Another white whale! Darren Dreifort’s Topps Golden Spikes card

27 08 2015

I have been looking for the Topps Golden Spikes promotional cards for quite a while now.  There were 4 of these cards made in the early 1990’s, done to promote the annual awards dinner for the Golden Spikes winner.  The Golden Spikes award honors the best amateur baseball player in the country, and it’s an impressive list if you check it out.

The 1990-1993 winners were immortalized on cardboard by Topps, in each case done in a way to preview the next year’s flagship set design.  The cards were given out at the November banquet, and supposedly there are ~600 in existence.  The 4 winners from those years are not as some of the other winners, though all of these guys did make a good amount of money in their Major League careers.

  • 1990 – Alex Fernandez (1991 Topps)
  • 1991 – Mike Kelly (1992 Topps)
  • 1992 – Phil Nevin (1993 Topps)
  • 1993 – Darren Dreifort (1994 Topps)

I found the 1991 card (for 1990 Golden Spikes winner) of Alex Fernandez about 3 years ago.  Earlier this year, I found the 1992 card for ’91 winner Mike Kelly and the 1993 card for ’92 winner Phil Nevin.  I paid a pretty penny for the Nevin card, around 10 bucks for the Kelly.  But the Dreifort has alluded me until now.

From what I’ve seen, the Fernandez card is the easiest to find.  Unlike the others, I think Topps printed as a promotion for the Topps ML debut set that was new in 1991, which had players that made their ML debut in 1990.  Fernandez was called up to the Big Leagues the same year he was drafted, so he was the perfect guy for this.  I’ve seen the Fernandez on eBay far more than any of the others.  I think there are more than 600 of these cards out there.

The other 3 probably are limited to that print run of only 600 – as distributed for the Awards Dinner – according to what I’ve read.  Kelly seems to be the next easiest to obtain – but is still a very difficult card to find.  I’ve seen it on eBay probably 6 or 7 different times.  The Nevin I’ve seen only once – the time I bought it.  I’ve read it’s the hardest to find.  This brings me back to the Dreifort, which seems close to the Nevin as far as how many are out there on the market.  I had only seen this card for sale with an autograph.  The seller was asking 200 bucks – which isn’t worth it to me.  Last month, I finally saw another Dreifort with no autograph.  In fact, there was one seller listing 3 different PSA graded versions.  I put in various bids on all 3 and ended up with 2 of them, for less than 20 bucks combined.  That seems like a steal to me.

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort BEFORE

Before

That’s a hammer in the top left of that picture.  I’m liberating one from my case to go in my binder.  The other I’ll keep in the case for now.

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort AFTER

After

Here’s scans of the front and back for this card.

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort back

I’ve updated my pre-production posts from 1994 Topps.  Finally, here’s the binder page with all 4 cards, front and back.  I’m super-excited I got these cards.  A few years ago, I just figured these were unobtainable.  All told, I paid less than $100 for the quartet, which seems like a great deal to me.

Golden Spikes Fernandez Kelly Nevin Dreifort





Completed set – 1994 Topps

25 08 2015

A few months ago I finished the 1994 Topps set.  Finishing one of the base Topps sets is a big step toward the Lifetime Topps project!

Info about my set:

How I put the set together:

  • 307 cards from series 1 wax box
  • 259 cards from series 2 wax box
  • 222 cards from trades
  • 2 cards I already had from back in the day
  • 1 card from a card show
  • 1 card from Sportlots

Card that completed my set: #379 – Mark McLemore (one of 3 cards received from a trade with Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary)

1994 Topps Mark McLemore final card of set

I didn’t realize it at first, but McLemore’s card is an uncorrected error because the card # is one of two cards, along with Benito Santiago, bearing number 370 in the set.  McLemore is supposed to be 379.

