Finishing off a promo set… sort of

20 05 2020

I have kind of neglected a set of posts I started 3 or 4 years back.  Neglected in that I didn’t post them, not that I was necessarily not making progress on the subject.  I started doing posts called the “Elusive Eight”, as a method to show which cards have proved particularly… Elusive … in tracking down.  The 1995 Topps Promo spectralite parallel version of Travis Fryman has been on the list since day 1!  I’ve had eBay searches for this card for at 7 years.  I check COMC, Beckett and Sportlots every month or two (at a minimum).  I’ve tried other… less acceptable… means.   Just kidding, really just those first two things.

One of the eBay searches came up in my email a month ago.  And it looked promising, it’s a Travis Fryman spectralite card.  It is numbered PP5!  It has “pre-production sample” in the 1994 stat line!  OK!

Except, as noted in the eBay auction that I bought it from – it’s a Proof.  It doesn’t have the gold foil on the front!

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades… and occasionally in baseball card collecting.  At least this particular baseball card set for me at least!  I’m counting this bad boy.  The promo sets came one per pack of 1994 Topps, with 9 of the regular promos and one spectralite version.  I could keep buying up those factory sets until I got one, but that didn’t seem as prudent to me as paying $5.31 for this card (plus $2 shipping) and calling this set, and the 1995 Topps Master set, finito!

Here’s a scan of all the promo sets.





Completed insert set – 2016 Topps Archives Bull Durham

5 05 2020

As I mentioned on the last post, I finished up two insert sets from 2016 Topps Archives via a Black Friday COMC purchase and I’m just now getting around to posting them.  This was a set in honor of the Bull Durham movie in the 1988 Topps design.  Great idea!  The Execution?

Info about the set:

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Set description: The big thing for Archives this year was the inclusion of insert cards from the movie Bull Durham.  Since the movie came out in 1988, Topps used the 1988 design.

Here’s my previous post on the set at the time I bought the product.

Set composition:  7 cards, 1:12 (2016 Topps Archives)

Hall of Famers: Not really applicable, but Tim Robbins has won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (Mystic River).

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from my hobby box
  • 1 card from a trade
  • 4 cards from COMC

Card that completed my set:  #BD-NL – Nuke Laloosh

I got 3 cards last year on Black Friday from COMC, I’m trying to conserve scans so I’ll go with this as the one that counts!

Thoughts on the set:  As I mentioned, great idea.  But come on Topps! Not putting the 2 main characters in the set?  And you do have a small number of autographs available?  That’s f*cking stupid!  So it’s not like they didn’t have the rights to use Kevin Costner or Susan Sarandon, they just wanted to drive hype by only having their autograph cards.

Honestly, that kind of thing is what I don’t love about the baseball card hobby these days.  Selling lottery tickets to pay for the rest of the product.

Best card (my opinion):  #BD-NL – Nuke Laloosh

I think you have to include the only one who qualifies as a star of the movie to make the set!

My Favorite Reds card:  N/A for this set

Any other tidbits:  I’ve posted a lot about this move on this blog.  This set is a pretty good alternative that does have Crash Davis and Annie Savoy.

Also – they put this guy in the 2013 Archives product, would have been pretty cool if they just randomly reprinted his 1988 card and added it to this 2016 set for no reason!





Completed insert set – 2016 Topps Archives Father Son

3 05 2020

I finished up a few 2016 Topps Archives inserts from my Black Friday COMC purchase and I’m finally getting around to posting them!  There were 2 sets that were “low hanging fruit” of that release and I got the Francona Father-Son card to finish this bad boy up.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  One of two 1985 subsets that were recreated in 2016 Topps Archives, the father/son cards from 1985 were numbered 131-143 in the original 1985 Topps set. You have the Dad with one of their original cards here and the son with a more recent picture.

Set composition:  7 cards, 1:12 (2016 Topps Archives)

Hall of Famers:  3 – Roberto Alomar, Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Perez

1 Father, 2 Sons – and it’s likely the junior Tito will make it a 4th guy and a 3rd son someday for his exploits as a manager.

