Recap – Completed decade, a last look Topps in the 1990’s

16 10 2016

Just like recapping my top 10, I put together one post that summarizes everything I just did from the 1990’s decade in Topps.  I still have plenty of inserts to finish up to wrap a complete bow on the decade, but the main part of my Lifetime Topps project is done for 1980-1999.  This is the 2nd of those 2 decades.

The majority of the information below is stuff I’ve covered previously – this is just a summary.  If you want the greater detail for some of this, click on “Topps 1990s” over in the right hand column.

Info about my decade:

How I put the decade together:

A total of 8,976 for the decade, including the Topps Traded sets.

  • 5,058 from wax boxes
  • 1,109 from trades
  • 376 from other forms of original Topps packaging – 292 from a ’91 rack pack box, 84 from a ’90 blister
  • 781 from purchasing the Traded boxed sets
  • 150 cards I already had at home in good condition
  • 25 single card purchases – 12 from card shows, 6 from eBay, 4 from Beckett Marketplace, 3 from Sportlots

Card that completed my decade:  1998 Topps #160 – Derek Jeter (from an eBay lot)

1998 Topps Jeter

Decade composition (number that are from Topps Traded in parentheses if applicable):

  • 7,023 individual player cards (946 from the Traded sets, 515 from the ML Debut sets)
  • 241 Draft Picks
  • 111 Prospect multi-player cards
  • 74 Team USA (all from Traded)
  • 54 Coming Attractions
  • 36 Expansion Prospect
  • 30 On Deck
  • 4 Triple-A All-Stars
  • 1 Russian Angels
  • 106 Managers
  • 16 Tribute cards
  • 130 All-Stars
  • 60 Season Highlights
  • 14 Record Breakers.
  • 12 ROY Contenders
  • 12 League Leaders.
  • 11 All-Topps Team
  • 9 Measures of Greatness
  • 5 Turn Back the Clock.
  • 5 Strikeout Kings
  • 2 Anatomy of a Trade
  • 58 checklists.

Representation of the decade:  The 1990-1999 Topps sets should, in theory, tell the story of the 1989-1998 MLB seasons.  Since I’m including 1999 Topps Traded, it also includes rookies from the 1999 season.  So it isn’t quite the decade of the 80′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.  2,069 of them had a Topps card from some time in the 1990’s.  That’s 70.0%.

Last active player from this decade:  Players still active as of today are included below with their first card of the decade:

  • Carlos Beltran – 1995 Topps Traded #18
  • Bartolo Colon – 1996 Topps #428
  • Adrian Beltre – 1998 Topps #254
  • Jayson Werth – 1998 Topps #493
  • Matt Holliday – 1999 Topps #442
  • Matt Belisle – 1999 Topps #438
  • C.C. Sabathia – 1999 Topps Traded #T33

Only Beltran, Beltre and Werth are still playing in the postseason.  Belisle was left off the Nationals postseason roster.

The following 2 guys are free agents who intend to come back next year, but may be finished based on a lack of interest.  We’ll see.

  • Josh Hamilton – 1999 Topps Traded #T66
  • Carl Crawford – 1999 Topps Traded #T75

Also, David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez are still technically active as of today, however both have announced their retirements.

Earliest active current player from this decade:  Nolan Ryan – 1990 Topps #1, 1991 Topps #1, 1992 Topps, 1993 Topps #700, 1994 Topps #34

92 Topps Nolan Ryan

Earliest active retired player from this decade:  Babe Ruth – 1995 Topps #3

1995 Topps TRIB - front

Player with the most cards in the set:  Ken Griffey Jr. & Barry Bonds – 22 cards each

Take a look at this post for the details.

First Card and the Hundreds:  Cal Ripken – 5 cards

I actually didn’t do this in an earlier post, but Cal Ripken has the most “special number” cards.  He has the most with 5, which seems pretty low to me as it’s only half the decade.  Ripken has a special card number from 1992-1994 and 1996-1997.

Nolan Ryan, Kirby Puckett, Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Don Mattingly and Bo Jackson all had 4 such cards.

Highest book value:  1993 Topps #98 – Derek Jeter DP RC

93topps Rookie Jeter

1994 Topps Traded #98 – Paul Konerko DP RC

1994 Topps Traded 112T Paul Konerko DP RC

Both of these book for 20 bucks.  Though I’m positive the Jeter sells for more than the Konerko in the real world.

Most notable card:  1999 Topps #220 – Mark McGwire HR

1999 Topps McGwire HR 70

Notable doesn’t necessarily mean good, and this card carries a lot of notoriety in a negative manner.  Topps was capitalizing on the record setting home run chase between McGwire and Sosa.  They gave each player a tribute card with a number for the home run on the back.  If you wanted to, you could put together a collection with all 70 homers by Big Mac or all 66 long balls by Slammin’ Sammy.  McGwire was the record breaker, and his card was in series 1.  At the time, these cards were a popular chase.  However, many collectors lamented including intentional variations in the base set – and it sure led the way for the abundance of this type of thing today.


The other card I really considered was Mickey Mantle’s 1996 Topps card.  Mantle passed away the year before and Topps pretty much put up the entire 1996 product as a big Mantle tribute.  They had done a few tribute cards before this, but not to this extent.  The Mantle reprints became extremely popular and led to including retired players in insert sets.  And Topps “retired” that card #7 going forward.

Thir, fourth and fifth on this list for me would be:

  • Frank Thomas’ 1990 rookie card which had a variation that drove collector’s batty
  • the first Topps card of Alex Rodriguez (1998) after he refused to sign with them for the first 4 years of his career
  • Jeter’s 1993 Rookie Card

Best card (my opinion):  1994 Topps #180 – George Brett

1994 Topps George Brett best card

Second best card (also my opinion):  1990 Topps #414 – Frank Thomas FDP RC

1990 Topps F Thomas DP RC

Best subset card:  1996 Topps #96 – Cal Ripken 2131

1996 Topps 96 Ripken best subset

Favorite action photo:  1991 Topps #170 – Carlton Fisk

1991 Topps Cracker Jack Fisk

Favorite non-action photo:  1993 Topps #52 – Bobby Bonilla

1993 Topps best card Bonilla

My Favorite Reds card:  1995 Topps #350 – Barry Larkin

1995 Topps 90 Reds Larkin




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