Completed insert set – 1996 Topps Masters of the Game

4 05 2017

I did the “elusive eight” post yesterday for getting the Kirby Puckett card from this set.  This is the completed set post.  I’m actually getting pretty close to finishing up the 1990’s!

Info about the set:

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Set description:  This hobby only insert highlights the best players in the game at the time.  The horizontal cards have a picture of the player on the front with a view of his home field in the background – all with a bit of the spectralight effect.  The back has particular accomplishments that I guess qualify this player as a “Master of the Game”.

Set composition:  20 cards, 1:18 odds (1996 Topps series 1 hobby)

Hall of Famers:  12.  Dennis Eckersley, Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor, Ozzie Smith, Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, Kirby Puckett, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas

How I put the set together:

  • 15 cards from COMC
  • 4 cards from Sportlots
  • 1 card from Beckett’s Marketplace

Card that completed my set:  #15 – Kirby Puckett

I just got this card to knock it off my Elusive 8 list last week.

Thoughts on the set:  I like the thicker card stock, and the background foil technology is great.  Topps could do something like this today and I would like it.  It would have been nice if they did a foil version of the Mantle tribute (card #7).

Best card (my opinion):  #7 – Tim Raines

I’ll go with the recently inducted HOF member.  It took too long for Rock to make it to Cooperstown.  By this point he was a grizzled vet.  The Mattingly card was a close 2nd – it was released right after he retired.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.  Barry Larkin would have seemed appropriate here – coming right off his MVP season after a decade in the league.

Here’s the scan of the full set.

Any other tidbits:  As mentioned, this card came out after Mattingly retired.

12 out of 20 HOF-ers is pretty impressive, plus you’ve got Bonds and Clemens who are probably the best 2 (or at least 2 of the best 3) historical players in this group.

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Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Roberto Clemente Finest

1 05 2017

I got caught up on all of my completed insert set posts last year.  Then I started posting at a far lesser clip, and I’ve finished off a few more sets.  The Clemente insert set is one of them.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  Clemente was the 3rd historic player honored with a reprint set (after Mickey Mantle in ’96 and Willie Mays in ’97).  Clemente was a good choice, as 1998 marked 25 years since his tragic death.  This set had reprints of the full run of his base Topps cards during his career.  Reprints of his 19 regular cards from 1955-1973 were issued across both series.  The 10 odd years come in series 1, while the 9 even years come in series 2.  There is a gold Clemente logo, created just for this set.  There was a chrome version and a regular – this is the finest version, which came one every other box.

Set composition:  19 cards, 1:72 odds (1998 Topps series 1, 2)

Hall of Famers:  1 – just Clemente.  None of his multi-player cards are included.

How I put the set together:

I got none from the boxes I bought.  I did actually get one refractor – just no regular finest versions.

  • 17 cards from COMC
  • 1 card from Beckett Marketplace
  • 1 card from Sportlots

Card that completed my set:  #13 – 1967 Topps

I bought the last cards I needed from Sportlots a few weeks ago.

Thoughts on the set:  Retro sets are everywhere you look these days, but in 1998 there weren’t that many, and they were almost all reprints.  I like the Finest versions of these cards.  And, to be honest, I kind of wish Topps would abandon the shotgun approach and go back to individual players.  They do something similar with jumbo cards available online.  I think they could do some stuff like all the Griffey Topps cards, or even all the Willie McCovey Topps cards.  With the finest versions, it would do well.

Best card (my opinion):  #19 – 1973 Topps

I have to go with the same thing I did for the regular set.  The 1972 card is probably my favorite photo, but the 1973 card is great as well.  And there’s something awesome about seeing exactly 3,000 hits on the back of the card.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none (obviously).

Here’s the scans of the whole set.





1999 Topps parallels – Ken Griffey Jr. – no more hunting left to do! (sort of)

27 04 2017

So I picked up a white whale about 2 months ago.  For the parallel cards in 1999, I picked Ken Griffey Jr.  I’m considering this parallel project done for 1999, though I’m having a different player fill in for Mr. Griffey for that MVP promotion.  Yeah, if I find his MVP promotion card someday, I’ll try for it.  But I’m doubtful, and even if I do, it may be more than I’m willing to pay.

