Completed set – 1990 Topps

21 09 2012

The second Lifetime Topps set that I got completed amid the “retro haze of 2012” was 1990 Topps.  I finished this set off back in May.  I haven’t finished off the “Master Set” quite yet – just like 1989, it’s because there are some real insert sets now, and the K-Mart “Batting Leaders” inserts are tough to find at a decent price.

Info about my set:

How I put the set together:

  • 458 cards from the wax box
  • 84 cards from a couple of K-Mart blister pack
  • 61 cards I already had from back in the day
  • 189 cards from trades

Card that completed my set: #675 – Jim Abbott – GO BLUE!!! (1 of 2 cards I got in a trade with blog reader Kary that completed the set – the other was Tom Gordon).

Set composition: 792 cards (715 individual ML player cards*, 10 #1 Draft Picks, 26 Managers, 4 Ryan Tribute, 1 Giamatti Tribute, 5 Turn Back the Clock, 6 Checklists, 3 Record Breakers, 22 All-Stars)

*The 715 individual player cards include 10 All-Star Rookies and 5 Future Stars

Representation of ’88 MLB season: Out of the 715 player cards, 12 players featured did not play in the 1989 season.  Four guys were prospects who just didn’t make the MLB roster (Bernie Williams, Delino DeShields, Luis Sojo, Mel Stottlemyre, Jr.).  Six guys (Dave Winfield, Dale Sveum, Jose Guzman, Greg Mathews, Danny Cox, Rafael Santana) did not play in the majors in 1989 due to injury, but did get a card in the set.  The last 2 players were in the minors for all of the 1989 season (Juan Nieves, Tom Lampkin).  2 players were in subsets and did play in the 1989 season – Mike Schmidt, who was featured on a Turn Back the Clock card, and first overall pick Ben McDonald was the only member of the Draft Pick subset to make the majors in 1989 – debuting 3 weeks after he was drafted by the Orioles.

The 705 players featured represent 71.4% out of the ~988 players who played in MLB in 1989.

Last active player from this set: #698 – Omar Vizquel

As of now, Vizquel is the only player from this set who is still active on an MLB roster.  Jamie Moyer is the only other player in the set who also played in 2012.  Considering that Moyer hasn’t officially retired, it’s possible he could end up outlasting Vizquel, though I think he may have thrown his last pitch in the Big Leagues.  Of course, recent shenanigans by one Roger Clemens could throw all of this for a loop…

Player with the most cards in the set: Nolan Ryan – 5 cards:

Ryan – #1, #2-5 (Ryan Tribute)

This one was easy to figure out.  For striking out 5,000 batters, Topps did something similar with Ryan that they did with Pete Rose in 1986 – they gave him the first card of the set and then did a tribute subset for the next few cards.  These four subset cards all feature Ryan in each of his 4 Major League teams with the “5,000” in the background.

First Card and the Hundreds: #1 – Nolan Ryan, #100 – Will Clark, #200 – Don Mattingly, #300 – Bo Jackson, #400 – Ozzie Smith AS, #500 – Kevin Mitchell, #600 – Darryl Strawberry, #700 – Kirby Puckett

Highest book value: #692 – Sammy Sosa RC

Sosa’s rookie card books for a little bit more than the next card, which surprised me.

Most notable card: #414 – Frank Thomas FDP RC

Best card (my opinion): #414 – Frank Thomas FDP RC

I’m surprised that Thomas’s rookie card didn’t make it into the top 60 cards when Topps did the vote a few years ago.  This one is notable first because it’s a rookie card for future back-to-back MVP award winner Frank Thomas.  Second, is due to the famous error variation (No Name on the Front).  No cards from the 1990 set made it into that Topps top 60.  This set is often berated for the design, but this card is still very well-known.

In my opinion, this isn’t just the most notable card – I also think it’s the best.  It’s the rookie card of an all-time great player, in his Auburn uniform.  You can tell how big he is here, too – just look at the runner, Thomas is almost as tall as him while kneeling!

Second best card (also my opinion): #1 – Nolan Ryan

I could easily put this one above the Thomas.  It’s the first card in the set, and it’s a great shot of Nolan.  The photo actually goes really well with the design, too – which is really saying something.

Best subset card: #7 – Rickey Henderson RB

The Record Breakers subset has always been one of my favorites, and while there are only 3 RB cards in the 1990 set, this Rickey card is for a pretty cool record – the most home runs leading off a game.  He broke the record of 35 held by Bobby Bonds in early 1989, but I find it interesting they actually talk about his last one of the season (his 40th) on the back of this card.  I guess at the time, that was the new record.  Kind of like McGwire’s 70th being more valuable than #62.  Regardless, it’s a great photo of Rickey going deep.

