Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Interleague Mystery Finest

4 06 2016

This set takes a concept Topps had used in 1996, another it had used in 1997 and merged them.  The idea of Mystery Finest cards first came around in 1995 in football, and had its first baseball application in 1996.  There weren’t any Mystery Finest cards in 1997, but there were cards made in honor of the beginning of interleague play.  This 1998 set combined those two “Finest” themes for the 1998 Topps Interleague Mystery Finest set.  That’s a mouthful!

Info about the set:

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Set description:  These cards have Finest-based technology, but when you pulled the cards, the fronts have a black coating.  There are 4 players on the back from 2 teams who played in interleague play in 1997, with a write-up about how they did in the series.  One of those 4 guys is the mystery player on the front – you need to peel the coating to figure out which player you have.  After you’ve peeled, the fronts have a silver background with stars in the design and the background faded.  The player’s name is on the bottom.  There are 20 cards – so only 5 matchups available.

Set composition:  20 cards, 1:36 odds (1998 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  6. Cal Ripken, Greg Maddux, Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Mike Piazza, Frank Thomas.

How I put the set together:

  • 1 cards from my series 1 hobby box
  • 9 cards from Beckett’s Marketplace
  • 7 cards from COMC
  • 3 cards from Sportlots

Card that completed my set: #ILM-16 – Tim Salmon

1998 Topps Interleague Mystery Finest Tim Salmon final card

I got this card from Sportlots in December, 2015, when I was going a bit crazy with Black Friday sales.

Thoughts on the set:  I’m usually a little bit wary with inserts in flagship that have the same name and technology as another Topps product.  But aside from that, this is a cool idea with the Mystery Finest.  When I opened my series 1 box from 1998, I got to peel a card.  It was like a little more fun after I was done opening packs.  The interleague info is interesting, and the design, while not my favorite, isn’t bad.  like the design, I like matching up players from two different leagues.  I like that the theme was very relevant at the time – Inter-league play was about to start.  In its first year, inter-league play matched up teams from the parallel division – so you’d have true rivals on these cards.  Remember when inter-league play first came out how awesome that was?  Cincinnati is matched up with Cleveland in the battle of Ohio.  Baltimore was matched up with Philadelphia – a natural rivalry 2 hours away!  Kansas City versus St. Louis – a rematch of the 1985 I-70 series!  Dodgers versus the Angels for LA supremacy!  And of course – Yankees versus the Mets!

Best card (my opinion): #ILM-20 – Albert Belle

1998 Topps Interleague Mystery Finest Belle

I sometimes forget Belle played for the White Sox, and was a helluva 1-2 punch with the Big Hurt.  I like this card.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.


Here are both sides of the cards.  You can tell by the scan, the KC / St. Louis card is actually a refractor.  I ordered a regular card and got that, but I didn’t feel like sending it back to the seller for a rarer version:)

1998 Topps Interleague Mystery set

1998 Topps Interleague Mystery set 2

1998 Topps Interleague Mystery set 3

Any other tidbits:  Here is a list of guys in both this set and the 1997 Interleague Finest set.  That’s 8 out of a possible 10, with the Yankees and Rockies being the teams with cards in the 1998 set who had different players in the 1997 set.  And Albert Belle was the Indians’ guy in 1997.

  • Frank Thomas
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Tim Salmon
  • Mike Piazza
  • Todd Hundley
  • Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Chipper Jones
  • Cal Ripken
  • Albert Belle (Indians in 1997)

Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Flashback

25 05 2016

Continuing on with the completed set posts.  This is my favorite insert set from 1998 Topps.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  These cards show veterans who have been around for a decade or more (counting 1998), showing a current picture on the front and a rookie-year photo on the back.  Each side has a different design.  The front has some serious foil effect over the background, while the back has more of an old-school feel.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:72 odds (1998 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  5.  Ken Griffey Jr., Paul Molitor, Randy Johnson, Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn.

Actually, it’s 6 – Deion Sanders is in the pro football HOF.

How I put the set together:

  • 5 cards from COMC
  • 2 cards from trades
  • 2 cards from Sportlots
  • 1 card from Beckett’s marketplace

I didn’t get any from the box I opened – basically I got the “other” box as you got one in every other box.

