660 cards in the set – because of the strike, Topps decreased the number of cards in its base set to the lowest, number it last had in 1978. Topps issued the first series in its standard 396 cards, but the second series had only 264 cards.
- Subsets: All-Stars (#384-394), On Deck (#631-658), Babe Ruth 100th Birthday Commemorative (#3), Draft Picks (33 cards throughout), Topps All-Star Rookies (10 cards throughout), Top Prospects (10 cards throughout), Future Stars (15 cards throughout series 1), Star Track (13 cards throughout series 1). Topps basically replaced the Coming Attractions subset with “On Deck”, while the Future Stars subset from the year before was split into the Future Stars and Star Track subset. With 28 total cards between those two subsets, each team has 1 card. After having a tribute card for Hank Aaron the year before, Babe Ruth got one this year.
- Set Design: The set design features a white border with a shadowed edge, made to look like ripped paper, surrounding the player photo. The player name is in gold foil at the bottom edge, with the team name and position below. The cards were again printed on white cardstock with full glossy UV coating. The Topps logo is in one of the upper corners. The back of the card has a miniature action photo of the player to the right, over a color pose shot in “diamond vision” made to look like a scoreboard photo. The left side of the card back features the player name and biographical information at the top, with the seasonal statistics and career totals following below. When there is room at the bottom, Topps included an interesting fact of the player. The card number is in a bar in the lower right hand corner (though it’s fairly difficult to read at times).
- Packs: The change in set size impacted the size of packs. For series 1, Topps went back to 15 cards (from 12 in ’94), but the series 2 packs had only 13 cards. Topps no longer listed it on the packs or the boxes themselves, but the MSRP was $1.29, which is quite a jump from 79¢ the year before, even with 3 extra cards. Also, for the first time, there was a clear notation on hobby boxes and packs (in red) to differentiate from retail (though if you ask me, buying retail is better for this particular product). Every hobby or retail pack had one CyberStats card in the pack. Cello packs were down to 24 cards (20 in series 2) – I’m not sure on the MSRP, but guessing $1.99 with 2 CyberStats cards per pack. Rack packs were 36 cards and 33 cards with 3 CyberStats cards per pack. I haven’t seen any jumbo packs.
- Rookies: This is again one of the least impressive rookie card crops. There really isn’t any RC of note. I guess I’m starting to get into the Bowman effect – because there are some decent guys who had their first Topps card in this set. Andy Pettitte is one of those in the ’95 set – he’d had a Bowman card (and no other major league card) in both 1993 and 1994. Topps missed getting Nomo in the base set, but did get him in the Traded set. Johnny Damon also had his first Topps card in this set.
- Hall of Fame: There are 20 Hall of Famers in this set – down 5 from the year before. The Aaron tribute was replaced with the one for the Babe, while George Brett, Robin Yount and Nolan Ryan had all retired. Ryne Sandberg had also retired – but he’d be back at a later date. Sandberg’s teammate, Andre Dawson, was left out of the set (not sure why), but he was in the Traded set and would be back in the 1996 set. There is again 1 NFL Hall of Famer – Deion Sanders.
- Variations: The Babe Ruth card has a variation with and without a gold foil Topps logo in the upper left-hand corner. There is also a version with a Topps/Conlon collection combined logo.
The series 1 hobby box has a dark background with various cards in that background. The cards of Frank Thomas and Royce Clayton are shown in the foreground, behind a baseball with the words “Major League Baseball”. Wording saying “Series 1 Baseball Cards” and “Power Pack” are shown below that. There is also a “Gold Ribbon” that advertises foil stamping on every card, the spectra light / CyberStats parallel, and the “Own the Game” promotion. There is a red bar at the top and bottom noting the box is “hobby exclusive” and, at the top, advertising the hobby-only insert, “95 Stadium Club 1st Day Issue”. Retail boxes don’t have this, but the ribbon advertises the retail-only League Leaders insert.
The series 2 boxes have the same basic design, only they feature Roberto Alomar and Moises Alou cards instead. There is also a blue background for the bottom third of the box, and the “Own the Game” promotion is replaced by wording for the Finest inserts available in series 2.
The odds below are for hobby/retail packs unless noted.
Topps issued a 9-card pre-production set of the regular cards in cello packs inserted into specially marked 1994 factory sets. There is supposed to be a spectra light version of the promos – but I’ve never seen one.
