Completed set – 1996 Topps

20 10 2013

I finished up a few more sets in my “flagship” project – meaning the one this blog is titled after – a few months ago, and finally got the time to post the completion log for this one.  1996 Topps is the smallest set in this project – only 440 cards.

Like some of the others, I haven’t finished off the “Master Set” yet for this season.  This is just the “complete set” post for now.  1996 Topps isn’t a favorite from what I’ve read.  The small set size probably doesn’t help.  A lot of people don’t seem to like the sepia/slanted version of the photo reproduced in the front of the card.  And the photography isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either – there isn’t really anything that stands out.

Info about my set:

How I put the set together:

  • 199 cards from the series 1 retail box
  • 213 cards from the series 2 retail box
  • 1 card I already had from back in the day
  • 27 cards from trades

Card that completed my set: #58 – Scott Sanders (received in a trade from Nolan’s Dugout)

1996 Topps 58 Scott Sanders finished set

Set composition: 440 cards (365 individual ML player cards*, 4 Triple-A All-Stars, 16 Prospects, 28 Draft Picks, 3 Checklists, 22 Star Power, 2 Tributes)

*The 365 individual player cards include 10 All-Star Rookies,10 Future Stars and 10 Now Appearing cards

Representation of ’95 MLB season: 32.4%

Out of the 365 player cards, 6 players featured did not play in the 1995 season.  These were all youngsters.  Jay Payton and Jason Kendall were in the “sort-of-subset” called “Now Appearing” that looked like every other card but had an extra foil logo on it.  And 4 guys from the Future Star Subset hadn’t made the majors as of 1995 (Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, Paul Wilson, Todd Greene).

That leaves 359 players.  But 5 players from the 2-player Triple-A All-Stars subset actually played in the Bigs in 1995, and 3 players from the Prospects subset did as well.  The 367 players represent 32.4% out of the ~1,133 players who played in MLB in 1995.  The set size is so small – that’s down significantly from earlier years I’ve looked at.

Last active player from this set:  #210 – Jason Giambi, 219 – Derek Jeter, #407 – LaTroy Hawkins, #428 – Bartolo Colon, #432 – Paul Konerko / Raul Ibanez RC, #13 – Todd Helton, #378 – Andy Pettitte

1996 Topps last active players

1996 Topps last active players_0001

There are 8 players in the set who were “active” at the end of 2013.  2 of them are on the same prospect card – hence I’m only showing 7 cards here.  Of those guys, 6 players intend to attempt to play in 2014 (or at least haven’t announced anything to the contrary).  Those 6 players have had some pretty impressive careers.  They range from an all-time great (Jeter) to two former award winners (Giambi & Colon) to two borderline Hall of Famers (Konerko & Ibanez) to a relief specialist who has managed to stick around for a long time (Hawkins).

Also, announcing their retirements were 2 more players with legitimate Hall of Fame chances – Todd Helton and Andy Pettitte.

If none of those players made MLB rosters in 2014 – which won’t happen, since at least Jeter and Colon will definitely both play next year – Colon would have had the last appearance when he lost game 1 of the ALCS on October 4th.  Ibanez, Konerko and Helton would both have the last regular season appearances, as they both played on September 29th.

Player with the most cards in the set: Cal Ripken with 3 cards.

Ripken is in the Star Power subset, and he also got a tribute card, so he’s the only one with more than 2 cards.

Ripken – #96 (2131), #200, #222 (Star Power)

1996 Topps Ripken cards

First Card and the Hundreds: #1 – Tony Gwynn STP, #100 – Frank Thomas, #200 – Cal Ripken, #300 – Barry Bonds, #400 – Manny Ramirez

1996 Topps 1st and the 00s

These are a whole lot of the same guys as last year.  And these cards are a good example of how good the photography is here.

Highest book value: #7 – Mickey Mantle TRIB (see below), #25 – Sean Casey RC

1996 Topps 25 Casey most valuable

Most notable card: #7 – Mickey Mantle TRIB

1996 Topps 7 Mantle

Mantle passed away before Topps issued the 1996 set, and he became the focus of this product.  Topps gave him card #7 and eventually “retired” that number going forward.

Best card (my opinion): #297 – Marquis Grissom

1996 Topps 297 Marquis Grissom best card

There’s a lot of cool going on with this card.  It looks like Grissom just went through the Sahara desert just to get to second base.  Unfortunately, he was not successful.  And the disappointment of the failure, particularly after days without food water, is evident on his face.

Second best card (also my opinion): #150 – Randy Johnson

1996 Topps 150 Randy Johnson best action shot

The Big Unit hurtling a baseball right at you.  That can make even a grizzled veteran John Kruk scared stiff.

Best subset card: #96 – Cal Ripken 2131

1996 Topps 96 Ripken best subset

Not much competition here – this beats out the Mantle card, which I don’t think is particularly well done, and any of the Star Power subsets.

Favorite action photo: #150 – Randy Johnson (see above)

Omar Vizquel has a pretty good card where he’s turning a double play, as does Brett Boone (see my Reds pick below).

Favorite non-action photo: #189 – John Smoltz

1996 Topps 189 John Smoltz best pose

This set if fairly devoid of good pose cards, so Smoltz waiting on deck with some color in the background is pretty cool.  The color is courtesy of the United Paramount Network.

My Favorite Reds card: #162 – Bret Boone

1996 Topps 162 Bret Boone best Reds card

There aren’t a whole bunch of good Reds cards, and this one is easily the best.  I didn’t like it when I was younger, but the familiarity of the outfield wall at Riverfront Stadium is something I can appreciate when I see it on cardboard these days.

Topps Reprints and others:

  • 2001 Through the Years – Greg Maddux
  • 2001 Archives – Andre Dawson, Lee Smith, Ozzie Smith, Don Mattingly, Kirby Puckett
  • 2001 Archives Rookie Reprints – Geoff Jenkins
  • 2005 Rookie Cup Reprints – Hideo Nomo, Ray Durham, Chipper Jones, Garret Anderson, Shawn Green
  • 2010 CMT – Cal Ripken, Manny Ramirez, Jones
  • 2011 60YOT – Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter

This is the first set I’ve done a completion post on where there weren’t at least 2 reprints of one card.

Other Notable Cards: There is a pretty cool card of Andruw Jones and Vlad Guerrero in the prospects set, but other than the cards above, there really aren’t any “notable” cards in this set.

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