Set composition: 792 cards (695 individual ML player cards*, 28 Coming Attractions, 10 Prospects, 34 Draft Picks, 9 Measures of Greatness, 11 All-Stars, 1 Aaron Tribute, 4 checklists)

*The 695 individual player cards include 10 All-Star Rookies, 26 Future Stars and Nolan Ryan’s final season tribute

Representation of ’93 MLB season: 

The Coming Attractions is a dual-player subset, and the Prospects cards have 4 players, one from each level of the minor leagues.  If you do the math, excluding the Draft Pick subset (none of whom made it to the show in 1993), there are 791 different players represented in the set.  19 of the players in the Coming Attractions subset did not make it to the Majors, 8 of the Future Stars did not make it, and only 2 of the players from the Prospect subset did actually make it.

So out of those 825 players, 732 played in MLB in 1993.  The 732 players represent 66.3% out of the 1,104 players who played in MLB in 1993.  It’s worth noting – the 1,104 players was a huge increase since there were 2 expansion teams in 1993.

Last active player from this set: #158 – Derek Jeter

1994 Topps Derek Jeter Prospect card

There are no players in this set currently active.  Derek Jeter wast the last active player from the set – he played the final game of his historic career at Fenway park on September 28th last year, which was the final day of the season.  He singled in his second at bat to knock in Ichiro Suzuki and was pulled for Brian McCann to replace him as DH.  That has to be the only time Brian McCann ever pinch ran for anyone.

There were 2 other players who played their last game at the end of the 2014 season.  Jason Giambi played as a DH for the Indians on September 27th and has since retired.  Jamey Wright pitched for the Dodgers and notched a hold in his last game on September 27th.  He wasn’t on the team’s postseason roster.  Wright tried to latch on with the Rangers last spring training but missed out on the team’s final cut.

Player with the most cards in the set:  5 players with 3 cards:

There are 2 “extra card” subsets, and 5 players have a card in both the All-Star and Measure of Greatness subset – Frank Thomas, Wade Boggs, Cal Ripken, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr.

Ripken – #200, #387 (All-Star), #604 (Measure of Greatness)

1994 Topps most cards Ripken

Thomas – #270, #384 (AS), #601 (MoG)

1994 Topps most cards Thomas

Griffey – #400, #388 (AS), #606 (MoG)

1994 Topps most cards Griffey

Boggs – #520, #386 (AS), #603 (MoG)

1994 Topps most cards Boggs

Bonds – #700, #390 (AS), #605 (MoG)

1994 Topps most cards Bonds

First Card and the Hundreds: #1 – Mike Piazza, #100 – Kirby Puckett, #200 – Cal Ripken, #300 – Ryne Sandberg, #400 – Ken Griffey Jr., #500 – Bo Jackson, #600 – Don Mattingly, #700 – Barry Bonds

1994 Topps first card and hundreds

Three of the 5 guys from the “most card” category made the special card section.

Highest book value: #158 – Orlando Miller, Brandon Wilson, Derek Jeter, Mike Neal PROS

1994 Topps Derek Jeter Prospect card

It’s not his rookie card, but this prospect is Jeter’s second card.

Most notable card: #34 – Nolan Ryan

1994 Topps Nolan Ryan most notable

This was Ryan’s last card – his 27th card since he shared card #177 with Jerry Koosman back in 1968.  Topps created a card with Ryan’s full statistical background on the back, and a logo on the front for Ryan’s 27 season.

Best card (my opinion): #180 – George Brett

1994 Topps George Brett best card

This is Brett’s 20th and final Topps flagship card.  And it’s his best.  Pure majesty.

Second best card (also my opinion): #675 – Roberto Alomar

1994 Topps scans Alomar

Back when I did my scans of cards from this set, I picked this card as my favorite.  I’ve since changed my mind – I think the Brett is too good.  But it’s got really good competition from this card, where Roberto Alomar forced out his brother and then threw on to first in an attempt at a double play.  This play occurred on April 17, 1993, though I can’t narrow it down between two separate plays.

