Completed insert set – 2002 Topps Ring Masters

9 11 2016

Don’t worry, regardless of the political landscape, the world hasn’t ended!  I completed an insert set!  Grant it, it was over a year ago, but I can still post about it now!  Yes, it looks like Trump is the Ring Master in the election, but the guys below are the Ring Masters from the 2002 insert set.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  This insert set honors players with championship rings to their credit.  The cards have a blue background and a bit of starburst with a larger version of the same photo.  It’s hard to describe but it you look at it you’ll see what I’m saying.  The cards are super thick!  The back has a write-up with even more blue.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:25 (2002 Topps series 2)

Hall of Famers:  1. Just Greg Maddux.  Others forthcoming.

How I put the set together:

  • 3 cards from Sportlots
  • 7 cards from COMC

Thoughts on the set:  There’s some weird stuff going on – there are some omissions I don’t understand.  Like why is nobody from the recently crowned Diamondbacks on here.  I’d have included Johnson, Schilling, and then some Yankees with a boatload of rings over Mike Mussina who didn’t have any.  Selfishly – I’d have liked to see Barry Larkin in here.  Or Rickey Henderson.  That said – the thick cards are very nice.

Out of my 25 – they only included 8 – I think most of mine would are much better than what they did include.  I’d also have gone chronologically with the set.  Still, a very cool set either way you look at it.

Card that completed my set: #RM10 – Paul O’Neill

2002 Topps Ring Masters front

I got this card from COMC last July.  And by last July I mean 2015.  When Donald Trump wasn’t even a thought as a political candidate!  I don’t know

Best card (my opinion): #RM1 – Derek Jeter


Paul O’Neill both had 5 rings when this set was released.  Jeter had 4 but would end up with 5.  I also think this is the best photo.  So he wins.

Best Reds card (my opinion): there are none.  O’Neill won 1 of his 4 rings with the

Here’s the whole set.


2002 Topps Ring Masters front

Any other tidbits:  I’m not sure why Mike Mussina is in this bucket.  He never won a World Series.  Aside from him, the other 9 guys won a combined 20 rings.  It was 19 at the time of this set – Jeter won with the 2009 Yankees and every other title was before 2001.


Completed insert set – 2002 Topps ’52 Reprints

10 07 2016

Starting in 1996, Topps decided they were going to do a reprint set every year.  From ’96 through 2000, they did reprints of a specific player.  In 2001 they did a “through the years” reprint set.  In 2002, they focused on 50 years earlier – ’52 reprints of guys who were in the 1952 World Series.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  This set reprints certain Dodgers and Yankees, from the 1952 set – because they matched up in the World Series that year.  There is a special gold foil World Series logo stamped in the top right corner on the front of the card.  Unlike the previous flagship reprint sets, these cards have a gold foil border.  The set was inserted across both series.

Set composition:  19 cards, 1:25 (2002 Topps)

Hall of Famers:  6

Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Johnny Mize, Phil Rizzuto, Jackie Robinson, Yogi Berra

How I put the set together:

  • 3 cards from my series 1 and 2 hobby boxes
  • 10 cards from Beckett’s Marketplace
  • 3 cards from Sportlots
  • 3 cards from COMC

Card that completed my set:  #52R-10 – Jackie Robinson

2002 Topps 52 Reprints Jackie Robinson

This was one of 3 cards I got from COMC in the Black Friday sale last year – purchased in November, showed up in December.

Thoughts on the set:  In contrast to the 2001 reprint set, which was just “let’s throw a bunch of reprints together”, I’d rather have reprint sets like this. It has a theme that makes sense.  It’s 50 years after the 1952 World Series, that was an iconic card set, let’s do cards of the guys who played in that series.  I like the gold border to distinguish it, too.

Best card (my opinion):  #52R-4 – Andy Pafko

2002 Topps 52 Reprints Pafko

He’s card #1 in the ’52 Topps set, so his card has a later number here.  I was between this and the Duke Snider card, which I really like.  I think I went with this just because it was so notable as card #1.

Here’s a scan of the whole set.

2002 Topps 52 Reprints complete

2002 Topps 52 Reprints complete 2

2002 Topps 52 Reprints Bauer

Any other tidbits:  Pafko has a black back – every other card has a red back.  In the original set, the first 80 cards were printed in both colors.

There are 8 Dodgers and 11 Yankees in the set.  There aren’t Chrome versions inserted in the regular Topps Flagship sets.  However, you can find Chrome and refractor versions in the Topps Chrome product.

Ralph Houk is in this set.  He won 2 World Series with the Yankees as skipper Casey Stengel’s replacement in 1961, but he had less than 200 at bats in his major league career.  It’s kind of amazing he had a card in the 1952 set – he had 9 at bats in 1952, and 1 AB in the World Series.

