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.

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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.





Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Roberto Clemente Finest

1 05 2017

I got caught up on all of my completed insert set posts last year.  Then I started posting at a far lesser clip, and I’ve finished off a few more sets.  The Clemente insert set is one of them.

Info about the set:

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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.  The 10 odd years come in series 1, while the 9 even years come in series 2.  There is a gold Clemente logo, created just for this set.  There was a chrome version and a regular – this is the finest version, which came one every other box.

Set composition:  19 cards, 1:72 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:

I got none from the boxes I bought.  I did actually get one refractor – just no regular finest versions.

  • 17 cards from COMC
  • 1 card from Beckett Marketplace
  • 1 card from Sportlots

Card that completed my set:  #13 – 1967 Topps

I bought the last cards I needed from Sportlots a few weeks ago.

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.  I like the Finest versions of these cards.  And, to be honest, I kind of wish Topps would abandon the shotgun approach and go back to individual players.  They do something similar with jumbo cards available online.  I think they could do some stuff like all the Griffey Topps cards, or even all the Willie McCovey Topps cards.  With the finest versions, it would do well.

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

I have to go with the same thing I did for the regular set.  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).

Here’s the scans of the whole set.





Completed insert set – 2001 Topps Before There Was Topps

4 01 2017

Here’s another completed insert set.  I finished this one from COMC in December (from a Black Friday purchase). This one is from 2001 Topps.  It’s kind of nice to be caught up on these – when I finish them, I post!

Info about the set:

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Set description:  As part of its 50th anniversary product, Topps created a lot of sets that paid homage to the Company’s history producing baseball cards.  This set, along with “What Could Have Been”, takes a different spin.  It looks at players who were around before Topps started making cards.

The fronts feature a black and white photo of the player with a gray foil finish over the background.  The player name is at the bottom, while the Topps 50 logo is in the corner.  The back has statistics of the player.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:25 odds (2001 Topps series 2)

Hall of Famers:  All 10.  Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Joe DiMaggio

Card that completed my set:  #BT5 – Ty Cobb

2001-before-topps-cobb

I got this card from COMC in December (Black Friday purchase).

How I put the set together:

  • 3 cards from the 2001 series 2 hobby boxes I bought
  • 4 cards from COMC
  • 2 from a card show
  • 1 from Sportlots

Thoughts on the set:  For a lot of these guys, this is either their first Topps card in over 20 years.  It’s a great for that, though 16 years later it’s not like I’m pining for a Topps card of Ty Cobb.  The gray makes it so bland, just like the What Could Have Been set.  I would have liked some of the color-making technology you see on lots of cards these days. 

Best card (my opinion):  #BT4 – Walter Johnson

2001-before-topps-walter-johnson

I have a sweet spot for the Big Train.  He’s

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

Here’s the scan of the full set.

2001-topps-before-topps-complete

2001-topps-before-topps-dimaggio

Other tidbits:  Most of the other players had a card in the Connie Mack All-Stars set from the early 50’s, a 1985 Topps Woolworth card, possibly a 1967 Topps Venezuelan “Retirado” card, and a few others.  Joe DiMaggio actually had the fewest.  This was only his second card Topps card after having one in the 1967 Venezuelan set.

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Completed insert set – 2015 Topps Eclipsing History

28 12 2016

This is my first completed insert set from 2015 Topps.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  “15 dual subject cards featuring a current record holder and the Legend of the past he eclipsed to claim that record.”

They changed that between sell sheet and production to make it a 10-card set.  Regardless, these cards have two up close photos of players in the manner described above.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:10 odds (2015 Topps s2)

Hall of Famers:  12.  Many of the cards have 2 HOF-ers, and only the last card (Darryl Strawberry, David Wright) is 2 guys not in the Hall.

Lou Brock, Rickey Henderson, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Ozzie Smith, Tom Seaver, Whitey Ford, Rod Carew, Jim Rice, Lou Gehrig

How I put the set together:

  • 5 cards from my s2 HTA Jumbo box
  • 5 cards from trades

Card that completed my set:  #EH-1 – Henderson / Brock

2015-topps-eclipsing-history-rickey-brock

I got this card from reader Bill K, whose sent me a bunch of cards this month and I’m in the midst of a bunch of posts covering that 🙂

Thoughts on the set:  Cool set, very few current players – but I’m fine with that.  This is the kind of set where I wish Topps wasn’t limited by its contracts.  See other tidbits for ideas I have!

Best card (my opinion):  #EH-1 – Henderson / Brock

2015 Topps Eclipsing History front

Rickey is my favorite non-Reds player, so this was easy for me, though Ryan over Koufax for single season strikeouts was very close.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

Any other tidbits:  Here are my ideas for additions to this set:

Bonds over Aaron or McGwire would be great.  Pete Rose over Ty Cobb would be even better.  Those are all controversial, but hell, Aaron over Ruth (RBI) would be awesome for the baseball historian in me!  Nolan Ryan over Walter Johnson would also be awesome.  The non-purist in me would love putting Mariano River over Trevor Hoffman or K-Rod over Bobby Thigpen for the 2 all-time saves titles.