1991 Topps Glossy Sets

30 10 2011

Topps was down to 2 Glossy sets issued in conjunction with its 1991 base set.  Topps didn’t issue the 60-card All-Star and Prospects glossy send-in set this year – the 40th Anniversary insert cards and old Topps set giveaways took the place of that set as the main prize for the instant win game.  This year it was down to just the 22-card All-Star set and the 33-card Rookies set.  The Rookies set was again available 1 per jumbo pack.  This year the All-Star set was available by sending in proofs of purchase of Rack Packs, as opposed to inserted 1 per pack as in previous years.

The 1990 Reds World Series team was decently represented.  Hal Morris was there from the Rookies team, and both Jack Armstrong and Chris Sabo made it into the All-Star set as they started the 1990 game.  I haven’t been able to find a full set of the All-Stars for sale, so those 2 cards are just scans.  I do have the Morris and the Rookies set.

All-Star Glossy

Back for its 9th and final year, the 22-card set commemorating the 1990 All-Star game was available after sending in a certain number of rack packs and $1.50 S&H.  The more proofs of purchase you sent in, the cheaper you could get the full set.  The set again had the manager, 9 starters, and the All-Star game honorary captains for each league.  Al Lopez was the AL honorary captain, while Juan Marichal was the NL captain.  As mentioned, I don’t have any of these cards yet.  So I’ll just show the Griffey pic from an ebay auction.

8 Hall of Famers:     W. Boggs, C. Ripken, R. Henderson, A. Lopez, R. Sandberg, O. Smith, A. Dawson, J. Marichal (1 less than the previous year’s set)

Glossy Rookies

In its fourth year, the Rookies set was again issued 1 per jumbo pack.  The set depicts some of the best rookies from the 1989 season.  All 10 members of the Topps All-Star rookie team are again included in this set, as well 23 other 1990 rookies.  Frank Thomas is by far the biggest name from the set, though Larry Walker is a likely future HOF-er and there are quite a few other future All-Stars in the set.

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1991 Topps parallel sets

29 10 2011

Topps had a few parallel sets in 1991.  Just as it had since 1984, Topps issued a Tiffany set.  The Tiffany set came in a navy box and was the last, and most limited, of all the Tiffany sets.  In 1992 Topps would start printing the regular base set on white cardboard, and the whole card would be glossy in 1993, so the idea of a Tiffany set became obsolete.  The Traded Set also had a Tiffany version; both sets were limited to less than 5,000 sets.

There were two new parallels in 1991. The most famous was the Desert Shield parallels.  Topps printed these special edition parallel cards of the 1991 set and inserted them into packs that were intended for servicemen in the Persian Gulf.  There is a gold foil Desert Shield logo in the upper right corner of the cards.  Many of these cards never made it to their intended recipients but were sold back here – they are fairly scarce and could command a good premium in the early 90’s (and still do so to some extent today).  A well-kept version of the Chipper rookie will sell for a couple hundred dollars.  At some point I may consider getting the Reds of these, but not right now.

Topps also produced a “micro” set for the first time.  Topps issued these mini-cards in factory set form for three years.  The cards measure 1″ x 1-3/8″.  I bought Reds team sets for all 3 years of micro parallels on eBay a little while back.  Here’s some of them – there so small it’s hard to get them onto the scanner in any kind of order!





Here’s to Tomorrow Night…

28 10 2011

20 years apart. Different announcer, same family, same call, Game 6 at home to force a deciding game.

I still hate the Cardinals, BTW…





1991 Topps ML Debut ’90

27 10 2011

In 1991, Topps issued the second year of a set in factory form called “Major League Debut”.  This 171-card set has every player who made his ML debut during the previous season – 169 players and 2 checklists.  The front of the card is basically the same design as the 1991 base set, with slightly different color schemes and 2 other differences.  The Topps 40th logo is not displayed, and the team name is replaced with a flag showing the date of the player’s debut.  The back has a newspaper-like blurb about the debut, and contains full 1990 player stats from the minors and majors.  Like the Topps Traded sets, these cards are printed on white cardboard.  This set was released earlier in 1991, though I haven’t figured out how early they were issued.  I think it was done before the base set.

As I mentioned in a couple earlier posts – Alex Fernandez was featured on a card distributed at the banquet for the Golden Spikes Award that he won.  This card basically served as a promo for this set – it’s the exact same card front.

JayBee’s Topps blog has done a great look at these sets in comparison with the Debut class from 20 years later.  This set was much better than the one I bought the previous year – both this and the 1991 set seem like they were packaged better.  There’s an appropriate amount of space in the packaging.