Completed insert set – 2002 Topps East Meets West

22 05 2016

I have a card of Jalen Rose and Glen Rice from a set called “East Meets West”.  This is not that set – but it goes by the same name.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  East Meets West was an interesting set that was inserted into series 1 of 2002 Topps.  It was a reaction to the increasing number of Japanese players signing to MLB contracts – following the lead of Hideo Nomo and Ichiro.  And Masanori Murakami from a far earlier day.  The set is based on Masanori Murakami’s dual player Topps rookie card from 1965.  Murakami stays put on the right side of the card while other Japanese-born ballplayers like Nomo are on to the left side.

Set composition:  8 cards, 1:24 (2002 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  None in Cooperstown.  But Kaz Sasaki and Hideo Nomo have both been inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

How I put the set together:

  • 3 cards from my series 1 hobby box
  • 3 cards from Sportlots
  • 2 from Beckett

Thoughts on the set:  Today, the idea of retro designs has become a little more played out than it used to be, and it would have been better if it came on some sort of anniversary of Murakami’s card.  Like in 2005 – 40 years after the card.  Or 2004 – 40 years after his debut.  Also, I’m not sure why Ichiro wasn’t included.

But it’s still a cool set.  At the time, the Japanese influx was very much a new thing in baseball.  And while there’s no Ichiro, there’s the original guy in this wave – Hideo Nomo.

Card that completed my set: #EW-HI – Hideki Irabu / Masanori Murakami

2002 Topps East West Nomo Irabu

I got this in a Beckett Marketplace purchase last September.

Best card (my opinion): #EW-HN – Hideo Nomo / Masanori Murakami

2002 Topps East West Nomo Murakami

Can’t beat 2 originals.  Murakami was the first Japanese player to perform in MLB, but the 2nd player didn’t come for another 30 years.  It was Nomo who paved the way for Nippon League players to come to the states.  It’s not a perfect analogy, but Murakami is kind of like Moses Fleetwood Walker, whereas Nomo is akin to Jackie Robinson.

All that said, this is clearly the best card in the set.

My favorite Reds card:  There are none.  The Reds signed Aroldis Chapman a few years back, but have generally been pretty quiet as far as signing foreign-born players.

Here’s a scan of the full set.

2002 Topps East West complete

Any other tidbits:  The current players replace Dick Estelle on the left side of the card.  Estelle was a fellow Giants rookie with Murakami in 1964.  Like Murakami, he also only lasted into 1965.  For his career, he went 1-2 with a 3.23 ERA.

2002 Topps parallels – Vlad Guerrero (and Chone Figgins) – some hunting left to do

14 05 2016

2002 Topps

Card I selected:  #100 – Vladimir Guerrero

I went back and forth a bit on who to pick here – basically determined by the Kanebo Silver card I could find.  I found a Sammy Sosa quite a while ago and bought it.  But I don’t love Sosa’s card and he’s far from my favorite player, too.  I bought the Kanebo packs mentioned in my last post, and pulled one silver card – of Vlad the Impaler.  I love this card, and Vlad has always been a cool player.  I’d much rather have him in this parallel set!

I have one more card to go to finish off the 2002 parallels.  Chrome introduced the rarer Black Refractors in 2002, and I just haven’t found one yet.  Not surprising that I have had trouble tracking down a card numbered to 50 from 14 years ago…

# of cards (including the Topps card):  11

The parallel sets in 2002 include:

  • Gold
  • Home Team Advantage
  • Limited
  • Kanebo
  • Kanebo Silver
  • Opening Day
  • Chrome
  • Chrome Gold Refractors
  • Chrome Black Refractors
  • Chrome Refractors (Traded only)


2002 Topps #100

2002 Topps Vlad Guerrero

2002 Topps Vlad Guerrero back

2002 Topps Gold #100

2002 Topps Gold Vlad Guerrero

2002 Topps Gold Vlad Guerrero back

Topps Gold was back for its second straight year with a shiny foil border.  Numbering Topps Gold to the current year – #/2002 – is a trend Topps has kept to this day.  In 2002 it was only a partial parallel, though of most of the set.  There were 58 cards that didn’t have gold parallels – basically any of the full bleed subsets and the Barry Bonds 73 HR card.  The gold border was a little weirder in 2002 – as the base cards themselves had a gold/orange border.

2002 Topps Home Team Advantage #100

2002 Topps HTA Vlad Guerrero

2002 Topps Vlad Guerrero back

Cards from hobby factory sets got a stamp to special “Home Team Advantage” logo to designate them.

2002 Topps Limited #100

2002 Topps Limited Vlad Guerrero

2002 Topps Vlad Guerrero back

Limited Edition factory sets were back, coming in a wood box and a stated production run of 1,950 (though the cards themselves weren’t numbered).  These cards are stamped with the words “Limited Edition” in the bottom right.