But the big find here was the Refractor from Topps SuperChrome.  I’ve been on the lookout for this card for over a year, and I jumped on a $30 price tag (best offer – I think $40 was the initial ask) as soon as I saw it!

Here’s the updated post.

1999 Topps

Card I selected:  #100 – Ken Griffey Jr.

I picked a 2nd straight Hall of Famer in 1999.  It was also my 2nd straight Moeller High School graduate – Ken Griffey Jr. followed Barry Larkin.  This was my favorite card of the entire 1999 set; Griffey connecting with a pitch on a horizontal card is great.

I don’t have every one of these cards yet.  There’s 2 hold-ups.  First – like the 1998 Larkin, I’m missing the Super Chrome Refractor which is just a card that doesn’t show up on eBay or anywhere else very often.  Second is the MVP promotional card.  There were only 100 of these, and Griffey was a winner so most of them were probably redeemed.  So I’m not holding my breath on ever getting that one and have picked a replacement.

# of cards (including the Topps card):  10

The parallel sets in 1999 include:

  • MVP promotion
  • Oversize
  • Opening Day
  • Opening Day Oversize
  • Chrome
  • Chrome Refractors
  • SuperChrome
  • SuperChrome Refractors
  • Action Flats

Scans:

1999 Topps #100

1999 Topps Griffey best card

1999 Topps Griffey back

1998 Topps MVP Promotion #NNO

The only parallel in the 1999 Topps product was the MVP promotion.  Inserted only into hobby packs, were cards with a Topps MVP stamp.  If the player depicted won MVP of the week (as selected by Topps) in 1999, you could send that card in for a set of cards honoring each of the 25 winners.  The set paralleled the first 198 cards in series 1, and cards #243-444 in series 2.  Basically all of the regular cards but no subsets.  The backs of the cards have information on the promotion (no statistics).

As I mentioned, I’m not too optimistic that I’ll ever run down the ’99 MVP Promotion card of Griffey.  I hope to, but these are just really hard to find.  So I bought this card of Roberto Kelly a while ago to stand in as a semi-permanent placeholder.

1999 Topps Oversize #7

1999 Topps Griffey best card

1999 Topps Oversize Griffey back

Each hobby box or HTA jumbo box contained a 3-¼” x 4-½” jumbo card as a box topper.  There were 16 cards that are exact replicas of the player’s base cards, except for the size and the numbering.

1999 Topps Opening Day #58

1999 Topps Opening Day Griffey

1999 Topps Opening Day Griffey back

Opening Day was back for the 2nd time in 1999.  This 165 card set was retail only, and features the same photos from the base Topps set.  The border is silver instead of the gold on flagship Topps, and there is a foil Opening Day logo instead of the Topps logo.  Naturally, the back has a different number and it has a silver background unlike the gold in the regular Topps set.

1999 Topps Opening Day Oversize#3

1999 Topps Opening Day Griffey

1999 Topps Opening Day Oversize Griffey back

Just like the flagship Topps, Opening Day contained a jumbo box topper.  They were the same size – 3-¼” x 4-½” – but only had 3 players.  Naturally, Junior is one of them, along with Home Run champs McGwire and Sosa.  The only difference from this card and the base Opening Day is the size and the numbering.  I tracked this down recently as part of this parallel project.

1999 Topps Chrome #100

1999 Topps Chrome Griffey

1999 Topps Chrome Griffey back

Topps Chrome was back for the 4th year.  For the 2nd time it was a full reproduction of the regular Topps set, released in 2 series.  The front of the card reproduces the base set using Topps chromium technology and of course the logo is the Topps Chrome logo.  The back of the card is the same as the regular set except for the Topps Chrome logo and slightly different copyright wording.

1999 Topps Chrome Refractor #100

1999 Topps Chrome Refractor Griffey

1999 Topps Chrome Refractor Griffey back

Inserted every 12 packs of Topps Chrome were refractors.  A plastic diffraction effect that gives refractors a colorful, reflective shine.  The word refractor is written just below the number on the back – otherwise the back is the same as the regular Chrome card.  Of all the cards I got specifically for this project – this one was the most expensive – I paid $30 for it.

