Completed master set – one last look at 1994 Topps

31 08 2015

I’m changing up how I do these master set posts a little bit.  In the past, I’ve basically reposted my base card set and added a “master set” section at the end of that post.  That seems a little silly in this case – I just posted about the 1994 Topps base set.  So I don’t need the repeat, I’ll just link to the completed set post.

OK, enough with the administrative stuff – I finished up the master set to 1994 Topps.  I’ve now completed all my Topps master sets through 1994!

I’m going to give myself the proverbial pat on the back, I’m gonna toot my own horn, I’ll grandstand, gloat and shout a little cock-a-doodle-doo.  I kind of assumed this would either be the last “master set” I’d finish, or I wouldn’t even finish it at all.  There were 2 major obstacles here.  The first was the Topps Spanish Legends set.  I had been 2 cards short for what seemed like forever (probably only 3 years – but still).  I finally finished that up with an eBay purchase.

The other, even more challenging portion was the Darren Dreifort Topps Golden Spikes promo.  I probably didn’t even need to consider that part of the master set (and the same could be said for the Spanish Legends set).  But both of those seemed affiliated to 1994 Topps flagship to me, so I kept my eyes open.  When I finally got the Dreifort – I was ecstatic!  So enough gasconading!  Without further ado, here’s the info for this master set.

Info about my base set:

How I put the base set together:

  • 307 cards from series 1 wax box
  • 259 cards from series 2 wax box
  • 222 cards from trades
  • 2 cards I already had from back in the day
  • 1 card from a card show
  • 1 card from Sportlots

Card that completed my set: #379 – Mark McLemore

1994 Topps Mark McLemore

Best card (my opinion): #180 – George Brett

1994 Topps George Brett best card

Check out this link to see the rest of the base set post.

My Master” Set Info:

1,005 cards – 792 “base”, 132 “update”, 62 “insert”, 19 “other”

How I put the additional sets together:

  • Traded & Finest Traded – factory set from a card show
  • Promos – all 19 cards from eBay
  • Black Gold – 2 from wax boxes (1 each series), 3 from trades, 39 from Sportlots
  • Leyendas – 3 from Sportlots, 5 from COMC, 2 from eBay

Update set composition:  132 cards (107 players*, 19 Draft Picks, 1 Prospects card, 2 Anatomy of a Trade, 2 Sandberg Tribute, 1 checklist)

*Paul Shuey’s card has the Future Star design

In the update set not in the base set:  50 players (including the 4 players on the Prospect card)

Total in base and update sets:  812 different players, 53 draft picks

Highest book value in the Update set:  #112T – Paul Konerko RC

1994 Topps Traded 112T Paul Konerko DP RC

A borderline Hall of Famer is the biggest rookie card in the set.

Most notable card from the Update set:  #42T – Pedro Martinez / Delino DeShields AT

1994 Topps Traded 42T Pedro Martinez Delino DeShields Trade

I have to think that in 1994, the “anatomy of the trade” card for the Delino DeShields and Pedro Martinez wasn’t viewed as much more than an anomaly.  But this became a pretty big deal, and since I just finished reading Pedro’s biography, it was poignant to me.  The back points out how both teams were trying to replace something they’d lost.  The Expos replaced on Martinez for another, as they were losing ace Denny.  The Dodgers lost Jody Reed to free agency and needed to replace him.  The trade was viewed as a bit of a steal by LA; it sure didn’t turn out that way.

By the way, Dennis Martinez and Jody Reed are cards #7 and #57, respectively, in the ’94 Topps Traded set.

Most notable insert card:  Traded Finest #7 – Frank Thomas

1994 Topps Traded Finest Insert Frank Thomas

There isn’t a lot of insert sets to choose from, and I don’t think of any of them blow you away as iconic for the hobby.  The Finest insert cards in the Traded factory set do seem the most significant.  In 1994, Topps was coming fresh off of the gold mine they created with Topps Finest in 1993, and they were starting to branch the brand out to be more than just its own product; they inserted the cards in other sets.

