1994 Topps Overview

14 01 2012

792 cards in the set – after a one year increase of 33 cards, the set was back down to the standard amount that it had been since 1982.  Topps issued the cards in 2 series of 396 cards for the second straight year.

  • Subsets: All-Stars (#384-394), Draft Picks (#201-210, #739-762), Measures of Greatness (#601-609), Hank Aaron Tribute (#715), Coming Attractions (#763-790), Topps All-Star Rookies (10 cards throughout), Top Prospects (10 cards throughout), and Future Stars (26 cards throughout series 1).  Topps eliminated the manager subset in 1994, adding the Measures of Greatness subset in the 2nd series.  The Coming Attractions subset, which was new in the previous year, now has two players per card.  The Future Stars subset was back after a few years away – this time with a player from each team.  A tribute card for Hank Aaron was made to honor the 20th anniversary of the day he broke Babe Ruth’s home run record.
  • Set Design: The set design features a player photo surrounded by a border shaped like a home plate, with a white outer border.  The player name is in white italicized font at the bottom over a colored triangle.  There is a thin strip with the team name and position.  The cards were printed on white cardstock, with full glossy UV coating – these cards have noticeably more gloss than the 1993 set.  The back of the card features a color player photo on the left hand side.  The rest of the card back features the card number at the top left, with the planer name, biographical information and the Topps logo above seasonal statistics and career totals.  When there is room at the bottom, Topps included an interesting fact of the player.
  • Packs: Topps increased “wax” pack prices by 10¢ to 79¢ – and decreased the number of cards from 15 to 12.  Packs were no longer the plastic packs folded like a wax pack; they were the tamper-evident packs you had to rip open.  Every wax pack had one Topps Gold card in the pack.  As before, there were 36 packs per box and 20 per case.  29-card cello packs increased 60¢ to $1.99 with a decrease of 5 cards – they had 4 Topps Gold per pack.  Rack packs went down to 33 cards (from 45) with 3 Topps Gold per pack.  There were also 56-card jumbo packs (probably cost $3.99) with 5 Topps Gold per pack, and mini jumbo packs with 2 Topps gold per pack (I think these had 24 cards per pack, but am not sure – I’ve only seen the box not the packs).  Series 2 is the first Topps pack I know of to clearly feature a specific player.  While series 1 is a generic player, that’s obviously Mike Piazza on the front of the series 2 pack.
  • Rookies: This is one of the least impressive rookie card crops – Billy Wagner’s draft pick card is the only rookie card of any kind of note in the set.  There were some big rookie cards that Topps missed out on in 1994 – the biggest by far being Alex Rodriguez, who didn’t sign a licensing deal with Topps until 1998.  Michael Jordan also had his baseball rookie cards in a number of Upper Deck products.  Topps also missed out on Derrek Lee, Jorge Posada, Chan Ho Park and Torii Hunter.
  • Hall of Fame: There are 41 Hall of Famers in this set – down 9 from the year before.  Hank Aaron was back in the Topps set, featured in the subset mentioned above, but there were 10  guys gone from the set.  Six of them were managers gone as the subset wasn’t featured (Tony Perez, Sparky Anderson, Tommy LaSorda, Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre).  There were 4 players gone for good; catchers Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk had played their last games, as had Bert Blyleven.  Jack Morris didn’t have a card despite pitching in 1993 and 1994 (he’s in a few other sets).  Since Neon Deion is in the set, there is also 1 NFL Hall of Famer.
  • Roberto Alomar, Jeff Bagwell, Harold Baines, Craig Biggio, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Andre Dawson, Dennis Eckersley, Tom Glavine, Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Trevor Hoffman, Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Randy Johnson. Barry Larkin, Greg Maddux, Edgar Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Fred McGriff, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Kirby Puckett, Tim Raines, Cal Ripken, Ivan Rodriguez, Nolan Ryan, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Ozzie Smith, John Smoltz, Frank Thomas, Jim Thome, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker, Dave Winfield, Robin Yount, Aaron (TRIB)
  • Variations: There is no card #379 due to a printing mistake; there are two cards #370.  Mark McLemore’s card was the one that was supposed to be card #379.  Card #109 of Delino DeShields also has two variations – a Red and a Yellow team/position at the bottom.

The series 1 wax box has a blue background with a red stripe along the middle left-hand side, while the series 2 came with a blue stripe.  There are 2 cards pictured – Barry Larkin and Spike Owen for s1, Pete Harnisch and Roberto Alomar for s2.  “BASEBALL” in big block letters covers a baseball over the bottom of those cards, with the Topps logo and 1994 above the cards.  The bottom of the stripe has the series and the words “picture cards”.  The MLB and MLBPA logos are to the left.  There is a yellow section to the bottom right advertising the inserts available.