1999 Topps SuperChrome #18

1999 Topps SuperChrome Griffey

1999 Topps SuperChrome Griffey back

1999 Topps SuperChrome Refractor #18

For the 2nd and last time, Topps came out with giant jumbo cards that were their own product called SuperChrome.  These cards came in 3-card packs that retailed for $4.99.  The front is the same as Topps Chrome except there’s a SuperChrome logo and the cards are 4-⅛” by 5-¾”.  The number on the back is different since it’s a smaller set, and it also has a SuperChrome logo.  There’s also a refractor version, which came 1 in 12 packs just like regular-sized ones, with refractor wording just below the card number.

YAY!  NOW I HAVE THIS CARD!

1999 Topps Action Flats #S1-8

1999 Topps Action Flats Griffey

1999 Topps Action Flats Griffey back

This was probably one I could have not counted as a parallel – it’s a totally different picture.  But since Griffey has one of these, I decided to include it.  The set has the exact same design as Topps, with an action logo on the front in foil and on the back in color.  Aside from the logo and the numbering – the back is exactly the same as the Topps back.

The “Rainbow”:

Like I said, if I see a Griffey someday I’ll try to get it, but I’m not holding my breath.

Any sets I didn’t get:  That’s all you could possibly get from 1999.

Other cards I would have liked to do:  Griffey is the best (in my opinion) card in the set.  And the only 3 players that have all of the cards above are the ones in the Opening Day jumbo set – Griffey, McGwire, Sosa.





1998 Topps parallels – Barry Larkin – no more hunting left to do!!!

3 01 2017

I just got the SuperChrome Refractor of Barry Larkin, which finished off the parallels for 1998.  Most of the post below has already been read, but with the new card I want to tidy up this post with all the pictures.

1998 Topps

Card I selected:  #302 – Barry Larkin

In 1998 I picked a player from my favorite team, only my 2nd Cincinnati in these parallel attempts.  There were a few more cards to get in 1998 – Topps went back to inserting a parallel in the base set called “Minted in Cooperstown”, and they had a special factory set made to sell at both parks of the 2 expansion teams.  There were 2 jumbo cards again – the Topps SuperChrome and its refractor version.  And Opening Day made its debut offering.

I’m back to not having the full complement of these cards.  I’m missing the Opening Day card, which I’ll be able to get pretty easily someday.  More difficult is the SuperChrome Refractor for Larkin, which I feel will be very difficult to come by.  I’ve never even seen it for sale.  So while I hope to redo this post someday, it may be a while.

# of cards (including the Topps card):  9

The parallel sets in 1998 include:

  • Minted in Cooperstown
  • Inaugural Diamondbacks
  • Inaugural Devil Rays
  • Opening Day
  • Chrome
  • Chrome Refractors
  • SuperChrome
  • SuperChrome Refractors

Scans:

1998 Topps #302

1998 Topps Larkin

1998 Topps Larkin back

1998 Topps Minted in Cooperstown #302

1998 Topps Minted in Cooperstown Larkin

1998 Topps Larkin back

This parallel set was called “Minted in Cooperstown”.  The cards have a bronze Hall of Fame stamp on them – and all the cards were printed in Cooperstown using a portable press.  The back is exactly the same as the regular card.

1998 Topps Inaugural Diamondbacks #302

1998 Topps Inaugural Diamondbacks Larkin

1998 Topps Larkin back

1998 Topps Inaugural Devil Rays #302

1998 Topps Inaugural Devil Rays Larkin

1998 Topps Larkin back

Just as they’d done in the expansion year of 1993, Topps also produced 2 special factory sets for sale at both the Diamondbacks’ and Devil Rays’ team stores.  The cards are stamped with a logo of the respective team.  The back is exactly the same as the regular card.

1998 Topps Opening Day #198

1998 Topps Opening Day Larkin

1998 Topps Opening Day Larkin back

Topps issued the first “Opening Day” set in 1998.  This 165 card set was retail only, and features the same photos from the base set.  The border is silver instead of the gold that the base Topps cards have, and there is an Opening Day logo instead of the Topps logo.  Naturally, the back has a different number and it has a silver background unlike the gold in the regular Topps set.

1998 Topps Chrome #302

1998 Topps Chrome Larkin

1998 Topps Chrome Larkin back

Topps Chrome was back for the 3rd year.  This time it was a full version of all 503 cards in the regular Topps set, released in 2 series.  The front of the card reproduces the base set using Topps chromium technology and of course the logo is the Topps Chrome logo.  The back of the card is the same as the regular set except for the logo, slightly different copyright wording, and hollow block letters spelling “REFRACTOR” that are filled in when the card is a refractor.

