Completed insert set – 2013 Gypsy Queen No-Hitters

30 09 2013

It’s funny – I scheduled this post for today and of course there was a no-hitter thrown by Henderson Alvarez on the last game of the year…

This is the only 2013 Gypsy Queen insert set I’ve finished to date.

Info about the set:

Set description: “A selection of current and retired pitchers that have thrown a no-hitter”.  There are quite a lot of guys with no-no’s out there.  To date there have been 281 no-hitters in baseball history, thrown by about 250 different pitchers (give or take depending on how you count no-hitters by multiple pitchers).  Topps picked 15 of those pitchers.

The front has a white border with the Gypsy Queen script at the top and No-Hitters above a ribbon at the bottom.  The border has some “flair” matching the player’s team color, and the team logo, player name and player’s number are shown at the bottom as well.  The back has a write-up on the no-hitter(s) that earned the hurler a spot in this set.

Set composition: 15 cards, 1:4 odds (2013 Gypsy Queen)

Hall of Famers:  5.

Bob Feller, Catfish Hunter, Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Warren Spahn

How I put the set together: 

  • 12 cards from 2 hobby boxes
  • 3 cards from trades

Thoughts on the set:  I’ve said it many times on this blog – but I love themed insert sets.  In fact, while I usually wish for fewer cards in insert sets – this is one where I wish Topps would have gone with even more than 15 cards!  This is a cool set with a design I like.

Card that completed my set: #NH-NR – Nolan Ryan

Highest book value: #NH-NR – Nolan Ryan

I got this in a trade with Baseball Card Comeback in July.  Ryan also has the most valuable card based on BBCM’s numbers.

Best card (my opinion): #NH-JA – Jim Abbott

It’s hard to vote against the amazing 7 no-hitters by the Ryan Express, but I love that Topps got Abbott in this set.

My Favorite Reds card: #NH-HB – Homer Bailey

The only Red in this set.  Funny how he threw another one this year shortly after this card was released!


All told, the 15 pitchers here have thrown 31 no-hitters – counting Bailey’s 2013 gem, Milwood’s 2nd (which was a combined effort) and Halladay’s no-hitter in the postseason.  5 of those were perfect games (Hunter, Cain, Humber, Halladay and Koufax).

2013 Gypsy Queen No Hitters

2013 Gypsy Queen No Hitters_0001

As mentioned, I think Topps could have included even more pitchers.  They could have made this set 30 cards just with players that have thrown no-hitters and are in the Gypsy Queen base set!

Topps didn’t include the following pitchers who were active in 2013.  An asterisk means they have a card in the Gypsy Queen base set.

  1. Ervin Santana
  2. Francisco Liriano *
  3. Matt Garza *
  4. Edwin Jackson
  5. Ubaldo Jimenez
  6. Mark Buehrle * (who has 2, including a perfect game – and seems like the most glaring omission to me)
  7. Jonathan Sanchez
  8. Jon Lester *
  9. Clay Bucholz * (the two Red Sox are also pretty big omissions IMO)
  10. Anibal Sanchez *
  11. Derek Lowe *
  12. A.J. Burnett

Also – the following 9 retired pitchers have pitched no-hitters, are in the GQ set but not in the no-hitter set.

  1. Bert Blyleven
  2. Babe Ruth (was part of a combined no-hitter)
  3. Juan Marichal
  4. Bob Gibson
  5. Phil Niekro
  6. Tom Seaver
  7. Jim Bunning (2 no-no’s, including a perfect game)
  8. Dwight Gooden
  9. Bob Lemon

Completed insert set – 2013 Topps Heritage News Flashbacks

28 09 2013

This is one of the “standard” insert sets in 2013 Topps Heritage, though this one has (for the most part) nothing to do with baseball – it honors the 1964 “year in the world”.  Topps creates this set every year with Heritage.

Info about the set:

Set description:  “World news moments from 1964.”

The set has a white border with the News Flashback set name at the top and the name of the featured news story at the bottom.

Set composition: 10 cards, 1:12 odds (2013 Topps Heritage)

Hall of Famers: There aren’t any baseball players in this year’s version.

How I put the set together:

  • 4 cards from the 2 hobby boxes I bought
  • 2 cards from trades
  • 4 cards from the NSCC (the National)

Thoughts on the set:  They’ve done this each year for Heritage – and I think it’s a good idea.  The point of Heritage is to honor a past Topps set – and having an insert set that also shows what happened in the world is great!

