Completed insert set – 1997 Topps Willie Mays Finest

18 03 2016

Continuing on with the great catch-up of completed insert posts.  Any time I complete one of these reprint sets from the late 90’s – that’s a good thing.  I actually completed the Finest set for Willie Mays before I finished the regular set.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  After honoring Mickey Mantle in 1996, Topps followed that up with a set of reprint cards with the other all-time great from the 1952 Topps set.  Topps issued reprints of the full run of Mays base cards from his career – including Bowman cards.  That’s 27 cards from 1951 through 1973.  Series 1 had the regular reprints, while series 2 had the Finest version.  The backs have very small numbering noting which number in the set the specific card is.  The cards had the “protective peel” like many Finest cards from the mid-90’s had.  Not a good idea on Topps’ part.

Set composition:  27 cards, 1:20 (1997 Topps series 2)

Hall of Famers:  1 – just Mays.  Unlike Mantle, Topps only included a few reprints of Mays’ subset cards.  None of them were of the multi-player variety.

How I put the set together:

  • 3 cards from 1997 retail box
  • 1 card from a trade
  • 1 card from the 2013 NSCC
  • 1 card from Sportlots
  • 21 cards from COMC

I did really well in the retail box – 3 is definitely beating the odds.

Card that completed my set:  #15 – 1961 Topps Sporting News All-Star

1997 Topps Mays Finest 1961 AS

I bought this card from COMC last May.

Thoughts on the set:  Of course it’s tagging on from the Mickey Mantle set in 1996, but at this point I don’t think the idea had jumped the shark.  In fact, I liked the idea of doing full runs of reprints of former players.  I wish Topps would have kept up with it.  They started redoing the idea in 2015 with jumbo reprints called “Cardboard Icons” that you can only get directly on the Topps website.  But back in 1997, this was pretty cool, and I dig the finest sets even more than the regular reprints.

Best card (my opinion):  #1 – 1951 Bowman

1997 Topps Mays Finest 1951 Bowman

Unlike Mantle, I think of the 1951 Bowman card for Mays before his 1952 Topps card.  It’s his true rookie.

My Favorite Reds card:  There obviously are none.

1997 Topps Mays Finest

1997 Topps Mays Finest 2

1997 Topps Mays Finest 3

Any other tidbits:  Topps could have put the 1974 set in there – Mays was featured on a World Series card.  That would have seemed better than the 1961 All-Star card.

Also, if you look at the cards above, Topps used 4 photos multiple times in Mays’ run.  So I guess the reusing of photographs isn’t a new phenomenon.  But it seems more unacceptable now than in 1960.

Finally, I found it weird that they made the border so much bigger on the 1968 and 1971 Topps card.  To a lesser extent on 1971, but it’s noticeable on both.  The cropping isn’t any different – they just shrunk the photo a bit and made the tan border much thicker.

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2 06 2016
Completed master set – one last look at 1997 Topps | Lifetime Topps project

[…] Finest, Season’s Best, All-Stars, Team Timber, Hobby Masters, Willie Mays Reprints, Willie Mays Finest, Mickey Mantle Reprints, Mickey Mantle Finest, Awesome […]

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