Completed set & master set – one last look at 1993 Topps

7 07 2013

1993 was the year I got back into collecting cards after a few year hiatus.  I had gone from a 7 or 8-year old collecting 1987 and 88 Topps to a much wiser young teenager who had missed the whole Upper Deck phenomenon.  1993 Topps certainly seemed like an improvement to some of the years of Topps I’d missed – it was glossy after all and had more colorized photos – but it still seemed inferior to the glitz that Upper Deck was putting out there like their base set and SP.  And it even paled in comparison next to Topps’ other products like Stadium Club and the almighty Topps Finest (which I couldn’t afford but could certainly drool over at card shows).

I mentioned this when I wrapped up the 1992 set, but this was a transition time for the Topps base set.  In 1991, the photography got markedly better, and in 1992 the card stock was upgraded to white stock.  In 1993, the cards went slightly glossy with a color photo on the back.  The final transformation would be a year later when, in 1994, base Topps got the super-glossy UV coating.  I guess you could say in 1995 they went a step further with gold foil on the base cards.  All this led to significant increases in pack prices, by the way

Today I’m older, wiser, and in another phase where I’ve come back to baseball cards.  And I appreciate the 1993 Topps set more than I used to.  It’s no Upper Deck 1993.  I don’t know of any set that is.  In 1993, Upper Deck basically kicked ass, because honestly just about everything they did was awesome (in my humble opinion).  But ’93 Topps has some good photography, I actually like the light glossy effect on the cards.  And I appreciate going different with the vertical back design.

Like 1992, this is one year where finishing the “master set” was very easy for how I define it.  There is one insert set – Black Gold, and I already had it when I started this collection.  Topps Traded was still around, but in factory set form, so that was easy to check off my list.  I also go after the promo sets, but the ones from this year weren’t too difficult to find.  And the MLB Debut set ended after 1992 – so this will be a full-blown “master set” post.

One last thing to note – this is the first set I finished that was issued in 2 series, so I opened two boxes total.  It’s the largest Topps set ever issued at 825 cards.

Info about my set:

How I put the set together:

  • 307 cards from the series 1 wax box
  • 345 cards from the series 2 wax box
  • 16 cards I found I already had previously at my parents’ house
  • 1 card from a card show
  • 156 cards from trades

Card that completed my set: #630 – Mark Grace.  One of 3 cards received in a trade with Nolan’s Dugout that completed the set.  Kyle also provided the final card for the ’92 set.

1993 Topps Mark Grace 630 last card

General set info:

Set composition: 825 cards (728 individual player cards*, 10 4-player Top Prospects, 14 Managers, 11 All-Stars, 6 checklists)

*The 700 individual player cards include 10 All-Star Rookies, 28 Draft Picks, 26 Coming Attractions, 1 “Russian Angels” 3-player card, and 16 Expansion 2-player prospect cards

Representation of ’92 MLB season: There are 5 players featured on two regular cards in the set as they are shown in a Rockies or Marlins uniform in series 2.  So, if you do all that math from above, there are 837 different players on cards in 1993 Topps.  None of the players from the Draft Picks or Expansion prospects made the big leagues in 1992, none of the 3 “Russian Angels” ever made the majors, 34 of Top Prospects and 6 of the Coming Attractions didn’t play in the majors in ’92, and there were 16 other Marlins & Rockies throughout series 2 who didn’t play in 1992.

Of the 716 remaining players, there were 5 guys with “regular” cards who didn’t play in 1992 as well.  Youngsters Chris George (Brewers), Todd Van Poppel (A’s), Jeff Juden (Astros) and Kevin Flora (Angels) all played briefly in 1991 but didn’t get a cup of coffee in 1992.  And Bo Jackson had a card despite being out all of 1992 recovering from hip replacement surgery.  The 711 players represent 70.6% out of the ~1,007 players who played in MLB in 1992.

Last active player from this set: #98 – Derek Jeter (rated #20 in Topps vote of 60 best cards)

93topps Rookie Jeter

Jeter is the only player still active who is in this set.

Technically, he’s on the DL and his last game was game 1 of the ALDS last year.  This would still have him beating out Jim Thome by about 3 days as the last active player.  In addition to Jeter and Thome, Chipper Jones and Omar Vizquel are in this set.  All 4 of these guys played their last regular season game on 10/3/12, though Jeter will make that a moot point soon.

Player with the most cards in the set: 27 players with 2 cards in the set.  The 22 players featured on the All-Star cards and then 5 players mentioned above with both a series 1 and series 2 regular card.

Topps started going with a lot more draft pick and prospect cards in 1993, removing the more traditional subsets in the process.

First Card and the Hundreds: #1 – Robin Yount, #100 – Mark McGwire, #200 – Kirby Puckett, #300 – Cal Ripken, #400 – Bo Jackson, #500 – Jose Canseco, #600 – Bret Saberhagen, #700 – Nolan Ryan, #800 – Shawn Jeter

1993 Topps first and 00s

Highest book value: #98 – Derek Jeter DP RC (see above)

Most notable card: #98 – Derek Jeter DP RC (see above)

Like Manny the year before, this is easily the most notable card in this set.  And, as the only noteworthy rookie card (sorry Jim Edmonds), Jeter easily carries the highest “book value”.