2002 Topps Kanebo #6

2002 Topps Kanebo Silver #6

2002 Kanebo Topps Vlad Guerrero

2002 Kanebo Topps Vlad Guerrero back

2002 Kanebo silver Vlad Guerrero

2002 Kanebo Topps Silver Vlad Guerrero back

Now I’m getting to some hard to find cards.  This Japanese parallel of the 2002 Topps set was actually issued in 2003.  The regular Kanebo cards are pretty tough to find themselves, but at any given point they pop up on eBay.  Topps issued the cards in Japan in conjunction with Kanebo, a Japanese manufacturer of gum and plenty of other products.  There are 55 cards in the set.  The front of the card is basically the same, just without the gold foil on the name and the Topps logo.  The backs are completely in Japanese, have different numbering since they’re a partial parallel, and have a Kanebo logo in the bottom right hand corner.

There’s actually a black parallel that’s even harder to find and I’m just not including it here.  I’d love to add the Vlad to my parallel collection, but I’ve only seen 1 or 2 ever for sale and it would be pure luck if the particular player showed up.

2002 Topps Opening Day #29


Opening Day was back for the 5th time.  Again, it’s a 165 card set that could only be found in retail outlets.  The border is brown instead of the orange/gold of the flagship set, and there is a foil Opening Day logo at the bottom.  The photos are the same as the base Topps set.  Naturally, the back has a different number.

2002 Topps Chrome #100

2002 Topps Chrome Vlad Guerrero

2002 Topps Chrome Vlad Guerrero back

Topps Chrome was here for its 7th year as a nearly, but not quite, full parallel.  Released in 2 series just like Topps, Chrome reproduced the first 695 cards of the regular Topps set using the chromium technology.  The other differences on the front are the Topps Chrome logo and the fact that the border is silver.  The back of the card is the same as the regular set except for the Topps Chrome logo and slightly different copyright wording.  The numbering is the same.  It’s kind of weird that the back is gold but the front is silver.

2002 Topps Chrome Gold Refractors #100

2002 Topps Chrome Gold Refractor Vlad Guerrero

2002 Topps Chrome Gold Refractor Vlad Guerrero back

Refractors were back, and they weren’t retrofractors this time.  But the regular season version of 2002 Topps Chrome didn’t have regular refractors – only gold refractors.  That makes an interesting twist to my collection here.  The back points out that it’s a refractor.

2002 Topps Chrome Black Refractors #100


Black Refractors made their first appearance in 2002.  They were very rare, which is why I haven’t been able to snag one yet.

2002 Topps Chrome Traded Refractors #T196

Vlad doesn’t have a card in the 2002 Topps Traded set, so I’m just using the card of Chone Figgins that I pulled.  They would be teammates soon after these cards came out.

The “Rainbow”:


Any sets I didn’t get:  I didn’t include the black Kanebo cards above.  I’ve never seen that card for anyone but Magglio Ordoñez and So Taguchi, so while I think the card of Guerrero probably does exist, it’s unlikely I’ll ever find it.

Other cards I would have liked to do:  As I mentioned, I originally was going to go with Sosa because I found a silver Kanebo card of his.  Other than that, Vlad seems like one of the best cards in the set.  There are 55 guys in the Kanebo set, and most – but not all – are in Opening Day – so the population here is probably around 45 guys you could get all of the flagship Topps cards.  Raul Mondesi, Johnny Damon and Cliff Floyd are the 3 players who have all of the cards above – including a Topps Traded card.

2002 Topps Kanebo packs

13 05 2016

This Japanese parallel of the 2002 Topps set has always intrigued me since I read about it.  But these cards are hard to find.  They were issued in 2003 based on the copyright, and that’s how Beckett lists them.  But they’re parallels to the 2002 Topps set, so I consider this issue to be 2002 cards.  Topps issued the cards in Japan in conjunction with Kanebo, a Japanese company that I believe is a gum manufacturer there.  Kanebo also makes cards on their own of players from the Nippon Japanese league.  In this set, there are 55 cards, most of them done in the same design and photo as 2002 Topps.  The backs are completely in Japanese.

2002 Kanebo Tim Salmon back

There is also a parallel to the 2003 set that Beckett lists as series 2.  I’d just consider that 2003 Kanebo, though they seem to be quite a bit harder to find.  There are 110 of the 2003 cards.

You will see a few singles of these cards on eBay or COMC every now and then, and I’ve picked up a few here and there to see what they look like.  But in February, I found some packs of the 2002 version on eBay and pulled the trigger.  They were 11 bucks each, so not cheap considering you only get 3 cards per pack.

2002 Kanebo pack

The silver cards have odds I got one silver card – Vladimir Guerrero in one of my favorite photos from the 2002 Topps set.  I’ve read that these come 1 every 10 packs, so a pretty good pull if that’s the case.  There are also black parallels that I’ve almost never seen, they must be even tougher.