Best Insert card (my opinion):  Traded Finest #1 – Greg Maddux

1994 Topps Traded Finest Insert Greg Maddux

The Traded Finest insert set isn’t just moderately significant; it’s the coolest one out of the 3 total insert sets, in my opinion.  Man, for the days when there were 3 total insert sets between Topps and Topps Traded!  Anyway, they put Greg Maddux batting on his card.  That wins this award!

Advertisements




Completed insert set – 1994 Topps Leyendas (aka: Spanish Legends)

29 08 2015

Earlier this year I completed another Topps insert set that’s kind of the “oddball” fashion.  I have been going after these cards as part of my Topps project, though in fairness I probably could argue against collecting these as not really being part of the Topps flagship set.

Info about the set:

Set description: This set of Spanish-born retired baseball players was inserted into factory sets of the the Topps Spanish bilingual set, which paralleled the 792-card 1994 Topps flagship set.  Entitled “Topps Legends”, it has some of the greatest hispanic players of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.  Blue lettering “Topps Leyendas” is at the top in block form with a shadowing effect.  Topps Legends is also at the bottom in the same manner.  The player’s name is at the bottom as well.  The photos have a distinct 1960’s feel to them.  The backs, on the other hand, have the feel of 1994 Topps.  They are bilingual with the player’s complete MLB record, biographical info and a write-up.

Set composition: 10 cards, 1 set per 1994 Topps Spanish factory set

Hall of Famers:  4.  Luis Aparicio, Rod Carew, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal.  I hope some day Minnie Minoso gets in as well.

How I put the set together:

  • 3 cards from Sportlots
  • 5 cards from COMC
  • 2 cards from eBay

Card that completed my set: #L3 – Luis Aparicio

I got this and the Chico Carrasquel cards on eBay in May.  I had been looking for them on COMC and other places for a really long time, but I changed my search parameters on eBay and found somebody selling team sets.  I had to get a few duplicates, but that’s fine by me!  If anyone is interested in the Minoso or Tiant cards, I’ve got an extra!

Thoughts on the set:  The design is humble, which makes it all the better.  It’s a great subject matter, and features an interesting selection of 10 players. Since it was issued back in 1994, it’s one of the earlier sets where Topps dove into cards of retired players.  In fact, it’s one of the few products where you could find retired players as an “insert” in a product with current players.  About the only thing this set is missing is Roberto Clemente.  The 1994 Topps Spanish set hearkens back to the days of Topps Venezuelan sets from the 1960’s.

Best card (my opinion): #L10 – Luis Tiant

I love sleeveless uniforms.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

1994 Topps Leyendas Felipe Alou

1994 Topps Leyendas





Another white whale! Darren Dreifort’s Topps Golden Spikes card

27 08 2015

I have been looking for the Topps Golden Spikes promotional cards for quite a while now.  There were 4 of these cards made in the early 1990’s, done to promote the annual awards dinner for the Golden Spikes winner.  The Golden Spikes award honors the best amateur baseball player in the country, and it’s an impressive list if you check it out.

The 1990-1993 winners were immortalized on cardboard by Topps, in each case done in a way to preview the next year’s flagship set design.  The cards were given out at the November banquet, and supposedly there are ~600 in existence.  The 4 winners from those years are not as some of the other winners, though all of these guys did make a good amount of money in their Major League careers.

  • 1990 – Alex Fernandez (1991 Topps)
  • 1991 – Mike Kelly (1992 Topps)
  • 1992 – Phil Nevin (1993 Topps)
  • 1993 – Darren Dreifort (1994 Topps)

I found the 1991 card (for 1990 Golden Spikes winner) of Alex Fernandez about 3 years ago.  Earlier this year, I found the 1992 card for ’91 winner Mike Kelly and the 1993 card for ’92 winner Phil Nevin.  I paid a pretty penny for the Nevin card, around 10 bucks for the Kelly.  But the Dreifort has alluded me until now.

