Completed master set – one last look at 1990 Topps

12 04 2015

I completed the full set of 1990 Topps back in 2012 – but it wasn’t until late last year that I finally finished off the “Master Set”.  The K-Mart “Batting Leaders” inserts were really tough to find at a decent price.  I posted about completing that set on Thursday – this is the master set post.

I’ve now completed all my Topps master sets through 1993!

Info about my base set:

How I put the set together:

  • 458 cards from the wax box
  • 84 cards from a couple of K-Mart blister pack
  • 61 cards I already had from back in the day
  • 189 cards from trades

Card that completed my set: #675 – Jim Abbott – GO BLUE!!! (1 of 2 cards I got in a trade with blog reader Kary that completed the set – the other was Tom Gordon).

General Set info:


Set composition: 792 cards (715 individual ML player cards*, 10 #1 Draft Picks, 26 Managers, 4 Ryan Tribute, 1 Giamatti Tribute, 5 Turn Back the Clock, 6 Checklists, 3 Record Breakers, 22 All-Stars)

*The 715 individual player cards include 10 All-Star Rookies and 5 Future Stars

Representation of ’89 MLB season: Out of the 715 player cards, 12 players featured did not play in the 1989 season.  Four guys were prospects who just didn’t make the MLB roster (Bernie Williams, Delino DeShields, Luis Sojo, Mel Stottlemyre, Jr.).  Six guys (Dave Winfield, Dale Sveum, Jose Guzman, Greg Mathews, Danny Cox, Rafael Santana) did not play in the majors in 1989 due to injury, but did get a card in the set.  The last 2 players were in the minors for all of the 1989 season (Juan Nieves, Tom Lampkin).  2 players were in subsets and did play in the 1989 season – Mike Schmidt, who was featured on a Turn Back the Clock card, and first overall pick Ben McDonald was the only member of the Draft Pick subset to make the majors in 1989 – debuting 3 weeks after he was drafted by the Orioles.

The 705 players featured represent 71.4% out of the ~988 players who played in MLB in 1989.

Last active player from this set: #698 – Omar Vizquel

Jamie Moyer and Vizquel both played their last game in 2012.  Moyer played his last game in May of that year.  Vizquel played his last game for Toronto on October 3rd, the last game of the 2012 season.  The Blue Jays moved him back to short for one last game after he’d been a platoon player at second or third the final 2 months of 2012.  Omar went 1 for 3 to finish his career with 2,877 hits, the most of any player from Venezuela.  He has over 400 stolen bases, and over 1400 runs.  Possibly the greatest defensive shortstop in history, he has the highest fielding percentage of any MLB shortstop, he’s played in the most games at shortstop, and he is the oldest player to play that position.

Interestingly – Jose Canseco was actually the last professional player in this set.  He had a 6-game stint with the Fort Worth Cats of the Independent League in 2013 where he hit 1 homer.

Player with the most cards in the set: Nolan Ryan – 5 cards:

Ryan – #1, #2-5 (Ryan Tribute)

This one was easy to figure out.  For striking out 5,000 batters, Topps did something similar with Ryan that they did with Pete Rose in 1986 – they gave him the first card of the set and then did a tribute subset for the next few cards.  These four subset cards all feature Ryan in each of his 4 Major League teams with the “5,000” in the background.

First Card and the Hundreds: #1 – Nolan Ryan, #100 – Will Clark, #200 – Don Mattingly, #300 – Bo Jackson, #400 – Ozzie Smith AS, #500 – Kevin Mitchell, #600 – Darryl Strawberry, #700 – Kirby Puckett

Highest book value: #692 – Sammy Sosa RC

Sosa’s rookie card books for a little bit more than the next card, which surprised me.

Most notable card: #414 – Frank Thomas FDP RC

Best card (my opinion): #414 – Frank Thomas FDP RC

I’m surprised that Thomas’s rookie card didn’t make it into the top 60 cards when Topps did the vote a few years ago.  This one is notable first because it’s a rookie card for future back-to-back MVP award winner Frank Thomas.  Second, is due to the famous error variation (No Name on the Front).  No cards from the 1990 set made it into that Topps top 60.  This set is often berated for the design, but this card is still very well-known.

In my opinion, this isn’t just the most notable card – I also think it’s the best.  It’s the rookie card of an all-time great player, in his Auburn uniform.  You can tell how big he is here, too – just look at the runner, Thomas is almost as tall as him while kneeling!

Second best card (also my opinion): #1 – Nolan Ryan

I could easily put this one above the Thomas.  It’s the first card in the set, and it’s a great shot of Nolan.  The photo actually goes really well with the design, too – which is really saying something.