Also, with that list, it’s hard not to think of the Griffey trade to the Reds where Tony would not let Griffey Junior wear his retired #24 for the Redlegs.  I don’t blame him, it was just always interesting.  I think it was a combination of Tony (correctly) never felt like he got his due soon enough and he and Griffey senior just weren’t that close.

How I put the set together:

Card that completed my set:  #FS-FF – Tito and Terry (Tito) Franconas

I picked this card up on COMC last Black Friday.  Someday COMC will start shipping cards again!

Thoughts on the set:  I always love a throwback to 60’s, 70’s or 80’s subsets!  I think the execution could have been better – see my comment on Alou’s and Boone’s throughout.  They could have made this a 15-20 card set with some minor contractual additions, and a 10 card set by just including some guys they already had elsewhere in the product!

Best card (my opinion):  #FS-AAL, #FA-AL – the Alomars

I’m gonna cheat and go with 2 cards here.  The cards that have the same dad get the nod, it’s pretty damn rare to have two sons be All-Stars in the majors.  If Topps had included both Boone brothers I’d have gone with 4 best cards!

My Favorite Reds card:  the Griffey card has Senior with his 1980 Reds card, but even though I named my card Griffey, you have to go with the one that has 2 Reds on the card!!!

Any other tidbits:  There is one duplicate here – Terry and Tito Francona are in the 1985 subset and the 2016 Archives card.  The really cool one is the Boone boys.  Ray and Bob Boone have a card in 1985, whereas Bob switches over to the left side in 2016 and his son Bret comes in on the right.  Sandy Alomar appears on 2 cards with both of his sons – something I wish Topps had done with Aaron Boone.

One thing kind of frustrating with this insert – there are 7 cards in the regular set but 8 in the autograph set.  Topps printed a card of Felipe and Moises Alou, but then they didn’t make a regular, non-auto version.  Kind of frustrating – since the autos are only numbered to 10, that’s a damn hard card to come by.  I’d consider getting it if it was a more normal autograph, just to augment the set.  But out of 10?  I’m not paying $50 to $100 for it.





Completed insert set – 1996 Topps Wrecking Crew

9 02 2020

I’ve been trying to finish this set up for quite a while, and lo and behold – COMC had the two cards I needed during their Black Friday sale!

Info about the set:

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Set description:  This hobby only insert honors some of the hottest home run producers in the League.  The vertical cards have of the hitter on the front with the background grayed out via some foil technology.  A baseball at the end of a chain is across the right side of the card as if their breaking down some concrete.

Set composition:  15 cards, 1:18 odds (1996 Topps series 2 hobby)

Hall of Famers:  3.  Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza

The steroid era had some significant impact in thinning out these ranks.

How I put the set together:

I didn’t get a hobby box for series 2, so none of these cards were put together via packs.

  • 7 cards from COMC
  • 6 cards from Sportlots
  • 1 card from a trade
  • 1 card purchased at the 2013 National Convention

Card that completed my set:  #15 – Matt Williams

I got this and the Juan Gonzalez card on COMC for Black Friday.

Thoughts on the set:  I’m a bit meh on this set.  It’s OK, it’s a decent idea and the background dark foil technology is kind of cool.  I mean, yeh – everyone wanted to get home run hitters into sets back then.

Best card (my opinion):  #15 – Matt Williams

This is by far the one where the photo seems to mix into the card design.  Williams does seem like he’s driving the wrecking ball into a wall with his swing.

My Favorite Reds card:  #6 – Ron Gant.

Here’s the scan of the full set.

Any other tidbits: One of these cards could be found in the hobby factory set in 1996.

Also, I feel like I need to say – this is just an interesting cast of characters here.





Completed insert set – 2013 Topps World Baseball Classic Stars

10 01 2020

Another completed set post I’ve been sitting on forever is the 2013 WBC set.  I finished this off in early 2015, shortly after our second son was born, and meant to post it when the 2017 WBC got started.  But – since I basically stopped blogging around then, I didn’t post.  So, here it is 3 years later (and nearly 5 years after the trade) at what isn’t quite as much of an appropriate time!

Info about the set:

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Set description: “Featuring 15 cards of the biggest stars from around the world representing their countries in their World Baseball Classic uniforms”.

