A little detective work – 1992 Topps Strawberry & Hubie Brooks

31 05 2013

I was pretty intrigued by two cards I dubbed “best action photo in 1992 Topps” in yesterday’s post.

First, the two cards in question, both of which have a similar picture from third base at Shea Stadium.

1992 Topps Strawberry Brooks best action

I decided to do some work to see if I could determine the dates and details of the games.  As you’ll see, I was successful for both, but I started with the Strawberry as there was more information available from the photo and I knew I’d be able to pinpoint the details for that card.

For one thing, it’s much easier to narrow down because the road team is featured. Whereas the Brooks card has 81 potential home games to get through (and much less information on the card anyways), there were only 6 games where the Dodgers played at Shea in 1991.  Plus, I can see the inning on the Strawberry card as well.  I’ll blow it up so you can best see it on the blog.

1992 Topps Strawberry

I liked what I found.  This one is from a game on July 21, 1991 and has a pretty cool back story.  Strawberry was not only facing off against his former team – none other than Dwight Gooden was on the mound that day!  Strawberry singled off him to lead off the 2nd inning and then Chris Gwynn walked to move Darryl over to second base.  Lenny Harris (#29 – you can see that on the scoreboard) then knocked a single to left field on a 3-2 pitch to score Strawberry.  Gwynn was later forced at 3rd, but Gooden gave up 3 runs that inning.

The Mets wound up getting Doc the victory anyways.  Interestingly enough – this was the only hit Strawberry ever got off the teammate he is forever linked with.  Oh, and last thing – that’s Mike Winters manning the second base umpire spot.

1992 Topps Hubie Brooks

The Brooks card was much more difficult, but I was able to pinpoint that one as well.  The only piece of info for that card that was more helpful?  There’s only one umpire I’d recognize just about anywhere, and if that’s not Eric Gregg over Brooks’ shoulder than I’m an Ewok.

The key here was that I could tell from the scoreboard that Mackey Sasser was batting, as he was #2 for the Mets in 1991.  I think that’s him rounding first, but can’t tell for sure as the number on the runner’s uniform is too difficult to see.  Anyways, Mackey being the hitter was very helpful.  If I assumed Brooks scored on this play, I would need to sift through 48 Brooks runs (25 were at home).  With Sasser, there were only 35 RBI (21 at home).  Linking the two up helped.  Of course, it’s always possible Brooks was thrown out at home in which case I’d have to learn how to figure that out.  Or just give up.

It was actually a little easier than I thought.  Using Baseball Reference, I found out that Mackey knocked Brooks in on 3 separate occasions in 1991.  Of those, only one happened at Shea Stadium – June 30th, in a 10-9 loss to Philadelphia.  Interestingly, Gooden also pitched this game, though it was the Phillies’ Danny Cox who was on the hill for this hit.  In the bottom of the 4th inning of a 4-0 game, Kevin McReynolds singled off Cox with one out.  Howard Johnson then flew out before Cox hit Brooks with the pitch.  Sasser then came up and doubled off Cox to knock both McReynolds and Brooks in to make it 4-2.  So, not seen on the card is the fact that McReynolds scored ahead of Brooks.

And yes, that’s Eric Gregg behind Brooks. Yub Yub.


Completed set & master set – one last look at 1992 Topps

30 05 2013

Continuing my “getting back into the swing of things” as far as the lifetime Topps project goes…

The 1992 set hasn’t historically been one of my favorites.  I often think of it as too similar to the 1991 Topps set, and not having photography quite as good.  At the same time, I always thought it was a fairly solid set.  This was a transition year for the Topps base set.  In 1991, the photography got much better from the photos in the 80’s.  In 1992 the card stock was changed to white paper after years of the gray stock we all know and (some of us) love.  In 1993, the cards went slightly glossy with a color photo on the back, and in 1994 they got the super-glossy UV coating.

After going through this process, however, I’m more impressed with 1992 Topps than I had been.  The photography is still behind 1991 Topps in my opinion – but not by much.  There are a number of very cool shots in the set, and I’m impressed with how well the design works for horizontal cards.

