Go Blue! And Explain yourself!

31 08 2013

No baseball cards today, and no Saturday Suds either!  Hopefully the Wolverines start off a good season today!

michigan helmet

Also – the blog “It’s like having your own card shop” is having a fun little game.   It’s asking any card bloggers out there to explain their blog name.   Here’s what I posted there:

Mine is Lifetime Topps – which I think is fairly self-explanatory if you consider the longer name, which is “Lifetime Topps Project”.  I’m chronicling my attempt at all the Topps sets since 1980, when I was born.  Including the inserts and the Traded sets – which I decided along the way.   I know I’m not unique in doing this kind of project – but maybe the first blogger to try to follow it from beginning to end.  Collecting every Topps set since 1980 was always something I wanted to do.  Rickey Henderson is one of my favorite players, and since his rookie card is from the year I was born – that always seemed to go well.  And using a blog to track what I’m doing seemed like a great idea.  Along the way, I’ve made a lot of trades, learned a lot about baseball cards, and certainly gotten sidetracked from time to time!

I guess if you just heard “Lifetime Topps” – you might think I’m just a big Topps fan.  You know, like “Topps for life, you better believe it”.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I like Topps and the company’s history with the hobby and the sport of baseball itself – but for the from 1993 when I came back to collecting, until early 2010, I was certainly partial to Upper Deck.  I was actually trying to do something of a Lifetime Upper Deck project!

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t done any interruptions with all the retro sets I post about.  For one thing, I’d be done by now – at least with the base sets, anyways.  For another, it would be a more continuous read.  Those interruptions all started with 2011 Heritage 🙂


1998 Topps series 2 hobby box break

29 08 2013

As with series 1, I got a hobby box for series 2 in 1998 – the insert options between hobby and retail are about the same, as is the cost.

I had minimal issues with damaged card problems in series 1.  Not the case for series 2.  This was one of the worst boxes I’ve ever had from that perspective.  Basically, in every box, I had to pull the cards apart and keep my fingers crossed that there wasn’t damage from sticking.  Every pack had some damaged cards, sometimes over half the pack wasn’t really salvageable.  I’m a little picky on this – but if there’s “glitter” from the card in front of it on a card, I can’t really include it toward this project.  I even bent the rules on a few cards.  The collation was good, though – I got every card in the series in this box.  So the 33 cards I’m currently missing from series 2 are all from damaged cards.

Just like 1996 & 1997 – is anyone collecting the 1998 set?  I CAN HELP!!!!!!  And I still need some cards!!!!

I got no Clement Finest Reprints – those are 1:72, so after getting a refractor in s1, I can’t complain – just a couple of the regular reprints, which matches the odds.

1998 Topps s2 Clemente reprints

I got 4 Rookie Class cards, which is strangely more than you’re supposed to – they are 1:12 odds.

1998 Topps s2 Rookie Class

I didn’t get the 1 per box insert you are supposed to – Focal Points.  But I did get a 1:72 “hit” – clout nine.  This is an insert that has the best OPS players from each position.  Unfortunately, while this was beating the odds for this box, I got Jeff Blauser.  Nothing against Blauser – he’s a good player.  But Bonds or Griffey would have gone much further toward my “cost” to collect these inserts 🙂

1998 Topps s2 Clout Nine

I got 2 of these guys:

1998 Topps s2 Mystery Finest covered

Which turned into two of these:

1998 Topps s2 Mystery Finest bordered

I’m pretty happy getting 2 of the easiest pulls.  Those are the two I’ll collect.  You could have gotten bordered, borderless, or refractors of either.  I’m collecting the bordered, so while the sale potential was there for refractors or borderless – I’m fine with the Jones boys from Atlanta’s late 1990’s semi-dynasty.

I also got 5 of the parallel inserts – Minted in Cooperstown.  Which is the expected odds there.  It’s interesting.  Today you have Topps Gold as the main parallel.  Which is basically the same border as the base cards from 1998…

1998 Topps s2 box Minted in Cooperstown

As always, the numbers below don’t factor in the damaged cards – I’m tracking this to know what it would have been if I had bought the cards in 1998 when they came out.