The thing I’d change – are the same as last year’s set.  First, I’d number the cards in chronological order – this alphabetizing crap is absurd.  I hate it.  Also, there are some other things that could have gone in this set – though I think they did a pretty good job with the content.  Things Topps could have considered:

  • Cassius Clay (AKA Muhammad Ali) defeats Sonny Liston in February to win the Heavyweight Boxing Championship
  • The Summer Olympic Games were held in Tokyo.
  • They could have done a little bit more on the Beatles – in one glorious week in April the group occupied all top 5 spots on the Billboard Hot 100.  At the time, Elvis Presley was the only other artist with the top 2 songs at a given point.

I’ve got to admit – this was fewer than previous years, so Topps did a good job here.

Card that completed my set: #NF-TB – The Beatles

One of 4 cards purchased at the National

Highest book value: #NF-TB – The Beatles

Best card (my opinion): #NF-WF – The World’s Fair

I love the picture of the giant globe in Flushing Meadows on the front of this card.

As I did last year – I thought it would be fun to take a look at each of these cards and what they represent.

2013 Heritage News Flashbacks

2013 Heritage News Flashbacks_0001

NF-CRA – Civil Rights Act of 1964: With Martin Luther King on hand to witness, President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act on July 2, outlawing discrimination against ethnic, racial and religious minorities and women – a dramatic step in the cause of human rights in America.

NF-FM – Ford Mustang:  The term muscle car invaded the lexicon of American auto enthusiasts when the first Mustang rolled off the Ford assembly line on March 9, 1964.  More than 22,000 coupes and convertibles were sold that day, at a starting price of less than $2,500.

NF-J – Jeopardy!:  Classic American game shows for $200 pleas.  Jeopardy! debuted on NBC on March 30, 1964, with Art Fleming as host.  Merv Griffin’s brainchild has gone on to quiz viewers for nearly a half-century, with Alex Trebek hosting since 1984.

NF-LBJ – LBJ routs Goldwater in 1964 election: Garnering more than 60% of the popular vote, President Lyndon B. Johnson defeated challenger Barry Goldwater on November 3, 1964 in one of the most lopsided wins in U.S. history.  Johnson carried 44 states to turn back the Republican senator.

NF-MLK – Peace Prize to a young Dr. King: At 35, Martin Luther King became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize when he was honored in Oslo, Norway on October 14, 1964.  Dr. King vowed to donate every penny of his $54,123 prize toward his mission of achieving Civil Rights through non-violence.

NF-MP – Mary Poppins soars into theaters:  Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins became an immediate hit upon its August 27, 1964 Hollywood premiere.  Based on the books by P.L. Travers, the musical about Britain’s lovable nanny went on to become Disney’s biggest moneymaker and winner of 5 Academy Awards.

NF-RS – The Rolling Stones:  When Decca Records released the Rolling Stones on April 16, 1964, no one could have imagined the staying power of the British band.  Their LP debut soared to the top of the UK charts and was certified gold in the U.S.  It featured the single “Not Fade Away”.

NF-SP – Sidney Poitier breaks Academy’s “Color Line”:  Having already won acclaim for his work in several controversial films, Sidney Poitier made a mainstream breakthrough on April 13, 1964.  His portrayal of Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field made him the first African-American to win a Best Actor Oscar.

(Note: Topps actually has the wrong date on the back – they have a typo in two places saying the awards were in 1963).

NF-TB – The Beatles:  Some 73 million people saw the Beatles perform live on American TV for the first time on February 9, 1964 the Ed Sullivan Show.  The “youngsters from Liverpool”, staging a pop music revolution, had fans screeching from the first note of All My Lovin’.

NF-WF – 1964 World’s Fair:  The New York World’s Fair began the first of two 6-month runs on April 22, 1964 at Flushing Meadows.  More than 50 million – a record for international expositions – enjoyed the festivities, themed “Man in a shrinking globe in an expanding universe”.

Completed insert set – 2012 Topps Archives ’77 Cloth Stickers

27 09 2013

This is the second 2012 Topps Archives insert set I’ve completed.  The first one was the 1968 3-D insert, this one is the 1977 cloth stickers.

Info about the set:

Set description:  “Before the insert card craze of the 1990’s, Topps was experimenting and testing new technologies 30 years prior.  Topps pays tribute to 4 classic inserts featuring active and retired stars.”

This insert is designed like the 1977 cloth stickers, which were issued as its own product – not as a test or an insert to 1977 Topps packs.  Here’s my previous post comparing the current set with the old set.  The set uses the exact same design as the 1977 Topps set and the 9 players who have a card in both the original and the Archives set.

Set composition:  25 cards, 1:6 (2012 Topps Archives)

Hall of Famers: 11 – Willie Stargell, Jim Rice, Steve Carlton, Joe Morgan, Rod Carew, George Brett, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Johnny Bench, Robin Yount and Gary Carter.

