Hall of Famers in the decade of 1990’s Topps

31 08 2016

1992 Topps Ripken

Hall of Famers:

There were 48 different Hall of Famers featured in the flagship sets from the 80’s:

  • Players active at the time (31): Roberto Alomar, Craig Biggio, Bert Blyleven, George Brett, Wade Boggs, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk, Tom Glavine, Tony Gwynn, Ken Griffey Jr., Rickey Henderson, Randy Johnson, Barry Larkin, Greg Maddux, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Kirby Puckett, Jim Rice, Cal Ripken, Nolan Ryan, Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, John Smoltz, Frank Thomas, Dave Winfield, Robin Yount, Goose Gossage, Mike Piazza, Pedro Martinez
  • Managers (9): Sparky Anderson, White Herzog, Tony LaRussa, Tommy LaSorda, Frank Robinson, Bobby Cox, Red Schoendienst, Joe Torre, Tony Perez,
  • Retired players featured in subsets (8): Mike Schmidt, Johnny Bench, Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente

1995 Topps TRIB - front

That’s down from 63 Hall of Famers in the Topps sets from the 1980’s.


Representation of decade – 1990’s Topps sets

30 08 2016

Whew!  I finally finished all the work that it took for this post.  To be honest, some of it was I’ve had less time (put in less time) to do blog posts.  But most of it was that it took forever to finish up the spreadsheet that went into this post.  It was a beast.  It involved the following steps

First, two things I do as part of each completed set post – so I already had these done in most cases (but not all)

  • me copying every single Topps checklist from each year – Topps, Topps Traded & the 3 Topps ML Debut years
  • Eliminate the managers and subsets like All-Stars, etc.
  • Combining the Traded/Debut/Topps sets and eliminating duplicate players.

Then here’s what I had to do that was new.

  • Get a list of every MLB player in the decade from 1989 through 1999 seasons.  I’ll discuss the 11-year decade later.  We’ll call that data set #A
  • Combine the 10 years of sets above.  This includes 1990 Topps through 1999 Topps.  But not 1999 Topps Traded (yet).
  • Eliminate the numerous duplicates.
  • Deal with designations like “RC”, “PROS”, “DP”, etc.
  • That gives me “Players with Topps cards” – we’ll call that data set #B
  • Compare data set #A to data set #B, and figure out how many players from A are represented by #B
  • Add in players in 1999 Topps Traded who played in the 11 year decade but didn’t have a card in data set #B

First, getting the info from Baseball Reference isn’t easy.  They have a function that I can tell you how many players, but getting it into spreadsheet form takes a bit.  You can only download 200 players at a time, so I had to export 10 times and do some copying and pasting to put together data set #A.

The clean up takes forever.  Let’s just say there was a lot of figuring out duplicates.  The great outfielder who just got inducted into the HOF is listed as “Ken Griffey” on BB Ref, but he’s listed as “Ken Griffey Jr.” on baseballcardpedia for the Topps sets.  David Justice is called Dave Justice in different places.  There are occasional misspellings in the Topps checklists.  So while I use filtering and duplicate elimination – it’s a lot of manual work to figure stuff like that out.

I also have to figure out guys who have the same name who played in the decade or had cards in the decade.

Why do I do this to myself?  I don’t know.  I’m an accountant – I’ve always been kind of into useless stats like this. Anyways, here’s the post that took me so long to put together!

Representation of decade: 

Data Set #A

The 1990-1999 Topps sets should, in theory, tell the story of the 1989-1998 MLB seasons.  Since I’m eventually going to include 1999 Topps Traded in this, it also includes rookies from the 1999 season.  So it isn’t quite the decade of the 90’s when you do this comparison – it’s 11 years instead.  During those 11 seasons, 2,954 different players graced the fields of Major League ballparks.

Data Set #B

Of the base cards from data set #B, there are 2,336 different players featured.  I’m sure you could cut it up a little differently – I included all the Draft Picks, Team USA, and Propsect cards.  So some of the players have Topps cards but never made the major.  If you pull out all the guys who have a card but never made the big leagues, that’s 2,054 of the 2,954.

To this number, there are 2 players from a subset to add because they played in the “decade” but didn’t have any regular cards.

  • Mike Schmidt retired in 1989, and didn’t have a regular card.  But he did have a Turn Back the Clock card in 1990 Topps.
  • Steve Rodriguez has a card in 1991 and 1992 Topps Traded as part of Team USA.  He eventually made the majors in 1995, playing for the Red Sox and Tigers in 18 total games.  He had regular cards from 1995/1996 in Stadium Club, Upper Deck, Pacific, Score Summit, Score and UD CC – with both teams – but none in the flagship Topps set that show him as a major leaguer.

