The next few posts will be about the top cards from the 1990’s decade in Topps. I’ll start with the best Reds cards of the decade. When I do this, I’m considering it from a pure Reds fan standpoint. Not necessarily what is the best Topps card that happens to be a Red – but the cards that are the coolest to me as a Reds fan. I didn’t have a set number in mind when I did this for the 1980s, but I ended up doing 10, so I figure that’s a good number in this decade as well.
Before I get into the top 10 – here’s the 5 honorable mentions. These were cards I considered but didn’t put into the top 10. A bunch of good Reds cards here – if I were a team collector I would consider these a must!
10) 1998 Topps #1 – Pete Rose, Jr.
Pete Rose wasn’t allowed to have MLB licensed cards after 1989, when he was suspended for life from MLB. But there’s one Pete Rose Topps card in Topps in the 1990’s – Pete Rose Jr., who played in 11 games in the 1997 season – his only time in the Majors.
9) 1993 Topps #515 – Greg Swindell
Swindell had a good year with the Reds during his lone season in Cincinnati in 1992. And this is a great photo. Anytime you have a pitcher swinging a bat – it’s a win in my book.
8) 1991 Topps #92 – Danny Jackson
I love this card because it shows Jackson’s unique leg kick and delivery. And his head hanging over the internal border – that’s very cool. 1991 was a great set, though the Reds didn’t really get some of the better photos. Especially since it was photos of the 1990 season when they won it all.
7) 1997 Topps #373 – Jose Rijo
Rijo messing around in a janitor jumpsuit. This was in the middle of a 5 year stretch where Rijo didn’t actually play a sanctioned professional game.
6) 1994 Topps #485 – Joe Oliver
The only card in this top 10 I didn’t pick as “Reds card of the set”.
5) 1999 Topps #114 – Dmitri Young
Da Meat Hook barreling around 3rd base sticks out to me in a major way. This was one of the only good Reds cards in the 1999 Set.
4) 1999 TT #T50 – Adam Dunn
Rookie card of a guy who hit about 450 homers – most with the Reds. Dunn was my generation’s Dave Kingman. Swing big or go home. Actually, it may be that Dave Kingman is the Adam Dunn of a previous generation. Dunn walked, struck out or homered in nearly half (49.92%) of his plate appearances. I’d imagine that’s the most of any player – it’s more than McGwire (45.6%), Kingman (38.5%), Reggie Jackson (46%), Babe Ruth (38.6%) or Barry Bonds (38.5%). Mark Reynolds is actually the closest I found – he strikes out so much his ratio is over 47%.
3) 1994 Topps #705 – Jose Rijo
Unlike 1991, the Reds got a lot of the better cards in 1994. This was the only set that got 2 cards in my top 10, and Rijo was the only player who got 2 cards. In addition to Rijo and the Oliver card above, there’s a Barry Larkin card where he’s going back on a fly ball. I could honestly pick any of these top 3 as my favorite Reds cards from the decade.
The Super Soaker had just come out in 1992 and I remember all the kids getting them. Rijo was apparently a big water gun enthusiast – there are at least 2 other cards I know of where he is shown with a water gun.
2) 1990 Topps #260 – Eric Davis
In some aspects – this card means more to me personally than the card i’m calling “Card of the Decade”. Eric Davis was my favorite Red when this set came out, and it it’s an awesome photo that fits well with the set. Oh, and this is the year they went wire to wire and won the World Series!
1) 1995 Topps #350 – Barry Larkin
I said this back on the 1995 complete set post – but I just don’t have to think twice about this card. Us Reds fans know – we aren’t the Yankees. We can’t overspend to give ourselves a better shot at a championship. So when a player wins an NL MVP award, it makes him a local hero. Like Pete Rose and Ken Griffey Jr., he was a local high school baseball who went on to win an MVP. Unlike Griffey, he won his MVP with the Reds and went into the Hall of Fame wearing their cap. He’s one of only 4 players to play their whole career for their hometown team and make the Hall of Fame. The other 3 are Yankees (Ford, Rizzuto, Gehrig). Larkin having a cool card the year he won the MVP? That’s really special. And it deserves the Reds card of the decade!