From what I’ve seen, the Fernandez card is the easiest to find.  Unlike the others, I think Topps printed as a promotion for the Topps ML debut set that was new in 1991, which had players that made their ML debut in 1990.  Fernandez was called up to the Big Leagues the same year he was drafted, so he was the perfect guy for this.  I’ve seen the Fernandez on eBay far more than any of the others.  I think there are more than 600 of these cards out there.

The other 3 probably are limited to that print run of only 600 – as distributed for the Awards Dinner – according to what I’ve read.  Kelly seems to be the next easiest to obtain – but is still a very difficult card to find.  I’ve seen it on eBay probably 6 or 7 different times.  The Nevin I’ve seen only once – the time I bought it.  I’ve read it’s the hardest to find.  This brings me back to the Dreifort, which seems close to the Nevin as far as how many are out there on the market.  I had only seen this card for sale with an autograph.  The seller was asking 200 bucks – which isn’t worth it to me.  Last month, I finally saw another Dreifort with no autograph.  In fact, there was one seller listing 3 different PSA graded versions.  I put in various bids on all 3 and ended up with 2 of them, for less than 20 bucks combined.  That seems like a steal to me.

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort BEFORE

Before

That’s a hammer in the top left of that picture.  I’m liberating one from my case to go in my binder.  The other I’ll keep in the case for now.

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort AFTER

After

Here’s scans of the front and back for this card.

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort back

I’ve updated my pre-production posts from 1994 Topps.  Finally, here’s the binder page with all 4 cards, front and back.  I’m super-excited I got these cards.  A few years ago, I just figured these were unobtainable.  All told, I paid less than $100 for the quartet, which seems like a great deal to me.

Golden Spikes Fernandez Kelly Nevin Dreifort





Completed set – 1994 Topps

25 08 2015

A few months ago I finished the 1994 Topps set.  Finishing one of the base Topps sets is a big step toward the Lifetime Topps project!

Info about my set:

How I put the set together:

  • 307 cards from series 1 wax box
  • 259 cards from series 2 wax box
  • 222 cards from trades
  • 2 cards I already had from back in the day
  • 1 card from a card show
  • 1 card from Sportlots

Card that completed my set: #379 – Mark McLemore (one of 3 cards received from a trade with Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary)

1994 Topps Mark McLemore final card of set

I didn’t realize it at first, but McLemore’s card is an uncorrected error because the card # is one of two cards, along with Benito Santiago, bearing number 370 in the set.  McLemore is supposed to be 379.

Set composition: 792 cards (695 individual ML player cards*, 28 Coming Attractions, 10 Prospects, 34 Draft Picks, 9 Measures of Greatness, 11 All-Stars, 1 Aaron Tribute, 4 checklists)

*The 695 individual player cards include 10 All-Star Rookies, 26 Future Stars and Nolan Ryan’s final season tribute

Representation of ’93 MLB season:  The Coming Attractions is a dual-player subset, and the Prospects cards have 4 players, one from each level of the minor leagues.  If you do the math, and exclude the Aaron card, that means there are 825 player cards in Topps.  One of the Draft Pick players did make the majors in 1993 (Jeff Granger) – leaving 33 who did not.  19 of the players in the Coming Attractions subset did not make it to the Majors, 8 of the Future Stars didn’t, and 38 (all but 2) of the players from the Prospect subset didn’t actually make it.

That leaves 733 guys in the set who played in MLB in 1993.  The 733 players represent 66.4% out of the 1,104 players who played in MLB in 1993.  It’s worth noting – the 1,104 players was a huge increase since there were 2 expansion teams in 1993.

Last active player from this set: #158 – Derek Jeter

1994 Topps Derek Jeter Prospect card

There are no players in this set currently active.  Derek Jeter wast the last active player from the set – he played the final game of his historic career at Fenway park on September 28th last year, which was the final day of the season.  He singled in his second at bat to knock in Ichiro Suzuki and was pulled for Brian McCann to replace him as DH.  That has to be the only time Brian McCann ever pinch ran for anyone.