How I put the set together:

  • 8 cards from two hobby boxes
  • 2 cards from a blaster
  • 3 cards from trades
  • 7 cards from Sportlots
  • 3 cards from Check Out My Cards
  • 2 cards from the NSCC

Thoughts on the set:  The 68 3-D and Deckle Edge are my favorite insert sets from this product, but I like this set as well.  It’s better than the Sticker set from Lineage from 2011 – which was basically just a parallel using the Lineage card design.  25 cards is an attainable goal, too.  Overall – the inserts were a big plus to me as far as 2012 Archives goes.

Card that completed my set:  GC – Gary Carter

I picked this card up at the National Convention this year out in Rosemont, IL.

Highest book value:  DJ – Derek Jeter

Best card (my opinion):  JB – Johnny Bench

A really good action shot of the greatest catcher of all-time.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen cropped versions close up with his face in this photo, but I like this card with the design.

My Favorite Reds card:  JB – Bench

There’s also a Joe Morgan card that’s pretty cool.

2012 Topps Archives 77 Cloth

2012 Topps Archives 77 Cloth_0001

2012 Topps Archives 77 Cloth_0002

Completed insert set – 2013 Topps Chasing the Dream

25 09 2013

The first 2013 insert set I completed from the 2013 flagship Topps set was the series 1 set called Chasing the Dream.  Topps didn’t carry this set over to series 2, so that’s part of why it is the first one I’ve finished off.  I bought a bunch of cards at a card show back in March, but was missing the Bryce Harper until a trade with a blog reader back in July.

Info about the set:

Set description: “25 cards featuring young players chasing their dream of becoming MLB superstars.”

Set composition: 25 cards, 1:6 hobby odds (2013 Topps Series 1)

Hall of Famers: None – only current players.

How I put the set together:

  • 9 cards from the HTA jumbo series 1 box
  • 1 card from a retail jumbo pack
  • 3 cards in trades
  • 12 cards from a card show

Thoughts on the set: The first completed set from 2013 is one of my least favorite.  I don’t dislike this set by any means – I think putting a set of young up-and-comers in series 1 is a good idea (and one Topps usually employs).  And I’m fine with the whole Chase theme – I just don’t love the design here.  I don’t like the grid on the side and the bottom.  Topps removed the background, which isn’t necessarily that bad – but the background they replaced it with just isn’t all that interesting.

The one other thing I don’t like – they have relic and autograph versions of these cards, and there are nearly 40 relics, but only 25 cards in the base set.  For example, Buster Posey has a relic but no base card.  I’d figure if you make a relic or autograph card, why not include that guy in the regular insert set?

Card that completed my set: #CD-1 – Bryce Harper

I got the last card in a trade back in July with reader Mark.

Highest book value: #CD-2 – Mike Trout

Trout has passed Harper up for the more valuable cards of the 2 these days.

Best card (my opinion): #CD-18 – Chris Sale

This is a good photo of Sale in his fairly noticeable wind-up.  There’s a lot of discussion around Chicago that his frame can’t handle his pitching velocity and style over the long haul.  We’ll have to wait and see.  The guy has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this year – unfortunately his record doesn’t show it.

2013 Topps Chasing the Dream

2013 Topps Chasing the Dream_0001

2013 Topps Chasing the Dream_0002

Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Rookie Class

24 09 2013

I completed another insert set earlier this year but couldn’t post the completion (under my strange and unwritten “rules of the blog”) until I actually completed my 1998 Topps background posts.  Yesterday was Clemente, today is Rookie Class.

Info about the set:

Set description: Replacing the Clemente tribute cards from series 1 is a 10-card set of the top rookies coming into the league in 1998.  The cards feature an action photo in the foreground with a tinted background.  There is also a second photo of the player in the background, and the words rookie class going up the side.  The back has another player photo along with 1997 stats and a write-up.

Set composition: 10 cards, 1:12 odds (1998 Topps series 2)

Hall of Famers: None yet.  Todd Helton and Paul Konerko – maybe someday.

How I put the set together:

  • 4 cards from my series 2 hobby box
  • 1 card from a card show
  • 4 cards from Sportlots
  • 1 card from Beckett’s marketplace

Thoughts on the set:  This set is OK.  Not the greatest rookie class – Helton has been a pretty good player who just passed 2500 hits.  Konerko has had an excellent career.  For what it’s worth, I think Helton should be a Hall of Famer, but Konerko is very close but I lean toward no.  Derrek Lee is also in the set.  Overall, not a bad set, and one that was probably more interesting to collect at the time when these guys were young than 16 years later.

Card that completed my set: #R10 – Ben Grieve

I got this card from Beckett’s website in May.  Grieve was the 1998 AL Rookie of the Year, but had only one season after 1998 that compared to his rookie campaign.