Set composition: 15 cards, series 2; I think 1:8 or so but not sure

Hall of Famers: None; despite the time it took me to make this post, this is still a pretty recent set

How I put the set together:

  • 5 cards from my s2 Hobby box
  • 2 cards from a s2 blaster
  • 8 cards from trades

Thoughts on the set:  I view this set as a missed opportunity.  I think the WBC is super-interesting and have generally followed it and watched what I could (though I’m usually very busy in March).  This is the kind of set that could get guys who aren’t just MLB players in the set.  Kenta Maeda, for example, was not in MLB yet but pitched for Japan in the Classic.  Getting him and some lesser-known players would have been great.

Card that completed my set: #WBC2 – Anthony Rizzo

This was one of 6 cards I got from a trade with Off Hiatus.  As I said, this was back in early 2015, the trade post is here.

Best card (my opinion): #WBC11 – Pablo Sandoval

Robinson Cano was the other player I considered since he won the MVP of the whole event.  But any card of the Panda with a Spring Training timeframe is a winner for me.

My Favorite Reds card: #WBC3 – Joey Votto

The only Reds player in this set, I’m not even sure if it counts since he’s in his WBC team uniform.

Any other tidbits:  As mentioned, Cano won the MVP as a member of the Dominican Republic team.  They won the title, beating Puerto Rico, 3-0, in the final.

The set is broken out by team as follows:

  • Dominican Republic – 3
  • USA – 3
  • Canada – 2
  • Venezuela – 3
  • Puerto Rico – 2
  • Mexico – 1
  • Italy – 1




Completed insert set – 2000 Topps Hank Aaron Finest

4 01 2020

Trying a little minor comeback.  I finished the regular Topps Hank Aaron set back at the end of 2016, and looking back to that post – it was kind of the end of me continuously blogging.

So maybe this will be a good kickoff for me to start up a little bit again in 2020! I have a few completed insert sets to do, want to do some Hall of Famer tributes for the legends who passed away since I stopped blogging.  And then, who knows, maybe I’ll pick back up with the Lifetime Topps Project!

Info about the set:

Set description:  Aaron was the 5th historic player honored with a reprint set (Mantle in ’96, Mays in ’97, Clemente ’98, Ryan ’99).  The first 4 all had Finest parallels; this was the only one where the parallel was dubbed as a Chrome card.  Though there aren’t too many differences as it’s the same technology.  This set had reprints of the full run of his base Topps cards during his career.  Reprints of his 19 regular cards from 1954-1976 were issued across both series.  The 12 even years come in series 1, while the 11 odd years come in series 2 (which is the same as the regular inserts).  There is a gold Aaron logo, created just for these sets.

Set composition:  23 cards, 1:72 odds (2000 Topps)

Hall of Famers:  1 – just Aaron.  None of his multi-player cards are included.

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from the 2000 series 2 hobby box I bought (I did not pull a card in my s1 box)
  • 4 cards from Beckett Marketplace
  • 3 cards from Sportlots
  • 17 cards from COMC

Card that completed my set:  #3 – 1956 Topps

I bought the last card I needed from COMC back in late 2017.  2+ years later I’m blogging about it!  I’d been one card shy for close to a year.

Thoughts on the set: Retro sets are everywhere you look these days, but even in 2000 there weren’t that many, and they were almost all reprints.  It’s a fun set, and I kind of wish Topps had kept this concept going.  Unfortunately it ended after Hammerin’ Hank.  Also, I don’t know why, but I liked the Finest designation better than Chrome, even though it’s really just very similar.

Best card (my opinion):  #20 – 1973 Topps

Aaron is one of those players who has an iconic rookie card, and I picked his 1954 Topps card for the base set.  But I like the 1973 picture and am gonna pick that one for the Chrome treatment.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none (obviously).





Completed insert set – 2003 Topps Ryan Record Breakers

3 06 2018

I finished another set recently and this is a white whale kind of set!  Over 3 years, I’ve slowly put together the set through eBay and COMC, and last month I got the last card of 7.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  Topps had a giant Record Breaker insert set in 2003, but it did a second off-shoot to commemorate Nolan Ryan’s 7 no-hitters.  There’s a card for each no-hitter, with a colorful background just like the regular set.