Of note – this is one year where finishing the “master set” was easy for how I define it!  There aren’t any inserts aside from the Topps gold parallels.  Topps  scrapped the Glossy send-in cards after the 1990 set, and they scrapped the Glossy All-Star / Rookie inserts after the 1991 set.  So there really isn’t anything other than the base and Traded sets.  There is an autograph of Brien Taylor that comes with the Topps Gold factory set, but that’s in the category of “other” as I see it (though I do have the Taylor auto).

Info about my set:

How I put the set together:

  • 508 cards from the wax box
  • 10 cards from a card show
  • 274 cards from trades

Card that completed my set:  #485 – Chris Sabo (see photo below in the Reds section).  One of 3 cards received in a trade with Nolan’s Dugout that completed the set.

92 Topps Sabo

Read the rest of this entry »

Recap – Completed decade, a last look Topps in the 1980’s

28 05 2013

Just like my top 10, I wanted to put together one post that summarizes everything I just did from the 1980’s decade in Topps.  I still have some inserts to finish up to wrap a complete bow on the decade, but the main part of my lifetime Topps project is done for 1980-1989.

The majority of the information below is stuff I’ve covered previously – this is a summary.  If you want the greater detail for some of this, click on “Topps 1980s” over in the right hand column.

Info about my decade:

How I put the decade together:

A total of 8,976 for the decade, including the Topps Traded sets.

  • 4,102 from wax boxes
  • 1,939 from other forms of original Topps packaging – 1,240 from vending boxes, 296 from Jumbo Packs, 279 from a Cello Box, 122 from Rack Packs, 2 from a 1983 Michigan Test pack
  • 1,301 from trades
  • 1,188 from purchasing the Traded boxed sets
  • 380 cards I already had at home in good condition (all 1986)
  • 41 single card purchases – 38 from Sportlots, 1 from a card shop (80 Schmidt), 1 from COMC (83 Ripken), 1 from eBay (82 Ripken)
  • 25 from other methods – 13 from a Target Re-pack and 12 from the Diamond Giveaway

Card that completed my decade: 1982 Topps #21 – Cal Ripken RC

1982 Topps Ripken RC

Decade composition (number that are from Topps Traded in parentheses if applicable):

  • 7,894 individual player cards (1,118 of which are in Traded).
  • 78 Future Stars tri-player cards.
  • 37 Team USA player cards (21 from Traded).
  • 21 Draft Pick cards.
  • 274 Manager cards (40 from Traded).
  • 182 Team Leaders.
  • 176 All-Stars.
  • 52 Record Breakers.
  • 40 In Action.
  • 39 League Leaders.
  • 34 Super Veterans.
  • 20 Turn Back the Clock.
  • 18 Season Highlights.
  • 18 Active Leaders.
  • 14 Father Son.
  • 6 Tribute.
  • 4 Post-Season Highlights.
  • 69 checklists.

Representation of the decade: The 1980-1989 Topps sets should, in theory, tell the story of the 1979-1988 MLB seasons.  Since I’m including 1989 Topps Traded, it also includes rookies from the 1989 season.  So it isn’t quite the decade of the 80′s when you do this comparison – it’s 11 years instead.  During those 11 seasons, 2,411 different players graced the fields of Major League ballparks.

Of the cards from the base and future stars subset cards listed above, there are 1,828 different players featured.

To this number, there are 7 players from subsets to add because they played in the “decade” but didn’t have any regular Topps cards.  On the flip side, there are 8 players to subtract who had regular cards but didn’t actually play in the decade.  You can see the details of who they are in my earlier post.

Those 1,827 players represent 75.8% of the 2,411 players from 1979-1989.

Last active player from this decade: #122T – Omar Vizquel, 1989 Topps Traded

89 TT Vizquel

Vizquel played his last game for Toronto on October 3rd last year, the last game of the season.  The Blue Jays moved him back to short for one last game after he’d only played 2-3x a week at 2B or 3B over the final 2 months.  Unfortunately, he didn’t turn a double play that game, though no player in history has turned more.  He went 1 for 3 to finish his career with 2,877 hits, the most of any player from Venezuela.  He has over 400 stolen bases, and over 1400 runs.  Possibly the greatest defensive shortstop in history, he has the highest fielding percentage of any MLB shortstop, he’s played in the most games at that position, and his game on October 3rd is the standard for the oldest player to play that position (a record he’d broken earlier in the year).  He beats out Jamie Moyer, the only other player with a Topps card from the 80’s to play in 2012.

