Updating where I’m at with the Lifetime Topps Project

12 02 2017

I’m gonna take a little bit before my next post, so I just figured taking an inventory of where I’m at was worthwhile in the meantime.  It’s been over a year since I last opened the “next” Topps box for this project.  That was Topps 2004.  I have the 2005 Topps boxes, so it’s a matter of getting to it.

The main thing I realized is that I just got fully caught up with 2016.  My last post was “2016 Card of the Year”, and every card on my desk (for this project or not) was purchased in 2017.  There’s something neat to be said about that.  This is like my line-in-the-sand-post with 2016 on one side and 2017 on the other side.  Even though the post is in February.  Yeh, kind of confusing, but, oh well – things take me more time these days!

I caught up on so many things over the past year – I’m basically all caught up on completed set / insert set posts.  That was a big thing for me.  It also kind of caused me to get off track with the main point of this blog.  I think the rest of February will be 2016 Topps Update and 2017 Topps series 1.  After that – back to 2004!

In the meantime, here’s where I am on the Topps project through the end of 2016:

1980-1994 Topps: fully complete

1995-1996 Topps: base set complete, some inserts to go

1997 Topps: fully complete

1998-2000 Topps: base set complete, some inserts to go

2001-2004 – still need to finish the base, Traded and plenty inserts

Happy New Year!

1 01 2017

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all you baseball card collectors out there!  2016 has turned the page, and this blog hasn’t had nearly the attention that it used to have.  I did a bunch of stuff in the first 8 months or so, like catching up on completed insert posts and showcasing the parallel card collection I’m doing for each year.  But I stalled at the end of the year and have been posting much less.  I actually didn’t open a single box toward the project this year.  That’s kind of crazy, but I don’t plan to abandon my project.  I can’t promise any more in 2017, but I am gonna continue this blog.  I hope to post a bit more, but mostly I hope to get going with the 2005 box that I’ve owned for a few years.  Hopefully that’s a mid-late January project!

One thing I did do was purchase some cards from COMC on Black Friday.  I got a bunch of cards, but here are some highlights.  This Barry Larkin SuperChrome Refractor is going to lead to my next post!


And I got a few other parallels toward this thing I’m doing – from newer sets.


Finally, I got a bunch of inserts.  At least one completed insert sets, so I need to do another post for that.

I just want to reiterate – Happy New Year to all you card collectors out there!  I had a great 2016, though I focused a little bit less of my free time on baseball cards.  For anyone who reads this blog, thanks so much for reading.  It’s a great journal for me.  And while it’s no longer a regular posting thing, I still enjoy this hobby – just in different volumes from before.


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.

Parallel sets – rules of engagement

18 04 2016

For the last half of April and the first half of May, I’m setting aside posts on this blog to add one additional item to each of the years of the Lifetime Topps project.

From time to time, I’ve done a bit of “defining” (and reiterating) on this blog about what the Lifetime Topps project means.  The project began as my attempt to collect each Topps set from 1980 until 2009.  That kicked off in early 2010, so while I am collecting the sets from 2010 until now, I view 2009 as being somewhat “done” with the project.  At least some type of finish line.

Along the way, I defined that I would be collecting the Traded sets.  And then I defined that the project includes me collecting each insert.  That last part increased the challenge exponentially.  Then I defined that as not collecting any parallel sets, because I do hope this Lifetime Topps project gets finished, well, in my lifetime.  Collecting inserts also excludes relics or autographs.  I don’t know if I ever defined that, but I also don’t want to spend away my kids’ college tuition.  I’ve added a bit of defining minutia here or there – like I don’t collect inserts that are really part of a different product (like the 1994 Topps Finest preview set that was inserted into 1994 series 2).

Well this post is adding a little more definition.  I haven’t talked about it too much on the blog, but I actually am collecting some parallel cards.  I had some internal back-and-forth on how to do this.  I think I’ve decided what I want to do, which means I want to post about it!  Now seems like as good a time as any to go through each year and update which parallels I’m collecting.  I had been buying enough parallel cards to fill up one page, which meant different players in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  But I’ve decided to change that a little bit.  Here’s the new “rules of engagement” for this part of the project:

  • I’m only collecting 1 player from each set.  So if there are 3 total parallels I’m collecting, I’m not going to buy 5 or 6 more cards to fill up a binder page.  I was thinking about putting together a binder page, but it’s going to be cheaper and easier to just get one player.
  • I plan on finding a duplicate of the card I pick from the Topps regular set and I’ll throw that in the binder page.  The purpose of this is to see a “rainbow” – as the kids are calling it these days!
  • I’m not limiting parallels to inserts or cards related to the flagship Topps product.  For example, when I get to 1996, I want to buy the Opening Day and Chrome cards for this.
  • I may include Topps Traded cards from time to time in the situations where there is some unique Topps Traded parallel card.  1990 is a year I know I’m going to do this because I got a Joe Carter test card of the finest/chrome technology.