The odds below are for hobby/wax packs unless noted.

Promo Cards

Topps issued a 9-card promo set of the regular cards in cello packs to dealers and inserted 9 promo cards into specially marked 1993 factory sets.

For the 4th and final year, Topps issued a card in the ’93 design of the Golden Spikes winner in conjunction with the awards banquet (which was held in October 1993).  The winner for the ’93 banquet was Darren Dreifort.

Update Sets

Topps again released a 132-card Topps Traded set in factory set form.  The set had an 8-card Finest insert set including MVP and Rookie of the Year award contenders.

Parallel Set

  • Gold – 792 cards (1:1)

Topps again inserted parallel versions into packs with Gold Foil over the player and team name.  The cards were again issued at a 1 per regular pack rate (actually, 5 per every 4 packs).  The 4 checklists were again replaced with players who weren’t part of the base set.

  • Bilingual – 792 cards (factory)

Topps issued a Spanish language set for the first time since the days of Topps Venezuelan in the 1960’s.

Insert sets

Topps again included Black Gold inserts in both series in 1994.  Black Gold was inserted at a rate of 1 every other box in both series – though I got one in all 4 boxes I opened from 1993 and 1994.  The series 1 cards are American League players, while Series 2 was National League players (this was flip-flopped from last year).  There were also Winner Cards inserted to mail in for 11 cards, 22 cards, or a full set of the 44 cards.  Topps also included preview cards to generate excitement for the release of its second year of Finest cards.

  • Black Gold – 44 cards (1:72)
  • Finest Pre-production – 40 cards (1:36)
  • Topps Spanish Leyendas – 10 cards (in factory set)

Factory Set

Topps again issued only one design for its factory set.  Hobby factory sets included 10 Gold parallel cards, 3 Black Gold inserts and 3 of the Finest pre-production inserts.  Retail factory sets have the same number Gold and Black Gold cards, while also including a 9-card preview set for 1995 Topps, a spectralight version of those promos, and a 3-card super sampler promo of Topps other 3 sets from 1994 (Bowman, Finest, Stadium Club).

1994 Topps Factory set

Topps also issued a bilingual factory set paralleling the base set with Spanish writing as well.  The factory set included a 10-card “Legends” insert set of retired Latin stars.

1994 Topps Bilingual


None I know of from 1994.

Other releases associated with the Topps flagship set

#1 – Just like 1993, R&N China supposedly issued a bunch of “parallel” versions of Topps cards throughout the mid-90′s.  Some of the porcelain cards created were reprints – for example, they did a full run of all 26 of Nolan Ryan’s cards.  I’ve read some things that claim that a full reproduction was done of the 1993 and 1994 set, but read other things saying that a full parallel being done is very unlikely.  Looking around on eBay seems to support the latter.  But there are certainly quite a few porcelain reproductions from the 1993 and 1994 set.


1994 saw continuation of the first release of “Super-premium” sets – SP, Finest and Flair all continued with their 2nd release, while Leaf came out with Leaf Limited to join the fray.  Topps had really upped the quality (and the price) of its base cards to compete with some of the other base sets.  Upper Deck had actually started moving its base card up to more of a premium level – price-wise it was competing with Pinnacle and Stadium Club, while the Topps base brand’s similar price point was Collector’s Choice.

There were two bigger stories I remember from 1994.  The first was Michael Jordan’s minor league attempt.  Say what you will, but Jordan did show some progress in winter ball after his first year.  I think he would have made it to the Majors someday – but we were all better off with him coming back to the NBA.  The bigger story was the labor unrest – cancelling a World Series dampened interest in everything baseball related, including cards.

Topps joined the retro party that Upper Deck quietly started with All-Time Heroes the year before – this was the first year of the Archives product.  All told, for licensed products we were up to 24 standard products, 2 retired player products, and O-Pee-Chee just had the one bilingual set.

  • Topps – Topps, Bowman, Stadium Club, Bowman’s Best, Finest, Archives
  • Donruss – Donruss, Triple Play, Leaf, Studio, Leaf Limited
  • Fleer – Fleer, Extra Bases, Ultra, Flair, Extra Bases
  • Pinnacle – Score, Select, Sportflics 2000, Pinnacle
  • Upper Deck – Collector’s Choice, Fun Pack, Upper Deck, SP, All-Time Heroes
  • O-Pee-Chee – O-Pee Chee

After a big change in 1993 by going to 2 series and adding UV coating and color pictures to the backs, Topps stayed similar in 1994.  Forme, 1994 was probably my biggest year of collecting – I was going hard after 1993 Upper Deck, and I was all over anything Upper Deck at this point.  I loved anything Griffey Jr. and I remember loving the Michael Jordan baseball cards that Upper Deck did.




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