Player with the most cards in the set: Pete Rose – 33 cards

Take a look at the post for the details and the card pictures, but he had 8 base cards, 1 Topps Traded card, 5 Manager cards, and 19 subsets (6 from the 86 Tribute).

First Card and the Hundreds: George Brett – 9 cards

I actually didn’t do this in an earlier post, but George Brett has the most “special number” cards.  He has 9, which is one more than Reggie Jackson and two more than Mike Schmidt.  Reggie had a special number in all 8 years he had a card – but didn’t have a Topps card in 1988 or 1989 after he’d retired.  What puts Brett over the top is 1981 – he had a League Leader card as #1 with Bill Buckner for winning the batting title, so he had 2 “special numbers” in that set.

Highest book value: 1982 Topps Traded #98T – Cal Ripken RC

82 TT HOFers

Books for around 150 bucks.  To find a really good copy, it might cost even more than that…

Most notable card: I had to go with a 3-way tie here.  All of these are fairly significant cards in the history of the hobby.

  • 1982 Topps Traded #98T – Cal Ripken RC (see above)
  • 1980 Topps #482 – Rickey Henderson RC (see below)
  • 1985 Topps #401 – Mark McGwire OLY RC

85T RCs McGwire

Best card (my opinion): 1980 Topps #482 – Rickey Henderson

1980 Henderson Ryan Ozzie

Second best card (also my opinion): #1989 Topps Traded #41T – Ken Griffey Jr.

89 TT Griffey Jr

I like that this also serves as the “best Traded card”.

Best subset card: 1988 Topps Record Breaker #4 – Eddie Murray

1988 Topps Eddie Murray RB

Favorite action photo: #111 – Carlton Fisk IA

1982 Topps IA Fisk

Favorite non-action photo: 1980 Topps #400 – George Foster

1980 Big Red 3

My Favorite Reds card: 1986 Topps #206 – Pete Rose RB

86T Pete Rose cards

Back to the basics – Recap – best 10 Topps cards of the 1980’s

27 05 2013

As the title implies, I’m going to make a bit of a change in focus for this blog.  I think for the better.  I started this blog to be my own personal “Lifetime Topps Project”, which meant that I was going to collect every Topps set (& inserts) from the year I was born – 1980 – until the year I started the project – 2009.  And I’d fill in 2010 and later along the way.  But I’ve also gotten really interested in retro sets and that’s sidetracked me from the main project.  I want to start making a better dent in the main project, and I think the blog will flow better if I stay on track.  I’ll still do posts when I complete any insert sets (retro or Topps flagship), and I’ll continue to do some Saturday Suds posts here and there.  But I’m gonna stay away from buying new retro set releases for a while.  That means no Archives in 2013 (or at least not right now), but I guess I’ll live!

Before I recapped my purchases of Turkey Red, Topps Heritage and Gypsy Queen, I had done a bunch of look backs to the 1980’s Topps base sets.  This was because I had finished the base sets for the entire decade.  I looked at everything from who was the last active player to what percentage of players from the decade was represented in those 10 years of sets.  And I did a top 10 list of cards from the decade.

To get back into the swing of things, here’s the full list of those top 10 cards from Topps sets in the 1980’s.  Tomorrow I’ll do a recap of all the other stuff I did, but this first one is to show all of my top 10 cards in one post.  Here they are in order, from Honorable Mention to #1, with no words, just pictures!

85T RCs McGwire

85T young starts

86T Pete Rose cards

83 Topps best card Yaz

1980 Big Red 3

1984 Topps Yount

1988 Topps Wade Boggs

82 TT HOFers

1987 Topps Bo Jackson

89 TT Griffey Jr

1980 Henderson Ryan Ozzie

The Henderson card ranks #6 on the Topps 60 list.  Here’s the cards from the 1980’s that are on that list, and where I ranked them in my countdown (if I did) in parentheses.  Since my selections weren’t rookie card heavy until the very top, I only have some cross over at that point.