Highest book value: #R3 – Todd Helton

Best card (my opinion): #R5 – Mark Kotsay

I like the picture of Kotsay following through on his swing, and the teal Marlins uniform seems to go well with the card design.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

1998 Topps Rookie Class

1998 Topps Rookie Class_0001

Completed insert set – 1998 Clemente Tribute

22 09 2013

I completed an insert set last year but hadn’t gotten to posting my foray into 1998 Topps.  I just finished up my posts on 1998 Topps, so now the wait to post about this set is over!  This was a 5-card tribute set for Topps “hero of the year” in 1998 – Roberto Clemente.

Info about the set:

Set description: “Clemente tribute cards featuring color photography that has never appeared on any trading card”.

Set composition: 5 cards, 1:12 odds (1998 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers: 1. Obviously.

How I put the set together:

  • 3 cards from series 1 hobby box
  • 2 cards from COMC

Thoughts on the set:  I wasn’t too excited about this set at first, but given the recent state of Topps baseball card photography – having 5 completely new pictures of Clemente is actually pretty cool, and must have been at the time!

Card that completed my set: #RC2 – Roberto Clemente

One of 2 cards I got from Check Out My Cards during their Black Friday special last November.

Highest book value: all are the same

Best card (my opinion): #RC1 – Roberto Clemente

Clemente picking his weapon of choice is my favorite photo.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

1998 Topps Clemente Tribute complete set

Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #39 – Iron City

21 09 2013

Iron City 6 pack

My next “Saturday Suds” is going to be in honor of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Although they’re in the same division as my beloved Reds, I don’t wish 20 years of losing on any fan base.  So it was pretty cool two weeks ago that the Pirates clinched their first winning season since Barry Bonds was wearing black and gold, and they are knocking on the door for clinching a playoff berth.  Plus, the Bucs are playing the Reds this weekend, it also seemed like a good beer to feature today.

IC bottleBrewery: Pittsburgh Brewing Company in Pittsburgh, PA

AKA Iron City Brewing Company

Beer:  Iron City Beer

Description:  This lager is the flagship brand of the brewery, with a tradition that dates back over 150 years when Edward Frauenheim first made the brew in 1861.  It quickly became popular regionally and nationally, and unlike many of the breweries I’ve featured in earlier posts, Iron City managed to get through prohibition and the consolidation of regional breweries to stay as a Pittsburgh institution today.

Here’s what the website has to describe it:

“Our flagship brand, a traditional American lager brewed in Classic Pittsburgh style.

Iron City Beer is a classic American lager established in the rich traditions of Pittsburgh, PA. Built on 150 years of brewing experience, Iron City Beer boasts scents of sweet corn and wheat, smooth crisp pale malt flavor, and a dry finish with very little bitterness. Our flagship recipe, Iron City Beer is lightly hopped and carbonated and easy to drink. Enjoy an Iron City Beer, and support our community and the hard-working people who call Pittsburgh home.”

This one does again taste a lot like your classic American lager to me.  Like all of those lagers – they are great beers to have at a baseball game.  This one seems to have a little bit more of a sharp taste than some of those other lagers (like Narragansett or Natty Boh), so it just depends on the mood you’re in.

Medium:  I bought a 6-pack of 12 ounce bottles, a while ago when I was in Cincinnati.  You can also find it in cans and on tap at local bars in the Pittsburgh area and throughout the country.  I’ve also had it at Durkin’s in Chicago – which is notorious as a Steelers’ bar.

How it’s related to baseball:  Iron City Beer was a past sponsor of the Pirates for decades.  In 2011, the brewery and the team rekindled that relationship and you can now get Iron City throughout PNC Park and find cans and bottles with the Pirates’ logo.  Who knows – maybe bringing back the sponsorship has played a factor in the Pirates’ recent improvements on the diamond!

The relationship dates back to at least 1960 – and while I couldn’t find any pictures of advertising at Forbes Field or Three Rivers Stadium, the brewery and the franchise have teamed up to create more brewmania than any other beer I’ve “researched” so far.  There is memorabilia from the 1960’s, including some from the Pirates’ World Series win at the start of that decade.

Iron City Pirates schedule

Then there are a number of items throughout the 1970’s including beer cans commemorating both the 1971 and 1979 World Championships.

IC beer can 1979 Pirates

They even had some cans commemorating historic Pirate players like Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente.

IC beer and IC Light Clemente

I found cans from as late as 1996 celebrating the Pirates, so I wonder if that’s around when the team and the brewery cut ties.  Either way, it’s good that they are back together again – it’s always good to have a local beer sponsor for the baseball team!