This was an insert set a long time in coming. 4 years later – I finally finished up the “yo momma” set. This is easily the largest insert set I’ve completed – it’s a 174 card set across all 3 series (58 cards each – 1952 through 2009).
Info about the set:
Set description: “cards chronicle the entire history of Topps with a reprint of one card from every year. Each card back narrates the story of that year’s design as well as other interesting tidbits”.
Set composition: 174 cards, 1:3 odds
Hall of Famers: 56. A whole boat-load.
Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks, Duke Snider, Luis Aparicio, Frank Robinson, Orlando Cepeda, Bob Gibson, Carl Yastrzemski, Stan Musial, Brooks Robinson, Juan Marichal, Jim Palmer, Willie McCovey, Reggie Jackson, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Johnny Bench, Dave Winfield, Robin Yount, Mike Schmidt, Nolan Ryan, Ozzie Smith, Rickey Henderson, Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor, Ryne Sandberg, Tony Gwynn, Frank Thomas, Cal Ripken, Phil Rizzuto, Al Kaline, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Warren Spahn, Harmon Killebrew, Eddie Mathews, Gaylord Perry, Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, George Brett, Dennis Eckersley, Joe Morgan, Babe Ruth, Tommy LaSorda, Lou Brock, Willie Stargell, Robin Roberts, Roy Campanella, Andre Dawson, Wade Boggs, Barry Larkin, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson
How I put the set together:
- 39 cards from various hobby boxes/packs
- 35 cards from trades
- 51 cards from eBay
- 48 cards from online dealers
- 1 card from a card show
Thoughts on the set: Since there are 3 cards for each design, it’s a good set to put in binders (if you’re willing to not go in the number order, which I am). It’s also an interesting read to go through each card. I like the set. Topps would beat this reprint idea to death over the next few years, and the 60 year anniversary may have been a better idea – but it was certainly a cool set at the time.
Additionally – if you look at the list of hall of fame players above, you’ll note that this set is STACKED. Topps signs a number of retired guys every year, and there’s often some turnover year-to-year. But they had a heck of a list 4 years ago when they did this set. Many (but not all) of the most notable rookie cards in the company’s history are included. Aaron, Mays, Koufax and of course Pete Rose are the best-known guys who aren’t included, but just about anybody else I can think of is included. And Topps didn’t include multi-player rookies, so guys like Nolan Ryan have later cards but not their rookies.
Card that completed my set: #125 – Roger Maris (1960)
I got this card from Beckett’s marketplace back in May. This is actually a pretty cool card of Maris – not one of the more recognizable ones like his ’61 or ’62 card.
Highest book value: #45, 49 – Cal Ripken
Like many of the more famous players, Ripken has multiple cards in this set. Apparently he passed Mickey Mantle in most valuable card of retired players, so these beat out the vaunted 1952 Topps reprint of Mantle’s first Topps card.
Best card (my opinion): #97 – Frank Thomas NNOF
In the first series, Topps came out with the regular card from Frank Thomas. It was pretty cool – in the second series they came out with a reprint of the super-rare and expensive error with no name on the front.
My Favorite Reds card: #22 – Johnny Bench
This is a no-brainer. Possibly the best Topps card of a Reds player ever.
Any other tidbits: Frank Robinson’s Topps Traded version from the 1972 Topps set is included, one of the first “update” cards.
In addition to that Thomas NNOF – a couple of the cards are variations or parallels from the year’s base set.
The 1982 version of Steve Carlton’s card is done in the “blackless variation”, which was a production error that Topps had for a limited number of cards that year.
And the 2001 version of Vlad Guerrero is the HTA parallel that I think was only available in certain factory sets.
The first 2006 card is the Alex Gordon card that was (mostly) pulled from packs, or inserted as a version with the center cut out or the picture never printed. The 2006 one is actually a gold parallel – which actually never was produced.
And the 2007 version of Jeter’s card – however, this is the common version as opposed to the one with Mickey Mantle and George Bush photo-shopped into the background.
Other things that are about the history of Topps cards (as opposed to the player or baseball-specific) include:
- The 1952 Mantle card references the infamous “river dump” of High Series cards that supposedly makes that set so legendary. The “dump” is also referenced on the writeup on the back of the 1953 Johnny Podres card.
- The 1953 Jackie Robinson card points out the images were hand-painted in color from black and white photos. The original artwork pieces go
- Harmon Killebrew’s 1955 card references Topps discounting packs of the last series to sell off inventory.
- The 1957 cards for Frank Robinson and Whitey Ford reference how Topps switched to 2.5″ x 3.5″ card dimensions that set the standard size for cards going forward.
- Carl Yastrzemski and Willie McCovey’s 1960 cards discuss how they were the iconic first cards for the new SPORT Magazine Rookie Star and Topps All-Rookie subsets.
- Nolan Ryan’s 1969 card points out that this was the last year a Topps pack cost a nickel.
- The 1951 Topps set isn’t included in this insert, however it is showcased on the third 1975 card. Topps discussed it’s MVP subset there – with Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella shown for winning the 1951 MVP awards.
- The ’82 Steve Carlton card I mentioned above discusses the printing issue that caused the “blackless” cards that year. The ’90 Thomas card also mentioned the defect that caused his name to be missing on the front.