Set composition:  7 cards, I have no clue on the odds

Hall of Famers:  1 guy, 7 times

How I put the set together:

  • 5 cards from eBay
  • 2 cards from COMC

Thoughts on the set:  The regular set is way too large, but this set is pretty cool.  I wish it wasn’t so rare, though.

Card that completed my set:  #NR2 – Nolan Ryan (July 15, 1973)

I got this one on eBay last month.  I had 4 of the 7 cards going into 2018, then found 2 cards in January on eBay and the last card in April.

Best card (my opinion):  This is one of those sets that I just don’t think you can pick.  I don’t have a favorite Nolan Ryan no-hitter.  In fact, it would be easier for me to pick a least favorite card.  Ryan’s 7th no-hitter came on the day Rickey Henderson (my favorite non-Red player as a kid) broke Lou Brock’s stolen base record.  So it kind of overshadowed what was, in my opinion, a bigger moment.  I’ve always been a big fan or Nolan Ryan, though, so I got over it.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.  It sure would have been nice to have the Ryan Express on the Big Red Machine!

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Here’s a scan of the set.

Any other tidbits:  This Ryan Record Breaker set is a bit of a mystery to me – any info would be appreciated!  Beckett and Baseballcardpedia say that the Ryan No-Hitter Record Breaker cards come 1:2 per series 2 HTA Jumbo.  My series 2 box that I did was a s2 HTA Jumbo box, and I can tell you that’s not the case.  Regular Record Breaker cards come 1:2, but the Ryan cards do not.  In a box of 12 packs, I did not pull a single Ryan card.  Given the fact it will cost you over 10 bucks if you ever find one, they are much more rare than that.





Completed insert set – 1998 Topps HallBound

20 05 2018

I finished up a set recently through a COMC purchase.  I’ve been looking for this damn Paul Molitor card forever; I actually bought the chrome version on accident about 2 years ago!  Parallel confusion is no fun!

Info about the set:

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Set description:  These are die-cut glossy and shiny cards with a Cooperstown background with players that Topps determined were clearly bound for enshrinement there.  This was in the heart of the steroids era, before people really had much of an inkling of what was going on – so I bet this would have been pretty predictive if not for that.

Set composition:  15 cards, 1:36 odds (1998 Topps series 1 hobby)

Hall of Famers:  11.  Molitor, Gwynn, Boggs, Eckersley, Ripken, Maddux, Rickey, Griffey, Thomas, Piazza, Johnson

Basically, they were right on 11 guys, and 3 of the others are clear steroid holdouts.

How I put the set together:

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

Thoughts on the set:  Really cool set, something that Topps should do every 5-7 years or so!  It’s particularly interesting given the era.  Love the design.

Card that completed my set:  #HB1 – Paul Molitor

As mentioned, I accidentally bought the Chrome version of this card a while ago.  And just hadn’t seen the regular version.  But I finally got it finished up!

Best card (my opinion):  #HB8 – Rickey Henderson

For reasons I’ll get to below.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none, though Barry Larkin would have obviously given them an increase in percentage correct here…

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

Any other tidbits:  The Rickey Henderson card is the only Topps card depicting him in an Angels uniform and (counting the parallels), the only card of his from 1998.  He wasn’t in the base set for some odd reason – probably a numbers crunch and something of a pure oversight by Topps employees – but made the insert set.





Completed insert set – 2000 Topps MVP redemption set

12 08 2017

Unlike the redemption set from 1999 – which can be found on occasion for less than 30 bucks on eBay – the second of the two Topps MVP redemption sets is a really tough set to complete.  I’ve had a saved search on the Bay for at least 3 years, but any supposed hits have turned out to be incorrect.  Until a month ago, when a legit full set came up.

Info about the set:

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Set description: Topps had a promotion tied into a parallel set from 1999 and 2000 (this being the latter version).  Inserted at a limited rate into hobby packs were cards with a Topps MVP stamp on the front.  If the player depicted won MVP of the week in 2000, you could send that card in for a set of cards honoring each of the 25 winners.  There were only 100 of each of the parallel cards made, so that means there were at most 2,500 of the MVP redemption sets.  Particularly in 2000, there seem to be much fewer complete sets than that since the redemption expired after a year or so.

