Completed insert set – 1999 Topps Nolan Ryan Reprints

30 03 2016

Continuing on the completed set wagon.  I posted about the Willie Mays reprint last week; I also finished up the Nolan Ryan set from 1999 a little while ago.  I’m sort of catching up – this one’s only from December of last year!

Info about the set:

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Set description:  After issuing reprints from great outfielders from the 50’s and 60’s – Mantle, Mays and Clemente – Topps went with a more recent hobby icon in 1999, strikeout king Nolan Ryan.  Ryan was the theme elsewhere in the product, too – he was given card #34 (his uniform number).  I think this may have been in honor of his getting inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame, as it had been 5 years since he retired.  Topps inserted the even years (starting with 1968) came in series 1 and the odd years came in series 2.  The reprints are glossy, with a gold foil stamp on the front to designate the cards as “Nolan Ryan Commemorative” reprints, and a small extra line on the back noting the card number for the insert set.

Set composition:  27 cards, 1:18 (1999 Topps)

Hall of Famers:  1 – just Ryan.  Jerry Koosman is the only other player featured in this set.

How I put the set together:

  • 4 cards from my 1999 hobby boxes
  • 10 cards from a card show
  • 7 cards from Beckett Marketplace
  • 4 cards from COMC
  • 2 cards from Sportlots

Card that completed my set:  #10 – 1977 Topps

1999 Topps Nolan Ryan 77

I picked up this from COMC for Black Friday last year.  This is one of the better cards in the set – Ryan has a great autograph, so any card with a facsimile signature gets high marks.

Thoughts on the set:  By 1999 this idea was probably a bit overdone, but to be honest – if Topps had just decided, we’re gonna do one of these every year, but cut back on other stuff, I think it would be pretty good.  Compared to the 1 per year for each series sets they’ve done 4 times already in the new decade (counting 2012 Archives), these single player inserts are pretty cool.  Ryan is a true cardboard icon – like Mantle, his greatness to cardboard collectors outpaces his considerable greatness as a player.  So this is a good set.

Best card (my opinion):  #1 – 1971 Topps

1999 Topps Nolan Ryan 71

Even the poor placement of the stamp can’t keep this card down.  1980 and 1990 are favorites of mine as well.

My Favorite Reds card:  There obviously are none.

Here’s the scan of the full set:

1999 Topps Nolan Ryan complete

1999 Topps Nolan Ryan complete 2

1999 Topps Nolan Ryan complete 3

Any other tidbits:  Ryan had card #1 for 3 straight years from 1990 through 1992.

14 of the 27 cards feature Ryan at some point in his pitching motion.

With sets like this, you notice things like that.

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Completed insert set – 2000 Topps Combos

29 03 2016

I completed another insert set last year.  I’m still almost a year behind, but catching up slowly and surely.  This one is 2000 Topps Combos.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  This set showcases player groupings unified by a common theme.  It’s kind of reminiscent of some older multi-player Topps subsets from the late 1950’s or early 1960’s.  Only this is an insert.  The cards are paintings as opposed to actual photos.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:18 odds (2000 Topps series 2)

Hall of Famers:  7.  Mike Piazza, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs.

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from my series 2 hobby box
  • 7 cards from COMC
  • 1 card from Sportlots
  • 1 card from Beckett’s marketplace

Card that completed my set: #TC-6 – Sosa, McGwire “Home Run Kings”

2000 Topps Combos McGwire Sosa

I got this from COMC in May of last year.

Thoughts on the set:  A really cool set.  The paintings seem very well done, and the combos you could do back at the turn of the century were second to none.  From the 2nd generation players of the decade (Bonds, Griffey), the Braves’ pitching staff, the Home Run kings (Sosa, McGwire) to the trio of upcoming shortstops (Jeter, Nomar, A-Rod) – Topps had a lot to pull from.  I like how these cards had a bit of a retro feel to them, paying homage to the old combos from the late 1950’s.

Best card (my opinion): #TC-7 – Randy Johnson / Pedro Martinez

2000 Topps Combos Pedro Randy

For all the batting records set during this era, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were still putting up 300 strikeouts and ERAs in the low 2’s or high 1’s.  In other words, they were putting up the greatest pitching seasons we’d ever seen.  One of them did it as the tallest player in the history of the game, while the other was doubted early in his career because he was too small.  The contrast is great, and this is probably the best card in all of 2000 Topps to me – not just in this set.