Topps released am update set that deviated significantly from the sets issued from 1981-1994. First, the set was 165 cards, unlike the 132 from previous years. Second, the set was not issued in factory set form, but only came in 11-card packs. The update product had an insert set, – “At the Break” Power Boosters, which parallels the first 10 cards of the Update set – and had essentially become a “series 3” that was numbered separately.
- CyberStats – 396 cards (1:1)
Topps changed up its parallel card insert from the Topps Gold cards of 1992-1994. The CyberStats partial parallel set used spectra light technology, which essentially blacked out the backgrounds of the player card to make player stand out. Subsets weren’t paralleled – just player cards, and Topps only created the parallels for 396 selected players. The cards were again issued at a 1 per regular pack rate.
Topps modified its insert program to differentiate between hobby and retail. League Leaders was a 50-card retail-only insert set issued in both series to highlight statistical leaders from 1994. Hobby packs from both series contained randomly inserted Stadium Club First Day Issue cards paralleling the 270-card first series from Stadium Club. Series 1 only had 9 cards issued at a much more difficult rate, while series 2 had all 270 cards. This makes the series 1 cards DPs, and probably made for unhappy collectors when they released series 2. I like it better when they keep their brands separated – and thus I went with the retail boxes for this year’s set.
There was also a Finest insert set using Topps Finest technology – this was issued 1 per box in all types of series 2 packs. At least it isn’t a parallel or preview of a different brand. The Black Gold inserts of the previous 2 years were discontinued.
- League Leaders – 50 cards (1:6 – retail only)
- Stadium Club First Day – 270 cards (1:36 series 1; 1:4 series 2 – hobby only)
- Finest Total Bases – 15 cards (1:36 series 2)
- CyberStats Season Review – 7 cards (hobby & retail factory sets)
- Opening Day – 10 cards (retail factory set)
After issuing only one design for its factory sets the previous couple of years, Topps issued a few different types of sets in 1995. Hobby factory sets included 10 Stadium Club 1st Day Issue cards and a 7-card set called CyberStats Season in Review that covers the season results from the 1994 season – assuming the season had been finished by a computer simulation done by Topps.
The retail factory set also had the 7-card CyberStats set, and also contained 10-card Opening Day set that covers some of the highlights of opening day for the 1995 season.
Finally, there was also a Grand Slam factory set that came in a much less colorful box that had 20 CyberStats spectra light cards and 4 League Leader inserts. There were also individual series 1 and 2 versions of these sets that had half the number of the insert cards.
Topps “Own the Game” cards which were inserted 1:120 packs of series 1. Usually, the winning card was a team set of CyberStats cards. The grand prize was a $40,000 MLB passport – which i assume was an all-expense baseball game travel deal.
Other releases associated with the Topps flagship set
#1 – Topps participated in the National Packtime promotion along with the other 4 major card manufacturers (Fleer, Donruss, Upper Deck, Pinnacle). The promotion was an attempt to increase interest in baseball cards after the strike severely hurt the sport and the hobby. Each of the companies made 3 cards; the 18-card set was available by sending in 28 packs of any 1995 product. Topps made cards of Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi and Deion Sanders.
#2 – Just like 1993 and 1994, 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, 1994 and 1995 sets, 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 3 sets of that year.
The strike was the big news impacting the 1995 card calendar. It didn’t impact me much – I was collecting more than ever in 1994. While I collected less in 1995, I still bought a lot of baseball cards. When baseball started back up, I bought more than ever before, but it was really more high school than anything else that made my collecting desire wane – by the end of ’95 I wasn’t collecting nearly as much. I did buy a bunch of Upper Deck cards (an ungodly amount of Collector’s Choice) and my brother was collecting Leaf and Barry Bonds. The card manufacturers responded by adding more products than ever before – and you could see that some changes to the competitive landscape were going to be on the horizon.
Nomo-mania was the big story in baseball, and I remember getting Nomo into card sets was the big deal for 1995 card sets. Topps fell furthest behind on this, obviously – they didn’t get him in until the Traded & Rookies set. News in the baseball card landscape – in 1995, Pinnacle Brands purchased the Action Packed brand. Also, the strike forced O-Pee-Chee to announce they were leaving the sports card industry, though various agreements did end up keeping the brand alive for hockey cards.
1995 has a weird design – and the cards and pictures were really starting to get more of a Stadium Club feel except for the white borders. Some of the photography is very good, but there are a few weird photos throughout that just don’t feel right for base Topps. Also, the change to 660 cards was a big deal for this set – though if you count the 165-card update set, the combined sets were as large as the base set from 1993 (which, at 825 cards, was the biggest Topps set ever).