The number is up to 2,056

Then I added in 1999 Topps Traded – at this point just adding players who played in the 90’s but didn’t have a card in the previous sets listed.  The first 75 cards were rookies, the rest were traded veterans.  There are 13 players to add from there.

  • 4 players were in the veteran portion of the set but this was their only Topps card from the decade.  They were all actually rookie cards, just guys who’d been traded but didn’t have a card earlier.
    • Brian Daubach, Bruce Aven, Creighton Gubanich, Matt Mantei
  • 9 guys from the rookie section who played in 1998 or 1999
    • Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Hernandez, Dave Roberts (yeah the guy now managing the Dodgers), Juan Pena, Kip Wells, Mark Quinn, Rob Ryan (not the Defensive Coordinator), Ryan Rupe, Sean Spencer.

So that makes 2,069 players.  The 2,069 players represent 70.0% of the 2,954 players from 1989-1999.

That’s down from a little over 75% in the 80’s Topps sets.

Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #64 Cooperstown Pride of Milford

27 08 2016

OK – didn’t do this quite as quickly as I wanted, but I drank or purchased a ton of Saturday Suds “qualifying” beers in Cooperstown, so I’m going to try to do as many “Saturday Suds” as possible when the appropriate day of the week comes around.  This is Cooperstown Brewing Company beer #2.  I posted about the brewery itself about a month ago.

CBC tap bar

Brewery:  Cooperstown Brewing in Milford, NY

CBC Pride of Milford bottleBeer:  Pride of Milford Ale

Description:  An English Strong Ale with a trend toward malt over hops.  Very low bitterness.  It pours an amber color with a head that stays around for a little bit but not that long.  It’s well done for the style.  This is a “special ale” in that they don’t often sell it in bottles.  But from a few checks of their website – it’s almost always on tap.

Medium:  Since you can mostly just get it on tap, I bought a large crowler – what I would call the coolest growler/crowler of all time!  Of course you could buy a pint, too.  And I have seen pictures of bottles at some points, so it may just depend on the season.

How it’s related to baseball:  All of CBC’s beers are baseball themed; they’re built around the idea that a brewery around Cooperstown should focus on the baseball part of the town.  This beer is focusing on the baseball history in Milford.  See below for the label.  I don’t know the background, but if anyone does – feel free to let me know!

CBC Pride of Milford crowler

Composition of the 1990’s Topps sets

22 08 2016

OK, I can’t believe how long it took me to figure this stuff out, but let’s just say it takes some effort.  In fact, I decided to split this one post into two because the 2nd half was taking too long.

Anyway, the next thing to look at for the “completed” decade of the 90’s is the composition of the sets.  The set size started the decade off at 792 cards, which is where it had been since 1982.  Ignoring the rise of inserts, there were a bunch of changes in just the flagship set throughout the decade.

  • In 1981, Topps introduced the update set – Topps Traded – as 132 additional cards that showcased rookies and players in their new uniforms (sometimes airbrushed) from the current season.  This was issued in factory set form only (with the exception of a test pack-out in 1985).  It bumped up to 825 in 1993 to account for some extra Marlins and Rockies, then went back to 792 for one last year.  From there, it jumped around, bottoming out at 440 but also being really low at 462 to end the decade.  The wrong direction, in my opinion
    • 1995 – 660
    • 1996 – 440
    • 1997 – 495
    • 1998 – 503
    • 1999 – 462
  • After being a 132-card boxed factory set since 1981, Topps Traded was packed out to 165 cards in 1995, then dropped altogether from 1996 through 1998.  It came back as a 121-card factory set in the last year of the decade.

So in the decade, there were 7,499 cards in the flagship Topps brand – almost 1,500 less than the 1980’s.  There were 6,553 cards in the regular sets and 946 in the Traded sets.  If you want to include the Topps MLB Debut cards, which appeared from 1990 through 1991, there’s actually 515 more for a total of 8,014 cards.

I’m including those in the number below.