The cards in the set are the 25 weekly MVP “winners”.  They have a shiny foil background with the bronze word MVP going down the right side.  There’s an arch behind the players and 3 stars, with gold foil for the player’s name, team and week they won the weekly MVP distinction. The back of the card show the stats from the “MVP” week and a description of what the player did to earn the weekly distinction.

Set composition:  25 cards, send-in redemption

Hall of Famers:  3.  Pedro Martinez, Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell.

How I put the set together:

I gave up trying to find a complete set and started trying to buy single cards.  But this became pretty expensive.  When one showed up on eBay for bid, I kept my eye open.  I actually had a decent chunk of the set collected, but was missing some of the better players, and the Jeter seems to be going for $40 or so individually.  So I pulled the trigger on the full set for 80 bucks.

So now I have quite a few of these to put up for trade or sale!

Thoughts on the set:  This was probably a pretty cool concept in 1999, then lost steam in 2000.  Which is always a good way to make something rarer and thus harder to purchase 15 years or more later.  

I like the design of this set significantly more than I liked the 1999 set, and I think the idea of keeping fans linked to the season with their purchases cards is a great idea!

Card that completed my set:  N/A – bought it as a full set.

Best card (my opinion):  #MVP18 – Will Clark, MVP21 – Adrian Beltre

I love the design for this set, but the photo selections aren’t anything to write home about.  If I went on photo, I’d pick either Jeter or Giambi.  But for the coolness of the card, I was between Will Clark.  One thing I love about baseball is how often you can have one generation meet the next.  Will the Thrill first gained notoriety in the early 1980’s when he was the “Thunder and Lightning” duo at Mississippi State alongside Rafael Palmeiro.  Adrian Beltre just passed the 3,000 hit milestone – for folks reading this post 5 years from now, it’s 2017.  They meet in the middle in this set when Beltre is just getting started and Clark is finishing his career.  Since I think it’s so cool they’re in this set together – I’m picking both!

My Favorite Reds card:  #MVP9 – Dante Bichette

I was surprised to see Bichette got this but Ken Griffey Jr., who had a great season in his first year as a Red, did not.  But Bichette had a ridiculous week where he had 12 hits, 4 homers and an OPS over 1.600.  Makes sense.

Any other tidbits:  2000 NL MVP Jeff Kent did not get a card in this set – meaning he was never “player of the week”.  This isn’t too surprising – many folks (myself included) view Kent’s placement over his teammate Barry Bonds in 2000 as one of the more controversial selections for the award.





Completed insert set – 1996 Topps Masters of the Game

4 05 2017

I did the “elusive eight” post yesterday for getting the Kirby Puckett card from this set.  This is the completed set post.  I’m actually getting pretty close to finishing up the 1990’s!

Info about the set:

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Set description:  This hobby only insert highlights the best players in the game at the time.  The horizontal cards have a picture of the player on the front with a view of his home field in the background – all with a bit of the spectralight effect.  The back has particular accomplishments that I guess qualify this player as a “Master of the Game”.

Set composition:  20 cards, 1:18 odds (1996 Topps series 1 hobby)

Hall of Famers:  12.  Dennis Eckersley, Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor, Ozzie Smith, Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, Kirby Puckett, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas

How I put the set together:

  • 15 cards from COMC
  • 4 cards from Sportlots
  • 1 card from Beckett’s Marketplace

Card that completed my set:  #15 – Kirby Puckett

I just got this card to knock it off my Elusive 8 list last week.

Thoughts on the set:  I like the thicker card stock, and the background foil technology is great.  Topps could do something like this today and I would like it.  It would have been nice if they did a foil version of the Mantle tribute (card #7).

Best card (my opinion):  #7 – Tim Raines

I’ll go with the recently inducted HOF member.  It took too long for Rock to make it to Cooperstown.  By this point he was a grizzled vet.  The Mattingly card was a close 2nd – it was released right after he retired.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.  Barry Larkin would have seemed appropriate here – coming right off his MVP season after a decade in the league.

Here’s the scan of the full set.

Any other tidbits:  As mentioned, this card came out after Mattingly retired.

12 out of 20 HOF-ers is pretty impressive, plus you’ve got Bonds and Clemens who are probably the best 2 (or at least 2 of the best 3) historical players in this group.