Completed insert set – 1995 Topps Finest Inserts

29 09 2014

After their only standard inserts in 1993 and 1994 were the Black Gold cards, Topps had two inserts in 1995.  One of them was based on the Finest technology.  It’s technically just called Topps Finest on the packs, but this set is often called Total Bases to distinguish it from the actual 1995 Topps Finest product.

Info about the set:

Set description:  This set uses finest based technology on the front of the card, with a player photo on a silver background. His name and team are at the bottom in a color that matches the player’s team. The set features top 15 players in total bases from the 1994 season in order of how they finished.  The horizontal backs show another player photo with statistics breaking down total bases by hit.

Set composition:  15 cards.  1:36 (1995 Topps series 2)

Hall of Famers: 3

Frank Thomas, Tony Gwynn, Kirby Puckett

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from my wax box
  • 14 cards from COMC/Sportlots

Thoughts on the set:  I generally like most Topps Finest designs, and I also love when an insert is a specific theme and Topps sticks to it.  And I really like this design not particularly crazy about this design, however – it looks more like Topps Chrome than Finest to me.  Also – I hate the peel or don’t peel thing that Topps did back then.  As you can see from my scans – some of them have been peeled – some haven’t!  But, overall – it’s a very nice set with some 1990’s goodness.  One of the few Finest sets with no refractor versions.

What do you think – should I peel all of them?

Card that completed my set:  #13 – Kirby Puckett

I got this from COMC back in November in their black Friday sale.

Highest book value:  #7 – Barry Bonds

Best card (my opinion):  #3 – Ken Griffey Jr.

A tremendous card of my favorite player.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

1995 Topps Finest insert set

1995 Topps Finest insert set_0001


Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #53 – Miller High Life

27 09 2014

For my next “Saturday Suds”, I’m going with a very common national beer – but a good one in my opinion!  Saturday Suds is where I post about a beer that has something to do with baseball (or at least I’ll try to figure out some way to correlate it with baseball)!


Miller High Life bottleBrewery: Miller Brewing in Milwaukee, WI

I know Miller has merged with South African Breweries and has a joint venture with Coors – but the Brewery is still Miller Brewing.

Beer:  Miller High Life & Miller High Life Light

“The Champagne of Beer”

Description:  This pilsner was first brewed in 1903.  Here’s what the website has to describe it:

“Miller High Life, the “champagne of beers,” dates to 1903. A classic American style lager, Miller High Life is known for its consistently crisp, smooth taste and iconic clear-glass bottle. Miller High Life embraces its rich heritage and is known by its drinkers as an authentic, unpretentious beer. It’s common sense in a bottle. Ingredients: Water, Barley Malt, Corn Syrup (Maltose), Yeast, Hop Extract.

We brew the golden pilsner with the yeast our founder brought over from Germany with light stable galena hops from the Pacific Northwest, and a select combination of Malted Barley.  This combination made it a favorite in 1903, and it remains one today.”

Today, High Life doesn’t do quite as well as Miller Lite – but it’s a better beer in my opinion!  Of all the cheaper lagers or light beers out there, I prefer High Life to just about any except for maybe some of the regional ones I’ve tried.  It’s got enough flavor that you realize it’s still a beer, and it’s great when you’re grilling out of if you find it at a ballgame.  Though I don’t often see it at MLB stadiums.

Medium:  I’ve had this many places, but most recently I bought a 12-pack of 12 ounce High Life Light bottles.  You can get it in cans, 40 ounces and on tap.

How it’s related to baseball:  Let me count the ways!

First, off the Brewers play at a place called Miller Park, the one ballpark in baseball named after a brewery.  Of course you can find High Life at Brewers’ games!  Specifically, High Life sponsors a promotion for $9 tickets on Mondays in Milwaukee!


Miller, and High Life specifically, sponsored baseball well before the Brewers were in town.  In the 1950’s, you could find High Life on the scoreboard in right-center field:

Milwaukee County Scoreboar Miller High Life

Of course there are many other things I found showing the Miller High Life sponsorship Milwaukee sponsorships over the years.  First up – there’s a pin that I think is from 1958.

1958 Miller High Life Braves pin

And there’s a really cool album from the 1960’s with what I can only imagine are some Braves fight songs!