Set composition:

  • 7,023 individual player cards.  6,553 are from the regular set, 946 are from Traded sets, and 515 are from the three Topps ML Debut sets.
    • Out of these, 100 are noted as “All-Star Rookies”, 63 cards are marked “Future Stars”, 14 are “Star Track” (1995 only), and 10 are “Now Appearing” which Topps did in ’87, ’88, and ‘89.
  • 241 Draft Pick cards.  More than 10 times the previous decade – a sign of the times.
  • 111 Prospect Cards.  These tended to be 4-player cards, but could be found in different levels.
  • 74 Team USA player cards.  All in the 1991 through 1993 Traded sets.
  • 54 Coming Attractions cards – in 1993 and 1994.
  • 36 Expansion Prospect cards.
  • 30 On Deck cards in 1995 and 1995 Traded.
  • 4 Triple-A All-Stars in 1996.
  • 1 Russian Angels card in 1993.
  • 106 Manager cards – almost one-third of the previous decade.  Topps stopped doing  manager cards after 1993.
  • 16 Tribute cards of various sorts.  Nolan Ryan.  Bart Giamatti.  Hank Aaron.  Babe Ruth.  Mickey Mantle.  Jackie Robinson.  Roberto Clemente.  McGwire & Sosa.  The tribute thing was alive and well this decade in the regular set.  I generally liked it.
  • 130 All-Stars. Topps stopped doing this after 1995 Traded.  I’m counting the 1996 Star Power cards in here as All-Star cards.
  • 60 Season Highlights of some type.  This includes 15 World Series Highlights in 1998 and 1999, Interleague HL in 1998, and At the Break highlights from 1995 Traded.
  • 14 Record Breakers.  None after 1992.  Wish Topps had kept this alive.
  • 12 ROY contenders in 1995 Traded.
  • 12 League Leaders.  1995 Traded only.
  • 11 All-Topps Team.  From 1999.
  • 9 Measures of Greatness.  1994.
  • 5 Strikeout Kings.  1999.
  • 5 Turn Back the Clock.  A remnant from the previous decade – 1990 only.
  • 2 Anatomy of a Trade.  1994 Topps Traded.
  • 58 checklists.

There were no instances where the “set composition” was exactly the same from year to year.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

18 08 2016

Oz behind the curtain

So I think I went 4 days without a post, which hasn’t happened for over 2 years.  I feel like that warrants a look behind the curtain.

There are reasons for these 4 post-less days.

  • Family things
    • I have 2 kids (2 is at least 5 times harder than 1).
    • I’ve been super busy with things – my sister’s wedding last weekend and a July vacation (in Cooperstown at least) being the prime culprit.
  • Blog related reasons:
    • I caught up with completed posts and needed to start the new topic with this blog.
    • I’m working on the completed 1990’s posts I do, and the next one I intend to be in the queue is taking me a lot of time updating internal spreadsheets and the like.
  • Other extracurricular stuff:
    • I have a newly acquired habit of finding as much rarer beer as I can.

All of these things have happened before in different forms, but in 6+ years I only had one time where I had to put down the blog (May-June of 2014), and that was work-related.

This isn’t one of those times, but unlike the past 4 years of this blog, my queue has run out!  At one point in late 2012 or so, I hit 60 scheduled posts.  A year ago I was around 30 or so.  And it’s slowly whittled down since then.  As somebody who has been doing this for 75+ months, I can tell other bloggers writing styles in this perspective.  Some do it how I do – do posts in advance.  I think most bloggers write what they feel when they feel.  Some are disciplined enough to do that once a day or more.

There are reasons that I do this.  For one, this blog is primarily supposed to be chronicling a project.  So scheduling posts makes sense, whereas most blogs are about “here’s what I’m collecting, here’s what I think”.  Mine works for me, but I like that sometimes I can hit pause and share what I think about some kind of topic.  I tend to get through 2 or 3 posts in a sitting, then not do blogging for a few days, and then do a few more.  I was actually posting a little more frequently this year (very close to one a day) – and that became quicker than I could keep up with.

So anyhow, I felt a need to describe this.  The one thing I must say – I am losing some level of interest in collecting.  I’ve gotten to the mid-2000’s and the inserts are out of hand.  Making me question the idea of getting all the regular inserts.  I am going to keep moving forward on that, but I may rethink it.  We’ll see.  Anyways, hopefully I’ll have the next 90’s completion post up tomorrow.  Getting there.

Oh, and one other thing doing this 90’s recap has made me realize.  I don’t like all the other stuff being on this blog when I’m trying to search!  For example – I had to go back through a bunch of my completed set posts and sifting through the Heritage and Goodwin completed posts to get to the 1995 or 1996 Topps completed posts is kind of annoying.  I’m not sure about this, but I’m thinking about starting up a “2nd” blog and parking those posts there.  We’ll see.

