Finishing off a promo set… for real this time!

21 01 2023

I posted this a few years ago – I had been trying forever to get one last card from the 1995 Master Set.  It was the 1995 CyberStats pre-production card of Travis Fryman.  I got a Proof that was basically a pre-production of the pre-production card, and while that’s pretty cool, I still planned on buying the actual PP5 if I could.  Well – I found it on eBay and now this set can be “crossed off the list!

Here’s the back of both cards – no difference there.

It is numbered PP5, with “pre-production sample” in the 1994 stat line.

Here’s the card I just got – the actual Pre-Production card which was found in the 1994 retail factory sets.  You got a 10-card “pack” that had 9 regular versions of the promo cards and one of these parallel “spectralight” (dark foil background) version of one of the 9 cards.  

And here’s the proof that I had been counting – it’s probably more rare than the one above, but I feel like my set is now technically complete 🙂

Here’s the actual scan of this full set with the Fryman card replaced!

Here’s a scan of all the promo sets.

Completed insert set – 2004 Topps Hit Parade

18 01 2023

Continuing on with the insert set completion – still over a year behind compared to when I actually got these cards in the mail – but getting closer, any future completed insert sets will be cards I actually picked up in 2022 not 2021!  This is my first completed set of any sort from 2004 Topps.

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Info about the set:

Set description:  This insert set features the top 10 active leaders in home runs**, RBI and hits.

The set has the player over a holographic background covering a pinstripe sub-background with the words Hit Parade across the top.  The back has the list of the 10 active leaders.

** – except Barry Bonds, who was in a bit of a contract dispute with Topps in 2004

Set composition:  30 cards, 1:7 (2002 Topps series 2)

Hall of Famers:  8.  Fred McGriff, Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Jim Thome, Jeff Bagwell, Roberto Alomar, Craig Biggio, Barry Larkin

How I put the set together:

  • 6 cards from my series 2 HTA box
  • 9 cards from trades
  • 8 cards from the 2015 NSCC
  • 5 cards from Sportlots
  • 2 cards from COMC

Thoughts on the set:  I like how the hologram backgrounds are different for the 3 categories.  The 10 homer cards have a baseball in front of some wood, the RBI cards have a plate, and the hits cards have a group of baseballs.  This set is pretty cool, particularly at this time period when you had some big numbers up there.  But it’s the 2nd year in a row they did it, so there’s a lot of duplication going from the 2003 set.  Maybe a pitch parade would have been better?  And the omission of Bonds, who was at the top of the first 2 categories and 3rd in hits – is glaring.

Card that completed my set: #HP18 – Ken Griffey Jr. RBI

I got this card from COMC at the end of 2021.

Best card (my opinion): #HP29 – B.J. Surhoff H

Surhoff had an underrated career that ended with 2,326 hits.  It’s cool to see a guy like him in a set like this.  We don’t always need 3 Rafael Palmeiro cards – sometimes one Surhoff is a good thing.

Best Reds card (my opinion):  #HP27 – Barry Larkin H

Beats out the couple Griffey cards, again for a similar thought – it’s nice to see Larkin with some recognition toward the end of his career.

Here’s the whole set.

Any other tidbits:  Since Bonds isn’t in the set, but is in all three top tens, they showcase the 11th player as card #10, #20 and #30.  They only add that player’s name on the back for those 3 cards, the other 27 cards just have the top 10 for that statistic.

Palmeiro, Galarraga, McGriff and Bagwell are the 4 players with 3 cards in the set.

Also, they weirdly didn’t go completely in order.  The cards are generally in order by the stat leader, but there’s a bit of unexplained jumping around (i.e. – Bagwell was 7th on the active HR list at this point but was the 10th card).

Completed insert set – 2001 Topps Through the Years

10 01 2023

Getting back to a few completed set posts – this was an insert set I completed at the end of 2021.  I’m almost to the ones I completed at the end of 2022!