1990 Topps Mylar Test Joe Carter

I’m doing something similar with autographs and relics, getting one of each, but I’m not far enough along to officially define that yet.  Maybe I’ll get to that this time next year.  At the end of the day, I want to put all the Topps cards from the Lifetime Topps project in binders.  Right now they are in cardboard boxes, but when I get to that light at the end of the tunnel (2009), I plan to start binder-izing each year.  I guess that will take up more space, but I’d like to be able to see my cards more easily.

Anyway, that’s just a little info on what I’m doing.  For the next 25 posts, I’m going to show the parallels I have so far for each year.  I’ll get to 2004, and then I’ll add this post each time I get to a new Topps year.

6 years, 1,500 posts, and a lot of baseball cards

8 03 2016

Today is my 1,500th post.  I used to do something different every time I had a post divisible by 100.  Kind of like Topps in the 1980’s, I wanted to put Pete Rose or Mike Schmidt on anything that ended in “00”.   Doing posts like this was a fun way to circle back on how long I’ve been doing this blog.  Sometimes I would tie it to historical statistics.  Other times I could look back and see how long it took me to do all my posts.

Once I did my 1,000th post, I figure I’m enough of a veteran at this game that I should celebrate less frequently.  Plus, as a 6-year blogging veteran, I can’t handle a celebration hangover like I used to :).  So post #1100, #1200, #1300, and #1400 came by with no fanfare.  But 1,500 seems like a bit of a milestone.

So I’ll look back at how long it took me to do these posts.

It took me 808 days to get from 1,000 to 1,500.  That’s a rate of 1.6 days per post.  For the first 1,000 posts, I was a little faster, going at a rate of 1.4.  I took something of a hiatus in 2014, and came back posting less frequently than I had been.  I’ve been ticking that up of late, however.

I’ll also do something statistical.

One thousand five hundred is half the way to three thousand.  And back in 2011 when Derek Jeter got his 3,000th hit, I did a series of posts around that milestone.  One for Jeter.  One for guys who’d already made it into the club.  And another for my expert predictions on who would make it in the future.  I gave Alex Rodriguez a 99% chance.  I got that one right, though it did kind of look to be in jeopardy after his 2014 suspension. Here’s the updated info for Alex, after he became the 29th player to join the club.

2012 Gypsy ARod

#29 – Alex Rodriguez – June 19, 2015.  Home run off Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers.  Yankee Stadium, New York, NY.  (3,070 hits and counting)

Here’s the rest of my predictions:

  • Ichiro – 85%

I think I was pretty good there.  Ichiro is now in the “lock” category – so if I did it today I’d go 95% or even higher.  Since he signed with the Marlins, the only thing keeping him from it will be injury or if he is unexpectedly ineffective.  I don’t see the latter happening given the nature of how he plays.

  • Albert Pujols – 80%

I think I got that correct as well.  Pujols has 2,666 hits so far, and he has a contract that runs another 6 years.  Yes, he’s hurt more now, but he’s still averaged 150 hits a season in Anaheim.  60 hits a year would get him there over the life of his contract.  I’d actually move him up a tick to 85% today.

  • Johnny Damon – 70%

I blew this one.  At the time, Damon was having a pretty good season for Tampa Bay.  His 2nd half of 2011 wasn’t as good as his first half, and his ability had eroded by the next year when he signed with Cleveland.  He finished with 2,769 hits, and I think he deserves more HOF consideration than he’s going to get.

  • Vlad Guerrero – 45%

I probably overestimated Guerrero’s chances, but I was very surprised nobody signed him after he had a decent 2011 with Baltimore.  He finished with 2,590 hits.

  • Bobby Abreu – 35%

I overrated this as well – it’s just tough to predict how much these guys are going to drop off.  After an OK 2011, Abreu played 8 games in 2012 with the Angels, was released and signed with the Dodgers.  He didn’t play in 2013, then came back to get 33 hits with the Mets in 2014 to finish with 2,470 for his career.

  • Ivan Rodriguez – 25% chance

Pudge went on the DL right after I did that post, so I’d have rated him lower at that point if I knew that.  At that point he had 2,842 hits.  He finished with only 2 more.

