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!

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Completed set – 1995 Topps Traded

25 06 2016

This is the first of the Topps Traded sets where I’ll do a completed set post.  Before 1995, Topps Traded meant a factory set that I would be purchasing.  It was gone from 1996 through 1998, and it was again a full box set in 1999 and 2000.  So this was the first one I “collected”.

Info about my set:

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How I put the set together:

  • 160 cards from the Topps Traded box
  • 1 card from Sportlots
  • 4 cards from Beckett Marketplace

Card that completed my set:  #14T – Kevin Gross

1995 Topps Traded Kevin Gross

This was one of 4 cards I got from Beckett’s Marketplace in February.  I bought this box in 2012.  Then I got 1 card from Sportlots in 2014 – then waited 2 more years before I finally said the hell with it and finished this thing!  I’m surprised it took so long, but I was trying not to buy the last couple cards until they were part of another purchase.  I found a dealer on Beckett who had some other cards that were tougher, who also had these cards.  And here we are!

Set composition:  165 cards (114 single MLB player cards, 14 Draft Picks, 2 On Deck, 2 Tops Prospects, 1 Star Track, 12 Rookie of the Year Contenders, 10 At the Break, 9 All-Stars, 1 checklist)

Representation of ’94 MLB season:  OK, like I said this was the first time for me to do a complete set post for a Traded set.  So what I’ll do is combine the Traded and regular Topps sets.

The 1995 Topps set featured 567 out of the 991 players who played in Major League Baseball in 1994.  That’s 57.2%.

In the update set not in the base set:  28 players.

It had become much more about “rookies who (maybe) played in 1995” than “players who were traded in 1995 or not featured in the regular set”.

Total in base and update sets:  595 different players.  Or 60% of the 1994 MLB rosters.

Last active player from this set:  #18T – Carlos Beltran

1995 Topps Traded Beltran LeBron

Wow, weird how this works out, but I have to explain this whole error thing.  Carlos Beltran is the only player still active in 2016*.  His card had a big snafu with it.  It doesn’t feature him.  the Juan LeBron card does.  And his card features Juan Lebron.  Yes that’s confusing, and it has nothing to do with the notable basketball player from Akron.  They just got those 2 guys pictures messed up.  So card #18 is considered Beltran’s “rookie card”, but features a picture of Lebron.  Meanwhile, card #12, LeBron’s card, features a photo of the future All-Star, Beltran.

* – There’s a chance Bronson Arroyo will come back to play, but it isn’t looking promising. In fact, as far it looks now, Beltran may end up outlasting his fellow draft class member by 2+ seasons.

Highest book value:  #18T – Carlos Beltran, #130T – Lyle Mouton / Mariano Rivera

Beckett lists both the Beltran rookie and the first flagship Topps card of the greatest closer ever at $10.  Weird how in the baseball card hobby, the card picturing LeBron but listed as Beltran’s RC is the more valuable.

Most notable card:  #40T – Hideo Nomo

1995 Topps Traded Hideo Nomo ST

It could be argued the Beltran card is the most notable, with the Lebron/Beltran mix-up going on.  But Nomo-mania was as big as it comes, and this was his first Topps card.

Best card (my opinion):  #20T – Larry Walker

1995 Topps Traded Larry Walker

I think Walker should be in the Hall of Fame, and I’m surprised he hasn’t got more traction.  I think people are overreacting to the Coors Field effect.  He had some historic numbers, and yes, Coors contributed to that.  But he was one of the best players in baseball for quite a while even if you adjust a bit downward for Coors.  Also, him coming to Denver was the catalyst for them becoming a better franchise.  This card exists because he signed in Denver as a free agent as soon as the strike lifted.  To me, it’s the a card I really appreciate because of that.

Second best card (also my opinion):  #110T – David Cone

1995 Topps Traded David Cone

Another guy who hasn’t gotten enough HOF play.  I’m not convinced David Cone is a Hall of Famer, but he isn’t that far off.  At a minimum he should have gotten more than 3.9% and been one-and-done.