Thoughts on the set:  As I mentioned above, this is my favorite insert from 1998 Topps.  Topps could take some note and do a few more like this – only 10 cards, so each cards is more meaningful.  Cool design, cool theme.  I can’t ask for more.

Card that completed my set:  #FB10 – Brady Anderson

I got this card from Beckett’s website in June of last year.  This was a tough set to finish off.

Best card (my opinion):  #FB2 – Paul Molitor

Molitor is the elder statesman in this group, so he has to win best card here.

My Favorite Reds card:  #FB7 – Deion Sanders

Imagine if they’d have thrown him in a Falcons uniform on the back!


Here’s a scan of the set – front and back.

1998 Topps Flashback complete

1998 Topps Flashback Brady Anderson

1998 Topps Flashback complete back

1998 Topps Flashback Brady Anderson back

Any other tidbits:  Three of the ten players were on the same team on the front and back – Griffey, Gwynn and Ripken.

Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Mystery Finest Bordered

17 05 2016

I’m caught up with those posts about parallel sets.  I’m kind of sad that I can’t keep going, but I haven’t opened the 2005 boxes yet, so I don’t know who I’m going to collect for those parallels.  Next up on this blog – I need to keep getting caught up on completed set posts.  I just checked, and I have over 25 sets that I’ve completed but not posted about yet.  Mostly inserts, but a few Topps base sets.  So that’s what will be on here for the most part over the next month or so.  Until Topps series 2 comes out, at least.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  Topps had a new take on Mystery Finest cards in series 2 of the 1998 set.  Unlike previous years, where the “mystery” was which player out of 3 you could find, you could tell which player you were getting by looking at the back of these cards.  However, the “mystery” in this case was which version of the card you pulled.  There were 4 versions – bordered and borderless cards, and a refractor version of each type.

I went for the bordered version of this set, which is the easiest to pull.  The front has a full-body shot of the player, with the background obscured by a giant translucent baseball that has lines emanating out from it.  The back has another color picture with a write-up about the player’s 1997 season.

Set composition:  20 cards, 1:36 odds (1998 Topps series 2)


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

And a few more guys who might make it in over the next few years.

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from my series 2 hobby box
  • 7 cards from Sportlots
  • 8 cards from Check Out My Cards
  • 3 cards from Beckett’s Marketplace

Thoughts on the set:  I don’t like this design quite as much as the series 1 Mystery Finest cards.  But the idea is cool – when I pulled one in my 1998 box, it was cool to do the peel and see which version I got.  Also, I think this design actually lends itself a little more to a base set than an insert set.

Card that completed my set:  #M-20 – Ken Griffey Jr.

1998 Topps Mystery Finest Bordered Griffey Jr

I got this from Beckett Marketplace last September.

Best card (my opinion):  #M-2 – Chipper Jones, M-18 – Andruw Jones

1998 Topps s2 Mystery Finest bordered

The two “Jones brothers” to me have the 2 photos that work best with the design for this set.  I couldn’t pick between the two.  It was actually tough to pick this over Griffey when he was at the height of his powers – but these photos work great.

My Favorite Reds card:  As was often the case for inserts from this era – there were none.


Here’s the scan of the full set.

1998 Topps Mystery Finest Bordered complete

1998 Topps Mystery Finest Bordered complete 2

1998 Topps Mystery Finest Bordered complete 3

Any other tidbits:  The write-ups on the back had some interesting factoids about the players’ 1997 seasons.  The most interesting point I read was on the back of the card for Greg Maddux.  Maddux walked 20 batters in the 1997 season – barely above his win total (19) for the year.

1998 Topps parallels – Barry Larkin (some hunting left to do)

8 05 2016

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, though the refractor wording on the regular sets is nowhere to be found.

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 Etch-a-Sketch

27 03 2016

I completed another insert set from 1998 Topps.  This is the Etch-A-Sketch insert.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  This nine-card set features drawings by artist George Vlosich III done on an etch-a-sketch and put onto cardboard.

Set composition:  9 cards, 1:36 odds (1998 Topps series 1)

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

More than half the set, which is pretty good for a 1998 set.

