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.
General set info:
Set composition: 792 cards (728 individual player cards*, 9 4-player Prospects, 23 Managers, 6 Checklists, 4 Record Breakers, 22 All-Stars)
*The 728 individual player cards include 10 All-Star Rookies, 26 Draft Picks
Representation of ’91 MLB season: Counting subsets there are 764 player cards. None of the 36 players from the Prospect subset played in 1991, and neither did any of the 26 draft picks. Of the 702 remaining player cards, 3 players (Bert Blyleven, Joe Magrane and John Farrell) didn’t play in 1991 because they were injured. The 699 players represent 67.3% out of the ~1,034 players who played in MLB in 1991.
Last active player from this set: #768 – Jim Thome
Thome, Chipper Jones and Omar Vizquel all played their last regular season games on October 3, 2012. Vizquel’s Blue Jays didn’t make the playoffs, and Chipper’s Braves lost in the one-game Wild Card playoff to the Cardinals. Thome’s Orioles did them one better, as they beat the Rangers in the AL Wild Card matchup. In the ALDS, the Orioles lost in 5 games to the Yankees. Thome played in three of those five games, his last game as a DH in game 4, when he went 1 for 4. His last hit was a single in the 9th inning (tie game) off Rafael Soriano; Lew Ford pinch ran for him.
Jamie Moyer also played in 2012 but his last game was in May. Like Thome, he still hasn’t officially announced retirement. Also, Jason Giambi is in the Topps Traded set, and he’s still active in 2013. (BTW, I went with the Gold Winner card because I have a previous scan of that card – trying to save space wherever possible!)
Player with the most cards in the set: There are only 2 subsets that aren’t the player’s “base” card – 4 Record Breakers and 22 All-Stars. No player has a card in both subsets, so you’ve got 26 players in the set with 2 cards.
First Card and the Hundreds: #1 – Nolan Ryan, #100 – Jose Canseco, #200 – Lenny Dykstra, #300 – Don Mattingly, #400 – Cal Ripken AS, #500 – Vince Coleman, #600 – Paul Molitor, #700 – Ruben Sierra
Ryan garnered card #1 for the 3rd year in a row.
Highest book value: #156 – Manny Ramirez DP RC
Most notable card: #156 – Manny Ramirez DP RC
There aren’t a bunch of notable cards in this set, though I do think the Ripken probably has some of that. You could say the Henderson card is pretty notable, as breaking Brock’s career record was a big deal. But I don’t really remember that card as being a big must-have for commemorating that achievement. Some of the other sets in were bigger; I think of card #636 in 1991 Upper Deck when he’s holding a base with Lou Brock. So I’d have to think a draft pick card of Manny, who is one of the greatest pure hitters (i.e., let’s not get into base running or fielding) of our lifetime.
As the only noteworthy rookie card, Manny easily carries the highest “book value”. It was also ranked #52 in Topps list of the top 60 Topps cards that came out in 2010. But it’s not the best card in my opinion…
Best card (my opinion): #40 – Cal Ripken
Remember, this was before Ripken had the record. In fact, it was well before – more than 3 years prior when this card was issued and probably more than 4 years early when the photo was taken. It’s photos like this that make you really appreciate a baseball card. I don’t see quite so many of these any more.
Second best card (also my opinion): #50 – Ken Griffey Jr.
An awesome shot of Griffey sliding into 3rd base, looking to call time. I’m guessing the throw may have been wide, and he’s checking to see if it was off enough to head for home. This card goes really well with the design of the set – I think the horizontal cards tend to be the best in 1992. Griffey narrowly beats out a Frank Thomas posed card. I’m biased as Griffey’s my favorite player – I certainly don’t have a dog named “Big Hurt” – so that’s one to consider as well.
