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.





1994 Topps parallels – George Brett

3 05 2016

1994 Topps

Card I selected:  #180 – George Brett

A 4th straight Hall of Famer was my pick for the 1994 set.  This was Brett’s last Topps card, and it’s probably the best card in the set.  Fortunately or unfortunately depending on your point of view, there were a lot fewer parallels now.  The Micro cards were thankfully gone, and the inaugural team sets were gone.  The only new set was the one-time Topps Spanish set.

# of cards (including the Topps card):  3

The parallel sets in 1994 include:

  • Gold
  • Spanish

Scans:

1994 Topps #180

1994 Topps George Brett best card

1994 Topps George Brett back

1994 Topps Gold #180

1994 Topps Gold George Brett

1994 Topps George Brett back

Topps Gold was back for the 3rd time in 1994, though this would be the last time in this format where the only difference was gold foil stamping of the name and the Topps logo.  These came 1 per pack again, the same as 1993.  The back of the card was exactly the same as the regular Topps card.

1994 Topps Spanish #180

1994 Topps George Brett best card

1994 Topps Spanish George Brett back

Topps produced a special factory sets of bilingual cards as a test in markets with larger Hispanic populations.  There were about 5,000 of these sets produced.  The front of the cards are the same, but any writing on the back was in both English and Spanish.

The “Rainbow”:

1994 Topps George Brett rainbow

Any sets I didn’t get:  None that I know of.

Other cards I would have liked to do:  I used Roberto Alomar for 1993, but he really could have been the selection here as well – he’s turning a double play on his brother Sandy in the 1994 card.  Nolan Ryan’s last card is also in this set, and there’s a Hank Aaron card that’s pretty cool.  Jose Rijo and Kenny Lofton had really cool cards as well.  Since there are only 2 parallels and they’re both full parallels – I kind of had my pick here.





Completed master set – one last look at 1994 Topps

31 08 2015

I’m changing up how I do these master set posts a little bit.  In the past, I’ve basically reposted my base card set and added a “master set” section at the end of that post.  That seems a little silly in this case – I just posted about the 1994 Topps base set.  So I don’t need the repeat, I’ll just link to the completed set post.

OK, enough with the administrative stuff – I finished up the master set to 1994 Topps.  I’ve now completed all my Topps master sets through 1994!

I’m going to give myself the proverbial pat on the back, I’m gonna toot my own horn, I’ll grandstand, gloat and shout a little cock-a-doodle-doo.  I kind of assumed this would either be the last “master set” I’d finish, or I wouldn’t even finish it at all.  There were 2 major obstacles here.  The first was the Topps Spanish Legends set.  I had been 2 cards short for what seemed like forever (probably only 3 years – but still).  I finally finished that up with an eBay purchase.

The other, even more challenging portion was the Darren Dreifort Topps Golden Spikes promo.  I probably didn’t even need to consider that part of the master set (and the same could be said for the Spanish Legends set).  But both of those seemed affiliated to 1994 Topps flagship to me, so I kept my eyes open.  When I finally got the Dreifort – I was ecstatic!  So enough gasconading!  Without further ado, here’s the info for this master set.

Info about my base set:

How I put the base set together:

  • 307 cards from series 1 wax box
  • 259 cards from series 2 wax box
  • 222 cards from trades
  • 2 cards I already had from back in the day
  • 1 card from a card show
  • 1 card from Sportlots

Card that completed my set: #379 – Mark McLemore

1994 Topps Mark McLemore

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

1994 Topps George Brett best card

Check out this link to see the rest of the base set post.

My Master” Set Info:

1,005 cards – 792 “base”, 132 “update”, 62 “insert”, 19 “other”

How I put the additional sets together:

  • Traded & Finest Traded – factory set from a card show
  • Promos – all 19 cards from eBay
  • Black Gold – 2 from wax boxes (1 each series), 3 from trades, 39 from Sportlots
  • Leyendas – 3 from Sportlots, 5 from COMC, 2 from eBay

Update set composition:  132 cards (107 players*, 19 Draft Picks, 1 Prospects card, 2 Anatomy of a Trade, 2 Sandberg Tribute, 1 checklist)

*Paul Shuey’s card has the Future Star design

In the update set not in the base set:  50 players (including the 4 players on the Prospect card)

Total in base and update sets:  812 different players, 53 draft picks

Highest book value in the Update set:  #112T – Paul Konerko RC

1994 Topps Traded 112T Paul Konerko DP RC

A borderline Hall of Famer is the biggest rookie card in the set.