Stats for the box:

36 packs per box * 11 cards per pack = 396 cards

143 doubles

18 triples

221 of the 221 card set. (100% set completion)

5 Minted in Cooperstown

2 Clemente Reprints

4 Rookie Class

2 Mystery Finest Bordered

1 Clout 9

Including the first box:

497 / 503 of the base cards (99%)

1998 Topps series 1 hobby box break

28 08 2013

After going retail in 1996 and 1997, I went back to buying hobby boxes to work on my 1998 collection.  I don’t think the difference in price between hobby boxes and retail was very much, and I in fact couldn’t really find retail boxes except on eBay for more than I’d want to pay.  Both of my 1998 hobby boxes came from Dave and Adam’s Card World and were around 30 bucks, give or take.  The insert set differences didn’t seem too significant – there’s one insert in each series that is hobby or retail exclusive.  I’m trying to collect them all, so I went hobby in this instance.  I’ll probably purchase hobby (or HTA jumbo) more often than not throughout the rest of this project.

The box collation was decent – I got all but 5 cards in the series.  You get just under 400 cards from the box, so missing 5 cards while getting 100 doubles isn’t great but isn’t awful, either.  I didn’t get the Clemente tribute card from the base set, which kind of stinks.  There were a few damaged cards, though none of it had to do with stickiness of the cards as you might expect.  The upper left group of packs all had some damage to the top left corner, which you can tell had to do with packaging.  I moved from New Jersey to Chicago with this box in tow, so it’s very possible that I did this in the move.  After damaged cards, I was missing 17 cards from the set.

On to the inserts…

Mystery Finest cards are back after (non-mystery?) Interleague Finest was inserted the year before.  These cards come 1 per box and actually have an Interleague theme as well, with one of four players on the back as your option.  Based on lines in the black “mystery cover”, I could actually tell it was going to be Sammy Sosa by comparing it to his picture on the back.  So the only mystery in peeling it was if it was a refractor or not (it wasn’t).  I must say, I like the design of these cards!

Roberto Clemente followed Mantle (’96) and Mays (’97) as the “throwback” inserts this year.  Both series 1 and 2 and include reprints and Finest reprints – with odd numbers in series 1 and even numbers in series 2.  I got 2 regular reprints – 1957 and 1967 – a decade apart.

My Finest card (1 per box) was a refractor.  That’s good, as they came every 8th box, but I’m collecting the regulars not the refractors!

There were also 3 of the 5 cards in the Clemente Tribute set that Topps did – I got cards 3, 4 and 5.

My 1997 series 1 box was a “”Griffey” box, but this one was a “Bonds” box.  I got two 1-per-box inserts that featured the slugger the year before he started juicing it up!  The first was the Hall Bound insert set, which is kind of funny in hindsight as he may have some difficulty getting there.  For what it’s worth, I’d vote for him.

I also got the Bonds Etch-A-Sketch insert.  These are kind of neat, but different from what Topps had done for inserts in the flagship set.

Topps had parallel inserts for the first time in 2 years – cards stamped with a Baseball Hall of Fame logo.  The Edmonds card is pretty nice.

Finally, I got a “Wild Card” from Memorabilia Madness.  14 years ago, I could have sent this bad boy in for a chance at something good.


As always, the stats below don’t factor out the “damaged” cards, as I think they’d have been fine if I had bought this box when it came out in 1998.  I got 12 damaged singles (none of the inserts were damaged) and about 15 or 20 damaged doubles.

Stats for the box:

36 packs per box * 11 cards per pack = 396 cards

104 doubles

277 of the 282 card series. (91% set completion)

5 “Minted in Cooperstown” parallels

3 Clemente Tribute

2 Clemente Reprints

1 Clemente Finest Refractor

1 Interleague Mystery Finest

1 Hall Bound

1 Etch-A-Sketch

1 Wild Card for Memorabilia Madness

1998 Topps Overview

27 08 2013

503 cards in the set – 282 in series 1 and 221 in series 2.  Card #7 was retired at this point in honor of Mickey Mantle (this was the 2nd year Topps did this).  This was a move up from 495 the year before and a low of 440 from 1996, but still the 3rd lowest thus far in the sets from my project.