Favorite action photo: #300 – Bo Jackson

Another Auburn alumni!  Bo didn’t spend a ton of time in Major League Baseball – but he has some of the best cards around.  This set doesn’t have a ton of action shots, so a shot of Bo at the point of impact is a pretty easy winner.

Favorite non-action photo: #230 – Keith Hernandez

I originally wanted to put Pascual Perez on here solely for his insane jheri curl.  But this shot of Hernandez in the on deck circle was way too good.

My Favorite Reds card: #260 – Eric Davis

I’m pretty predictable – Eric Davis was my favorite Red around the time of this set, and he seems to win most of these contests.  He’s actually won 3 in a row, and I haven’t done 1991 yet – so he could win that one, too.  Some of the others were tougher picks – this one is a no brainer because a) it’s an awesome photo of Davis, and b) because there isn’t a lot of competition.  I don’t even know what card would be second here.

Topps Reprints and others:

  • 1999 Ryan reprints – Nolan Ryan
  • 2001 Through the Years – Sammy Sosa
  • 2001 Archives – Darrell Evans, Bob Boone, Keith Hernandez, Dan Quisenberry
  • 2001 Archives Rookie Reprints – Frank Thomas, Williams, Sosa, Juan Gonzalez
  • 2001 Topps Traded – Dave Justice
  • 2002 Archives – Ryne Sandberg
  • 2002 Gallery Heritage – Sosa
  • 2003 Gallery Heritage – Williams
  • 2005 Rookie Cup Reprints – Gary Sheffield, Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Abbott, Gregg Jefferies, Tom Gordon
  • 2005 Gallery Heritage – Curt Schilling, Nolan Ryan HL
  • 2010 CMT – Thomas, Thomas NNOF, Larry Walker
  • 2011 60YOT – Williams, Schilling
  • 2011 Lineage Autographed Reprints – Ryan
  • 2013 Manufactured Commemorative Patch – Thomas

Due to the popularity of that error card, Frank Thomas has the most with 4 reprints.  Sammy Sosa and Bernie Williams have 3.

Other Notable Cards: #505 – Pete Rose MG, #233 – Gregg Jefferies RC, #343 – Gary Sheffield RC

Juan Gonzalez was the other notable rookie card in the set (though I guess you could argue so is Bernie Williams).  Griffey and Belle have 2nd year cards, though this is their first card in the base Topps set (for Belle it’s his first Topps card, period).  And the Giamatti is notable – it was done to honor the commissioner’s passing away in the fall of 1989.




14 responses

21 09 2012

+1 for a classic junk wax set, +1000 for the “GO BLUE!” comment!

23 09 2012

Wish my Michigan enthusiasm could have helped on Saturday!

21 09 2012

Happy to see that I’m not the only one who enjoys that Keith Hernandez card. It might just be in my personal Top 5 favorites ever — maybe. Either way, I’m going to try and snag a Tiffany copy of it off COMC or something like that.

Also, I find that the ’90 set features a number of my all-time favorites. The Griffey Jr., Abbott and Belle cards are all awesome. Of course, the Frank Thomas card is borderline iconic.

23 09 2012

Yeah – there are a lot of cool cards. I don’t mind the design. I wish they’d have the guts to take more risk with their base card design now.

21 09 2012
MIlwaukee Southpaw

I know a lot of people dislike this design, but I’ve always loved this set. I guess I just like all the bright colors. 🙂 I also have many fond memories of taking my $2.50 per week allowance to the grocery store and running straight to the big Topps display and grabbing my 5 packs for 50 cents each, every single Saturday.

21 09 2012
night owl

Congrats! I have this irrational desire to complete this set one day.

22 09 2012

It’s an interesting set for sure. I guess they thought the design needed to compete with the colored weirdness of donruss and fleer. The photography isn’t great.

22 09 2012

1990 Topps and Donruss certainly did corner the market on colored weirdness, if that was indeed the goal.

23 09 2012

LOL – I can send you over my doubles, just say the word!

21 09 2012
Bob Kale

Last of the big ass packs of cards with a stick of gum…1991 would be the swan song of Topps cards the way we knew them, but this set was officially ended the way Topps cards were to be issued, pre gold stamping etc…..

23 09 2012

1991 also had just about the best photography in any Topps set, too!

18 06 2013

I’d be interested in an update of the “reprints” section, maybe add in a part about the latest 2013 Archives 1990 Topps theme subset.

18 06 2013

I’ve generally kept those kinds out of that section – because they aren’t technically reprints; I’m trying to see who has the most cards reprinted in each set. It’s an interesting thing to think about for the future though!

12 01 2016
A third trade with reader Kary | Lifetime Topps project

[…] cards.  First, Kary sent the 3 cards I needed for 1990 Topps.  I finished this set a long time (over 3 years) ago, but I had to “borrow” 3 cards from my set at the All-Star game last July to get […]

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