Most notable card from the Update set:  #42T – Pedro Martinez / Delino DeShields AT

1994 Topps Traded 42T Pedro Martinez Delino DeShields Trade

I have to think that in 1994, the “anatomy of the trade” card for the Delino DeShields and Pedro Martinez wasn’t viewed as much more than an anomaly.  But this became a pretty big deal, and since I just finished reading Pedro’s biography, it was poignant to me.  The back points out how both teams were trying to replace something they’d lost.  The Expos replaced on Martinez for another, as they were losing ace Denny.  The Dodgers lost Jody Reed to free agency and needed to replace him.  The trade was viewed as a bit of a steal by LA; it sure didn’t turn out that way.

By the way, Dennis Martinez and Jody Reed are cards #7 and #57, respectively, in the ’94 Topps Traded set.

Most notable insert card:  Traded Finest #7 – Frank Thomas

1994 Topps Traded Finest Insert Frank Thomas

There isn’t a lot of insert sets to choose from, and I don’t think of any of them blow you away as iconic for the hobby.  The Finest insert cards in the Traded factory set do seem the most significant.  In 1994, Topps was coming fresh off of the gold mine they created with Topps Finest in 1993, and they were starting to branch the brand out to be more than just its own product; they inserted the cards in other sets.

Best Insert card (my opinion):  Traded Finest #1 – Greg Maddux

1994 Topps Traded Finest Insert Greg Maddux

The Traded Finest insert set isn’t just moderately significant; it’s the coolest one out of the 3 total insert sets, in my opinion.  Man, for the days when there were 3 total insert sets between Topps and Topps Traded!  Anyway, they put Greg Maddux batting on his card.  That wins this award!





Completed insert set – 1994 Topps Leyendas (aka: Spanish Legends)

29 08 2015

Earlier this year I completed another Topps insert set that’s kind of the “oddball” fashion.  I have been going after these cards as part of my Topps project, though in fairness I probably could argue against collecting these as not really being part of the Topps flagship set.

Info about the set:

Set description: This set of Spanish-born retired baseball players was inserted into factory sets of the the Topps Spanish bilingual set, which paralleled the 792-card 1994 Topps flagship set.  Entitled “Topps Legends”, it has some of the greatest hispanic players of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.  Blue lettering “Topps Leyendas” is at the top in block form with a shadowing effect.  Topps Legends is also at the bottom in the same manner.  The player’s name is at the bottom as well.  The photos have a distinct 1960’s feel to them.  The backs, on the other hand, have the feel of 1994 Topps.  They are bilingual with the player’s complete MLB record, biographical info and a write-up.

Set composition: 10 cards, 1 set per 1994 Topps Spanish factory set

Hall of Famers:  4.  Luis Aparicio, Rod Carew, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal.  I hope some day Minnie Minoso gets in as well.

How I put the set together:

  • 3 cards from Sportlots
  • 5 cards from COMC
  • 2 cards from eBay

Card that completed my set: #L3 – Luis Aparicio

I got this and the Chico Carrasquel cards on eBay in May.  I had been looking for them on COMC and other places for a really long time, but I changed my search parameters on eBay and found somebody selling team sets.  I had to get a few duplicates, but that’s fine by me!  If anyone is interested in the Minoso or Tiant cards, I’ve got an extra!

Thoughts on the set:  The design is humble, which makes it all the better.  It’s a great subject matter, and features an interesting selection of 10 players. Since it was issued back in 1994, it’s one of the earlier sets where Topps dove into cards of retired players.  In fact, it’s one of the few products where you could find retired players as an “insert” in a product with current players.  About the only thing this set is missing is Roberto Clemente.  The 1994 Topps Spanish set hearkens back to the days of Topps Venezuelan sets from the 1960’s.

Best card (my opinion): #L10 – Luis Tiant

I love sleeveless uniforms.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

1994 Topps Leyendas Felipe Alou

1994 Topps Leyendas





Another white whale! Darren Dreifort’s Topps Golden Spikes card

27 08 2015

I have been looking for the Topps Golden Spikes promotional cards for quite a while now.  There were 4 of these cards made in the early 1990’s, done to promote the annual awards dinner for the Golden Spikes winner.  The Golden Spikes award honors the best amateur baseball player in the country, and it’s an impressive list if you check it out.