There were 2 other players who played their last game at the end of the 2014 season.  Jason Giambi played as a DH for the Indians on September 27th and has since retired.  Jamey Wright pitched for the Dodgers and notched a hold in his last game on September 27th.  He wasn’t on the team’s postseason roster.  Wright tried to latch on with the Rangers last spring training but missed out on the team’s final cut.

Player with the most cards in the set:  5 players with 3 cards:

There are 2 “extra card” subsets, and 5 players have a card in both the All-Star and Measure of Greatness subset – Frank Thomas, Wade Boggs, Cal Ripken, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr.

Ripken – #200, #387 (All-Star), #604 (Measure of Greatness)

1994 Topps most cards Ripken

Thomas – #270, #384 (AS), #601 (MoG)

1994 Topps most cards Thomas

Griffey – #400, #388 (AS), #606 (MoG)

1994 Topps most cards Griffey

Boggs – #520, #386 (AS), #603 (MoG)

1994 Topps most cards Boggs

Bonds – #700, #390 (AS), #605 (MoG)

1994 Topps most cards Bonds

First Card and the Hundreds: #1 – Mike Piazza, #100 – Kirby Puckett, #200 – Cal Ripken, #300 – Ryne Sandberg, #400 – Ken Griffey Jr., #500 – Bo Jackson, #600 – Don Mattingly, #700 – Barry Bonds

1994 Topps first card and hundreds

Three of the 5 guys from the “most card” category made the special card section.

Highest book value: #158 – Orlando Miller, Brandon Wilson, Derek Jeter, Mike Neal PROS

1994 Topps Derek Jeter Prospect card

It’s not his rookie card, but this prospect is Jeter’s second card.

Most notable card: #34 – Nolan Ryan

1994 topps Nolan Ryan

This was Ryan’s last card – his 27th card since he shared card #177 with Jerry Koosman back in 1968.  Topps created a card with Ryan’s full statistical background on the back, and a logo on the front for Ryan’s 27 season.

Best card (my opinion): #180 – George Brett

1994 Topps George Brett best card

This is Brett’s 20th and final Topps flagship card.  And it’s his best.  Pure majesty.

Second best card (also my opinion): #675 – Roberto Alomar

1994 Topps scans Alomar

Back when I did my scans of cards from this set, I picked this card as my favorite.  I’ve since changed my mind – I think the Brett is too good.  But it’s got really good competition from this card, where Roberto Alomar forced out his brother and then threw on to first in an attempt at a double play.  This play occurred on April 17, 1993, though I can’t narrow it down between two separate plays.

Best subset card: #715 – Hank Aaron TRIB

1994 Topps Hank Aaron TRIB best subset

Aside from this card and those that are guys’ actual cards for the set are Measures of Greatness and All-Star cards.  Nothing in those subsets beats out the tribute card for Hank Aaron, which was put into the set to honor the 20th anniversary of his record-breaking 715th homer.

Favorite action photo: #149 – Kenny Lofton

1994 Topps Kenny Lofton best action shot

Though I considered just putting the Alomar card from above as the winner here, I don’t think it’s the best card based purely on the action shot.  It’s amazing because he’s forcing out his brother, but I think this Lofton is better if you just go on the action shot.  It looks like he’s about to make a diving catch, after losing his hat a few seconds earlier!

Favorite non-action photo: #80 – Jose Canseco

1994 Topps Jose Canseco best non-action shot

From the wood-clippings at his feet, Canseco seems to be shaving down the handles of his bats.  I’m not sure how many players do this, and this might be the only card where that’s done!

My Favorite Reds card: #705 – Jose Rijo

1994 Topps Jose Rijo

There are a lot of good cards in this set, and a lot of those good cards feature Reds.  I really liked Barry Larkin’s card where he’s going back on a fly ball, and Chris Sabo has a cool photo where he’s legging out a ground ball.  Joe Oliver has a very good play at the plate card.  But Rijo’s card is the best.  If I think about it, I probably prefer this card to the Canseco card above as far as non-action photos go.