  • #5 – 1989 TRADED Griffey Jr. RC (#2 on my list)
  • #6 – 1980 Henderson RC (#1)
  • #8 – 1986 TRADED B. Jackson XRC (silly, the 87 Topps card is much better!)
  • #11 – 1985 McGwire OLY RC (honorable mention)
  • #12 – 1982 TRADED Ripken (#4)
  • #17 – 1987 Bonds RC
  • #19 – 1984 Mattingly RC
  • #21 – 1984 Strawberry RC
  • #28 – 1982 Ripken RC
  • #32 – 1985 Gooden RB
  • #38 – 1985 Puckett RC
  • #39 – 1985 Clemens RC
  • #42 – 1983 Gwynn RC
  • #45 – 1987 McGwire
  • #53 – 1987 TRADED Maddux XRC
  • #54 – 1989 R. Johnson RC
  • #59 – 1983 Boggs RC

Completed insert set – 1996 Classic Confrontations

26 05 2013

I completed an insert earlier this year from 1996 Topps – Classic Confrontations.  This one was completely from “other” means – as in none of the cards came from packs.  That’s because these were only available back in 1996 through special retail packs in Wal-Mart, and I certainly wasn’t opening any packs that specialized in my quest.  Plus, I like Target better anyways!

Info about the set:

Set description: Inside white borders, the fronts show player cutouts on a brownish rock background featuring a shadow image of the player. The player’s name is in gold foil across the bottom. The backs of the hitters’ cards are aqua and present headshots and statistics.  The statistics presented are what get into the “confrontation” theme of this set – the cards show how the player did against the best pitchers / hitters in the game.  The first 10 cards are hitters, the next 5 are pitchers.

Set composition: 15 cards, 1:5 odds (1996 Topps Wal-Mart series 1 retail packs only)

Hall of Famers: 7. Ripken, Gwynn, Puckett, Thomas, Maddux, Glavine, Johnson

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from a trade
  • 14 cards from Sportlots

Thoughts on the set:  These are so-so.  I don’t like specialized retail-only inserts. The design on the front isn’t anything spectacular, though I do appreciate the backs.  It’s pretty neat to see how someone did against the best in the game.  For example, Ken Griffey Jr. is pretty bad against all the aces they put on the back of his card, except for Roger Clemens.

Card that completed my set: #CC3 – Edgar Martinez

I had this down to 1 card for quite a while, and I got the card for Edgar in February this year from Sportlots.

Highest book value: #CC2 – Cal Ripken, #CC6 – Barry Bonds

This isn’t the most valuable set – just $1.25 per Beckett for these two guys.

Best card (my opinion): #CC11 – Randy Johnson

When in doubt I usually default to Griffey, but I like the shot of the Big Unit following through on a pitch.

My Favorite Reds card:  #CC7 – Reggie Sanders

The only one in the set.

1996 Topps Classic Confrontations

1996 Topps Classic Confrontations_0001

Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #31 – Burger Beer

25 05 2013

On to my next “Saturday Suds”, which I’m posting about every other weekend these days.  This is where I post about a beer that has something to do with baseball (or at least I’ll try to figure out some way to correlate it with baseball).  I’m going to start doing some beer from my hometown Cincinnati, and Burger Beer is a great place to start.


Burger beer canBrewery:  Christian Moerlein Brewing Company in Cincinnati, OH (formerly by Hudepohl Brewing Co. in Cincinnati, formerly by Burger Brewing Co. in Cincinnati, OH)

Beer:  Bürger Classic Beer

Description: Bürger Beer looks and tastes similar to what you’d expect from an american pale lager. It has a golden color, though it’s a darker, fuller gold.  You can taste the grain and malt, and it does have some bitterness to it.  Overall, it’s a great beer to drink while watching a Reds game on a warm summer day!

Medium:  I bought a 12-pack of cans in Cincinnati (actually – from the Party Source in Northern Kentucky).

