Completed insert set – 1989 Topps Batting Leaders

26 11 2014

WHOA!  This was a tough one!  And it took me a while to get around posting about it.  I finished this 22 card set back in April.

I always thought of the ’93 Topps Black Gold set as Topps first ever insert set.  But of course there were glossy inserts from the 80’s and inserts like stamps as far back as the early 60’s.  And then in 1989 and 1990 there were these Batting Leader cards that have become fairly tough to find – at least at a decent price.

Info about the set:

Set description:  22 standard-size cards with a bright red border on the front, with a pair of hands holding a bat on one side.  There is a trophy that says “Top Active Career Batting Leaders” on the other side.  The red backs show the player’s career batting average and the number of at bats he’s had.  The 22 veterans with the highest lifetime batting averages with 765 minimum games played (conveniently equal to Kirby Puckett’s total at the end of 1988).  The cards were distributed one per Topps blister pack sold exclusively through K-Mart stores. The cards are numbered by K-Mart in order of average.

Set composition:  22 cards

Inserted: K-Mart blister packs of 1989 Topps.  1 per pack.

Hall of Famers: 9

Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, Kirby Puckett, George Brett, Jim Rice, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Rickey Henderson, Robin Yount

How I put the set together:

  • 20 from eBay
  • 1 from Beckett
  • 1 from COMC

Thoughts on the set:  In a word – awesome!  The set has a theme and is numbered in order.  I seriously wish this was something Topps had updated every year – you could see people fall in and out of the set based on how they’d done or if a younger guy had gotten eligible with enough at bats.  It’s hard to come by – and it costs some money, too!  Back when I did a write-up on the set, I guessed it would cost me $100 to complete it.  Over the past 4 years – I actually shelled out $150 to finish it!

Card that completed my set:  #22 – Alan Trammell

Trammell was one of 6 cards I got in an eBay lot back in April.

Highest book value:  #5 – George Brett

Best card (my opinion):  #1 – Wade Boggs

I’m going with the guy who was in the lead, which is in this case the #1 card.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

1989 Topps Batting Leaders set

1989 Topps Batting Leaders set_0001

1989 Topps Batting Leaders set_0002

Any other tidbits: Tony Fernandez was about 40 games short, otherwise he would have made the set at card #10.  Ken Griffey and Bill Buckner should have been in the set – Griffey would have been 11th at .298, and Buckner would have been around 16th at .292.  Neither had Topps cards that year (though Griffey was in the Traded set), which probably had something to do with it.

I wanted to look at where these guys finished their career batting average compared to where they were at the end of the 1988 season.  The info in parentheses is the stats at the time these cards came out – I put them in the order they ended their career.  Only Gwynn, Franco and Molitor increased from the end of 1988 to the end of their career – which is quite an impressive feat!

  1. Tony Gwynn, .338 (2nd, .331)
  2. Wade Boggs, .328 (1st, .356)
  3. Kirby Puckett, .318 (4th, .320)
  4. Don Mattingly, .307 (3rd, .327)
  5. Paul Molitor, .306 (10th, .299)
  6. George Brett, .305 (5th, .312)
  7. Pedro Guerrero, .300 (6th, .307)
  8. Julio Franco, .298 (14th, .295)
  9. Jim Rice, .298 (9th, .300)
  10. Keith Hernandez, .296 (8th, .300)
  11. Willie McGee, .295 (12th, .295)
  12. Tim Raines, .294 (7th, .305)
  13. Carney Lansford, .290 (20th, .290)
  14. Dave Parker, .290 (13th, .295)
  15. Johnny Ray, .290 (18th, .291)
  16. Eddie Murray, .287 (11th, .295)
  17. Alan Trammell, .285 (22nd, .290)
  18. Willie Wilson, .285 (17th, .292)
  19. Robin Yount, .285 (21st, .290)
  20. Kent Hrbek, .282 (16th, .292)
  21. Pat Tabler, .282 (19th, .291)
  22. Rickey Henderson, .279 (15th, .292)
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