1998 Topps Chrome Refractor #302

1998 Topps Chrome Refractor Larkin

1998 Topps Chrome Refractor Larkin back

Inserted every 12 packs of Topps Chrome were refractors. A plastic diffraction effect that gives refractors a colorful, reflective shine.  The block letters mentioned above are filled in on the back so you can tell it’s a refractor on the back as well.

1998 Topps SuperChrome #6

1998 Topps SuperChrome Larkin

1998 Topps SuperChrome Larkin back

1998 Topps SuperChrome Refractor #6

1998-topps-superchrome-refractor-larkin

1998-topps-superchrome-refractor-larkin-back

Topps came out with giant jumbo cards that were their own product called SuperChrome.  These cards came in 3-card packs that retailed for $4.99.  The front is the same as Topps Chrome except there’s a SuperChrome logo and the cards are 4-⅛” by 5-¾”.  The number on the back is different since it’s a smaller set.  There’s also a refractor version, which came 1 in 12 packs just like regular-sized ones, the refractor wording is on the back like the regular-size refractors.

The “Rainbow”:
1998-topps-barry-larkin-rainbow

1998-topps-barry-larkin-rainbow-2

Any sets I didn’t get:  That’s all of them you could get.

Other cards I would have liked to do:  The Jim Edmonds card (making an overhead catch) and Tom Glavine’s card (running the bases in a jacket) are very cool.  Also, A-Rod had a notable card since it was his first Topps card.  Finally, getting Sosa or McGwire in the year they had the historic home run chase would have been cool.  I was limited to the 36 guys in the SuperChrome set, and since I really like this Larkin, that was my choice!

Hopefully I can find that SuperChrome refractor someday!





Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Focal Point

23 10 2016

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, grabbing one of my Elusive Eight cards finished off a 1998 insert set for me.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  These cards show current stars with a colorful raised foil background that reminds me of something Upper Deck would put in its SP product.  The right side contains close-up cutouts of portions of that picture.  The back has a write-up of the player.

Set composition:  15 cards, 1:36 odds (1998 Topps series 2)

Hall of Famers:  5.  Cal Ripken, Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza, Greg Maddux.

Vlad Guerrero could join them next year.

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from a trade
  • 11 cards from COMC
  • 1 card from Beckett’s marketplace
  • 2 cards from Sportlots

I didn’t get any from the 1998 s2 box I opened – I don’t remember being too frustrated at the time but from the odds I should have pulled one.  I pulled 2 Mystery Finest from that box – which are also supposed to be 1 per box – so can’t complain.

Thoughts on the set:  This and the Flashback set are up there as my favorite inserts from 1998 Topps.  In general, I liked the stuff they were doing from the late 90’s much better than today.  The background effects are cool – kind of like the rookie subset in 1995 Upper Deck SP rookie cards and/or Pinnacle’s Dufex effect.  15 cards is a good amount, as well.  Not too many, but not too easy either.

Card that completed my set:  #FP11 – Chuck Knoblauch

1998-topps-focal-point-complete-3

Any other tidbits:  I find the break down of the photos is interesting in a set like this:

  • 7 batters in mid-swing
  • 3 batters starting down the first base line
  • 2 pitchers mid-stride
  • 1 fielder throwing
  • 1 fielder in ready position
  • 1 catcher cocking back to throw out a base stealer




Finding a new promo card – 1995 Topps Shawn Green Proof

18 10 2016

I saw this card back in July while surfing around on COMC.

1995-topps-traded-proofs-shawn-green

I recognized the photo, and you can tell from the writing that it was a 1995 Topps card. But it had a full bleed border and some weird set name on COMC.  The photo is from the Rookie of the Year Contender set, but the back is the same as his regular Topps card except the number is excluded.

1995 TT ROY Contender - front

I was able to negotiate a $6 price, whatever the card was, and picked it up.  Here’s what I read about it from Beckett:

“Little is known about these cards, the one sample we have has a photo of Shawn Green used on his 1995 Topps Traded card but the back is the one used in the regular 1995 Topps set. There may be more cards so all additional information is appreciated.”

Well, I’ve got this one, and it’s going in the promo card binder by some other 1995 Topps cards!





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