Cone was coming off his Cy Young award in KC, and was another huge free agent signing.  He had a really good year, but Toronto failed miserably in what was a strange title defense – with the 1994 canceled season.  He ended up in New York as their workhorse down the stretch.  This is a cool card with the sunset logo in the background.

Best subset card:  #163T – Mike Piazza / Ivan Rodriguez AS

1995 TT All-Stars - front

I really like this particular All-Star subset.  The space allows for some good photos even though it’s a dual player card.  This is the best of that bunch.

Favorite action photo:  #11T – Ray Durham

1995 Topps Traded Ray Durham

Traded/Update sets aren’t particularly known for their action shots.  This is a cool one.  Look how far out of that baseline Durahm is, rounding third and heading for home.

Favorite non-action photo:  #110T – David Cone

1995 Topps Traded David Cone

Like I said, I like the cool effect with the background here.

My Favorite Reds card:  #34T – “Benny” Santiago

1995 Topps Traded Benito Santiago

Benito was a big part of the Reds really good team in 1995.  He was a solid player, though he split a lot of time with Eddie Taubensee.  As evidenced by the All-Star card above, I’m a sucker for photos with catcher’s gear involved.





Completed insert set – 1995 Topps League Leaders

24 06 2016

I’ve done a lot of completed insert set posts over the past few months from the late 90’s and early 2000’s.  Some of those are very cool sets, some not so much.  But since there are so many more once you get to about 1997 or 1998, they become less memorable.  If there’s 8 insert sets in a product, 1 has to really stand out to become memorable.  For example, the 2000 All-Topps Team set is a set that I generally like.  But it’s not really memorable, and since it was one of 10-12 insert sets that year, I don’t always remember it and I definitely have to look up which year it was released.

That’s not true for 1995 Topps League Leaders.  This was one of 2 insert sets that year.  Ah, for the simpler days.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  This set showcases the players among the “league leaders” from statistical categories RBI, HR, Stolen bases, average and strikeouts.  The front emphasizes the player by darkening the background in an effect I can only describe as black bubbling.  The backs show the players place in the league and in their division for that statistical category – and the player’s totals from throughout the decade.

Set composition:  50 cards.  1:6 (1995 Topps retail packs)

Hall of Famers: 10

Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, Frank Thomas, Kirby Puckett, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson

Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders is also in the set.

How I put the set together:

  • 10 cards card from my series 1 and 2 retail boxes
  • 4 cards I already had from back in the day
  • 5 cards from trades
  • 21 cards from Sportlots
  • 6 cards from Beckett
  • 3 cards from COMC
  • 1 card from eBay

Card that completed my set:  #LL44 – Chuck Knoblauch

I got this card on Sportlots last December.  There were 2 cards that really eluded me, this was the one I got last.  I bought the Craig Biggio card about 1 month before this card – had to go with a single card eBay purchase which is never ideal for a cheaper card like this.

1995 Topps League Leaders Knoblauch final card

Thoughts on the set:  Unlike the insert sets I discussed above from 2000 or after – this insert set doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.  Since it’s one of just 2 inserts in 1995 Topps (the other being the Finest total bases set), I see a card from this set and know when and where it’s from.  That’s a huge positive for me.

Is it the greatest design ever?  No, but I do like the background effect, which works particularly well with some of the photos like Knoblauch’s.  It’s a cool looking set in a binder.

Best card (my opinion):  #LL44 – Chuck Knoblauch

1995 Topps League Leaders Knoblauch final card

I guess I saved the best card for last, as far as me getting the card.  This picture captures the black bubble effect better than any other.  Sliding into a base with dirt kicking up also goes well on a card for being among the league leaders in stolen bases.

My Favorite Reds card:  #LL29 – Hal Morris

1995 Topps League Leaders Hal Morris

Unlike the 2015 Reds, the 1994 and 1995 Reds were good.  Hal Morris was 4th in the NL batting race.  Not too many inserts with him on there.  This beats out Sanders, Kevin Mitchell and Jose Rijo.

Here’s a scan of the whole set.