  • Omar Vizquel – 15% chance

I was about right with this.  Vizquel just couldn’t quite get across the finish line.  He ended up with 2,877 hits, more than anyone else on the list (not counting A-Rod).

So that’s my 3,000 hit post.  Adrian Beltre has since moved up the list.  Unlike Guerrero and Abreu, he has really poured it on after his year 32 season.  He now sits at 2,767 hits.  Considering he had 163 last year and led the league with 199 only 3 years ago – he has a pretty good chance.  Miguel Cabrera (2,331, age 32) is looking like he has a good chance, and Robinson Cano just passed 2,000 hits in his age 32 season.

Back to the milestone post thing.  Today happens to be my birthday, and this post is just 6 days past my 6th anniversary on this blog.  So that’s all pretty cool.  I had my first post on this blog back on March 2, 2010.  I was living in Columbus at that time.  Since then I moved to New Jersey, moved to Wrigleyville in Chicago, moved to another neighborhood in Chicago, and then moved to the suburbs.  My wife and I now have 2 kids.  So a lot has changed, and I’m frankly a bit surprised I’m still blogging about 2½ x 3½ cards!

So thanks for reading!  I’ve only got 4 more years and another 1,500 posts or so to make the decade and 3,000 clubs!


P.S.  Now that I’m at the end of the post, I realized that the only picture was of Alex Rodriguez.  I don’t hate the guy or anything, but it seems like I need something more fun than that.

2004 Topps Griffey

There. Griffey robbing a home run. Blown up the size of my blog.  Much better.

State of the Collection 2016 – Other stuff

3 01 2016

Yesterday I went over my progress made on the Lifetime Topps Project in 2015.  I wanted to do one more quick post to go over the “other stuff” from my card collections.

Jalen Rose

My Jalen Rose collection is actually more important to me than the Lifetime Topps thing.  I’ve basically collected cards of Jalen since he was drafted in the early-mid 90’s.  In 2014, I made a change to how much I would collect as far as Jalen Rose cards go.  I decided that I wanted to get some of the even rarer cards of his, so I moved that down to going after any cards numbered at /25 or above.  And if it’s lower than that, I may go after it if it’s not a parallel.  If I have the blue card #’d to 50, I don’t have a need for the gold version #’d to 15.  But if the gold #’d to 15 is the only one (which does happen occasionally), then I want to get that if possible.

Jalen again had a few new cards in 2015 issued by Panini.  Under the “parameters” I outlined above, there were 14 more cards I added to my wantlist.  There are now 1,213 cards I have on that wantlist, which is quite a large number.  I think if I went through it with a fine-tooth comb, I’d discover some cards are on Beckett’s checklists, but were never really printed and thus don’t actually exist.  So the number is probably slightly lower, but not much.

I did get all of those 14 new cards from 2014-15 Panini Basketball products.  I also got a few more older Jalen cards during the year, so my percentage owned of the wantlist is up to 89.6% (it was 87.4% last year).

2015 Topps Update All-Star Stitches

I started this collection when Topps Update came out.  There are 60 cards in the set, and I’ve got 5 of them.  That’s a good start for being a month into it.

Of course, I also bought this guy to augment it, and it’s now one of my favorite cards!

2015 Topps Update All-Star Stitch Auto Frazier


I finished up a few retro sets this year.  I finished up the 2013 Topps Archives set as well as the 2012 Goodwin Champions set.  Both of those had a decent number of SP’s, so I’m glad to have gotten through them.  I finished a bunch of insert sets as well related to retro sets.  This has become less of a focus for me over the past year-plus, as I want to work more on the Topps project.  But it’s good to get a few things off the checklist.  Here’s the list of insert sets:

  • 2011 Allen & Ginter Animals in Peril
  • 2012 Allen & Ginter Baseball Highlight Sketches
  • 2013 Topps Heritage Memorable Moments
  • 2013 Topps Archives ’83 All-Stars
  • 2013 Gypsy Queen Collisions at the Plate
  • 2011 Allen & Ginter Hometown Heroes

The biggest insert I finished up, though, was the 2011 Lineage ’75 mini parallel set.  This one was a long time coming, and I was pretty excited about finishing it up!

2011 Lineage Dawson 75 mini ASR completed set

I have 820 retro cards on my wantlist.  That’s higher than I’d like, and I kind of shut down collecting all but a few retro sets in 2014.


I continued some of my other posts this year.

Tuesday Tunes, about songs with a baseball connection, was something I began in 2014.  I did 6 of those this year, up to 7 total.

I started Friday Flicks this year, doing 4 of those posts.  3 of them were from the Major League Franchise (the other was “The Babe”), so I’ve got some more to do.

