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


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



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”:


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


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.


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

Recap – best 10 Topps cards of the 1990’s

13 10 2016

Here’s my full list of those top 10 cards from Topps sets in the 1980’s.  Tomorrow I’ll do a recap of all the other stuff I did from t he perspective of completing the decade, but this first one is to show all of my top 10 cards in one post.  Here they are in order, from Honorable Mention to #1, with no words, just pictures!

1990 Topps Nolan Ryan

1998 Topps Jose Guillen

1993 Topps 2nd best card Puckett

1991 Topps best action Fisk

1991 Topps best pose Clemens

1992 Topps Griffey

1992 Topps Ripken

1996 Topps 297 Marquis Grissom best card

1991 Topps best card Boggs

1993 Topps best card Bonilla

1990 Topps F Thomas DP RC

1994 Topps George Brett best card

For whatever it’s worth, none of these cards made the Topps 60 list that was voted on as part of the Topps 60th anniversary.  That’s OK.  My criteria were quite a bit different.  Also, there were only 2 cards from the 1990’s on that list – Derek Jeter (1993) and Manny Ramirez (1992).

A little detective work – 1994 Topps George Brett

12 10 2016

Every now and then I come across a card that I realize – hey you can definitely figure out the exact game and play that’s captured on that card.  I’ve done this a couple other times, and it’s always fun.  My card of the decade for the 90’s is one of those cards!

1994 Topps George Brett best card

Kevin Polcovich was the last player I did.  This one is a much more memorable name!  George Brett was a first ballot hall of famer and this is his last Topps card.  Similar to Robin Yount & Nolan Ryan – who with Brett made for a hell of a memorable first ballot class in 1999 – Brett got a 1994 card with his full line of statistics.

The scoreboard here is key, it enables me to narrow down which game this occurred and the surrounding circumstances.  And I’ve got to say – it was an interesting game!  I’ll blow the card up so you can see it better.

1994 Topps George Brett best card

I figured from the scoreboard they were playing the Brewers.  I don’t know if I could have known that otherwise.  Maybe you can tell from the pitcher, but otherwise it just looks like a classic gray/blue road uniform that could be quite a few teams.  You know from Brett’s uniform and the background that it’s a home game.  That in and of itself narrows it down to 6 games (MIL @ KC in Brett’s game log from 1993).  They played in Kansas City early September and early June.

The scoreboard itself is the key.  The royals lost both the September games Brett played in by the scores of 3-2 and 2-1.  They scored less than 3 runs, so those aren’t possibilities.  On June 5th they lost 10-2, so that’s also not a possibility.  That leaves Thursday June 3rd (6-5 victory), Friday June 4th (3-2 victory) and Sunday June 6th (8-7 victory).

Sunday June 3, 1993 turned out to be the winner here.  And like I said, it was a topsy-turvy game!  That’s Jamie Navarro on the hill for the Brewers, with Joe Kmak behind the plate.  Brett was in at DH, which was the only position he played in 1993.  Navarro had given up 3 runs in the bottom of the first, including an RBI sac fly by Brett.  You can’t see it here, but Brian McRae was standing on 3rd after tripling home another run in the bottom of the 2nd.  Brett worked a 2-2 count – as you can see on the scoreboard or in the Baseball Reference game summary.  Then he grounded to 2nd, which you’d think was a veteran move to get the run home.  But for whatever reason, McRae wasn’t able to advance, and the Brewers were able to get out of that inning without any additional damage.

Navarro settled down until Brett’s lineup slot came up in the 4th.  I’m not sure why, but with a runner on first Brett was lifted for pinch hitter Hubie Brooks at that time.  Perhaps given his age and that he’d played 7 straight days at this point, getting the aging vet an early exit made sense.  Whatever the reason, the play worked – Brooks knocked a 2-run shot that put the Royals up 6-1.

The game looked to be in hand at that point, but in the top of the 6th the Brewers exploded for 6 runs off starter Chris Haney and reliever Mark Gubicza to take a 7-6 lead.  The Royals pulled even in the bottom of the 7th, and won the game in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the 9th.  Brooks singled to start the inning, and Jesse Orosco came in.  Orosco got one out, but then gave up a double to Chris Gwynn that scored Brooks and sent the Royal fans home happy.

The best Topps card of the 1990’s

11 10 2016

Here’s the best card in my countdown of the top cards in the 90’s decade.  This is my opinion on the best card from the 90’s.  Not just the best photo, the best card design, the best player or the most notable card.  Really, I consider all of those factors and make a personal list, made up of the cards I think are the best.

1) 1994 Topps #180 – George Brett

1994 Topps George Brett best card

  • It’s George Brett, who is a great player and a guy that’s generally liked throughout the baseball world.
  • This is Brett’s final card.  That makes it more special and notable, and plays a huge factor for me thinking of this as the best card.
  • It’s a great mid-game photo.  Brett is about to ground out to 2nd base.  I didn’t notice this until I looked at this card more closely, but you can see the ball coming off his bat.
  • The background – that’s what puts it over the top.  You can see the waterfall and the field of play, the batter’s eye and most of the scoreboard.
  • 1994 is a Topps design I enjoyed.  The home plate feature is very cool – and it goes great with this particular photo where the Kauffman Stadium scoreboard seems to parallel the design feature.