The 1990-1993 winners were immortalized on cardboard by Topps, in each case done in a way to preview the next year’s flagship set design.  The cards were given out at the November banquet, and supposedly there are ~600 in existence.  The 4 winners from those years are not as some of the other winners, though all of these guys did make a good amount of money in their Major League careers.

  • 1990 – Alex Fernandez (1991 Topps)
  • 1991 – Mike Kelly (1992 Topps)
  • 1992 – Phil Nevin (1993 Topps)
  • 1993 – Darren Dreifort (1994 Topps)

I found the 1991 card (for 1990 Golden Spikes winner) of Alex Fernandez about 3 years ago.  Earlier this year, I found the 1992 card for ’91 winner Mike Kelly and the 1993 card for ’92 winner Phil Nevin.  I paid a pretty penny for the Nevin card, around 10 bucks for the Kelly.  But the Dreifort has alluded me until now.

From what I’ve seen, the Fernandez card is the easiest to find.  Unlike the others, I think Topps printed as a promotion for the Topps ML debut set that was new in 1991, which had players that made their ML debut in 1990.  Fernandez was called up to the Big Leagues the same year he was drafted, so he was the perfect guy for this.  I’ve seen the Fernandez on eBay far more than any of the others.  I think there are more than 600 of these cards out there.

The other 3 probably are limited to that print run of only 600 – as distributed for the Awards Dinner – according to what I’ve read.  Kelly seems to be the next easiest to obtain – but is still a very difficult card to find.  I’ve seen it on eBay probably 6 or 7 different times.  The Nevin I’ve seen only once – the time I bought it.  I’ve read it’s the hardest to find.  This brings me back to the Dreifort, which seems close to the Nevin as far as how many are out there on the market.  I had only seen this card for sale with an autograph.  The seller was asking 200 bucks – which isn’t worth it to me.  Last month, I finally saw another Dreifort with no autograph.  In fact, there was one seller listing 3 different PSA graded versions.  I put in various bids on all 3 and ended up with 2 of them, for less than 20 bucks combined.  That seems like a steal to me.

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort BEFORE

Before

That’s a hammer in the top left of that picture.  I’m liberating one from my case to go in my binder.  The other I’ll keep in the case for now.

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort AFTER

After

Here’s scans of the front and back for this card.

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort back

I’ve updated my pre-production posts from 1994 Topps.  Finally, here’s the binder page with all 4 cards, front and back.  I’m super-excited I got these cards.  A few years ago, I just figured these were unobtainable.  All told, I paid less than $100 for the quartet, which seems like a great deal to me.

Golden Spikes Fernandez Kelly Nevin Dreifort





Completed set – 1994 Topps

25 08 2015

A few months ago I finished the 1994 Topps set.  Finishing one of the base Topps sets is a big step toward the Lifetime Topps project!

Info about my set:

How I put the set together:

  • 307 cards from series 1 wax box
  • 259 cards from series 2 wax box
  • 222 cards from trades
  • 2 cards I already had from back in the day
  • 1 card from a card show
  • 1 card from Sportlots

Card that completed my set: #379 – Mark McLemore (one of 3 cards received from a trade with Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary)

1994 Topps Mark McLemore final card of set

I didn’t realize it at first, but McLemore’s card is an uncorrected error because the card # is one of two cards, along with Benito Santiago, bearing number 370 in the set.  McLemore is supposed to be 379.

Set composition: 792 cards (695 individual ML player cards*, 28 Coming Attractions, 10 Prospects, 34 Draft Picks, 9 Measures of Greatness, 11 All-Stars, 1 Aaron Tribute, 4 checklists)

*The 695 individual player cards include 10 All-Star Rookies, 26 Future Stars and Nolan Ryan’s final season tribute

Representation of ’93 MLB season:  The Coming Attractions is a dual-player subset, and the Prospects cards have 4 players, one from each level of the minor leagues.  If you do the math, and exclude the Aaron card, that means there are 825 player cards in Topps.  One of the Draft Pick players did make the majors in 1993 (Jeff Granger) – leaving 33 who did not.  19 of the players in the Coming Attractions subset did not make it to the Majors, 8 of the Future Stars didn’t, and 38 (all but 2) of the players from the Prospect subset didn’t actually make it.