Miller High Life Go Get Em Braves Album

And – most interesting since this is a baseball card blog – there’s a 1991 set of Brewer cards sponsored by Miller High Life!

1991 Miller Brewers Vaughn

But, finally, the thing I think about the most when it comes to Miller High Life and baseball?  This commercial, with the delivery guy.  “Man, they can’t even hear my through this glass!”

Completed insert set – 1995 Topps Traded At the Break Power Booster

25 09 2014

Continuing with a bunch of the completed insert sets that I’ve neglected – I’ve moved on from the more recent Topps sets to sets that are actually in my Lifetime Topps project.  This one I completed almost a year ago.  This is actually a Topps Traded insert – though you could technically say this is a partial parallel set.

Info about the set:

Set description:  The first 10 cards of the ’95 Traded made up a subset called “At the Break”.  The cards have the wording “At the Break” split by a baseball on the left side with a wood design with the player name and team logo at the bottom.   Topps created refractor versions of the same cards and inserted them 1 per box.  They are printed on much thicker stock with diffraction (“power boost” background.  The card backs have a head shot and mid-season statistics for the player.

Set composition:  10 cards

Inserted:  1995 Topps Traded packs.  1:36 odds.

Hall of Famers: 3

Frank Thomas, Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn,

How I put the set together:

  • 1 from my ’95 Traded Wax box
  • 9 from online card dealers

Thoughts on the set:  It’s a cool set.  I like the thicker card stock, and the refractor like technology is pretty nice, too.  I kind of wish it wasn’t just the first 10 cards of the set – but I also like the idea of having “mid-year” stats on the back of cards in a Traded set.  Topps could do something like that these days and I would like it.  I also like that the first three cards are Thomas, Griffey and Bonds – the three best hitters of the 1990’s!

Card that completed my set:  #2 – Ken Griffey Jr.

I got this card from COMC back in November as part of their Black Friday promotion.

Highest book value:  #5 – Cal Ripken

Best card (my opinion):  #2 – Ken Griffey Jr.

Griffey or Mo Vaughn have the best photos in this set.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.  Though Barry Larkin would have been appropriate since this was his MVP season.

1995 Topps Traded ATB Power Boosters

1995 Topps Traded ATB Power Boosters_0001

Completed insert set – 2012 Topps Career Day

23 09 2014

I completed an insert set from 2012 Topps series 2 almost a year ago that I forgot to post about – Career Day.  This was finished up with a trade from Jeff’s Collections.  Ryan Braun (cheater) was the final card – so I don’t know how I feel about that part! 🙂  Considering I completed this back in 2013, though, this post has been a while coming!

Info about the set:

Set description: “Celebrating some of the biggest single-game performances in MLB history”.  These cards are horizontally oriented, with the words Career Day down at the bottom and the date of the accomplishment and a small write-up over those words.  The player is shown above with a faded background and the team logo to the right side.  The back shows the player’s stat line from that day, and describes the player’s day.  There are 14 retired players and 11 current stars.

Set composition: 25 cards, 1:6 hobby odds (series 2)

Hall of Famers: 13 – Al Kaline, Stan Musial, Sandy Koufax, Joe DiMaggio, Frank Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Johnny Bench, Reggie Jackson, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente, Yogi Berra

How I put the set together:

  • 5 cards from my HTA Jumbo box
  • 2 cards from other hobby/retail packs
  • 1 card from Sportlots
  • 17 cards from trades

Thoughts on the set:  This is a good idea and a nice design.  Like many insert sets from Topps, I like the idea, but not enthused by the execution.  It’s really a set to talk about big days that handpicked players had – not the “biggest days of all time” like the sell sheet description says.

  • Albert Pujols – 10/22/11, World Series game 3.  Three homers in the World Series – that certainly qualifies.
  • Reggie Jackson – 10/18/77, World Series game 6.  See the above – 3 home runs in the World Series.
  • Stan Musial – 5/2/54.  Musial became the first player to hit five home runs on the same day – blasting 3 homers in the first game of a double-header and 2 more in the second.
  • Sandy Koufax – 9/9/65.  Koufax’s struck out 14 batters – the most in a perfect game.
  • Joe DiMaggio – 7/9/37.  DiMaggio became the first player to hit for the cycle and hit 2 homers.  It’s been done a few times since – including by DiMaggio again!
  • Mike Schmidt – 4/17/76.  Schmidt hit 4 homers, one of only 13 players who have done this.
  • Willie Mays – 4/30/61.  Mays also hit 4 homers in this game.