1998 Topps pack and Griffey

  • Subsets: Season Highlights (#265-269, 474-478), Interleague Play (#270-274, 479-483), World Series (#277-283), Draft Picks (#245-249, 489-495), Prospects (#250-264, 484-488), Expansion (#496-501), and a Roberto Clemente Tribute (#21).  The Prospects cards are have 3 players, while Draft Picks cards again have 2.  Topps continued its string of tribute cards, this time with Clemente honored as it was the 25th anniversary of his tragic death.
  • Set Design: The card fronts feature a glossy player photo with a gold border – the second straight year Topps went away from a white border.  The player’s name is at the bottom in gold foil above his team name, over a design with the color and logo of his team.  The Topps logo is in a lower corner of the front.  The back of the card is horizontally positioned, with the player name, biographical information and card number across the top from left to right.  Position and team are just below the player name, along with seasonal and career statistics just below that.  Another player photo is below that along the right hand side.  A design with the team color and small team logos serves as the backdrop.
  • Packs: Topps stayed the same with 11 cards per retail and hobby packs.  Topps no longer listed MSRP on the packs or the boxes themselves, but I believe it was the same $1.29 from the previous three years.  The packs feature a shot of Juan Gonzalez, the Topps logo, the series and a list of what’s randomly inserted.  Series 2 also has a picture of Clemente on there.  There’s an H-logo on the hobby packs, and you can also tell from the list of inserts.  Most of the jumbo packs were hobby exclusive and contained 40 cards at 12 per box.  I’ve also seen a blaster box – which is the earliest I’ve seen – that had 22 packs (20 packs plus 2 bonus packs) at 8 cards each.
  • Rookies: This is again an unimpressive crop of rookies due to the Bowman effect.  Troy Glaus is the most notable rookie card.  However, there is a HUGE first Topps card, as Alex Rodriguez got included; he must have been a late addition as he was slotted as card #504 behind the 2 checklists, and his card made it an odd 220-card series 2.  Roy Halladay, David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre, Aramis Ramirez and Kerry Wood also have their first Topps cards.
  • Hall of Fame: There are 15 Hall of Famers in this set.  This is a decrease of 3 from the year before, and the fewest of any Topps set up to this time.  Clemente replaced Jackie Robinson as a tribute card.  Eddie Murray and Ryne Sandberg had their last cards, while Rickey Henderson was inexplicably left out of the set – despite the fact he is in one of the insert sets.  Because of this, Rickey doesn’t have a base Topps card depicting his brief tenure with the Angels.  There is one NFL Hall of Famer, as Deion Sanders was back with the Reds after a year off from baseball.
  • Variations: There actually aren’t any errors or variations that I know of in this set.

Both boxes feature pictures of spokesman Juan Gonzalez and Clemente on the front.  This was a good touch by Topps – as Gonzalez was considered by many to be the best player from Puerto Rica since Clemente.  In series 1, Gonzalez is waiting on a pitch to the right, while a smaller version of Clemente is in the middle of a red strip to the left.  Below Clemente is some write-up of what can be found in the box, and to the right of Gonzalez is writing telling you its 1998 Major League Baseball Series 1.  The Topps logo looms large at the top.

For the series two box, Gonzalez is on the left following through a swing, while a posed shot of Clemente is shown to the right.  The series and insert write-ups cover Gonzalez in this instance.

Series 1 hobby boxes also highlight the Clemente Memorabilia Madness – hobby boxes have the typical “H” designation on them.

The odds below are for hobby packs unless noted.

Promo Cards

Topps issued a pre-production set of 6 of the regular cards.

Update Sets

For the third straight year Topps didn’t issue a Traded set.

Parallel Sets

After two years without one, Topps issued a parallel set into packs.  This parallel set was called “Minted in Cooperstown”.  The cards have a bronze Hall of Fame stamp on them – and all the cards were in fact printed in Cooperstown using a portable press.

  • Minted in Cooperstown – 503 cards (1:8)

Topps also issued factory sets that were sold at the team stores of the expansion Diamondbacks and Devil Rays – just as they did in 1993.  These factory-only parallels had stamps of each team; Topps didn’t release production amounts for these sets.