That leaves 733 guys in the set who played in MLB in 1993.  The 733 players represent 66.4% out of the 1,104 players who played in MLB in 1993.  It’s worth noting – the 1,104 players was a huge increase since there were 2 expansion teams in 1993.

Last active player from this set: #158 – Derek Jeter

1994 Topps Derek Jeter Prospect card

There are no players in this set currently active.  Derek Jeter wast the last active player from the set – he played the final game of his historic career at Fenway park on September 28th last year, which was the final day of the season.  He singled in his second at bat to knock in Ichiro Suzuki and was pulled for Brian McCann to replace him as DH.  That has to be the only time Brian McCann ever pinch ran for anyone.

There were 2 other players who played their last game at the end of the 2014 season.  Jason Giambi played as a DH for the Indians on September 27th and has since retired.  Jamey Wright pitched for the Dodgers and notched a hold in his last game on September 27th.  He wasn’t on the team’s postseason roster.  Wright tried to latch on with the Rangers last spring training but missed out on the team’s final cut.

Player with the most cards in the set:  5 players with 3 cards:

There are 2 “extra card” subsets, and 5 players have a card in both the All-Star and Measure of Greatness subset – Frank Thomas, Wade Boggs, Cal Ripken, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr.

Ripken – #200, #387 (All-Star), #604 (Measure of Greatness)

1994 Topps most cards Ripken

Thomas – #270, #384 (AS), #601 (MoG)

1994 Topps most cards Thomas

Griffey – #400, #388 (AS), #606 (MoG)

1994 Topps most cards Griffey

Boggs – #520, #386 (AS), #603 (MoG)

1994 Topps most cards Boggs

Bonds – #700, #390 (AS), #605 (MoG)

1994 Topps most cards Bonds

First Card and the Hundreds: #1 – Mike Piazza, #100 – Kirby Puckett, #200 – Cal Ripken, #300 – Ryne Sandberg, #400 – Ken Griffey Jr., #500 – Bo Jackson, #600 – Don Mattingly, #700 – Barry Bonds

1994 Topps first card and hundreds

Three of the 5 guys from the “most card” category made the special card section.

Highest book value: #158 – Orlando Miller, Brandon Wilson, Derek Jeter, Mike Neal PROS

1994 Topps Derek Jeter Prospect card

It’s not his rookie card, but this prospect is Jeter’s second card.

Most notable card: #34 – Nolan Ryan

1994 topps Nolan Ryan

This was Ryan’s last card – his 27th card since he shared card #177 with Jerry Koosman back in 1968.  Topps created a card with Ryan’s full statistical background on the back, and a logo on the front for Ryan’s 27 season.

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

1994 Topps George Brett best card

This is Brett’s 20th and final Topps flagship card.  And it’s his best.  Pure majesty.

Second best card (also my opinion): #675 – Roberto Alomar

1994 Topps scans Alomar

Back when I did my scans of cards from this set, I picked this card as my favorite.  I’ve since changed my mind – I think the Brett is too good.  But it’s got really good competition from this card, where Roberto Alomar forced out his brother and then threw on to first in an attempt at a double play.  This play occurred on April 17, 1993, though I can’t narrow it down between two separate plays.

Best subset card: #715 – Hank Aaron TRIB

1994 Topps Hank Aaron TRIB best subset

Aside from this card and those that are guys’ actual cards for the set are Measures of Greatness and All-Star cards.  Nothing in those subsets beats out the tribute card for Hank Aaron, which was put into the set to honor the 20th anniversary of his record-breaking 715th homer.

Favorite action photo: #149 – Kenny Lofton

1994 Topps Kenny Lofton best action shot

Though I considered just putting the Alomar card from above as the winner here, I don’t think it’s the best card based purely on the action shot.  It’s amazing because he’s forcing out his brother, but I think this Lofton is better if you just go on the action shot.  It looks like he’s about to make a diving catch, after losing his hat a few seconds earlier!

Favorite non-action photo: #80 – Jose Canseco

1994 Topps Jose Canseco best non-action shot

From the wood-clippings at his feet, Canseco seems to be shaving down the handles of his bats.  I’m not sure how many players do this, and this might be the only card where that’s done!