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Info about the set:

Set description:  “These 50 cards, representing the 10 best players from each of the past five decades, are patterned after a classic Topps design from the last 50 years.  These commemorative cards display a brilliant gold foil stamp and include legendary players like Yogi Berra (1959 card style), Willie Mays (1953 card style), and Mark McGwire (1999 card style).”

That’s from the Hank Aaron sell sheet.  Interesting that they are so definitive with “the 10 best players” and the “brilliant stamp” 🙂  I guess it’s a sell sheet!

Unlike the single player reprint sets from previous years, 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.

Set composition:  50 cards, 1:8 odds (2001 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  43 – Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, Stan Musial, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, Ted Williams, Eddie Mathews, Willie McCovey, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Harmon Killebrew, Whitey Ford, Roberto Clemente, Juan Marichal, Johnny Bench, Willie Stargell, Joe Morgan, Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Jackson, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Jim Palmer, Rod Carew, George Brett, Roger Clemens, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Schmidt, Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn, Ozzie Smith, Wade Boggs, Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount, Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza, Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Derek Jeter

(not HOFers in the set – Pafko, Mattingly, McGwire, Sosa, A-Rod, Bonds, Nomar)

How I put the set together:

  • 4 cards from my 2001 series 1 hobby box
  • 2 cards from a trade (Addiction is Therapy)
  • 1 card from the 2015 NSCC
  • 11 cards from Sportlots
  • 2 cards from Beckett Marketplace
  • 30 cards from COMC

Card that completed my set:  #15 – Sandy Koufax (1961 Topps)

One of a couple I got from COMC at the end of 2021.

Thoughts on the set:   After doing single player full-career reprints the previous 6 years, Topps went with a many-player, each-year represented reprint set that feels like they’ve done 50 more times.  Retro sets are everywhere you look these days, and this was the beginning of this overplayed theme.  I liked the single player sets from before this, and wish that had been what was continued.

I also don’t like the Ripken card where they cut off the other guys on a multi-player card.

Best card (my opinion):  #9 – Ted Williams (1954 Topps)

Like that they chose this one, it’s the first card of the 1954 set, and was in a bit of controversy back in 1994 when Upper Deck had Teddy Ballgame’s card rights and Topps couldn’t include him in the Archives set they did for the first card and card #250.  Upper Deck created a rarer version of both cards that was inserted into their 1994 All-Time Heroes product, along with a “card that never was” of Mickey Mantle at #259.

My Favorite Reds card:  #21 – Johnny Bench (1970 Topps)

There is a Morgan and even a Seaver from his Reds years – but the 1970 Bench is a more notable card than the others so I’m going with that.

Other tidbits:  Since there would have only been 49 years if you don’t count the 1951 game set, Topps doubled up on on 1952 Topps cards, having both Andy Pafko and Jackie Robinson.

Willie Mays (1953), Roberto Clemente (1963), Hank Aaron (1965) and Nolan Ryan (1980) got the first double dip on Topps reprinting the same cards in the flagship product.  Mickey Mantle didn’t have cards in this set for what I’m sure were contractual reasons.

Here’s a scan of the whole set.

Completed insert set – 2001 Topps A Tradition Continues

9 12 2022

One more completed set from 2001 Topps from COMC last year!

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Info about the set:

Set description:  This insert set came a couple per box in series 1, with a description of how current players were carrying on the game’s tradition.

Set composition:  30 cards, 1:17 odds (2001 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  14.  Chipper Jones, Cal Ripken Jr., Mike Piazza, Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Derek Jeter, Roberto Alomar, Greg Maddux, Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell, Pedro Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero, Tony Gwynn, Frank Thomas

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from my 2001 series 1 hobby box
  • 2 cards from a trade
  • 5 cards from a card show (3 from the NSCC)
  • 8 cards from Sportlots
  • 13 cards from COMC

Card that completed my set:  #TRC4 – Ken Griffey Jr.

I technically got Griffey and McGwire in the same COMC purchase.

Thoughts on the set:  This one is filler in my set.  The design is OK, and there are just some other inserts in the product that seem to make more sense to me from a “why does this exist” standpoint.