Best subset card: #7 – Rickey Henderson RB

The Record Breakers subset has always been one of my favorites, and while there are only 3 RB cards in the 1990 set, this Rickey card is for a pretty cool record – the most home runs leading off a game.  He broke the record of 35 held by Bobby Bonds in early 1989, but I find it interesting they actually talk about his last one of the season (his 40th) on the back of this card.  I guess at the time, that was the new record.  Kind of like McGwire’s 70th being more valuable than #62.  Regardless, it’s a great photo of Rickey going deep.

Favorite action photo: #300 – Bo Jackson

Another Auburn alumni!  Bo didn’t spend a ton of time in Major League Baseball – but he has some of the best cards around.  This set doesn’t have a ton of action shots, so a shot of Bo at the point of impact is a pretty easy winner.

Favorite non-action photo: #230 – Keith Hernandez

I originally wanted to put Pascual Perez on here solely for his insane jheri curl.  But this shot of Hernandez in the on deck circle was way too good.

My Favorite Reds card: #260 – Eric Davis

I’m pretty predictable – Eric Davis was my favorite Red around the time of this set, and he seems to win most of these contests.  He’s actually won 3 in a row, and I haven’t done 1991 yet – so he could win that one, too.  Some of the others were tougher picks – this one is a no brainer because a) it’s an awesome photo of Davis, and b) because there isn’t a lot of competition.  I don’t even know what card would be second here.

Topps Reprints and others:

  • 1999 Ryan reprints – Nolan Ryan
  • 2001 Through the Years – Sammy Sosa
  • 2001 Archives – Darrell Evans, Bob Boone, Keith Hernandez, Dan Quisenberry
  • 2001 Archives Rookie Reprints – Frank Thomas, Williams, Sosa, Juan Gonzalez
  • 2001 Topps Traded – Dave Justice
  • 2002 Archives – Ryne Sandberg
  • 2002 Gallery Heritage – Sosa
  • 2003 Gallery Heritage – Williams
  • 2005 Rookie Cup Reprints – Gary Sheffield, Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Abbott, Gregg Jefferies, Tom Gordon
  • 2005 Gallery Heritage – Curt Schilling, Nolan Ryan HL
  • 2010 CMT – Thomas, Thomas NNOF, Larry Walker
  • 2011 60YOT – Williams, Schilling
  • 2011 Lineage Autographed Reprints – Ryan
  • 2013 Manufactured Commemorative Patch – Thomas

Due to the popularity of that error card, Frank Thomas has the most with 4 reprints.  Sammy Sosa and Bernie Williams have 3.

Other Notable Cards: #505 – Pete Rose MG, #233 – Gregg Jefferies RC, #343 – Gary Sheffield RC

Juan Gonzalez was the other notable rookie card in the set (though I guess you could argue so is Bernie Williams).  Griffey and Belle have 2nd year cards, though this is their first card in the base Topps set (for Belle it’s his first Topps card, period).  And the Giamatti is notable – it was done to honor the commissioner’s passing away in the fall of 1989.

My Master” Set Info:

1,213 cards – 792 “base”, 284 “update”, 137 “insert”

  • Update set: Traded, ML Debut
  • Insert set: Glossy Rookies, Glossy All-Stars, Glossy Send-In, Batting Leaders

How I put the additional sets together:

Traded – boxed set from a card show

ML Debut – boxed set from eBay

Glossy All-Stars – set from eBay

Glossy Rookies – set from eBay

Glossy Send-In – set from eBay

Batting Leaders – 2 from Blister Packs, 3 from COMC, 15 from Sportlots, 2 from eBay

Update set composition: 132 cards (124 players, 7 Managers, 1 checklist)

In the update set not in the base set: 58 players, 7 managers

Total in base and update sets: 773 different players, 10 #1 draft picks, 33 managers, 5 retired players

Highest book value in the Update set: #48T – David Justice, #83T – John Olerud

1990-traded-Justice Olerud

Most notable card from the Update set: #31T – Cecil Fielder

1990 Topps Traded Cecil Fielder

There isn’t a lot as far as notable cards here.  This shows Fielder after he came back from Japan.  He’d go on to hit 51 homers for Detroit that year.  The other card I’d think about would be the Lou Piniella card for him signing as the Reds manager.

Most notable insert card: Glossy Rookies #11 – Ken Griffey, Jr.

Best Insert card: Batting Leaders #1 – Ken Griffey, Jr.

1990 Topps Glossy Rookies Griffey

In 1989, I put the Boggs Batting Leaders card as the #1 insert card – but in 1990 that insert was in its 2nd year.  Griffey in this Glossy Rookies set is a much more notable card than anything from the previous Glossy sets Topps had created.




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