1995 Topps League Leaders complete

1995 Topps League Leaders complete 2

1995 Topps League Leaders complete 3

1995 Topps League Leaders complete 4

1995 Topps League Leaders complete 5

1995 Topps League Leaders complete 6

Any other Tidbits:  Frank Thomas, Albert Belle and Jeff Bagwell all have 3 cards in the set for being top 5 in the 3 triple crown categories.





Completed set – 1995 Topps

15 06 2016

I finished the 1995 Topps set.  I purchased an eBay lot in the 2nd half of last year that finished off the last few cards I’d needed for this set.  It’s been quite a while since I did one of these completed set posts – I’m glad to get it done!

Now, 1995 Topps is not one of my favorite sets.  I appreciate it more now than I did when it came out.  But at the time, I just thought the sets like Upper Deck, Collector’s Choice, Pinnacle and some other sets were much nicer.

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Info about my set:

How I put the set together:

  • 298 cards from series 1 retail box
  • 214 cards from series 2 retail box
  • 102 cards from trades
  • 41 cards I already had from back in the day
  • 4 cards from eBay
  • 1 card from Sportlots

Card that completed my set:  #446 – Andres Galarraga (one of 4 cards from that eBay lot)

1995 Topps Andres Galarraga

Set composition:  660 cards (558 individual ML player cards*, 11 All-Stars, 10 Prospects, 33 Draft Picks, 15 Future Stars, 28 On Deck, 1 Babe Ruth Tribute, 4 checklists)

*The 558 individual player cards include 10 All-Star Rookies and 13 Star Track cards

Representation of ’94 MLB season: 

The On Deck subset features dual-player cards, and the Prospects cards have 4 players, one from each level of the minor leagues.  None of the guys in the Draft Pick subset made it to the show in ’94, and nobody in the Future Star set played in the majors either.  12 players from the On Deck subset and 3 players from the Prospect set played in the majors in 1994.

There were 5 guys with regular cards who didn’t actually play in 1994.

  • Chipper Jones was going to start for the Braves in 1994, but tore his ACL in spring training.
  • Benji Gil (in the Star Track subset) started on the Rangers 1993 roster, but after playing 22 games in 1993 he spent the entire ’94 season in the minors.
  • Nigel Wilson, the first expansion draft pick by the Marlins, played in 6 games in 1993 but none in 1994.
  • Duane Ward, the Blue Jays’ closer for their 1993 World Championship, missed the whole 1994 campaign with a torn biceps.
  • Lance Blankenship had his career cut short after shoulder surgery in 1993, but had a card in 1995 as he was trying to make a comeback.
  • Ron Gant missed all of the 1994 season after a motorcycle injury.  He got a card with the Reds en route to Comeback Player of the Year.

If you add those 15 On Deck / Prospects players to the 558 base cards and subtract the 6 guys noted above, that gives you 567 players who played in the Topps set who played in MLB in 1994.  The 567 players represent 57.2% out of the 991 players who played in MLB in 1994.

Last active player from this set:  #179 – LaTroy Hawkins

1995 Topps LaTroy Hawkins

There are no players in this set that are active any more, though if I had got around to posting this when I completed it LaTroy Hawkins would have been the lone player remaining.  Hawkins played for the Rockies in the start of the 2015 season, but was released in late July.  He caught on with the Blue Jays and was an effective part of their bullpen, posting a 2.76 ERA as Toronto overtook the Yankees to win the AL East.

Hawkins’ last regular season game consisted of one batter on October 3rd – he came in and got Tim Beckham of Tampa Bay to line out to end the 7th inning.  He pitched in 3 games in the postseason, with what I can only describe as awful results.  He lost game 2 of the ALDS, giving up 2 runs, then gave up 2 more runs in game 1 of the ALCS as Kansas City extended a 3-0 lead.  Finally, in game 4 on October 20th, he gave up 3 runs in a 14-2 KCR route and couldn’t get an out.  Alex Rios singled as the last batter he faced.

Player with the most cards in the set:  22 players with 2 cards:

Every player in the All-Star subset has 2 cards.  I’m not going to scan every card of all 22 guys, but here’s the whole All-Star subset.