How I put the set together:

  • 1 cards from my series 1 hobby box
  • 1 card from a trade
  • 1 card from Beckett’s marketplace
  • 2 cards from Sportlots
  • 4 cards from COMC

Thoughts on the set:  Really cool idea.  I have to give credit for thinking outside the box.  There’s a guy who’s awesome at Etch-a-Sketch.  Topps used his drawings to make a set of cards.  Honestly, it seems like better ideas than they have in today’s world.

Card that completed my set: #ES6 – Mike Piazza

98 Topps Etch front

I got this card from COMC last March.  So this completed set has been a year in wait!

Best card (my opinion): #ES2 – Barry Bonds

1998 Topps s1 Etch a Sketch Bonds

This is 2 straight 1998 sets where I’ve picked Bonds as the best card.  Somehow it seems like this could be a bad idea.  But I think the drawing of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background is really cool, plus the drawing really looks like Bonds where some of the others are a bit “sketchy”.  This is also the card I got in my box – maybe that helps!

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

Here’s the scan of all 9 cards:

1998 Topps Etch a Sketch complete

Any other tidbits:  The kid who started doing this is no longer a kid, and he’s still at it.  Here’s his website.

Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Clout Nine

24 03 2016

This is my 4th completed insert set from 1998 Topps.  Though I got so behind on these completed set posts that I actually have 4 more I’ve completed but not posted about yet.  I’m catching up, though!  Clout Nine is a 9-card set that fits nicely into a binder page.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  Inserted into series 2 packs, Clout Nine features a player at each position (DH but not pitcher) who had the highest OPS in baseball for that position in 1997.  The player is featured in the center and there’s a head shot of the other 8 players down the 2 sides.  There is a cloud background.  The back of the card has more clouds, a picture of the player, and a list of the top 10 at each position.

Set composition: 9 cards, 1:72 odds (1998 Topps series 2)

Hall of Famers:  4.  Frank Thomas, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Ken Griffey Jr.

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from my series 2 hobby box
  • 4 cards from COMC
  • 2 cards from Sportlots
  • 2 card from Beckett’s marketplace

Card that completed my set: #C9 – Larry Walker

1998 Topps Clout 9 Walker

I got this card from COMC all the way back in June of last year.  Walker actually was the MLB leader in OPS in 1997, by 102 points over Piazza.

Thoughts on the set:  This set has kind of grown on me.  At first it seemed like filler, but now I kind of like the cloud background.  The premise is really cool – I’m surprised Topps was so progressive to use OPS back in 1998.  Finally, the fact that it’s 9 cards is underrated.  I wish Topps did things like this more often.  Having a 9-card set that fits perfectly into a binder is really nice.  Much nicer than a 10-card set, which is the most annoying thing you can do.


Best card (my opinion): #C7 – Barry Bonds

1998 Topps Clout 9 Bonds

You may not like Bonds, but I don’t harbor as much ill will as others do toward him.  And I do like this photo the best.  Plus, this was pre-steroids!

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

Here’s a scan of the set.  All in 1 page!

1998 Topps Clout 9 complete

Any other tidbits:  Mark McGwire had the highest OPS out of players who didn’t make this set.  His OPS was 1.039, 31 points behind Frank Thomas for the 1st base card.  This was also the last year Thomas played more at first than as the DH.

Todd Stottlemyre would have been the top pitcher if they did a pitchers’ card.  He had an excellent .333 OBP and a .345 Slugging percentage for a .679 OPS.

Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Roberto Clemente Reprints

31 12 2015

I’ve still got a ton of completed set posts to go through, but on New Year’s Eve, this set seems like the most appropriate.  43 years ago today, Roberto Clemente died while on a flight to bring relief aid to victims of a massive earthquake in Nicaragua.

Info about the set:

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 1.  The 10 odd years come in series 1, while the 9 even years come in series 2.  There is a gold Clemente logo, created

Set composition:  19 cards, 1:18 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:

  • 4 cards from my 2 1998 hobby boxes
  • 5 cards from Beckett Marketplace
  • 10 cards from COMC

Card that completed my set:  #18 – 1972 Topps

I bought the last cards I needed from COMC back in May.

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.  This wasn’t the first set like this, but it was still a great idea at this point in time.

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

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).

1998 Topps Clemente Reprint complete

1998 Topps Clemente Reprint complete_0001

1998 Topps Clemente 1973 Reprint


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