This is a cool photo of the times; the Super Soaker had just come out in 1992 and I remember all the kids getting them, even though at 12 or 13 years old I was getting a bit old to play with high-powered squirt guns.  There are 2 other cards that I’ve found that have water guns on them.  The first is another Rijo card.  On the back of his 1994 Stadium Club Member’s Only card, Rijo has upgraded to a souped-up version of the super soaker with 3 “cartridges”.  The other is a Roger McDowell card, also from 1994.  His collector’s choice card shows him taking a picture with a couple of water guns shoved into his belt.

Other Notable Cards: Here’s some of the other cards that I really liked and/or are memorable.  A number of these were considered for the “honors” above.  The Mitch Williams is probably my favorite; I really thought about putting that as the best action photo.

1994 Topps other great cards

Topps Reprints and others:

  • 1999 Ryan reprints – Nolan Ryan
  • 2001 Through the Years – Barry Bonds
  • 2001 Archives – Jack Morris, George Brett, Robin Yount, Ryan
  • 2001 Topps Traded – Terrence Long (’94T), Ben Grieve (’94T)
  • 2002 Archives – Jason Giambi
  • 2005 Rookie Cup Reprints – Jeff Conine, J.T. Snow, Mike Piazza
  • 2010 CMT – Tony Gwynn, Bo Jackson, Billy Wagner
  • 2011 60YOT – Piazza, Manny Ramirez

Both Mike Piazza and Nolan Ryan have multiple reprints.





1983 Topps Leader Sheet

24 08 2015

I’ve got an update from a post from a Topps set I covered a really long time ago!  I kind of missed this collector sheet back when I was going through 1983 Topps because I didn’t realize what it actually was.  But a little while ago, I found this sheet on eBay and bought it.

1983 Topps League Leaders sheet

Each wax pack from 1983 contained a “Winning Lineup” scratch-off game card that could net collectors various prizes.

game card inserts

The grand prize, was a trip with tickets to the World Series for scratching off 4 Home runs.  For scratching off 4 singles, collectors could send in for a 7.5″ x 10.5″ League Leaders sheet of 9 cards depicting NL/AL Leaders from the previous (1982) season in homers, batting average, wins and saves.  The sheet is blank backed – each card has the same photo as the players’ regular card.  The Jackson/Thomas AL home run card is obviously a cropped version of their cards.

I’ve updated a few of my older 1983 posts to point this out.





Saturdays Suds: Pubs near the Park #9 – Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant & Sports Bar

22 08 2015

After finishing off the Mantle reprint set in my last post, it got me thinking – I’ve been to a restaurant that was owned by the Mick.  So I wanted to do a pubs near the park post for it.  The last pub post I did was for my Babe Ruth week.  I did a post about two restaurants / saloons owned by Babe Ruth’s father that closed nearly 100 years ago.  Naturally, that wasn’t a bar you could go to any more.

My next bar is also sponsored by a famous Yankee, and unfortunately it has closed as well.  But, as I said, this is a restaurant I’ve actually been to.  This post is for Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant and Sports Bar in Manhattan, which closed 2 years ago.

Mickey Mantle's Restaurant ad

Establishment:  Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant and Sports Bar

Ballpark:  Yankee Stadium in New York

Location:  42 Central Park South (59th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues) – about 6 miles south of Yankee Stadium

DSC01541_2

Beers served:  From what I remember, it was your standard fare – Budweiser, Miller Lite, etc.  I don’t remember a particular selection of craft beers or anything, though I went there about 7 years ago which was a little before the craft beer craze come about recently.

Menu (if applicable):  Mantle’s restaurant was a true sports bar – and had about what you would have thought.  Wings, burgers, etc.  Though it was far from the best American bar food I’ve had – I do think this had to be one of the first sports bars considering how long ago it opened.

Is it baseball-themed?  Or is it just close to the ballpark?   Obviously it’s baseball themed, since the Mick owns it.  It had an impressive selection of Yankee memorabilia, with an obvious focus on stuff from Mantle.  It’s in the middle of Manhattan, so it’s not right next to Yankee Stadium, but I think a lot of people who went there did what I did – ate there after taking in a Yankee game.