  • Inaugural Devil Rays issue – 503 cards (factory)
  • Inaugural Diamondbacks – 503 cards (factory)

Insert sets

Roberto Clemente followed up Mantle and Mays as the tribute player this year, with reprints and Finest versions of all 19 of his Topps base cards from 1955 to 1973.  There was also a 5-card Clemente tribute set.

There were Finest-themed insert cards again; Mystery Finest cards were back after a year away.  In series 1, you would peel to find out which of 4 players from the card back were featured on the front.  In series 2, you knew the player, but you’d need to peel to see which of 4 options you’d pulled – bordered/non-bordered and regular/refractor.

There are two other insert sets from the list below worth pointing out.  Hall Bound was the first die-cut insert set Topps had ever issued.  6 of the 15 players from this set have in fact been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Additionally, the Flashback inserts were pretty cool photos of the players from earlier in their career – sometimes in different uniforms.

Topps continued to differentiate between hobby and retail with one hobby and one retail-only insert for each series.

  • Clemente Reprints – 19 cards (1:18)
  • Clemente Finest Reprints – 19 cards (1:36)
  • Clemente Tribute – 5 cards (1:12 series 1)
  • Mystery Finest Interleague – 20 cards (1:36 series 1)
  • Mystery Finest Bordered – 20 cards (1:36 series 2)
  • Etch-A-Sketch – 9 cards (1:36 series 1)
  • Flashback – 10 cards (1:72 series 1)
  • Hall Bound – 15 cards (1:36 series 1 hobby)
  • Baby Boomers – 15 cards (1:36 series 1 retail)
  • Rookie Class – 10 cards (1:12 series 2)
  • Clout Nine – 9 cards (1:72 series 2)
  • Focal Points – 15 cards (1:36 series 2 hobby)
  • Milestones – 10 cards (1:36 series 2 retail)

They also had “insert parallels” again – all relating to the Finest inserts.

  • Clemente Finest Refractors – 19 cards (1:288)
  • Mystery Finest Interleague Refractors – 20 cards (1:144 series 1)
  • Mystery Finest Borderless – 20 cards (1:72 series 2)
  • Mystery Finest Bordered Refractors – 20 cards (1:108 series 2)
  • Mystery Finest Borderless Refractors – 20 cards (1:288 series 2)

They also had a factory only version of the Clemente cards.

  • Clemente Last Day Production – 19 cards (1 per hobby factory set)

Autographs & Memorabilia

Topps didn’t directly insert autographs into packs like they had the year before – that’s not really possible with Clemente having passed away 25 years earlier.  Topps did something similar with what they’d done to honor Mantle in 1996 – they had a redemption program.  This was called “Memorabilia Madness”. There were 46 different cards available in series 1 packs, with varying number of each prize available – 854 in total.  There was a Wild Card insert as well that I think you needed to have one of to send along with one of the other 46 to get the prize.

  • Roberto Clemente Memorabilia Madness Redemption – 19 cards (1:2,400)
  • Wild Card Redemption

The prizes included 227 of his old Topps cards (3 of his 1955 Rookie Card), 500 uncut sheets of Topps “Minted in Cooperstown” parallels, 10 different autographed Topps cards (1 was his 1970 Topps Super), 1 Game-Used Jersey, 2 autographed Pirates World Series baseballs (1960, 1971),  3 other Clemente Autographed balls, 3 different signed posters/photos, 4 game-used bats, 4 canceled checks, 1 cut autograph with a photo, and 99 Clemente Pirates jerseys issued by Topps specifically for this promotion.

Factory Set

Topps again issued 2 different types of full factory sets in 1997.  Like the previous year, these are somewhat limited and can be found for just a little less than 3 figures these days.

First, hobby factory sets were packaged in what looks like a navy background.  They included 8 random insert cards and a hermetically sealed “Last Day Production” version of one of the Clemente cards.

The retail factory set was packaged in white background and had just the 8 random insert cards.

There were also factory sets of each series issued separately.


The Clemente redemption cards described above could be sent in to Topps.