I started one called Sunday Stories where I cover baseball books I’ve read.  This year, I read:

  • Babe Ruth and the Year he hit 104 Homers – looked in-depth about Ruth’s historic home run prowess
  • The Day all the Stars Came Out – about the first all-star game in 1933
  • Pedro – an autobiography about Pedro Martinez
  • Starting and Closing – an autobiography about John Smoltz

I also started a theme called Monday Mascots, where I covered Babe Ruth’s kid mascot from the 1930’s, the Rally Monkey, Charlie O the Mule, Mr. Red, and Phillie Phanatic.

I hope to continue all of these into 2016!

State of the Collection 2016 – the Lifetime Topps Project

2 01 2016

Lifetime Topps project

The main purpose of this blog was to try to complete every Topps Base and Update set since the year I was born (1980).  Somewhere early along the line, I decided this meant the insert sets as well.  This collection is the reason I started this blog back in March of 2010 with a wax and vending box of 1980 Topps.

After bad-to-mediocre progress in 2013 and 2014, I made great progress in 2015!

I opened boxes and posted through the 2004 set.  That was an addition of 4 years, after I had basically only done one set a year in 2013 and 2014.  So I’m really excited I got back to the purpose of this blog.  Keep in mind I also open and post about the current year’s set, which is 3 series.  I think I can probably get 4 more this year, which would put me at 2008.  At that rate, I’d be caught up to speed with posts by mid-2017.

That would just be my initial posts about the set overviews and how I did busting boxes.  I still need to finish the sets I’ve started.  I made good progress here, as well, in 2015.  I now have ~20,750 of the 26,000+ base cards toward the Lifetime Topps Project.  That’s base cards from 1980 through 2009.  This year I passed the magical three-fourths mark, and am almost at 80%.

I’ve completed the 1980-1999 sets, as well as update sets through 1994 and 1999-2000.  I finished off 1994, 1995, and 1998 this year, though I still have to do the completed set post for 1995 and 1998.

I don’t directly count 2010 and on toward the project, but I’ve also finished up the 2010, 2011 and 2013 Topps sets.  I didn’t complete any of these this year, though I’m down to just 1 card each for 2012, 2014 and 2015.

I did complete a bunch of insert sets this year.  I’m so far behind on the posting for these, that it’s a little tough to figure out exactly which ones were in 2015 and which were earlier.  Here’s the highlights.

  • The one that jumps to mind was the 1994 Topps Leyendas insert set – I finished that off after looking high and low for a few years.  This was only available as a factory insert set in the 1994 Topps Spanish factory sets.  I’d been 2 cards short (Chico Carrasquel and Luis Aparicio) for almost 2 years, and finally found those 2 guys on an eBay lot in May 2015.
  • 1990 Topps Batting Leaders – I finished the 1989 set up in 2014, so getting this one finished felt a little anticlimactic.  But it was still a good notch on the belt as these were tough sets to find.
  • The Mickey Mantle reprint set from 1996/97.  This was the first set that went across multiple years.
  • The Clemente reprint set from 1998.  Just posted about that one 2 days ago.
  • 1997 Topps All-Stars
  • 1998 Topps Season’s Best
  • 1999 Topps All-Matrix
  • 1999 Topps Hall of Fame Collection – this was the first widely distributed insert set Topps did of multiple retired players.
  • 1999 Topps Lord of the Diamond
  • 2010 Topps Turkey Red – a huge set of 150 cards, this was the biggest post-2009 set I finished up.

That was my progress on the Lifetime Topps Project.  Tomorrow I’m going to look back at what I did in 2015 for my other card collecting projects.

Also, just to mark where I’m at, I’ve got 341 base cards and 435 inserts to go as things stand right now.  It will be fun to see how that pans out a year from now.

State of the Blog – 2016

1 01 2016

Happy New 2016 to everyone!  On New Year’s Day I usually take a look back at my collecting and blogging from the previous year.  It’s an annual tradition, much like other bloggers I know.  I’m going to do this over a few posts, because I like unnecessarily drawing things out 🙂  Actually, it just makes it more helpful for me to gather my thoughts.  The first post is about what I did on the blog.  I always find it fun to see what I did from a blogging perspective – i.e., things like the stats!

2015 in the Lifetime Topps Blog

My blog obviously follows my collections a bit, so what I wrote about in yesterday’s post is similar from a content perspective.

Stats – Ultimately, this stuff is in the category of completely useless but very interesting to me.  I’m an accountant, so I love me some numbers.  I’ve always loved statistics, which is probably a big reason why I collect baseball cards.