Best card (my opinion):  #TRC18 – Barry Bonds


This picture goes particularly well with the design of the card; it’s one of the few hitter cards that isn’t showing the player’s back on a follow-through.

My Favorite Reds card:  #LA5 – Ken Griffey Jr.

The only one!

Here’s a scan of the full set:

Other tidbits:  Here’s the retired players named on the back of this set via player comparisons:

  • Mickey Mantle (Chipper, Andruw)
  • Babe Ruth (Ripken, Pedro, McGwire)
  • Tommy LaSorda (Piazza – quoted)
  • Willie Mays (Griffey, Bonds, Andruw)
  • Hank Aaron (Griffey)
  • Carl Yastrzemski (Garciaparra)
  • Sandy Alomar Sr. (Alomar)
  • Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, Steve Carlton (Maddux)
  • Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk (Pudge II)
  • Bobby Bonds (Bonds)
  • Roger Maris (McGwire)
  • Duke Snider (Andruw)
  • Ernie Banks, Al Kaline, Roberto Clemente (Gwynn)
  • Manny Mota (Green)

Cal Ripken is the only player with a card in the set who is referenced on the back – he’s compared to A-Rod and referenced on the back of Tony Gwynn’s card.

Completed insert set – 2001 Topps Golden Anniversary

6 12 2022

Here’s another completed insert set from the COMC bonanza I did over a year ago!  This one is from 2001 Topps – and the next one I do will be as well!  Only a few more for these!

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Info about the set:

Set description:  Golden Anniversary was an insert with subsets honoring the history of the game.  There were five different 10-card subsets.

  • Golden Greats – 10 cards featuring classic photos that capture legendary Hall of Famers during the hey-day of their illustrious careers.
  • Gold Nuggets – 10 clubhouse catalysts whose consistent All-Star performances have destined them for the hallowed Hall of Fame.
  • Glistening Gold – 10 dominating diamond men currently rewriting the record books with unparalleled play.
  • Hidden Gold – 10 leading prospects soon to infuse a load of young talent and inspired energy into the game.
  • Going for Gold – 10 former Team USA players who were dedicated to bringing honor to America’s most beloved sport.

Set composition:  50 cards, 1:10 odds (2001 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  24.  Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Mike Schmidt, Willie Mays, Johnny Bench, Tom Seaver, Frank Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Ted Williams, Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn, Ken Griffey Jr., Greg Maddux, Rickey Henderson, Mike Piazza, Derek Jeter, Ivan Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Jeff Bagwell, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Frank Thomas, Barry Larkin

How I put the set together:

  • 3 cards from my 2001 series 1 hobby box
  • 3 cards form a card show (2 were the 2015 NSCC)
  • 10 cards from Sportlots
  • 15 cards from Beckett
  • 19 cards from COMC

Card that completed my set:  #GA10 – Ted Williams

#GA12 – Tony Gwynn

These were the last 2 cards – an appropriate duo – that I got last year from COMC.

Thoughts on the set:  The different subsets are pretty cool, but I will say this insert set doesn’t quite seem to stand out over time.  The dark gold design is shiny, but somehow dull at the same time.  It probably would be a more enjoyable way for Topps to have celebrated their Golden Anniversary if it was the only 50-card insert set in the product (but there were 3 that large).

Best card (my opinion):  #GA37 – C.C. Sabathia

Going through these insert sets that have the same historic greats over and over can get kind of mundane – but a card of a young CC in the United States uniform was really cool.  This card caused me to look it up – Sabathia would have been on Team USA but he got called up by the Indians (I guess Minor Leaguers would play in the Olympic tournament that year).

The last subset of this insert set would have been a lot cooler if Topps had dug up old pictures of guys like McGwire, Larkin and Garciaparra from their actual Team USA days.

My Favorite Reds card:  #GA49 – Barry Larkin

The gripe above aside, those sleeveless Reds uniforms from that era were my favorite and I like the Larkin card a little bit more than the Griffey (or the Bench) because of the reference to his Team USA days.