2002 Kanebo silver Vlad Guerrero

For each year in my Lifetime Topps project, I try to put together as many parallels of one card as possible.  I’ll be going for Vlad for 2002.  I do really like the photo here, so it’s a good one to go for.

Here are the 9 cards I got in the packs.

2002 Kanebo cards from 3 packs

Completed insert set – 2002 Topps ’52 World Series

26 03 2016

I’m sort of catching up to the timeline of when I finished these sets.  The last few were in May of last year – this one I finished up in June :).  This was a pretty small set, so it’s not surprising that I finished this set up only about a month after opening my 2002 boxes up.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  50 years after a true “Fall Classic”, Topps put together a 7-card insert set in honor of the 1952 Fall Classic.  It’s somewhat reminiscent of the World Series sets from the 1960’s, where Topps would have a subset highlighting what went down in the previous year’s World Series.  This was done in the 1952 Topps design, and it walks through the 7 games where the Yankees, yet again, denied the Brooklyn Dodgers the chance to rule New York and the baseball world.

Set composition:  7 cards, 1:6 hobby odds (2010 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  6.

Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider were all in the game 1 starting lineup and are featured on the first card.  Casey Stengel is on cards #6 and #7, and Yogi Berra is on card #7 (though you can’t see his face).

How I put the set together:

  • 3 cards from my 2 hobby boxes
  • 4 cards from Sportlots

Card that completed my set:  #52WS-3 – Dodgers Celebrate Game 3 Win

2002 Topps 52 WS game 3

I got the last card from Sportlots in June last year.

Thoughts on the set:  Today it seems like Topps had overdone the ’52 design, but in 2002 that probably wasn’t the case.  So I try to keep that in mind.  This is a cool insert for 2002, and it goes well with the 1952 reprints of Dodger and Yankee players from series 1.

The series went 7 games.  The Dodgers won game 1, and then the teams traded wins through game 6.  Joe Black of the Dodgers made his 3rd start in game 7, after splitting with Allie Reynolds in his first two starts.  Reynolds pitched the end of game 6 to preserve a 3-2 lead, so it was Eddie Lopat taking the ball in game 7 for the Bronx Bombers.  Black gave up what would be the game-winning run in the 6th via a Mickey Mantle homer.  Reynolds came back out for his 4th appearance of the series, earning the win after holding the Dodgers scoreless for the last 3 innings.

Best card (my opinion): #52WS-7 – Reynolds Relieves Lopat in Game 7

2002 Topps 52 WS front

In a set like this, you have to go with the game 7 card.

Here’s a scan of the full set.

2002 Topps 52 WS complete

2002 Topps 52 WS game 7

Any other tidbits:  Like I said, this set was reminiscent of the early 60’s World Series subsets, except the timing is off if you think about it.  The ’52 design would need to be for the 1951 series.

2002 Topps Traded Autographs & Memorabilia

16 06 2015

I wish I had some legitimate scans to show off in this post, but unfortunately my 2002 Topps Traded box was devoid of any relics or autographs!  So I’ll be swiping pictures off the internet.

Signature Moves – (26 cards, 1:91)

2002 Topps Traded Signature Moves Johnny Damon

Signature Moves were autographed cards that were unique to the Traded set.  Most of the guys in this set were rookies or prospects, however there were a few traded players like Johnny Damon.

Team Topps Legends Autographs – (various cards, 1:1,097)

There were also “Team Topps Legends” autographs, which was a promotion across all of Topps products in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

There were 5 different memorabilia sets, though some of them are pretty similar.

Tools of the Trade Relics – 35 cards (1:33 bat / 1:426 jersey)

Tools of the Trade Dual Relics – 3 cards (1:539)

The main memorabilia set was called Tools of the Trade.  The jersey cards aren’t actually more rare on a per-card basis – it’s just that only 3 of the 35 players had jerseys inserted.

2002 Topps Traded Tools of the Trade Ruben Sierra

There was also a dual version for 3 players that supposedly had jerseys from the guys previous and current team – but this looks like a bit of a fail on Topps part to me.

2002 Topps Traded Tools of the Trade Dual Moises Alou

Hall of Fame Bat Relic – 1 card (1:1,533)

Farewell Bat Relic – 1 card (1:590)

There was a relic honoring the Hall of Fame inductee for the 2nd straight year – this was for Ozzie Smith, who was the only inductee in 2002.  The previous year had Puckett & Winfield on a dual relic.

2002 Topps Traded Hall Relic Ozzie Smith

The second tribute relic was a farewell card.  The previous year, it was Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn.  In 2002, it was the “equally revered” Jose Canseco.

2002 Topps Traded Farewell Relic Jose Canseco