How it’s related to baseball: This beer was the sponsor of the Cincinnati Reds for nearly 25 years back in the days of Crosley Field and Waite Hoyt.  Hoyt became the Reds broadcaster in 1942 and held that role for the next quarter century.

Burger beer CrosleyEarly on in that tenure, Bürger was the sponsor of the Reds – and Hoyt as the broadcaster was associated with the beer.  When a Reds player would hit a home run into the right field Sun Deck at Crosley Field, Hoyt would chime “he hit it to Burgerville!”.

Burger seems to have gone all out as the Reds sponsor.  There are oversized black and white baseball cards they sponsored that were issued in the late 50’s and early 60’s:

Burger Beer Frank Robinson

I’ve seen them advertising in score cards dated as late as 1966.  Burger Brewing was the largest local brewer in Cincinnati for most of this time.  However, in 1973 they abruptly went out of business and shut down.  Competing Cincinnati brewer Hudepohl purchased the brand names and recipes, however Hudepohl itself eventually went out of business, so fast forward again about 20 years.  A local Cincinnati resident purchased the Christian Moerlein brand and successfully brought that back.  He then began purchasing many other Cincinnati beer brands, including Hudepohl and Bürger.  Bürger was brought back – and the initial kick off celebration of the brand reintroduction was actually held at the Reds’ Hall of Fame on May 29, 2009.  Fans who attended got Bürger Beer, eat hot dogs, and watch the Reds away game at the Palace of the Fans theater in the Hall of Fame!

Reds Scorecard - 1966 - Burger Beer

Here’s the description from the Bürger website:

“Bürger’s history started in Cincinnati when the Bürger family established a malting business to supply fine malted barley to breweries throughout the Ohio Valley. After the repeal of Prohibition, the Bürger family took those same fine ingredients to produce their own brand of high quality beers in 1934. A Cincinnati tradition was officially born in Bürger Classic and Bürger Light beers.

Bürger beers became legend as the beer of the Cincinnati Reds with famed Reds radio broadcaster Waite Hoyt appointing the storied Crosley Field sun deck as “Burgerville”. Bürger beer also became an American legend as one of only a few beers shipped in olive-drab cans to Army troops during World War II.

Following a brief hiatus, Cincinnati’s original Bürger Beer and Bürger Light are back! The crisp, clean, and refreshing beers you grew to love are now available in both six and twelve can packs. This is your grandfather’s beer! And let’s face it… your grandfather was cool.”

Gypsy Queen retail purchases

23 05 2013

I bought a few different types of retail packs for 2013 Gypsy Queen as well.  I purchased a blaster, a single retail “loosey”, and one of the 3-pack jumbo / rack packs that have the white border parallels.

I didn’t get any more SP’s toward my set, but I did get to check out the white parallel cards, which are very nice.  So nice, that I kind of wish this was closer to the border color that Topps went with for the regular set.

2013 Gypsy Queen retail white parallel

I also did pretty well getting “hits” from these purchases – though it was of the relic variety, not the autograph kind.  I got a framed mini of Eric Hosmer, a relic of Mitch Moreland.

2013 Gypsy Queen retail Hosmer

2013 Gypsy Queen retail Moreland

And I also got a blue framed paper (#/499) of Carlos Santana – who is doing very well for my fantasy baseball team!

2013 Gypsy Queen blue framed Carlos Santana

But the bigger pulls for me were from a team that is slowly becoming a rival (or at least potential competition) to the Reds in the Central division.  I got two minis of Pirate players.  One was of Hall of Fame second baseman Bill Mazeroski – the man with the biggest hit in Pirate history.  And, in my opinion, the 3rd biggest home run in baseball history (I’d go with Thomson and Aaron above his).

2013 Gypsy Queen black Mazeroski

Pretty nice there.  But, the last pack I opened from the jumbo netted me the best pull from 2013 Gypsy Queen.  Far better than anything I’d pulled in the hobby boxes.

Yes, this probably qualifies as BIG MAJOR MOJO BEDONK-A-DONK!!!!

A newer Pirate, a guy who will very possibly win an MVP someday – Andrew McCutchen.  This is the wood minis, which are numbered out of 5.  Very cool!

2013 Gypsy Queen wood McCutchen