My Favorite Reds card:  #TC-8 – Barry Bonds / Ken Griffey Jr.

2000 Topps Combos Bonds Griffey

Since this was series 2, they put Griffey in his Reds gear.  So this is the only Reds card.  But it’s a good one.

Here’s a scan of the complete set.

2000 Topps Combos complete 2

2000 Topps Combos complete

Any other tidbits:  Derek Jeter made it onto 2 cards here.  One with the aforementioned shortstop trio, the other with “Torre’s Terrors” showcasing the feared bats in the Bronx.





Updating the Elusive Eight for a 4th time – Rosemont Card Show

28 03 2016

1996 Topps Power Boosters McKnight

It’s funny how things work out.  I went to a big card show at the Convention Center in Rosemont last week.  My cousin was in town visiting.  He is in college, and came to Chicago to visit us and a cousin on the other side of his family who also lives near Chicago.  I dropped him off at their house Sunday morning – they were 5 minutes from Rosemont.  The discussion with my wife earlier in the week went something like this:

Wife: “Are you going to church Sunday?”

Me: “I have to drop Sam off, remember?”

So I did, and, what do you know, the convention center got in the way of my drive home.  After about 10 minutes, I kind of regretted the decision.  Not because I was missing church – I couldn’t have made it home by the time I’d dropped my nephew off anyways.  More that I had spent money on parking and admission, but probably wasn’t going to have enough time to filter through everything that was there.  I did find an honest-to-good dime box, and picked up 50 inserts.  They were mostly from 2015 Topps, with a few 2016 cards sprinkled in.  So that was 5 bucks, and I got a Mike Trout ML Debut insert for $2.  A total of 51 cards for 7 bucks (14¢ per card).  Not bad, but when you factor in the $15 parking and $10 admission – not nearly as good.  63¢ per card.  I guess that’s not awful, but I bet I could have gotten a similar deal on COMC or Sportlots and saved the time.

I almost left before hitting a few last tables in the back.  Glad I didn’t.  Because I found another cheap box – this one was a quarter box.  3 quarter boxes actually.  And as I was flipping through those boxes, I was actually a little sad because there were so many cards in the boxes that I now had but had experienced a lot of trouble tracking down over the years.  Cards like 1995 League Leaders.  1996 Topps ProFiles.  A few other cards from 1996-2002 Topps.  But I had all the ones I was seeing.  Until I got to the 3rd box, I only had about 4 cards.  And I had a buzzing phone from my wife wondering why I wasn’t home when they got back (she’s fine with my card escapades – what she’s not fine with is me not communicating them!).

But the 3rd box was something of a jackpot.  I found quite a few cards I needed, and there was 1 card from the 1996 Topps Power Boosters set.  It was this card:

1996 Topps Power Boosters #18 – Tony McKnight

1996 Topps Power Boosters McKnight

I need just 1 more card from this set, and I have an eBay search for it.  The rookie portion of these cards are just really hard to track down.  They aren’t valuable or anything, but I just can’t seem to find them.  Probably because they’re all buried in dime boxes like this.  These cards have sat on my wantlist since I opened my 1996 boxes in 2012.  So almost 4 years.  That’s a long time!  And the luck that this specific one was the one here?  Well, it made the trip worth it!

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Here’s the updated Elusive Eight, just in case anyone has these cards available!  Remember – the pictures are the photos I have of other cards in the set.  Since I don’t have them, I don’t have actual photos yet!

2012 Topps Archives Combos – #58-CK – Cabrera/Kaline

2012 Topps Archives Combos – #58-YE – Yaz/Ellsbury

2012 Archives Combos Bench Votto

I’m 2 cards away from the Combos set that was a retail-only insert in 2012 Topps Archives.  These 2 cards have been added after I got the McKnight and the Juan Lebron card below over the past 2 weeks.

1996 Topps Power Boosters #21 – Jim Scharrer

1996 Topps Power Boosters Juan Lebron

2012 Topps Archives In Action #82IA-JE – Jacoby Ellsbury

Trade Night Owl June 2012 Archives

1998 Topps Focal Points #11 – Chuck Knoblauch

1998 Topps Focal Point Frank Thomas

2013 Gypsy Queen #218 – Adam Wainwright

2013 Gypsy Queen Gwynn

1996 Topps Masters of the Game #15 – Kirby Puckett

96 Masters of Game

1995 Topps Pre-Production Spectralite #PP5 – Travis Fryman

1995 Topps Pre-Production Spectralite Sandy Alomar

Here are some other cards that would be knocking on the door to make the list. 3 of them have been on the list at some point in the past, but were bumped to make room for the Power Boosters cards.