Best subset card: #715 – Hank Aaron TRIB

1994 Topps Hank Aaron TRIB best subset

Aside from this card and those that are guys’ actual cards for the set are Measures of Greatness and All-Star cards.  Nothing in those subsets beats out the tribute card for Hank Aaron, which was put into the set to honor the 20th anniversary of his record-breaking 715th homer.

Favorite action photo: #149 – Kenny Lofton

1994 Topps Kenny Lofton best action shot

Though I considered just putting the Alomar card from above as the winner here, I don’t think it’s the best card based purely on the action shot.  It’s amazing because he’s forcing out his brother, but I think this Lofton is better if you just go on the action shot.  It looks like he’s about to make a diving catch, after losing his hat a few seconds earlier!

Favorite non-action photo: #80 – Jose Canseco

1994 Topps Jose Canseco best non-action shot

From the wood-clippings at his feet, Canseco seems to be shaving down the handles of his bats.  I’m not sure how many players do this, and this might be the only card where that’s done!

My Favorite Reds card: #705 – Jose Rijo

1994 Topps Jose Rijo

There are a lot of good cards in this set, and a lot of those good cards feature Reds.  I really liked Barry Larkin’s card where he’s going back on a fly ball, and Chris Sabo has a cool photo where he’s legging out a ground ball.  Joe Oliver has a very good play at the plate card.  But Rijo’s card is the best.  If I think about it, I probably prefer this card to the Canseco card above as far as non-action photos go.

This is a cool photo of the times; the Super Soaker had just come out in 1992 and I remember all the kids getting them, even though at 12 or 13 years old I was getting a bit old to play with high-powered squirt guns.  There are 2 other cards that I’ve found that have water guns on them.  The first is another Rijo card.  On the back of his 1994 Stadium Club Member’s Only card, Rijo has upgraded to a souped-up version of the super soaker with 3 “cartridges”.  The other is a Roger McDowell card, also from 1994.  His collector’s choice card shows him taking a picture with a couple of water guns shoved into his belt.

Other Notable Cards: Here’s some of the other cards that I really liked and/or are memorable.  A number of these were considered for the “honors” above.  The Mitch Williams is probably my favorite; I really thought about putting that as the best action photo.

1994 Topps other great cards

Topps Reprints and others:

  • 1999 Ryan reprints – Nolan Ryan
  • 2001 Through the Years – Barry Bonds
  • 2001 Archives – Jack Morris, George Brett, Robin Yount, Ryan
  • 2001 Topps Traded – Terrence Long (’94T), Ben Grieve (’94T)
  • 2002 Archives – Jason Giambi
  • 2005 Rookie Cup Reprints – Jeff Conine, J.T. Snow, Mike Piazza
  • 2010 CMT – Tony Gwynn, Bo Jackson, Billy Wagner
  • 2011 60YOT – Piazza, Manny Ramirez

Both Mike Piazza and Nolan Ryan have multiple reprints.





1983 Topps Leader Sheet

24 08 2015

I’ve got an update from a post from a Topps set I covered a really long time ago!  I kind of missed this collector sheet back when I was going through 1983 Topps because I didn’t realize what it actually was.  But a little while ago, I found this sheet on eBay and bought it.

1983 Topps League Leaders sheet

Each wax pack from 1983 contained a “Winning Lineup” scratch-off game card that could net collectors various prizes.

game card inserts

The grand prize, was a trip with tickets to the World Series for scratching off 4 Home runs.  For scratching off 4 singles, collectors could send in for a 7.5″ x 10.5″ League Leaders sheet of 9 cards depicting NL/AL Leaders from the previous (1982) season in homers, batting average, wins and saves.  The sheet is blank backed – each card has the same photo as the players’ regular card.  The Jackson/Thomas AL home run card is obviously a cropped version of their cards.

I’ve updated a few of my older 1983 posts to point this out.





Saturdays Suds: Pubs near the Park #10 – Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant & Sports Bar

22 08 2015

After finishing off the Mantle reprint set in my last post, it got me thinking – I’ve been to a restaurant that was owned by the Mick.  So I wanted to do a pubs near the park post for it.  The last pub post I did was for my Babe Ruth week.  I did a post about two restaurants / saloons owned by Babe Ruth’s father that closed nearly 100 years ago.  Naturally, that wasn’t a bar you could go to any more.

