It’s exciting when I complete one of these insert sets from the 90’s – they’re tougher to come by than the sets since 2010 that I’ve also been going after. This one is a pretty cool set from 1997. Topps always had some kind of Finest-themed insert in its flagship sets beginning in 1995. In 1997, that set took on a theme with the inter-league games that began that year.
Info about the set:
Set description: The set features finest technology with a National League player on one side, and an American League player on the other side. The AL players have a red background with the AL logo, while the NL players have a green background with their logo in the background. There are 14 cards – one for each team.
Set composition: 14 cards, 1:36 odds (1997 Topps series 1)
Hall of Famers: 5. Tony Gwynn, Barry Larkin, Paul Molitor, Cal Ripken, Frank Thomas.
How I put the set together:
- 2 cards from my series 1 retail box
- 4 cards from Sportlots
- 6 cards from Check Out My Cards
- 2 cards from Beckett
Thoughts on the set: Great set. I like the design, I like matching up players from two different leagues. I like that the theme was very relevant at the time – Inter-league play was about to start. In its first year, inter-league play matched up teams from the parallel division – so you’d have true rivals on these cards. Remember when inter-league play first came out how awesome that was? Cincinnati is matched up with Cleveland in the battle of Ohio. Baltimore was matched up with Philadelphia – a natural rivalry 2 hours away! Kansas City versus St. Louis – a rematch of the 1985 I-70 series! Dodgers versus the Angels for LA supremacy! And of course – Yankees versus the Mets!
The one thing I’d have changed would be to use some pitchers (Topps only included hitters here). Chipper Jones versus Mo Vaughn is great – but Greg Maddux flipped against Pedro would have been better. I also hate the peel with wording on the cards. I’d remove those, too. Dumb concept.
Card that completed my set: #ILM-6 – Barry Larkin / Albert Belle
One of 2 cards that I purchased from Beckett’s website back in April.
Best card (my opinion): #ILM-2 – Mike Piazza / Tim Salmon
It would have been really easy to pick the Griffey / Walker combination. Two great stars in their prime, my favorite player, and some foreshadow as these guys would both go on to win their league’s MVP award that year! Plus, Griffey (3rd in all-time IL home runs) and Walker (2nd in all-time IL Batting Average) are two of the greatest inter-league performers ever.
But to me you can’t beat a Piazza / Salmon combination card. When I first got back into card collecting, it was 1993 when those two guys burst onto the scene and won the Rookie of the Year award. They were always linked to me – kind of how Harper and Trout are today, except you hadn’t heard about them for three years before their rookie season.
My Favorite Reds card: ILM-6 – Barry Larkin / Albert Belle
The only Reds card, but they got the two players right here.
Here are both sides of the cards. You can tell by the scan, the KC / St. Louis card is actually a refractor. I ordered a regular card and got that, but I didn’t feel like sending it back to the seller for a rarer version 🙂