I posted 237 times in 2015.  That’s a pretty decent number, and more than the 205 posts from 2014.  It’s also a far cry from my peak of 333 posts in 2012.  I’ll probably never post that much again, but you never know.  I think of myself as an every other day blogger, with maybe a few more posts sprinkled in here or there.  The stats seem to back that.

All told, through yesterday I had posted 1,447 times.  I started blogging in March 2010, so I’ve been at it over 5 years!

You can also find some other stats on WordPress.  I don’t worry too much about readership – though I do hope my blog helps me generate trades.  And I like being part of the larger baseball card blogging community.  I don’t read as many blogs as I used to, but still try to catch up here and there.

Here’s some things I noticed:

My overall readership has gone down a little, but is pretty comparable to last year.  “Lifetimetopps” had about 55,000 hits in 2015, which is down from 61,000 in 2014.  My peak on this blog was also 2012, which was almost 69,000.  I’m not sure what any of that means, but like I said, I like numbers!  I actually think it’s because I’ve posted less about new products and more about completed sets and the Lifetime Topps project.  Since that was the whole point of this shindig to begin with, that’s OK by me.  Here’s my annual “hits” to date.

  • 2010:  3,502
  • 2011:  32,517
  • 2012:  68,836
  • 2013:  58,094
  • 2014:  61,258
  • 2015:  54,207

My busiest day to date is still by far was on October 18th, 2012.  I had a whopping 981 hits that day, and I don’t think I’ve ever had more than 500 aside from that.  On that day, I think there was a contest of some sort where the trivia question was “what do Elston Howard and Sandy Koufax have in common”.  They were the 1963 MVP’s – and they wore #32.  That was on my 1963 Statistics page that I did from collecting 2012 Topps Heritage.

Aside from the home page, which is what people look at when they’re checking out the most recent post, my highest viewed page in 2015 is this post about Topps Porcelain cards.  My second most read post was a look back at Topps Venezuelan.  Related to the trivia question above, I think it’s kind of cool that my blog has become something of an informative site for some people.  My Topps wantlist is third.

As always, my most common referral by a huge margin is general search engines.  But if you take that away, my most common referral became the blog-father himself, Night Owl, taking over from the Sports Card Blogroll.  Congrats, Greg, your check is in the mail.

Another thing worth noting – I completed 17 trades this year.  That’s a great number.  I don’t know what I did last year, but I’m sure it was less than 10.  I actually traded 4 times with Adam from Addiction as Therapy.

Posting-wise, I actually made really good progress.  I got through 2004 Topps, which is 4 years of cards.  More detail for that for tomorrow’s post.

75 percent!!!! And moving on to 2004…

7 11 2015

2004 Topps stickers

September for this blog was spent on 2003 Topps, while October was spent wrapping that up and doing some completed set posts.  November means it’s time to move forward to 2004 Topps.  Tomorrow I’ll kick off the 2004 Topps set.  That’s the 25th year of my Lifetime Topps project.  I’m really shooting to get to 2009 Topps by end of 2016, so I’ll need to do one every other month next year to get there.

Since I started in 2010, 2009 is something of a “finish line” for this project.  Or at least it’s a very significant goal in this blog.

Of course, after I’m done posting about a set, I haven’t completed it, so I’d still have a lot left as far as finishing off all the sets!  That will be much longer 🙂

As of today, I’ve got 19,677 cards out of the 26,106 base cards from 1980 to 2009.  That’s 75.4%.  I passed the three-fourths mark with the 2003 when I opened the 2003 Topps Traded box.  That’s a pretty significant milestone in and of itself for this blog.  So here we go as I march toward 80%!

Moving on to 2003…

1 09 2015

2003 Topps Series 1 HTA Jumbo box

A new month, and a new Topps set to start going through!  Tomorrow I’ll kick off the 2003 Topps set, which is the 24th year of my Lifetime Topps project.  Overall, I’m doing about 5 of these a year, so the chances of me getting through 2009 Topps by end of next year is pretty decent.  I started in 2010, and have been posting about the new sets as I go, so 2009 is something of a “finish line” for this project.

Of course, after I’m done posting about a set, I haven’t completed it, so I’d still have finishing off all the sets!  That will be much longer 🙂

As of today, I’ve got 18,774 cards out of the 26,106 base cards from 1980 to 2009.  That’s 71.9%.  I’m moving right along.  Sometime in my 3 boxes for 2003 Topps (s1, s2, Update), I’ll probably pass the three-quarter mark, which is pretty cool.

2003 Topps Series 2 HTA Jumbo box