My next bar is also sponsored by a famous Yankee, and unfortunately it has closed as well.  But, as I said, this is a restaurant I’ve actually been to.  This post is for Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant and Sports Bar in Manhattan, which closed 2 years ago.

Mickey Mantle's Restaurant ad

Establishment:  Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant and Sports Bar

Ballpark:  Yankee Stadium in New York

Location:  42 Central Park South (59th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues)

DSC01541_2

Beers served:  From what I remember, it was your standard fare – Budweiser, Miller Lite, etc.  I don’t remember a particular selection of craft beers or anything, though I went there about 7 years ago which was a little before the craft beer craze come about recently.

Menu (if applicable):  Mantle’s restaurant was a true sports bar – and had about what you would have thought.  Wings, burgers, etc.  Though it was far from the best American bar food I’ve had – I do think this had to be one of the first sports bars considering how long ago it opened.

Is it baseball-themed?  Or is it just close to the ballpark?   Obviously it’s baseball themed, since the Mick owns it.  It had an impressive selection of Yankee memorabilia, with an obvious focus on stuff from Mantle.  It’s in the middle of Manhattan, so it’s not right next to Yankee Stadium, but I think a lot of people who went there did what I did – ate there after taking in a Yankee game.

Description:  Mantle opened this restaurant in 1988 just off the southeast corner of Central Park in Manhattan.  As I mentioned above – the idea of a sports bar had to have been pretty novel at the time.  This had to be one of the earlier ones, at least as far as people think of the average sports bar today.

Mantle’s was actually a little bit nicer than your standard sports bar from what I remember.  It was well-lit, and was far from a dive bar.  But it was in the middle of tourist central – just north of Times Square and just south of Central Park.  This meant it was pretty damn expensive for what you were eating – which was solid, but neither my dad nor I were blown away by the food.

Mantle’s did have a very cool memorabilia selection, and I remember walking around a little bit to check some of that out.  The chairs were specially made, with the number 7 carved in as you can see on the photos below.

Mantle's Restaurant inside 2 Mantle's Restaurant inside

In 2007, there was a really cool – and really large – replica of old Yankee Stadium in the middle of the restaurant with a lot of bells and whistles that was kind of the centerpiece of the restaurant.

I went there with my dad in 2008.  We did a long weekend to New York, getting tickets to the last Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium, which was very cool.  One of the nights we were there, we went to Mantle’s restaurant for dinger.

As I mentioned, the restaurant closed 3 years ago.  It’s now an Italian restaurant called Villagio.  There is still a steakhouse operated under the Mantle name in Oklahoma City (OK was his home state).  If I ever make it down to Oklahoma City, maybe I can do a post about the other Mantle restaurant!





Completed insert set – 96/97 Topps Mickey Mantle Reprints

20 08 2015

I have gotten to a pretty crazy amount of completed insert sets that I’ve yet to post about.  My unposted number as of about a week ago was a whopping 41, plus 1 unfinished post for a completed base set as well.  So I should either abandon doing completed insert posts, or start catching up.

I like doing them, so the former option isn’t really an option.  I started doing some catch up last week, and here’s another set!  This is one of the few sets that crosses multiple years.

Info about the set:

Set description:  To honor the Mick, who had passed away in August, 1995, Topps issued reprints of the full run of Mantle base cards from his career – including Bowman for the years when he didn’t have a Topps card – from 1951 through 1969.  Reprints of his 19 regular cards from 1951-1969 (Bowman was 1951, 1954, 1955) were issued from 1996 Topps series 1.  His 1952 Bowman reprint was issued in 1996 Bowman.  Reprints of his subset cards from Topps flagship, as well as his 1953 Bowman card, were issued in 1997 Topps series 1.

Set composition:  36 cards in total.