Other releases associated with the Topps flagship set

#1 – Just like previous years in the mid-90’s, R&N China issued some “parallel” versions of Topps cards.  This time, though, there was an entire run of the 15-card “Hall Bound” insert set.  The set was produced by the Danbury Mint – not sure if they are related to R&N china or not.  I haven’t seen any 1998 base cards reproduced in porcelain format.

#2 – Topps again issued the “Topps Chrome” product, which reproduces many of the cards from the base set with a Chromium finish.

#3 – Topps issued the first “Opening Day” set in 1998.  This 165 card set was retail only, and features the same photos from the base set.  The border is silver instead of the gold that the base Topps cards have, and there is an Opening Day logo instead of the Topps logo.  55 cards were the same photos as Topps series 2, so this was the first chance for collectors to see those 55 photos.


There was a big development in the sports card business in 1998 – Pinnacle Brands filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which basically meant the end of Donruss (18 years), Score (11), Leaf (9 or 14 depending what you count), Pinnacle (7) and Studio (7) brands after runs of many years of each product.

From the guys still standing, the big news I can tell was the introduction of Topps Tek, which basically had 90 cards with 90 separate designs, or 8100 different cards possible in the base set.  The parallel madness had taken over.

Upper Deck jumped in on the serial numbered insanity, turning its SPx product into SPx Finite – the first base set composed completely of numbered cards.  They also built on the success of the game-used cards from the previous year by inserting the first game-used bat cards into their flagship product.  In series 3, they included the first cards with a game-used bat and jerseys swatch on the same card.  UD made headlines when it cut up pieces of a Babe Ruth bat to insert into its piece of history set.

For me, the 1998 is the first year I really don’t remember anything about Topps or Upper Deck.  I think I was still collecting cards at the start of 1997, but basically stopped collecting everything but Upper Deck SP and Jalen Rose cards over that summer.  I still collected both SP and Jalen in 1998, but I’d moved on.  Between finishing my high school track career and heading off to college, there were definitely many other extracurriculars. I basically have little memory of Topps from 1997 and on, and no memory of Upper Deck from after 1998.

1998 Topps Pre-Production

26 08 2013

Topps also came out with a set to preview their 1998 design.  This set consisted of 6 cards, again numbered with a “PP” prefix.  They also don’t have the 1997 statistics – that line has “Topps Pre-production” wording.  I got the full set from eBay a few months ago.  Unlike the 1997 set, this one isn’t all that difficult to find.

Topps usually picks some of the more noticeable photos, though other than the Baerga I don’t think these qualify for that.  They do have some of the bigger names from the mid-late 90’s.

For all six of these pre-production cards, the photo is the same as the player’s photo from the base set.

  • PP1 – Carlos Baerga
  • PP2 – Jeff Bagwell
  • PP3 – Marquis Grissom
  • PP4 – Derek Jeter
  • PP5 – Randy Johnson
  • PP6 – Mike Piazza

Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #38 – Wiedemann

24 08 2013

Saturday Suds – where I look at (and sometimes taste test!) some beers that have a connection to baseball.  I’m keeping up with the Cincinnati beers.  After three straight defunct beers, I’m moving on to another beer that has been brought back in recent years.

Wiedemanns lagerBrewery: Wiedemann Brewing Company in Newport, KY

Beer: Wiedemann’s Fine Beer (old lager) / Wiedemann’s Special Lager (refurbished craft beer)

Description:  The Wiedemann name was brought back to the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati area about a year ago with a new recipe more in line with the craft beer popularity that’s hit the nation.  This lager has a little bit more bitterness and a little more taste than your average lager.  It’s pretty good, which makes sense since it’s had

Medium:  I got a 6 pack in a recent trip down to Cincinnati.

How it’s related to baseball: Wiedemann’s was founded in 1870 by George Wiedemann, a German immigrant, in Newport, Kentucky.  It was very successful and was the largest brewery in the Southeast by the turn of the century.  It was shut down during prohibition, but reopened thereafter and continued to have some success.  In the 1960’s, though, it went the way of many other breweries and was sold to Heileman’s brewing – the makers of Old Style.