There are no players in this set from the 1990 Reds World Series team – none of their postseason roster actually made their debut in 1990 (3 had done so and were in the set the year before).

There are no baseball Hall of Famers in the set (yet), and this set is in fact not as impressive as the one the year before.  Frank Thomas highlights the set and is the only HOF caliber player. While Tino Martinez and Luis Gonzalez aren’t future Hall of Famers, they were very good players.  Moises Alou, Carlos Baerga and Travis Fryman also had very good careers with multiple All-Star appearances.

After that is the next tier of guys – some good players with a few All-Star appearances and decent careers.  I’m always excited to see Hard Hittin’ Mark Whitten!

Finally, in addition to Alou, there were 3 other guys with familial ties to MLB in this set.

Also, just for housekeeping purposes – I bought this set from the Baseball Card Exchange.





Another Common (Card) trade, and a reader trade

26 10 2011

This was my third trade with Tony from Common (Card) Man.  Tony and I just wrapped up our second trade – when he saw a post of mine where I had the prairie dog Animal Kingdom Patch from UD Goodwin and wanted it.  I also threw in a few more diamond parallel cards from his wantlist.  He sent me over a bunch of Reds cards – most notable a 2010 Ginter relic of Jay Bruce, and a Topps 206 auto of Orlando Cabrera.  I’m not specifically collecting any of these – but I will eventually buy boxes of those 2 retro sets and this will keep those cards off my wantlist.  Thanks for the trade Tony!

I also got some cards in from a reader who posted on my blog named Kyle.  Kyle sent me a few Lineage inserts, a couple Topps inserts, and some Reds thrown in.  See below.  I’m still going through what I’m sending Kyle, so does this qualify as “a card to be named later…”





1991 Topps Traded

25 10 2011

Topps again issued a 132-card “Traded” set in 1991 in the same fashion as previous years; cards were numbered in alphabetical order, separately from the base set with a “T” suffix as #1-132.  The set contains cards of rookies who didn’t have a card in the base set, players who signed with or were traded to new teams, new managers, and a Team USA subset. The design was essentially the same as the base set (though I think there are some slight color differences).  The cards available in factory sets were again printed in Ireland on white cardstock.

The card set comes with a Topps Magazine advertisement, similar to the set they had two years ago (the 1990 set didn’t).

There were two different boxes that the factory sets could come in.  The first is a green box (shown to the left) with the exact same design as the sets from the previous years.  For the third year, Topps also issued the set in a flatter, more colorful box that looked very similar to the “Holiday” factory sets for the flagship set.  Just like those Holiday sets, the more colorful packaging was issued to retail outlets.  From the picture below – Billy McMillon from Team USA is shown, but I’ve also seen a box with Brett Butler’s card.

For the second straight year (and third overall, though 1985 was just a test release), Topps also issued the Traded set in wax packs, 7 cards per pack and 36  packs per box.  Neither the box nor the packs have a SRP listed; the base cards were 50¢ for 15 cards, my guess would be that these ran for 25¢.  Unlike the factory sets, the cards in the wax packs were printed on the same gray cardstock as the base set.

Keeping with previous years, dealers who ordered cases of the Topps Traded set also received a miniature Bronze Card – this time a replica of Brooks Robinson’s rookie card from the 1957 Topps set. For the final time, Topps also issued a Tiffany set that had a glossy picture on the front – just like the base set, this was the last year and was more limited than previous years.

There are no Big Red Machiners in this set, and there is one card of a 1990 World Champion.

  • Danny Jackson, who the Reds let walk after the 1990 season.  Jackson more than doubled his salary – signing with the Cubs for $2.6 million.

There are 2 Hall of Famers in the set.

  • Gary Carter was in his second straight traded set.  After a season as the backup catcher for San Francisco, Carter signed on for the same role in Los Angeles.
  • In July 1990 in one of the bigger trades in recent memory, Roberto Alomar went along with Joe Carter from San Diego to Toronto for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez.

Like the 1988 set did, this set had a Team USA subset.  This was for the team that played in the Pan American Games, placing 3rd behind Cuba and Puerto Rico.  Interestingly, Topps actually included guys who still played college baseball after 1991 (unlike the 1988 and 1985 sets).  Not sure how that worked contract-wise, but there are some fairly good major leaguers in this subset.  Most notable is Jason Giambi, but Charles Johnson and Phil Nevin had good careers (though Nevin was so highly touted – his is considered a bit of a bust).  Speaking of bust – the first card for Darren Dreifort is in this set.  Ron Polk, the head coach, was a long time manager at Mississippi State, and has the 8th most all-time wins in NCAA baseball.