Best subset card: #2 – Rickey Henderson RB
I said earlier I think of another card before this one when I think of Rickey breaking Lou Brock’s career record. That doesn’t mean this card isn’t awesome, and it’s definitely the best subset card in 1992 Topps. Especially since it shows the actual moment (stealing 3rd base in Oakland on May 1 against the Yankees), and especially since there isn’t a lot of competition in that set.
Favorite action photo: (tie) #550 – Darryl Strawberry / #457 – Hubie Brooks
Based purely on the action, these two win in a close one over the Griffey card. Barry Bonds, Shane Mack and Steve Sax also had cool action shots.
These get helped by the pure similarity of the photos. The shot is from the same vantage point at Shea Stadium – with the player depicted on the card rounding third. In both cards, you can see the second base umpire following a ball that appears to have been hit to left field. You also get a good look at a runner heading toward second. In Strawberry’s case, it looks like his teammate is coasting into second waiting to see what happens with a throw toward home – so my guess (which turns out to be correct) was that the runner reaching second was not the batter (i.e., he was a runner on first ahead of Straw being advanced – my guess would prove correct). The other option would have been a double where Strawberry was on first. In the Brooks card, his teammate is legging his way toward second, so this could be a double where Brooks was on second but had to wait for a catch, or he was running on the play from first.
I’m going to look into these cards a bit more – see tomorrow’s post.
Favorite non-action photo: #40 – Ripken (see above)
Other than the Ramirez, I think this is the most notable card from the set. There are a number of good pose shots in this set. See some of those below.
My Favorite Reds card: #485 – Chris Sabo (see above)
This isn’t the best set for Reds cards, though this Sabo is pretty good. Clearly Wrigley Field, and it looks like he may have knocked a foul ball down the 3rd base line. This beats out an Eric Davis card that is a pretty cool pose photo where he’s in a throwback uniform. And a good shot of Larkin batting.
Topps Reprints and others:
- 1999 Ryan reprints – Nolan Ryan
- 2001 Through the Years – Ken Griffey Jr.
- 2001 Archives – Dwight Evans, Goose Gossage
- 2001 Archives Rookie Reprints – Pokey Reese, Shawn Green, Manny Ramirez
- 2001 Topps Traded – Jack Morris (’92T)
- 2002 Archives – Dennis Eckersley
- 2002 Gallery Heritage – Green
- 2003 Gallery Heritage – Jim Thome, Nomar Garciaparra (’92T)
- 2005 Rookie Cup Reprints – Chuck Knoblauch, Jeff Bagwell, Luis Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez
- 2010 CMT – Ramirez, Cal Ripken, Don Mattingly
- 2011 60YOT – Frank Thomas, Wade Boggs
- 2011 Lineage Autographed Reprints – Roberto Alomar
Manny is the only player with multiple reprints.
Other Notable Cards: No other historically noteworthy cards, so like I said. So I figured I’d scan some of the cards that I mentioned above that didn’t make the “medal stand”.
My “Master” Set Info:
1,146 cards – 792 “base”, 326 “update”, 28 “other”
- Update sets: Traded, ML Debut
- Other sets: 3 different 9-card promo sheets (2 base, 1 gold), 1 Topps Golden Spikes promo
How I put the additional sets together: I purchased them all separately on eBay a little over 2 years ago
Update set composition: 132 cards (102 players, 26 Team USA, 3 Managers, 1 checklist)
In the update set not in the base set: 31 players, 3 managers
Total in base and update sets: 795 different players, 29 managers, 26 Team USA
Highest book value in the update set: #39T – Nomar Garciaparra RC, #42T – Jason Varitek RC
Most notable card from the Update set: #39T – Nomar Garciaparra RC, #42T – Jason Varitek RC
I’d say these are equally notable. Nomar is probably the greater player historically, but this card of Varitek was interesting because he refused to sign with Topps for most of his career, so this was his last Topps card until 2007.
ML Debut set composition: 194 cards (192 players, 2 checklists)
In the ML Debut set not in the base or update set: 91 players
Total in base, update and ML Debut sets: 886 different players, 29 managers, 26 Team USA