My Favorite Reds card: #705 – Jose Rijo

1994 Topps Jose Rijo

There are a lot of good cards in this set, and a lot of those good cards feature Reds.  I really liked Barry Larkin’s card where he’s going back on a fly ball, and Chris Sabo has a cool photo where he’s legging out a ground ball.  Joe Oliver has a very good play at the plate card.  But Rijo’s card is the best.  If I think about it, I probably prefer this card to the Canseco card above as far as non-action photos go.

This is a cool photo of the times; the Super Soaker had just come out in 1992 and I remember all the kids getting them, even though at 12 or 13 years old I was getting a bit old to play with high-powered squirt guns.  There are 2 other cards that I’ve found that have water guns on them.  The first is another Rijo card.  On the back of his 1994 Stadium Club Member’s Only card, Rijo has upgraded to a souped-up version of the super soaker with 3 “cartridges”.  The other is a Roger McDowell card, also from 1994.  His collector’s choice card shows him taking a picture with a couple of water guns shoved into his belt.

Other Notable Cards: Here’s some of the other cards that I really liked and/or are memorable.  A number of these were considered for the “honors” above.  The Mitch Williams is probably my favorite; I really thought about putting that as the best action photo.

1994 Topps other great cards

Topps Reprints and others:

  • 1999 Ryan reprints – Nolan Ryan
  • 2001 Through the Years – Barry Bonds
  • 2001 Archives – Jack Morris, George Brett, Robin Yount, Ryan
  • 2001 Topps Traded – Terrence Long (’94T), Ben Grieve (’94T)
  • 2002 Archives – Jason Giambi
  • 2005 Rookie Cup Reprints – Jeff Conine, J.T. Snow, Mike Piazza
  • 2010 CMT – Tony Gwynn, Bo Jackson, Billy Wagner
  • 2011 60YOT – Piazza, Manny Ramirez

Both Mike Piazza and Nolan Ryan have multiple reprints.





Completed insert set – 1994 Topps Black Gold

22 12 2014

Topps came out with their second year of Topps Black Gold in 1994, and it never seemed as popular as the first year.  By 1994 there were much shinier things out there – Upper Deck had Michael Jordan baseball cards for crying out loud! I finished this set back in November 2013.  And it’s been sitting in my queue as a “I need to do this” draft post since then.  It seems less than that, but time can get away from you.  Well, I’m using these completed set posts to get me back into the Lifetime Topps project – so this is certainly a good one for that!

Info about the set:

Set description:  Staying in line with the Gold theme that Topps adopted in the early 90’s in the flagship product for all 4 sports, the Black Gold cards had gold foilboard at the top (the team) and bottom (the player).  The background is completely blacked out of the player photo on the front.  The Topps Black Gold logo is shown next to the photo on series 1 but is mysteriously missing on the series 2 cards.  The back of the card has another photo of the player with a his statistics and positional ranking for those stats against a wood background.  The set has 22 players from each league.

Set composition:  44 cards

Inserted: All packs of 1994 Topps.  1:72 hobby odds.  22 cards per each series (AL in series 1, NL in series 2).

There were also redemption cards inserted at a more difficult rate that could be exchanged for 11, 22 or all 44 cards in the set.

Hall of Famers: 9

Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor, Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio

How I put the set together:

  • 2 from my series 1 & 2 wax boxes
  • 3 cards from trades
  • 39 cards from Sportlots

Thoughts on the set:  I like the 1993 set better.  I always thought Topps was pretty inferior to Upper Deck for card technology and for inserts in the early and mid-90’s (because they were).  And while these are decent cards, they aren’t as nice as the first year.  That may be why they didn’t stick around into 1995.

Card that completed my set:  #41 – Mike Piazza

One of 3 cards I picked up on Sportlots back in November.

Highest book value:  #18 – Cal Ripken, #27 – Barry Bonds

Best card (my opinion):  #43 – Robby Thompson

How often will you ever see a non-parallel insert card of Robby Thompson?  And it’s a pretty good photo?  Count me in.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.  I knew there was a reason I didn’t like this set.

1994 Topps Black Gold set

1994 Topps Black Gold set_0001

1994 Topps Black Gold set_0002

1994 Topps Black Gold set_0003

1994 Topps Black Gold set_0004