Some of the other active players I understand keeping – but I’d have tried to include a few of the following games:

  • Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series
  • Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout, 1-hitter
  • Clemens and Johnson’s 20-K games
  • Mark Whiten’s 4-homer, 12-RBI game against the Reds in 1993
  • Jim Bottomley and his 12-RBI game in 1924
  • Wilbert Robinson’s 7-hit, 11-RBI game in 9 innings in 1892
  • Shawn Green’s 19 total bases (and 4 homers) in 2002
  • Roy Halladay – pick either your no-hitter in the post-season or his perfect game

Card that completed my set: #CD-10 – Ryan Braun

I got this card in a recent trade nearly a year ago with the Jeff’s Collections.  Doesn’t look like Jeff’s blogging any more – but he did help me out at the time!

Highest book value: #CD-22 – Mickey Mantle

Best card (my opinion): #CD-12 – Reggie Jackson

It looks like Topps got one of Mr. October’s 3 swings in the photo.

My Favorite Reds card: #CD-17 – Joey Votto

Beats out the Bench card.

2012 Topps Career Day set

2012 Topps Career Day set_0001

2012 Topps Career Day set_0002 2012 Topps Career Day set_0003

Completed insert set – 2012 Topps Gold Futures

21 09 2014

I’m moving on to going over some recently completed insert sets from flagship Topps, and the next one is from 2012 Topps.  In accordance with the Gold edict Topps issued in 2012, this one is Gold Futures.

Info about the set:

Set description: “Featuring young stars who are on their way to creating golden moments of their own.”  This black-bordered set has a gold interior line with a ribbon at the bottom containing the player’s position and number.  In the middle is the team logo, which can conveniently be replaced with a relic piece if necessary.  There’s a write-up on the back that is geared toward the player’s

Set composition: 50 cards, 1:6 hobby odds (series 1 & 2)

Hall of Famers: none – these are all young stars.

How I put the set together:

  • 20 cards from s1 & s2 Hobby / HTA Jumbo boxes & packs
  • 2 cards from retail packs
  • 20 cards from trades
  • 1 card from a card show
  • 7 cards from online purchases

That’s a really good percentage from trades or packs, much better than some of my most recent efforts.

Thoughts on the set:  Not a bad set, and though the idea is far from original, I think having a set of future stars is one you could re-hash just about every year.  The design is a little different from most of the other insert sets from 2012, with the black border.  50 cards is too much.  And I don’t like when a set is so clearly designed to swap in a relic.

Card that completed my set: #GG-37 – Jordan Walden

2012 Topps Gold Futures Walden

I got this card via a Beckett Marketplace purchase in May.

Highest book value: #CF-16 – Mike Trout

Best card (my opinion): #CF-16 – Mike Trout

2012 Topps Gold Futures Trout

I like the Buster Posey card quite a bit – he’s taking his catcher’s mask off to field a pop up.  But calling a guy a “future star” when he is 2 years removed from his Rookie of the Year season and in the midst of an MVP season seems a little disingenuous.  So I’m going with Mike Trout, as he’s clearly the best future prediction from this set.

My Favorite Reds card: #GF-8 – Aroldis Chapman

2012 Topps Gold Futures Chapman

The Cuban Missile wins in a landslide.  Since he’s the only Red in the set.

Completed insert set – 2011 Topps 60 Years of Topps

19 09 2014

I also finished the 2011 version of Topps’ humongous reprint set this summer – just a couple of months after the 2010 “Yo Momma” set.  This one is called 60 years of Topps.

Info about the set:

Set description: “The 60-year of Topps chronicled 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 minutiae”.  Topps basically cut and pasted the wording from last year on their sell sheets – though the last word was “tidbits” in 2010 instead of “minutiae”.

Set composition: 118 cards, 1:3 odds

Hall of Famers: 55. About the same as the year before, even though there are only 2 series while the yo momma cards were inserted in all 3 series.

Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Monte Irvin, Ernie Banks, Phil Rizzuto, Mickey Mantle, Pee Wee Reese, Stan Musial, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Frank Robinson, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Al Kaline, Tony Perez, Brooks Robinson, Tom Seaver, Reggie Jackson, Nolan Ryan, Rod Carew, Carlton Fisk, Mike Schmidt, Carl Yastrzemski, Robin Yount, Bruce Sutter, Phil Niekro, Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor, Andre Dawson, Jim Palmer, Ozzie Smith, Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield, Dennis Eckersley, Greg Maddux, Roberto Alomar, Frank Thomas, Barry Larkin, Yogi Berra, Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews, Luis Aparicio, Richie Ashburn, Harmon Killebrew, Orlando Cepeda, Duke Snider, Steve Carlton, Johnny Bench, Goose Gossage, Don Sutton, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken, Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, Craig Biggio

How I put the set together:

  • 32 cards from various hobby boxes/packs
  • 9 cards from various retail packs
  • 22 cards from trades
  • 28 cards from an eBay lot
  • 26 cards from online dealers
  • 1 card from the National

Thoughts on the set: This idea had kind of jumped the shark after doing in 2010 with the Yo Momma cards.  Topps would also insert reprints into 2012 Archives – so I think they should have just done 1 set like this over that time. This probably was the year that made the most sense since it was the “60th” year of cards – but it felt kind of silly after they had the same thing in 2010.

Still, it was an impressive list of players and a fun set to collect.  And one thing I like better about this set than the one from the year before are the card backs.  The write-ups on the back are much more about the specifics of the set design and history compared to the 2010 “yo momma” cards.

Card that completed my set: #75 – Steve Carlton (1967)

2011 Topps 60 Years Steve Carlton 67

I got this card from Beckett’s marketplace in July.

Highest book value: #91 – Cal Ripken (1983)

2011 Topps 60 Years Cal Ripken 83

Best card (my opinion): #20 – Nolan Ryan (1971)

2011 Topps 60 Years Nolan Ryan 71

One of the most prominent forms of advertising in Topps’ history is also one of the best cards out there.  They don’t directly say anything on the back of the card about the RC Cola ad, however.  I also really like card #61, which shows Warren Spahn with the Boston Braves.

My Favorite Reds card: #115 – Josh Hamilton (2007)

2011 Topps 60 Years Josh Hamilton 07

This beats out the 1967 Tony Perez, which is a great card.  Since I haven’t started collecting 2007 Topps yet, I’d never seen this card.  I always had a soft spot for Hamilton’s time with the Reds – I wish we could have kept him somehow.

Any other tidbits: Topps goofed with 1979 – they featured the same Eddie Murray card in both series 1 and 2 as the 1979 version.

The 1957 Mantle card with the “ghost player” is featured in this set – but the write-up on the back is silent to the fact and the front has been edited to not show the “ghost” figure.

2011 Topps 60 Years Mickey Mantle 57

Also, the back of Juan Marichal’s 1961 card discusses the fact that Topps started taking pictures of guys without hats so they didn’t have to airbrush the photos later on.  Finally, the back of Frank Robinson’s card discusses card #537 – which featured rookies Pedro Gonzalez, Ken McMullen, and Al Weis as well as “happening to include the future all-time hits leader”.  A subtle non-mention of Pete Rose a few years before the hobby got all up in arms for what Topps did on the back of the 2013 base cards.

Completed insert set – 2010 Topps Cards Your Mom Threw Out

17 09 2014

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)

2010 Topps CYMTO Maris 60_0002

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

2010 Topps CYMTO Ripken 92 96

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

2010 Topps CYMTO 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

2010 Topps CYMTO Bench 73

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.

2010 Topps CYMTO F Robinson 72 Traded

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.

2010 Topps CYMTO Steve Carlton 82

And the 2001 version of Vlad Guerrero is the HTA parallel that I think was only available in certain factory sets.

2010 Topps CYMTO Vlad Guerrero 01 HTA

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.

2010 Topps CYMTO Alex Gordon 06

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.

2010 Topps CYMTO Derek Jeter 07

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.