1995 Topps AS Subset

1995 Topps AS Subset 2

First Card and the Hundreds:  #1 – Frank Thomas, #100 – Barry Bonds, #200 – Tim Salmon, #300 – Jose Canseco, #400 – Henry Rodriguez, #500 – John Hudek, #600 – Yorkis Perez

1995 Topps 1st and 00s

In the 2nd series, Topps kind of gave up on the star factor for the double-zero cards.

Highest book value:  #588 – Cal Ripken

1995 Topps Ripken

When there’s no big rookie or first Topps card, Ripken is usually going to be the answer here.

Most notable card:  #3 – Babe Ruth TRIB

1995 Topps Ruth

I hate to go with a card of a guy who isn’t active, but this set just doesn’t have anything notable in the way of rookies or an all-time photo.  Good photos, but nothing that trumps this Ruth as far as notable.

Best card (my opinion):  #203 – Randy Johnson

1995 Topps Randy Johnson

Captures the stare as good as any card of the Big Unit.

Second best card (also my opinion):  #216 – Alex Diaz

1995 Topps Alex Diaz

Levitation.

Best subset card:  #388 – Ken Griffey Jr. / Barry Bonds AS

1995 Topps Griffey Bonds AS

The best players of the 90’s – the only Topps base card with these two 2nd-generation stars.

Favorite action photo:  #23 – Mike Devereaux

1995 Topps Mike Devereaux

This was tough because there wasn’t one standout.  I considered the Diaz from above, though it’s not the action itself.  Alex Fernandez has a really cool card where he’s shown getting an out by barely tagging a runner out at first.  And Chuck Carr has a cool card where he’s on the basepaths with a well-worn uniform.  But this Mike Devereaux card where he’s literally upside-down – it’s the best pure action shot.  You’ve got to wonder what the heck was going on, and wonder if he made the catch.  A memorable card, for sure.

Favorite non-action photo:  #126 – Eduardo Perez

1995 Topps Eduardo Perez

I’m all for props on baseball cards.  This is very Upper Deck-ish of Topps.  I wish they had done more like this.  This beats out the Orel Hershiser card that I guess is more photogenic, but seems kind of cheesy with the blue sky and clouds in the background.

My Favorite Reds card:  #350 – Barry Larkin

1995 Topps Barry Larkin

I didn’t have to think twice here – really good pic of Larkin pulling back a bunt.  Also, 1995 was his MVP year.

Other Notable Cards:  Notable can be for good or bad, and in 1995 Topps tried to get cute and modify some tricks Upper Deck had already been doing for 6 years.  That was a misguided effort in my opinion – these just look hokey and/or fake.  The one exception, for me at least, is the O’Neill, which I like because that was something that Yankee fans did.

1995 Topps Pic effects





1995 Topps parallels – Tony Gwynn

4 05 2016

1995 Topps

Card I selected:  #431 – Tony Gwynn

A 5th straight Hall of Famer for the 1995 set.  This is the fewest cards in this little project – just 2, tied with 1983.  After a three-year run, Topps Gold was retired in 1995, and it was replaced with Cyberstats.  Topps Spanish was gone after just 1 year.

I don’t particularly love this Tony Gwynn card – he has much more interesting photos in some other sets – but I chose this because of the parallel.  Cyberstats has “what if” projections for the strike-shortened 1994 season, and there’s no better player for that than Gwynn, who was at .393 when the players walked out.

# of cards (including the Topps card):  2

The parallel sets in 1995 include:

  • Cyberstats

Scans:

1995 Topps #431

1995 Topps Gwynn

1995 Topps Gwynn back

1995 Topps Cyberstats #228

1995 Topps Cyberstats Gwynn

1995 Topps Cyberstats Gwynn back

Topps only had a partial parallel of 396 (out of 660) cards set in 1995.  Since it’s only a partial, the cards are numbered differently.  Only the regular players had the parallel – no subsets.  Called Cyberstats, the parallel set used spectra light technology, where the background is darkened in a shadowed / metallic finish.  As you can tell, the back is very different.  Since the ’94 season had ended in a strike, Topps ran a computer simulation of all the games that were canceled.  In the simulation, Gwynn did not quite get to .400, coming in at .391.