2001 Topps MVP redemption set – a very expensive set, I have about 10 of the 25 cards

2003 Topps Nolan Ryan Record Breaker – 5 very difficult cards to go

2003 Topps Traded – 5 cards to go

2004 Topps – 5 cards to go

2012 Topps – the Bryce Harper 661 card

2012 Allen & Ginter Giants of the Deep #14 – Bottlenose Whale





Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Etch-a-Sketch

27 03 2016

I completed another insert set from 1998 Topps.  This is the Etch-A-Sketch insert.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  This nine-card set features drawings by artist George Vlosich III done on an etch-a-sketch and put onto cardboard.

Set composition:  9 cards, 1:36 odds (1998 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  5. Cal Ripken Jr., Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza, Ken Griffey Jr.

More than half the set, which is pretty good for a 1998 set.

How I put the set together:

  • 1 cards from my series 1 hobby box
  • 1 card from a trade
  • 1 card from Beckett’s marketplace
  • 2 cards from Sportlots
  • 4 cards from COMC

Thoughts on the set:  Really cool idea.  I have to give credit for thinking outside the box.  There’s a guy who’s awesome at Etch-a-Sketch.  Topps used his drawings to make a set of cards.  Honestly, it seems like better ideas than they have in today’s world.

Card that completed my set: #ES6 – Mike Piazza

98 Topps Etch front

I got this card from COMC last March.  So this completed set has been a year in wait!

Best card (my opinion): #ES2 – Barry Bonds

1998 Topps s1 Etch a Sketch Bonds

This is 2 straight 1998 sets where I’ve picked Bonds as the best card.  Somehow it seems like this could be a bad idea.  But I think the drawing of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background is really cool, plus the drawing really looks like Bonds where some of the others are a bit “sketchy”.  This is also the card I got in my box – maybe that helps!

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

Here’s the scan of all 9 cards:

1998 Topps Etch a Sketch complete

Any other tidbits:  The kid who started doing this is no longer a kid, and he’s still at it.  Here’s his website.





Completed insert set – 2002 Topps ’52 World Series

26 03 2016

I’m sort of catching up to the timeline of when I finished these sets.  The last few were in May of last year – this one I finished up in June :).  This was a pretty small set, so it’s not surprising that I finished this set up only about a month after opening my 2002 boxes up.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  50 years after a true “Fall Classic”, Topps put together a 7-card insert set in honor of the 1952 Fall Classic.  It’s somewhat reminiscent of the World Series sets from the 1960’s, where Topps would have a subset highlighting what went down in the previous year’s World Series.  This was done in the 1952 Topps design, and it walks through the 7 games where the Yankees, yet again, denied the Brooklyn Dodgers the chance to rule New York and the baseball world.

Set composition:  7 cards, 1:6 hobby odds (2010 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  6.

Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider were all in the game 1 starting lineup and are featured on the first card.  Casey Stengel is on cards #6 and #7, and Yogi Berra is on card #7 (though you can’t see his face).

How I put the set together:

  • 3 cards from my 2 hobby boxes
  • 4 cards from Sportlots

Card that completed my set:  #52WS-3 – Dodgers Celebrate Game 3 Win

2002 Topps 52 WS game 3

I got the last card from Sportlots in June last year.

Thoughts on the set:  Today it seems like Topps had overdone the ’52 design, but in 2002 that probably wasn’t the case.  So I try to keep that in mind.  This is a cool insert for 2002, and it goes well with the 1952 reprints of Dodger and Yankee players from series 1.

The series went 7 games.  The Dodgers won game 1, and then the teams traded wins through game 6.  Joe Black of the Dodgers made his 3rd start in game 7, after splitting with Allie Reynolds in his first two starts.  Reynolds pitched the end of game 6 to preserve a 3-2 lead, so it was Eddie Lopat taking the ball in game 7 for the Bronx Bombers.  Black gave up what would be the game-winning run in the 6th via a Mickey Mantle homer.  Reynolds came back out for his 4th appearance of the series, earning the win after holding the Dodgers scoreless for the last 3 innings.