  • 19 cards, 1:9 (1996 Topps series 1)
  • 1 card, 1:48 (1996 Bowman)
  • 16 cards, 1:12 (1997 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  4 – obviously Mantle is on every card, however the last 16 cards have other Hall of Famers in them.

Mantle, Yogi Berra, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays

Card that completed my set:  #15 – 1965 Topps, #31 – 1960 Topps MVP

I bought 2 cards from COMC during their annual Black Friday sale, each from a different year.  The 1996 set had all of Mantle’s regular Topps / Bowman cards, while the 1997 set had his subsets from Topps during his playing days.

How I put the set together:

  • 6 cards from 1996 retail box
  • 3 cards from 1997 retail box
  • 3 cards from trades
  • 1 card from a card show
  • 2 cards from Beckett
  • 13 cards from Sportlots
  • 8 cards from COMC

Thoughts on the set:  This wast one of the first sets in the Retro craze that began in the early-mid 1990’s.  On some level, this led to having sets like Heritage, Archives and even Ginter and Gypsy Queen.  It was great at the time, even if it seems overplayed out a little now.

Best card (my opinion):  #2 – 1952 Topps

You can’t beat the most famous card in the history of the hobby.

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

1996-97 Topps Mantle reprints

1996-97 Topps Mantle reprints_0001

1996-97 Topps Mantle reprints_0002

1996-97 Topps Mantle reprints_0003





Completed insert set – 2011 Topps Kimball

18 08 2015

I completed a big insert set in December last year from 2011 Topps.  It’s one of the “retro-themed” products inserted into flagship Topps, and it’s one of the cooler sets they’ve done.

Info about the set:

Set description: “150-card continuity installment featuring current and retired players on elegantly vintage-designed mini cards.”   The set pays homage to the tobacco cards from Kimball & Co. – the 1888 N164 set.  These tobacco-sized minis have a color close-up of the player at the top with an action shot at the bottom.  The original set was 50 color pictures of athletes across many different sports, including a few baseball players.  Here’s one of the 4 original cards, pitcher Hardie Henderson, a fairly forgettable 19th century pitcher who was actually toward the end of his career at the time the set came out.

1888 Kimball Hardie Henderson

Topps redux of the set has active and retired players in the mix.  The cards come 50 cards per each series of 2011 Topps.

Set composition: 150 cards, 1:4 odds

Hall of Famers: 60.  Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb (3 cards), Pee Wee Reese (2), Mel Ott (2), Hank Aaron (2), Sandy Koufax, Carlton Fisk (2), Nolan Ryan (2), Stan Musial, Tom Seaver (2), Tony Gwynn, Johnny Bench, Greg Maddux, Luis Aparicio (2), Juan Marichal, Jackie Robinson, Bob Gibson, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson (2), Robin Roberts, Roy Campanella, Brooks Robinson, Ernie Banks, Phil Rizzuto, Eddie Murray, Bob Feller, Lou Brock, Frank Robinson (2), Eddie Mathews, Barry Larkin, Craig Biggio, Mike Schmidt, Ryne Sandberg, Willie McCovey (2), Whitey Ford, Andre Dawson (2), Jim Palmer, Duke Snider, Hank Greenberg, Frank Thomas (2), Wade Boggs, Carl Yastrzemski, Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken Jr., Paul Molitor (2), Gary Carter (2), Babe Ruth (2), Jimmie Foxx, Honus Wagner, Tris Speaker, Johnny Mize, Christy Mathewson, Bert Blyleven, George Sisler, Ozzie Smith, Joe Morgan, Rogers Hornsby, Cy Young, Joe DiMaggio

How I put the set together:

  • 37 cards from 4 hobby/HTA jumbo boxes I purchased across the 3 series
  • 12 cards from various retail packs
  • 28 cards from trades
  • 12 cards from the National Sports Card Show
  • 61 cards from Sportlots/eBay/Beckett Marketplace

