I’m still moving along with the catch-up posts for completed insert sets. This was the last of the Mystery Finest inserts from the late 90’s – in fact, I think this was the last Finest branded insert Topps would insert into its flagship product. That ended 6 straight years of doing so, counting the Finest inserts that were included in 1994 Topps Traded.
Info about the set:
Set description: This was the 3rd time (and the 4th set), that Topps inserted the “Mystery Finest” theme into its flagship product. This set mirrors the players from an 11-card subset that’s included in the Topps base set – the All-Topps Team. At each position there are three players who made the team, plus an additional three spots for rookies. All 3 players are shown on the 11-card subset in the base set, but the “mystery” idea is used for this insert set – you have to peel the black front off the card to see who your player is.
Naturally, there is a refractor version as well.
Set composition: 33 cards, 1:36 odds (1999 Topps series 2)
Hall of Famers: 4. Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza, Greg Maddux
How I put the set together:
- 1 card from my series 2 hobby box
- 3 cards from a trade
- 11 cards from Beckett’s Marketplace
- 10 cards from Sportlots
- 8 cards from Check Out My Cards
Card that completed my set: #M14 – Ken Griffey Jr.
I got this card last December when my Black Friday COMC purchase arrived. I accidentally bought 2 of these somehow.
Thoughts on the set: I like the general idea of most Finest products, though at the end of the 1990’s it seems like they got a little bored with creating cool borders. I liked the cool borders. Instead they tried to create different etchings to highlight the background. Which was neat at first, but not as good as the different borders. Also, this set suffers from a big issue in my opinion. It’s supposed to be a set of the best players at each position, but there’s no 2nd basemen in it. Out of the 11 trios, there are 4 outfield slots, and 2 first base slots. There is a slot for rookies. There is one trio of catchers, shortstops, third baseman and pitchers. But no 2nd baseman. No bueno.
Best card (my opinion): #M5– Jim Thome
To me, this is how baseball players are supposed to dress! Just an all-around cool card.
My Favorite Reds card: 33 cards. No Reds. Blah.
Here’s the full set. If you look closely, you’ll realize the Jason Kendall card is a refractor. Not sure how that happened. I bet I bought a regular and got sent the refractor. Oops 😉
Any other tidbits: For the 2B discrepancy I mentioned. There actually were a number of good second baseman in 1998. Craig Biggio was the best of the lot and clearly would have made the All-Topps team – he became only the second player (and still is) to hit 50 doubles and steal 50 bases in the same season. After him, I’d probably go Jose Offerman and Ray Durham, though Jeff Kent and Fernando Vina were also great. And the best two American League second baseman of the previous five years, Roberto Alomar and Chuck Knoblauch, were also very good – just not in the category of the other 5 guys I mentioned.
- Biggio – .325-.403-.503, 20 HR, 88 RBI, 123 R, 210 H, 51 2B, 50 SB
- Offerman – .315-.403-.438, 7 HR, 66 RBI, 102 R, 191 H, 13 3B, 45 SB
- Durham – .285-.363, .455, 19 HR, 67 RBI, 126 R, 181 H, 36 SB