Here’s a scan of the full set:

Other tidbits (“nuggets”): McGwire has 2 cards in the set (he’s the only one) – one in the Golden Nuggest subset and another in the Going for Gold portion.

Completed insert set – 2012 Allen & Ginter mini Giants of the Deep

18 11 2022

This one’s been sitting in the queue needing an update for a while.  I’ve wondered in the past and still do if I’ll ever get caught up posting the insert sets I’ve completed!  Here’s another mini set from Allen & Ginter that I completed back in November of last year.

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Info about the set:

Set description:  “15 cards featuring various species of whale.”  These are horizontally oriented mini cards with the animal depicted inside.  There is a write-up on the back describing why the species is endangered.

Set composition: 15 cards, 1:5 odds (2012 Allen & Ginter’s)

I weirdly got zero of these in my box!

Hall of Famers: Not a sports set.

Card that completed my set: #GD14 – Beluga Whale

I got this card from COMC in 2020!  I’m behind!

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from a card show
  • 1 card from a trade
  • 5 cards from Beckett
  • 3 cards from Sportlots
  • 4 cards from COMC

Thoughts on the set:  This is the kind of set that makes Ginter interesting.  But they just have the checklist on the back, so not all that cool – would be interesting to have some things to read.  Like with some of these mini sets – the photos aren’t very clear in a lot of cases.

Highest book value: They all book for the same

Best card (my opinion): #GD9 – Orca

Pretty easy choice!  I’d have considered the Narwhal but the picture isn’t very good on that one.  The Orca is very clear compared to a lot of these cards.

Here’s the scan of the full set.

Any other tidbits:  From 2011 to 2013, and then again in 2019 and 2021 Upper Deck inserted patch cards called “Animal Kingdom” into Goodwin Champions.  I cross-referenced the checklist for this set to the Goodwin patches, and the following 18 cards were in both sets:

  • GD1 – Humpback Whale (2011)
  • GD2 – Sperm Whale (2019)
  • GD3 – Blue Whale (2013) – also in the 2011 Ginter Animals in Peril set
  • GD4 – Narwhal (2013)
  • GD5 – Beluga (2011)
  • GD9 – Orca

The 9 cards that weren’t in the Animal Patches set are: Bowhead, Right Whale, Fin Whale, Pilot Whale, Pygmy Sperm Whale, Minke Whale, Bottlenose Whale, Gray Whale, Bryde’s Whale

Completed insert set – 2014 Topps Heritage Then and Now

16 11 2022

This is the fifth of the “standard” insert sets from 2014 Topps Heritage that I’ve completed.  I’ve still got some to go for that year, but I did get this one out of the way – with 6 years in between the 2nd to last and final card (and another year and a half before posting!)  I guess it’s good to get one of the easy ones out of the way.

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Info about the set:

Set description:  “Statistical comparisons of a 1965 player vs a 2013 player who were the leaders in statistical categories”.  The front shows the 2013 Major League leader in a specified category next to a player who was in the top 10 in the same category in 1964.  The reverse shows the MLB top-10 in that statistic for both years.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:10 odds (2014 Topps Heritage)

Hall of Famers:  7 players – Marichal and Koufax both have 2 cards and Maury Wills isn’t a HOF-er out of the retired players in this set.

Clemente, Gibson, Koufax, Marichal, Mays, McCovey, Robinson

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from my hobby box
  • 1 card from a retail jumbo pack
  • 1 card from a trade
  • 3 cards from a card show
  • 1 card each purchased from Sportlots, COMC and Beckett

Thoughts on the set:  This is one that returns each year for Heritage.  This set gets limited by the older players Topps signed to be part of the Heritage brand.

Like last year’s set, I hate when they don’t number sets – these are “lettered”.  It also is one of those things that just blatantly doesn’t make sense when you’re 18 years apart – which always seemed off to me for Heritage.  I guess they just didn’t want to wait 2 more years until year 50 in 2000.