Thoughts on the set: Like many others – I love the design of these cards when they came out.  I kind of wondered if Topps was using this as a test to do a full-blown Kimball Champions product in the future, though that seems to have gone by the wayside.  It was a really cool card set to collect, and I like that Topps did cards across each series.  The action pictures at the bottom of the card tended to be very recognizable – Ichiro or Mel Ott in their notable batting stances, T

On the negative side, 150 cards is just too much to collect.  That’s why I’m posting about completing the set some 4 years after it came out.  It did seem like a weird set to do in the 60th anniversary year, as well.  Finally, if you noticed above, Topps doubled up on a ton of players.  Usually this was by putting 2 different uniforms – i.e., Hank Aaron with the Braves and the Brewers.  But Ty Cobb has 3 cards in the set, while Ott and Pee Wee Reese are shown with the same team on their 2 cards.

Card that completed my set: #KC-125 – Nolan Ryan

2011 Topps Kimball Nolan Ryan

One of 3 cards (the other being Ford) that I got in a Beckett.com purchase in December last year.

Highest book value: #KC-7 – Mickey Mantle

2011 Topps Kimball Mantle

If there’s a Mick in the set, he’s usually the top for “book value”.

Best card (my opinion): #KC-149 – Cy Young

2011 Topps Kimball Cy Young

Those are two recognizable, iconic photos of the 511-game winner.  And, more importantly, he is the only guy who feels like he could have been in the original (even though he first played in the majors a couple of years after the 1888 set came out).

My Favorite Reds card:  KC-79 – Barry Larkin

2011 Topps Kimball Larkin

Larkin is wearing my favorite version of the Reds’ uniforms – the sleeveless pinstriped jerseys with the black-billed cap.





More Therapy from the post office

17 08 2015

I recently finished my second trade with Adam from Minnesota Addiction as Therapy. We traded back in February, and he reached out to me again this month.  Adam is a somewhat new collector, starting his blog up earlier this year.  This makes him a great trading partner; he has bought boxes for a number of sets that I did over the past 5 years of blogging.  So I have plenty of cards from his wantlist.  I sent him a bunch of Topps Lineage cards and a bunch of various Heritage cards.

He sent over a great, more-than-his-share package in return.  Here are the highlights!

The main part of the package was 2015 Topps inserts.  And the first ones were this year’s Spring Fever cards.  This was my first of the 2015 Spring Fever cards that I think you get from a hobby store promotion.  I didn’t do the legwork on that this year, but apparently Adam did!  These are always some of my favorite “insert” sets Topps does for its flagship brand and this year is no exception.

Trade Addiction as Therapy - 2015 Topps Spring Fever

He also sent me a bunch of 2015 Topps inserts that really are “inserts” – as in they put them into packs.  This is only a highlight of them.  Including the Spring Fever cards, Adam sent me over inserts from Topps 2015!

Trade Addiction as Therapy - 2015 Topps inserts Trade Addiction as Therapy - 2015 Topps inserts 2

I love the Sultan of Swat insert cards.  Those are only in retail packs, and I hadn’t seen any yet.

Next up were a few Heritage and Archives cards from my own wantlist.  These are all SP’s, another type of card that is very much appreciated!

Trade Addiction as Therapy - Heritage and Archives SPs

We’re almost done but not quite!  Adam also sent my a few Reds cards.  I really like the Votto mini – I wish I had been collecting when the Topps 206 product came out.

Trade Addiction as Therapy - Reds cards

Last but not least, Adam did send me on 2014 Archives insert – this Deckle mini of David Eckstein.

Trade Addiction as Therapy - 2014 Archives Deckle Eckstein

Pretty innocuous, but it goes well with my favorite part of the card package.

Trade Addiction as Therapy - 1969 Deckle Tommy Helms

That’s a Deckle card from many years earlier – the original Topps Deckle cards from 1969!  That’s Tommy Helms, which is also interesting because I just got his autograph at the All-Star Fanfest a little over a month ago.  This is the first time I’ve seen one of these in person.  Pretty cool!  Thanks again for the trade Adam!

 








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