Best card (my opinion): #52 – Bobby Bonilla

1993 Topps best card Bonilla

I imagine this is a card where there could be quite a bit of disagreement.  And to each his own.  This doesn’t feature a baseball action shot, or even a pose in an actual baseball environment.  Bonilla (and Bonds a year later) were such big free agent signings.  They felt like the first really huge free agent moves in baseball history.  At some level, they were, because Bonilla signed the largest contract ever in 1992 when he left Pittsburgh for the Mets.  Bonds passed him the next year when he left for the Giants.

Anyways, like him or not and question his tenure in New York, I think this card captures a bit of baseball history in a unique way.  And New York City has always held a special allure to me.

Second best card (also my opinion): #200 – Kirby Puckett

1993 Topps 2nd best card Puckett

Another card with a contrived photo.  But that’s ok – it’s another cool contrived photo.  This card, featuring Puckett posing with a giant baseball bat, was actually the same photo that Sports Illustrated used when it put Puckett on the front cover of its 1992 baseball preview issue.

Best subset card: #409 – Greg Maddux / Roger Clemens AS

1993 Topps best subset Clemens Maddux AS

Tom Glavine and Kevin Brown were the actual starters from the 1992 All-Star game, but that’s OK.  This card captures (arguably) the 2 greatest pitchers of our lifetime.  Of course, you didn’t know that then that they would win a combined 709 games and 11 Cy Young awards, but it’s cool they were both on this same card.

Favorite action photo: #50 – Roberto Alomar

1993 Topps best action Alomar

This card is pure awesome.  The dust settling.  Carlos Baerga sliding into second to break up the potential double play. Alomar (who would someday take that spot at second base Baerga held in Cleveland) looking on after the throw, mid-air with his leg kicked up.  Mel Harder’s retired number in the background at old Municipal Stadium.  I won’t lie, I had to look up who the hell Mel Harder was, bujt it’s still cool.  He won over 220 games, by the way.

The McGwire (show above as it’s card #100) and Gary Carter’s card, which shows a play at the plate with Fred McGriff, are also some pretty good action shots I considered.

Favorite non-action photo: #52 – Bonilla (see above)

Best card overall, and best pose to me.  Just beating out that Puckett.

My Favorite Reds card: #515 – Greg Swindell

1993 Topps best Red Swindell

Swindell had a pretty decent year with the Reds during his lone season in Cincinnati in 1992.  This is a cool photo.  Beats out a pretty good card of Tom Browning.

Topps Reprints and others:

  • 1999 Ryan reprints – Nolan Ryan
  • 2001 Through the Years – Derek Jeter
  • 2001 Archives – Gary Carter, Bert Blyleven, Jack Clark, Carlton Fisk, Dale Murphy, Frank Tanana
  • 2001 Archives Rookie Reprints – Jeter, Jim Edmonds, Preston Wilson
  • 2001 Topps Traded – Mike Piazza (’93T), Barry Bonds (’93T)
  • 2002 Archives – Lenny Dykstra
  • 2002 Archives Reprints – Mike Piazza, Pedro Martinez
  • 2002 Gallery Heritage – Bret Boone, Mike Piazza (just his part of the card), Martinez
  • 2003 Gallery Heritage – Jeter
  • 2005 Rookie Cup Reprints – Eric Karros, Jeff Kent, Kenny Lofton, Moises Alou, Reggie Sanders
  • 2010 CMT – Jeter, Ozzie Smith, Frank Thomas
  • 2011 60YOT – Edmonds, Craig Biggio
  • 2013 Rookie Card Patch – Jeter

Jeter comes in with 5 reprints, 3 more than Edmonds, Martinez and (sort of) Piazza’s quad player prospect card.

Other Notable Cards: The big thing with this set was that series 2 featured over 60 players dressed in Rockies and Marlins uniforms.  It certainly seemed like there were 2 or 3 in every pack.  Some would have 2 guys per pack – like the first two players signed for each team – Clemente Nunez for the Marlins and Ryan Turner.  David Nied and Nigel Wilson were their first picks from other teams in the expansion draft.  Charles Johnson and John Burke were their first round picks from 1992 – but neither has a card in this set for some reason.

93topps Rockies Marlins

My Master” Set Info:

1,119 cards – 825 “base”, 132 “update”, 44 “insert”, 19 “other”

  • Update set: Traded
  • Insert set: Black Gold
  • Other sets: 2 different 9-card promo sets, Topps Golden Spikes promo

How I put the additional sets together:

Traded – eBay

Promos – eBay

Black Gold – 1 card from the series 2 wax box, the other 43 I filled as I actually had the set from back in my previous card collecting life

Update set composition: 132 cards (108 players, 22 Team USA, 1 Manager (dual), 1 checklist)

In the update set not in the base set: 55 players, 2 managers

Total in base and update sets: 892 different players, 28 managers, 22 Team USA

Highest book value in the update set: #19T – Todd Helton USA RC

Most notable card from the Update set: #19T – Todd Helton USA RC

1993 topps traded helton

There’s a Mike Piazza in the Traded set that’s his first single player Topps card – considering how big his 1993 rookie season was, that’s a pretty big card.  And Barry Bonds has his first Topps flagship card with the Giants is in this set.  But the Helton USA card trumps all of those.

Most notable insert card: Black Gold #1 – Barry Bonds

1993 Topps Black Gold Barry Bonds

Best insert card: Black Gold #1 – Barry Bonds

The first card from Topps first modern insert set, before the floodgates opened for this type of thing.  Bonds was coming off of his 2nd MVP in 3 seasons with Pittsburgh (and he should have won it in 1991), and was about to win a 3rd on the other side of the country after besting Bonilla’s free agent contract and signing in San Francisco.

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