Best card (my opinion): #52WS-7 – Reynolds Relieves Lopat in Game 7

2002 Topps 52 WS front

In a set like this, you have to go with the game 7 card.

Here’s a scan of the full set.

2002 Topps 52 WS complete

2002 Topps 52 WS game 7

Any other tidbits:  Like I said, this set was reminiscent of the early 60’s World Series subsets, except the timing is off if you think about it.  The ’52 design would need to be for the 1951 series.





Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Clout Nine

24 03 2016

This is my 4th completed insert set from 1998 Topps.  Though I got so behind on these completed set posts that I actually have 4 more I’ve completed but not posted about yet.  I’m catching up, though!  Clout Nine is a 9-card set that fits nicely into a binder page.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  Inserted into series 2 packs, Clout Nine features a player at each position (DH but not pitcher) who had the highest OPS in baseball for that position in 1997.  The player is featured in the center and there’s a head shot of the other 8 players down the 2 sides.  There is a cloud background.  The back of the card has more clouds, a picture of the player, and a list of the top 10 at each position.

Set composition: 9 cards, 1:72 odds (1998 Topps series 2)

Hall of Famers:  4.  Frank Thomas, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Ken Griffey Jr.

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from my series 2 hobby box
  • 4 cards from COMC
  • 2 cards from Sportlots
  • 2 card from Beckett’s marketplace

Card that completed my set: #C9 – Larry Walker

1998 Topps Clout 9 Walker

I got this card from COMC all the way back in June of last year.  Walker actually was the MLB leader in OPS in 1997, by 102 points over Piazza.

Thoughts on the set:  This set has kind of grown on me.  At first it seemed like filler, but now I kind of like the cloud background.  The premise is really cool – I’m surprised Topps was so progressive to use OPS back in 1998.  Finally, the fact that it’s 9 cards is underrated.  I wish Topps did things like this more often.  Having a 9-card set that fits perfectly into a binder is really nice.  Much nicer than a 10-card set, which is the most annoying thing you can do.

 

Best card (my opinion): #C7 – Barry Bonds

1998 Topps Clout 9 Bonds

You may not like Bonds, but I don’t harbor as much ill will as others do toward him.  And I do like this photo the best.  Plus, this was pre-steroids!

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

Here’s a scan of the set.  All in 1 page!

1998 Topps Clout 9 complete

Any other tidbits:  Mark McGwire had the highest OPS out of players who didn’t make this set.  His OPS was 1.039, 31 points behind Frank Thomas for the 1st base card.  This was also the last year Thomas played more at first than as the DH.

Todd Stottlemyre would have been the top pitcher if they did a pitchers’ card.  He had an excellent .333 OBP and a .345 Slugging percentage for a .679 OPS.





Updating the Elusive Eight for a 3rd time – Sportlots

23 03 2016

Before I go into the card I just picked up, there’s a great article today for you 1990s collectors on Beckett’s website.

That said, it’s appropriate I talk about a 90’s card I just picked up!

1996 Topps Power Boosters Juan Lebron

1996 Topps Power Boosters #17 – Juan Lebron

3 months since I started it, and this is a third card from my “Elusive Eight”.  That’s pretty good.  I think doing it has either a) brought a couple of these cards to some reader’s attention, or b) made me focus a bit more on going out and finding these specific cards myself.

This was a case of the latter, though I don’t think this was a card that was just sitting there for a long time.  I found this card on Sportlots while perusing the site recently.  Unlike my normal purchases on Sportlots, I just got this card and that’s it.  It cost me 99¢ for the card, and another 99¢ for shipping.  Considering how hard these rookie power brokers have been to track down – I’ll take that any day of the week!

LeBron did not make much of an impact on MLB – the highest he ever got with an affiliated organization was Double-A.  He’s probably best remembered for having his picture switched with Carlos Beltran in their 1995 Topps Traded cards.

I am down to 2 cards left in the set, and, somewhat surprisingly, still have 6 inserts left from 1996.  3 of those are on the Elusive Eight – 2 from this set and the “Masters of the Game” card I need.

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I’m not going to walk back through the remaining cards on the elusive 8 – because I’ve got another one in and will update when I get the chance to post about that card.