Card that completed my set: #TAN-KD – Sandy Koufax / You Darvish

I got the last card from COMC in back in early 2021, still working on finishing the posts for those!

Highest book value: #TAN-CC – Roberto Clement / Miguel Cabrera

A couple batting champs.

Best card (my opinion): #TAN-KD – Koufax / Darvish

Tough to top Koufax and Kershaw on these cards, but I’ll go with the strikeouts because this is the year that Koufax set the modern K record with 382 (eventually broken by Nolan Ryan by 1 about a decade later).

Best Reds card:  Two to choose form here.  I have to go with Votto over Frank Robinson.  Not because I don’t love Robbie – but they spend the back of his card talking about his time with the Orioles.  The year and Reds sync up – 1965 was his last season in Cincinnati – but they wanted to talk about his Orioles connection with Chris Davis.  A dagger to this Reds fan!

Here’s the completed set scans:

Here’s the statistic associated with each card and where the 1965 player ranked in the majors in that stat if they didn’t lead (and who actually did lead if they weren’t first):

  • TAN-CC – Batting:  R. Clemente / M. Cabrera
  • TAN-GW – IP:  B. Gibson (3rd, Koufax led MLB) / A. Wainwright
  • TAN-KD – K:  S. Koufax / Y. Darvish
  • TAN-KK – ERA:  S. Koufax / C. Kershaw
  • TAN-MC – SHO:  J. Marichal / B. Colon
  • TAN-MD – HR:  W. Mays / C. Davis
  • TAN-MS – W:  J. Marichal (4th, Koufax led MLB) / M. Scherzer
  • TAN-MV – BB:  W. McCovey (3rd, Joe Morgan let MLB) / J. Votto
  • TAN-RD – RBI:  F. Robinson (2nd behind Deron Johnson) / C. Davis
  • TAN-WE – HR:  M. Wills / J. Ellsbury

4 guys who weren’t correct, so 80% accuracy.  I’d imagine Topps didn’t have the rights to Johnson, and maybe not Morgan that year.  Koufax – who had 2 cards – was so dominant in 1965, they probably just wanted to give some due to Gibson and Marichal.

Completed insert set – 1996 Topps Profiles

3 11 2022

Man, over a year since I’ve posted!  Life (3 kids) will do that to you.  I still have dreams of keeping this project alive, and the World Series has me inspired – so here we go.  I apparently missed doing a post for completing the 1996 Topps Profiles insert set.  Well here it is!

Info about the set:

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Set description:

1996 Topps spokesmen Tony Gwynn and Kirby Puckett give their thoughts about 20 players from their respective leagues.

This set was inserted into both series 1 & 2 in all types of packs.  Each series has 10 cards from each league – 40 total between the 2 series. The cards look slightly different between the 2 series, with series 1 having a bit of a “spectralight” effect to the background, series 2 being more of a Chrome type card.

Set composition:  40 cards, 1:12 (1996 Topps series 1 & 2)

Hall of Famers:  12 (or 14)

Jeff Bagwell, Greg Maddux, Mike Piazza, Larry Walker, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar, Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Cal Ripken, Frank Thomas

Puckett and Gwynn are on every card giving their opinions, though they don’t give their opinions of themselves for their own card!

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from my s1 retail box
  • 3 cards from my s2 retail box
  • 7 cards from trades
  • 2 cards from a card show
  • 27 cards from COMC/Sportlots

Thoughts on the set:  This is reminiscent (maybe a bit plagiaristic?) of some ideas Upper Deck had earlier in the 90’s – the Reggie Jackson set I think was the first where he gave his thoughts on current players.  It’s a good idea, doesn’t seem like wasted filler.

Card that completed my set:  #NL9 – Sammy Sosa

I got this one from a trade with Nolan’s Dugout back in 2013.

Best card (my opinion):  #NL13 – Ron Gant

Gant has by far the best picture here.  I like the Nomo card as well.

My Favorite Reds card:  Have to go with Gant based on the above.  He was the Comeback POY in 1995 during his only season with the Reds.

Here’s the scan of the full set.

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!