Prior to that, however, Wiedemann’s had some advertising with the Reds for a brief period.  They had a giant ad on the left field wall in the early 1960’s – I think in 1963 and 1964.

Crosley Wiedemann's

They advertised at least as late as 1970.  I also found a picture showing Sparky Anderson in Crosley Field with a sign in the background.  Sparky only managed at Crosley for half of a season – he started  the first 3 months of the 1970 season.  On the last day of June in 1970, the team moved to Riverfront.

Widemann sign Crosley 1970

The brand was eventually sold to the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, but the name was dropped in 2007.  It was brought back last year by a local Cincinnati brewing enthusiast, with the special lager being brewed by Point Brewery in Wisconsin.  Listermann’s brewing also brews a couple other craft beers under the Wiedemann’s name.  It’s had some pretty rapid growth from what I’ve read – another example of the local beer tradition is coming back in Cincinnati!

2013 Topps Archives – 1990 Reds

22 08 2013

Yesterday was the Big Red Machine cards from Topps Archives – today is the team that I actually saw from the set.  The 1990 World Champions.  There are 4 players from that team in the set, and the most common player you’d think of – Barry Larkin – isn’t one of them.  But Eric Davis, Paul O’Neill and even Hal Morris and Rob Dibble all have cards in Topps Archives!

Base Set

O’Neill doesn’t have a card in the base set, but both Davis and Morris are in the Fan Favorites subset.  Davis has a card from 1987 Topps, Morris from 1993.

Since they have Fan Favorite cards, they also have autographed versions.  I’ll show the autos here.

Trade Waiting til Next Year Davis Archives auto

2013 Archives FFA Hal Morris

Original – here are the original cards of these guys.  Had to pull an old scan of Davis that was next to the Goose!

1987 Topps final scans 2_0001

1993 Topps Hal Morris

There aren’t any parallels since they are in the Fan Favorites part of the set as opposed to the first 200 cards.

1969 4-in-1 Stickers

Davis is in this set in an interesting card.  Most of the 4-in-1 cards have a clear connection.  Davis and Strawberry grew up together, but I’m not sure how Cobra and Don Baylor fit together.  Parker and Baylor are both MVPs during the 1970s decade – and Parker was Davis’ teammate.  But nothing brings them all together.

2013 Archives Davis Baylor Strawberry Parker

O’Neill has one, too – along with some of his Yankee teammates from the late 90’s dynasty.  It’s amazing – all of these guys are still active in 2013, while O’Neill retired in 2001.

2013 Archives 4-in-1 O'Neill Yankees

1965 Mini Tallboy Football Inserts

Davis has one of these guys.  And this is one of two places Nasty Boy Rob Dibble can be found.  See below, I got this in one of my two hobby boxes.

2013 Archives FB Tallboy Davis

2013 Archives 65 mini tallboy Dibble

There are printing plates of these, so they each have 4 of these.

1965 Dual Fan Favorites

Davis also has a card alongside Brandon Phillips in the retail-only insert.  Pretty cool card – I don’t have it yet, though.

2013 Archives Dual Fan Favorite Davis Phillips


Dibble has one of these two – an even better match – alongside fellow fireballer Aroldis Chapman.

2013 Archives Chapman Dibble Dual FF

1960 Relic

O’Neill has another card in the product – from the 1960 design Relic cards.

2013 Archives O'Neill 1960 Relic

Triple Autograph

This card is an exchange, but it’s got both Davis and Hal Morris.  I’d love to get my hands on this card when it gets released!

UPDATE – This showed up on eBay, here’s the beauty itself!

2013 Topps Archives triple auto Davis Morris Concepcion


So, all told – if you wanted to collect every single card I mentioned above, you’d have 21 cards to find.  If you didn’t want the 1/1’s – that number would be 13.

Davis (6/10) – Base (FF), Fan Favorite Auto, 1969 4-in-1, 1965 Mini FB Tallboy, Dual Fan Favorite, Triple Auto, 4 printing plates

Dibble (2/6) – 1965 Mini FB Tallboy, Dual Fan Favorite, 4 printing plates

Morris (3) – Base (FF), Fan Favorite Auto, Triple Auto

O’Neill (2) – 1969 4-in-1, 1960 Relic