Topps Archives #3 – comparing the retail only inserts

9 06 2012

Both of the retail only inserts are throwbacks to subsets from earlier Topps base sets.

Archives 1958 Classic Combinations – 10 cards (1:32, retail only)

The 1958 Topps set brought a number of firsts to modern card collecting.  The first Stan Musial Topps card.  The first cards featuring players west of the Central Time Zone (LA Dodgers and SF Giants).  And the first subsets were included – one of which was the Sport Magazine All-Stars, which came in the last series as the final 20 cards of the set.  But the first real subset in baseball card history was started in the 4th series – card #300 to be exact.  That card was titled “League Presidents” and featured Warren Giles of the NL and William Harridge of the AL.  This was the first of 6 cards in that series and 3 more in the 5th series for a 9-card subset.  All the rest were player cards; I guess Topps is now referring to these as classic combinations.  The first player card was #304, “Tigers Big Bats”, featuring Detroit sluggers Harvey Kuenn and Al Kaline.  The full subset consisted of the following:

  • 300 – League Presidents (William Harridge / Warren Giles)
  • 304 – Tigers Big Bats (Harvey Kuenn / Al Kaline)*
  • 314 – Dodgers’ Boss & Power (Duke Snider / Walter Alston)
  • 321 – Sluggers Supreme (Ted Kluszewski / Ted Williams)
  • 334 – Mound Aces (Bob Friend / Billy Pierce)
  • 351 – Braves Fence Busters (Del Crandall / Ed Mathews / Hank Aaron / Joe Adcock)*
  • 386 – Birdie’s Young Sluggers (Ed Bailey / Birdie Tebbets / Frank Robinson)*
  • 418 – World Series Batting Foes (Mickey Mantle / Aaron)
  • 436 – Rival Fence Busters (Snider / Willie Mays)

As you can see, about 1/3 were from the same team.  The Mays and Aaron card is the one most recognizable to me, though the Snider / Mays card – featuring them in their “Cali” uniforms – is a pretty cool combination as well.  In the 2012 Archives product, Topps put a spin on these cards – they put a former player and placed him with a current player from the same team.  There are two players who are featured in both sets, so I’ll show those here.  The first is the aforementioned Willie Mays.  He’s on a card “Say Hey Meets Cy Young”.  By Cy Young, they actually don’t mean Cy Young.  They mean … Tim Lincecum.  OK, so he did win 2 Cy Young awards, but if you ask me (and if you’re reading this, I’m assuming you did), it would be better if they had called it “Say Hey to the Freak”.

The second guy featured in both sets is Mr. Kaline, who is appropriately put next to Miguel Cabrera.  I know they aren’t the same position, but Kaline was a 400-homer (OK, 399) and a 3,000 hit guy, while Cabrera is one of 3 or 4 guys who are legitimate triple crown threats.  Instead of “Touch ‘Em All Tigers”, I wish they had gone with the same “Tigers Big Bats”.  That would have made this post that much cooler.

There were a couple of other guys from Archives who were playing in 1958, but just didn’t have 1958 combo cards were Koufax (with Kershaw), Whitey Ford (with Sabathia).  Jackie Robinson (with Kemp) and Car Yastrzemski (with Ellsbury), just missed by a couple of years, but on opposite sides of the 1958 set.

Archives 1982 In Action – 10 cards (1:32, retail only)

I hear the 1982 Topps set most often referred to as the “Hockey Stick set”, since two lines run parallel down the left-hand side and around the bottom of the card front.  In years ending in “2” from the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s, Topps did a subset called “In-Action”.  In 1962, this was done as a 3-frame shot, in 1972 it was just an action shot with a slightly different frame, and in 1982, Topps modified the “Hockey Stick” design to put the player name vertically in the top left border and the words in action in the bottom right hand part of the border.  Naturally, the photos in place are action shots.  The 40 cards from 1982 are dispersed throughout the set – the In-Action card always follows right after the player’s base card in the checklist.

The players who got the In Action treatment in 1982 were established stars or veterans.  Unfortunately for the purposes of my comparison post, Topps didn’t have any overlap between the players selected for the 10-card Archives set and 1982 players.

There are 5 current players and 5 retired players.  Ripken is the only player with a card from then – his 1982 3-player rookie card. Tony Gwynn was a year away, Ken Griffey Jr. and John Kruk were a few years from the big leagues, and Roberto Clemente had passed away a decade earlier.  I’ll start with a Clemente comparison – since he actually had a ’72 In Action card, I can cheat and compare that one!  Gotta say, neither of these are the greatest “action” shots – putting down his bat after a hit and rolling his head after what looks like a strike out?  Not really action – but between the two, the 1972 card is certainly the more interesting picture!

From there, I can get some more symmetry from my favorite player.  Ken Griffey Junior may not have a 1982 Topps In Action card … but his father most certainly does have one!

Junior is shown getting a jump on a fly ball from a photo that I believe is late 90’s. I wish they’d have done the Reds uniform for this one!  Or any 2012 Topps cards for that matter!  Senior is shown in that lovable Reds uni, following through on what I’d imagine is a double laced down the line.  If I was scoring at home, I’d be giving the point to Senior from my perspective as a Reds fan!!!

Next, I’ve got to get a comparison in here of a current player.  Troy Tulowitzki seems to fit the bill. He hasn’t won an MVP yet, but Tulo seems like he’s always up there.  I looked it up – he’s been 5th, 5th and 8th the past 3 years in MVP voting.  I’d have thought he’d actually have a higher finish than that, but still impressive.  He’s also finished as the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winner at short in each of the last 2 years.  There weren’t any shortstops in the 1982 In Action subset, though I’m surprised there was no Robin Yount.  So I’ll go to the closest position to shortstop, and the guy who was coming off 2 straight seasons as the NL MVP, along with the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.  That would be Mike Schmidt, the best player from the 80’s.

Of course, he got the In-Action treatment in 1982!  I like the different approach – putting him on there as a base runner.  Though Tulo’s is still the better shot here.  Maybe that’s where Kemp first hurt that hammy (which is killing my fantasy team now!!!!)!

Lastly, I’ll take what I think are the best two In-Action cards from each set.  The Carlton Fisk from 1982 is possibly the best card in the whole Topps set itself, and you can’t go wrong with the backstop Topps put into Archives – Mike Napoli with a play at the plate.  Grant it – he’s the runner here, but it’s still a cool card.

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