Description:  Mantle opened this restaurant in 1988 just off the southeast corner of Central Park in Manhattan.  As I mentioned above – the idea of a sports bar had to have been pretty novel at the time.  This had to be one of the earlier ones, at least as far as people think of the average sports bar today.

Mantle’s was actually a little bit nicer than your standard sports bar from what I remember.  It was well-lit, and was far from a dive bar.  But it was in the middle of tourist central – just north of Times Square and just south of Central Park.  This meant it was pretty damn expensive for what you were eating – which was solid, but neither my dad nor I were blown away by the food.

Mantle’s did have a very cool memorabilia selection, and I remember walking around a little bit to check some of that out.  The chairs were specially made, with the number 7 carved in as you can see on the photos below.

Mantle's Restaurant inside 2 Mantle's Restaurant inside

In 2007, there was a really cool – and really large – replica of old Yankee Stadium in the middle of the restaurant with a lot of bells and whistles that was kind of the centerpiece of the restaurant.

I went there with my dad in 2008.  We did a long weekend to New York, getting tickets to the last Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium, which was very cool.  One of the nights we were there, we went to Mantle’s restaurant for dinger.

As I mentioned, the restaurant closed 3 years ago.  It’s now an Italian restaurant called Villagio.  There is still a steakhouse operated under the Mantle name in Oklahoma City (OK was his home state).  If I ever make it down to Oklahoma City, maybe I can do a post about the other Mantle restaurant!





Completed insert set – 96/97 Topps Mickey Mantle Reprints

20 08 2015

I have gotten to a pretty crazy amount of completed insert sets that I’ve yet to post about.  My unposted number as of about a week ago was a whopping 41, plus 1 unfinished post for a completed base set as well.  So I should either abandon doing completed insert posts, or start catching up.

I like doing them, so the former option isn’t really an option.  I started doing some catch up last week, and here’s another set!  This is one of the few sets that crosses multiple years.

Info about the set:

Set description:  To honor the Mick, who had passed away in August, 1995, Topps issued reprints of the full run of Mantle base cards from his career – including Bowman for the years when he didn’t have a Topps card – from 1951 through 1969.  Reprints of his 19 regular cards from 1951-1969 (Bowman was 1951, 1954, 1955) were issued from 1996 Topps series 1.  His 1952 Bowman reprint was issued in 1996 Bowman.  Reprints of his subset cards from Topps flagship, as well as his 1953 Bowman card, were issued in 1997 Topps series 1.

Set composition:  36 cards in total.

  • 19 cards, 1:9 (1996 Topps series 1)
  • 1 card, 1:48 (1996 Bowman)
  • 16 cards, 1:12 (1997 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  4 – obviously Mantle is on every card, however the last 16 cards have other Hall of Famers in them.

Mantle, Yogi Berra, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays

Card that completed my set:  #15 – 1965 Topps, #31 – 1960 Topps MVP

I bought 2 cards from COMC during their annual Black Friday sale, each from a different year.  The 1996 set had all of Mantle’s regular Topps / Bowman cards, while the 1997 set had his subsets from Topps during his playing days.

How I put the set together:

  • 6 cards from 1996 retail box
  • 3 cards from 1997 retail box
  • 3 cards from trades
  • 1 card from a card show
  • 2 cards from Beckett
  • 13 cards from Sportlots
  • 8 cards from COMC

Thoughts on the set:  This wast one of the first sets in the Retro craze that began in the early-mid 1990’s.  On some level, this led to having sets like Heritage, Archives and even Ginter and Gypsy Queen.  It was great at the time, even if it seems overplayed out a little now.

Best card (my opinion):  #2 – 1952 Topps

You can’t beat the most famous card in the history of the hobby.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none (obviously).

1996-97 Topps Mantle reprints

1996-97 Topps Mantle reprints_0001

1996-97 Topps Mantle reprints_0002

1996-97 Topps Mantle reprints_0003