The “Rainbow”:

1995 Topps Gwynn rainbow

Any sets I didn’t get:  That’s it.  There was a National Packtime promotion that had 3 Topps cards in it, but I consider those promos (not parallels) and got them as part of my master set.

Other cards I would have liked to do:  Barry Bonds would have been cool since he tied Roger Maris’ home run record in the simulation.  Aside from that, Roberto Alomar had his 3rd straight phenomenal photo and Darren Daulton and Mike Devereaux had really cool shots as well.





Completed insert set – 1995 Topps Finest Inserts

29 09 2014

After their only standard inserts in 1993 and 1994 were the Black Gold cards, Topps had two inserts in 1995.  One of them was based on the Finest technology.  It’s technically just called Topps Finest on the packs, but this set is often called Total Bases to distinguish it from the actual 1995 Topps Finest product.

Info about the set:

Set description:  This set uses finest based technology on the front of the card, with a player photo on a silver background. His name and team are at the bottom in a color that matches the player’s team. The set features top 15 players in total bases from the 1994 season in order of how they finished.  The horizontal backs show another player photo with statistics breaking down total bases by hit.

Set composition:  15 cards.  1:36 (1995 Topps series 2)

Hall of Famers: 3

Frank Thomas, Tony Gwynn, Kirby Puckett

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from my wax box
  • 14 cards from COMC/Sportlots

Thoughts on the set:  I generally like most Topps Finest designs, and I also love when an insert is a specific theme and Topps sticks to it.  And I really like this design not particularly crazy about this design, however – it looks more like Topps Chrome than Finest to me.  Also – I hate the peel or don’t peel thing that Topps did back then.  As you can see from my scans – some of them have been peeled – some haven’t!  But, overall – it’s a very nice set with some 1990’s goodness.  One of the few Finest sets with no refractor versions.

What do you think – should I peel all of them?

Card that completed my set:  #13 – Kirby Puckett

I got this from COMC back in November in their black Friday sale.

Highest book value:  #7 – Barry Bonds

Best card (my opinion):  #3 – Ken Griffey Jr.

A tremendous card of my favorite player.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

1995 Topps Finest insert set

1995 Topps Finest insert set_0001





Completed insert set – 1995 Topps Traded At the Break Power Booster

25 09 2014

Continuing with a bunch of the completed insert sets that I’ve neglected – I’ve moved on from the more recent Topps sets to sets that are actually in my Lifetime Topps project.  This one I completed almost a year ago.  This is actually a Topps Traded insert – though you could technically say this is a partial parallel set.

Info about the set:

Set description:  The first 10 cards of the ’95 Traded made up a subset called “At the Break”.  The cards have the wording “At the Break” split by a baseball on the left side with a wood design with the player name and team logo at the bottom.   Topps created refractor versions of the same cards and inserted them 1 per box.  They are printed on much thicker stock with diffraction (“power boost” background.  The card backs have a head shot and mid-season statistics for the player.

Set composition:  10 cards

Inserted:  1995 Topps Traded packs.  1:36 odds.

Hall of Famers: 3

Frank Thomas, Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn,

How I put the set together:

  • 1 from my ’95 Traded Wax box
  • 9 from online card dealers

Thoughts on the set:  It’s a cool set.  I like the thicker card stock, and the refractor like technology is pretty nice, too.  I kind of wish it wasn’t just the first 10 cards of the set – but I also like the idea of having “mid-year” stats on the back of cards in a Traded set.  Topps could do something like that these days and I would like it.  I also like that the first three cards are Thomas, Griffey and Bonds – the three best hitters of the 1990’s!

Card that completed my set:  #2 – Ken Griffey Jr.

I got this card from COMC back in November as part of their Black Friday promotion.

Highest book value:  #5 – Cal Ripken

Best card (my opinion):  #2 – Ken Griffey Jr.

Griffey or Mo Vaughn have the best photos in this set.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.  Though Barry Larkin would have been appropriate since this was his MVP season.

1995 Topps Traded ATB Power Boosters

1995 Topps Traded ATB Power Boosters_0001