Topps Flagship sets for the 1990’s – FINITO (how I completed the decade)

13 08 2016

When I finished off the 1998 Topps set last September (man it’s almost been a year), that also completed the decade for me.  1990 through 1999 Topps – all checked off.  I finished off the 1980’s decade at the end of 2012, so it took me about 3 years.  Like the 1980’s, I think this deserves a celebration on this blog.  I’m two-thirds of the way there on my Lifetime Topps Project.  Or at least the base card part.

So, the rest of the month will be 1990’s recap here on the blog.  I am copying my standard posts from when I finish off a set – except here for the decade.  For each of the sections from one of my individual completed sets, I’ll break off into an individual post for that decade.  This post can kick it off:

Card that completed my set decade:  1998 Topps #160 – Derek Jeter

1998 Topps Jeter

The Cal Ripken rookie card finished off my 1980’s decade – another great short stop was the finisher for the 1990’s.  I got it in an eBay lot – as I mentioned, almost a year ago now.

The order that I completed the sets and how completed were

  1. 1990 – #675 – Jim Abbott (a trade with blog reader Kary)
  2. 1991 – 710 – Kent Hrbek (trade with Scott Crawford on Cards)
  3. 1992 – #485 – Chris Sabo (trade with Nolan’s Dugout)
  4. 1993 – #630 – Mark Grace (another trade with Nolan’s Dugout)
  5. 1996 – #58 – Scott Sanders (a third one from a trade with Nolan’s Dugout)
  6. 1999 – #352 – Miguel Tejada (trade with Cardboard Examiner)
  7. 1997 – #261 – Lance Johnson (trade with Cardboard Junkie)
  8. 1994 – #379 – Mark McLemore (trade with Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary)
  9. 1995 – #446 – Andres Galarraga (purchased in an eBay lot)
  10. 1998 – #160 – Derek Jeter (purchased on eBay)

Nolan’s Dugout was the MVP for me here!  Pretty cool I traded for 8 of the 10 completed cards.

How I put my set decade together:

The total number of cards, including the Topps Traded sets, was 7,499 for the decade.

  • 67.4% (5,058) from boxes
  • 14.9% (1,109) from trades
  • 5.0% (376) from other forms of original Topps packaging – 84 from a 1990 blister, 292 from a 1991 rack pack box
  • 2.0% (150) cards I already had at home in good condition
  • 0.3% (25) single card purchases – 12 from card shows, 6 from eBay, 4 from Beckett Marketplace, 3 from Sportlots
  • 10.4% (781) from purchasing the Traded boxed sets

That’s the first “celebration” of completing the 1990’s decade.

A little detective work – 1998 Topps Kevin Polcovich

12 08 2016

I have done this a couple other times, and it’s always fun.  I love when I can figure out the exact play that is depicted in an action shot.  The card that I thought was the best action shot in 1998 Topps – well, it’s one of those cards!

1998 Topps Kevin Polcovich

Kevin Polcovich is far from a memorable name, however this is a really cool card.  It’s a great action shot – better than the 1998 Stadium Club card that is clearly taken half of a second later.  But the other cool thing is – it was doable to figure out the specific play this card depicts.  To figure out when the photo was taken.

It was fairly easy to narrow down for a number of reasons.  First, the player sliding into second – Larry Walker – is clearly identifiable.  Second, Polcovich didn’t have a long career.  He played for the Pirates in 1997 and 1998.  Since this is a 1998 series 1 set – I know it’s from 1997.  That’s a Rockies road uni and a Pittsburgh home uniform – so it was clearly in Pittsburgh.  So just find a game at 3 Rivers where Polcovich either turned a double play or forced out Walker on second.

Polcovich played in 4 such games in 1997, in a series from July 31st to August 3rd in Pittsburgh.  Walker, who was the MVP that year, naturally played in all 4 of those games.  This picture came from the game on August 2nd – it’s the only possibly play that fits with this picture.  Walker was a stone cold killer in that series – he went 3 for 4 with a walk in this particular game.

The play in question occurred in the top of the 4th.  Walker led off with a single, then Andres Galarraga grounded into a force out from Tony Womack to Polcovich.  They didn’t get Galarraga at first.

The Pirates actually won this game, 6-5, despite Walker’s epic performance.  Walker was often viewed as a “Coors Field” MVP, but this series sure argues against that.  In Three Rivers (4 games), he went 10-16 with 2 walks, 4 homers and 3 doubles.  Pretty good, no?