would abandon the shotgun approach and go back to individual players.  They do something similar with jumbo cards available online.  I think they could do some stuff like all the Griffey Topps cards, or even all the Willie McCovey Topps cards.  With the finest versions, it would do well.

Best card (my opinion):  #19 – 1973 Topps

I have to go with the same thing I did for the regular set.  The 1972 card is probably my favorite photo, but the 1973 card is great as well.  And there’s something awesome about seeing exactly 3,000 hits on the back of the card.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none (obviously).

Here’s the scans of the whole set.