There are quite a few other RC’s worth mentioning.  Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez will probably be moved up to the Hall of Fame category some day (though maybe Pudge’s steroid accusation will keep him out.  Mo Vaughn (1995 AL MVP), Steve Finley (300-3oo club) and Luis Gonzalez (57 HR in 2001) all had very good careers.  By the way – I think the 4 most clutch World Series performances of my lifetime are in this set.  First is Gonzo below – his walk-off single in game 7 against Mariano Rivera ended the Yankee domination of that era.

There were also some other good rookies available in this set, a tier below the guys above.  Mitch Williams – see below re: Joe Carter.

And there were some good veterans available, too.  The rest of the Alomar trade is in the set – Joe Carter would end up proving that trade worthwhile when he hit the 2nd walk-off HR in World Series history a few years later.  But I’d argue Jack Morris had the most impact on his team and the most clutch performance of this group – his 10-inning shutout of the Braves in game 7 of the ’91 series is one for the ages.  Interesting – Terry Pendleton was the league MVP in ’91, his first year with the Braves.

It’s funny how you have to go down the list to mention Strawberry – remember how big of a deal it was when he went to LA?

Next up, there always seem to be two categories of veterans in these Traded sets.  First, is the impact guys – see above.  But there are always quite a few “over the hill” guys just hanging on for a few more years.  This group has the 4th “clutch performer” I mentioned above, though this is the only one that wasn’t a series clincher and the only player that had already had that performance by 1991.  I’m thinking of Kirk Gibson, of course, who was on his way to the Royals, 2+ years after hitting a memorable walk-off homer in game 1 of the ’88 Series off Dennis Eckersley.





1991 Topps scans

24 10 2011

After showing off the All-Star Rookie Team, Future Stars & Draft Picks, below are the rest of the interesting cards from the 1991 Topps set.

For the second year in a row, I’ll start off with how the set starts – Nolan Ryan.  This set has some great photography – significantly improved from previous years.  And it starts off with a bang – Ryan stretched out, probably finishing off one of his 5,000+ strikeouts.

After Ryan’s card, again comes the Record Breakers subset.  These are always interesting, because it’s good to see what some of the prior year highlights.  I mentioned some of these in my 1990 season write-up a few weeks ago.  Brett won the AL batting title by hitting .329, becoming the first player to win one in 3 different decades.  Carlton Fisk passed Johnny Bench for the most homers by a catcher (328).  Ryan threw his 6th no-hitter – to add to his own mark.  And Bobby Thigpen’s 57 saves shattered Dave Righetti’s mark of 46.

The cards I didn’t discuss – both Ripken and Sandberg set the all-time errorless game streaks at their respective position.  Sandberg’s 123 broke Joe Morgan’s record of 91, while Ripken’s 95 passed Kevin Elster’s record of 88.  Finally, Kevin Maas broke the record for the fewest at bats to 10 home runs – hey, they must have a stupid one in there!

Rickey Henderson didn’t get one – even though he passed Ty Cobb for the American League steals record and tied Max Carey for # of times leading the league.  And he won an MVP.  But, the did have an All-star card, so here’s my obligatory pics of one of my all-time favorite players.

Here’s the same two cards of my other favorite all-time player.

I found 3 cards where Topps took pictures of the white sox.  I remember seeing these uniforms a bunch in the 1991 Upper Deck set.  These apparently were 1917 throwbacks worn to promote the last season at Comiskey.

As I mentioned – this year’s Topps set had great photography.  First off, they had a bunch of “landscape” view cards – and these tended to be very good shots.  Here’s some of those cards.  Cecil Fielder baring down on Carlton Fisk with the “slide” sign begin given.  Clemens posing next to the words “strike out” on the Green Monster.  Walt Weiss leaping in the air to turn a double play.  Just to name a few – and not even counting the Henderson and Ryan above.  These are all great cards.

Not to say that there aren’t some great photos in the vertical format – here are some of the best fielding & pitching action shots.  OK, the Santiago is clearly a pose, but it’s awesome nonetheless.  The Dwight Smith card with the Wrigley Ivy in the background is my favorite.  The Mike LaCoss shot – which captures the on looking pitching coach in the bullpen session is great as well.

It’s not just pitching and fielding – there are also some great batting and baserunning shots / poses.

There are also a few good pics of guys goofing around with the tools of the trade.

That’s some of the best photography in the set.  There are still some other player cards to be shown off.  The only RC of serious mention is the Chipper card from the Draft Pick subset.  Here’s his card and a few other young up-and-comers as well.

And here are some of the more established stars.  Yet again, on a baseball card, Dawson = awesome.