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

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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

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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.

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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.





Completed insert set – 2013 Topps Making Their Mark

26 12 2016

I completed this set, 3+ years after its release, after getting a few cards from .  I finished this insert set from Sportlots last November.  Topps had the “chase” theme in 2013, and this one was of the defensive mindset.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  “25 cards featuring future stars celebrating their first home run or win.”

That’s the description from the series 2 sell sheet.  There were 25 more cards in this set released as part of Topps Update.

These cards are full bleed with the background blurred.  The bottom is white with the team logo and the applicable date and team logo.  There is a colored nameplate in the middle that varies by the team.  Above the name is a silver foil logo with the sets name.  The back features a write-up on the back describing the player’s first career homer (for hitters) or victory (for pitchers).

Set composition:  50 cards, 1:6 odds (series 2 & update)

Hall of Famers:  None – all current players.

How I put the set together:

  • 16 cards from my series 2 & update hobby/HTA boxes
  • 3 cards from retail packs
  • 26 cards from trades
  • 2 cards from the 2015 NSCC
  • 2 cards from Sportlots
  • 1 cards from Beckett Marketplace

Card that completed my set:  #MM-44 – Jedd Gyorko

2013-topps-making-their-mark-gyorko

I got this card, and 6 others, from reader Bill last week.

Thoughts on the set:  This is one of those filler sets that I could do without.  It’s cool to flip through, especially seeing that guys like Todd Frazier and Yoenis Cespedes were considered prospects not that long ago.  But it’s filler.

Best card (my opinion):  #MM-2 – Mike Trout

2013-topps-making-their-mark-trout

Tough to pass on the best player in the game.  At the time this was released, he was the reigning Rookie of the Year.

My Favorite Reds card:  MM-23 – Todd Frazier

2013-topps-making-their-mark-frazier

Sigh.  Things were a little better in the ‘Nati when this guy was an up-and-comer.

Other tidbits:  I went through and counted up the number of players based on each debut year:

  • 2009 – 1
  • 2010 – 3
  • 2011 – 10
  • 2012 – 17
  • 2013 – 19

The 2009 debut was Kris Medlen.

It’s a little sad flipping through this and getting to the card of Jose Fernandez.  Baseball lost a great young talent, and 3 families lost young members, to what can only be described as an unnecessary tragedy.





Completed insert set – 2016 Pressed into Service

5 12 2016

When I finished this set, I wasn’t expecting this to actually be a finished set at that point.  This was one Topps really could have done each series and made a 30 card set.

Info about the set:

Set description:  “When their teams needed them most, these 10 position players ventured into unfamiliar territory.”  The front has a picture of the position player who was forced into a pitching situation, with a background that prominently features baseball stitches.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:8 (2016 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  2. Wade Boggs, Stan Musial.

How I put the set together:

  • 7 cards from my series 1 HTA jumbo box
  • 4 cards from a trade

Card that completed my set: #PIS-5 – Paul O’Neill

2016-topps-pressed-into-service-oneill

I got this as one of 4 cards in trade from 30 dollar habit.

Thoughts on the set:  I love the set and my main complaint is that Topps only did it in series 1.  C’mon!  There are so many other great instances of position players pitching.  From Babe Ruth coming back to show he could still pitch, to Mark Grace giving up David Ross’ first homer, to David Ross hitting a homer as a pitcher.  Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams and Adam Dunn all have stories to tell.  There are so many great options!

Best card (my opinion): #PIS-3 – Jose Canseco

2016 Topps Pressed Into Service front

Canseco is the most fun out of all these guys, though I like the Ichiro story from last year as well.

Best Reds card (my opinion):  Paul O’Neill is the only one.

2016-topps-pressed-into-service-oneill

O’Neill came in to pitch in a blowout loss in 1987.  Wish they could have found a shot from the actual game.

Here’s the whole set.

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2016-topps-pressed-into-service-swisher

Any other tidbits:  Musial was the one that seemed to stick out as not belonging.  He was a pitcher coming up in the minors, but only had one instance where he was “pressed into service” in the bigs.  He pitched to one batter in 1952 and didn’t get an out.  I wish Topps had put more about the actual pitching appearance.  Musial faced Cubs hitter Frank Baumholtz and threw just one pitch.  It was a gimmick because the Cubs and Cardinals were officially out of the pennant chase, but Baumholtz had an extreme outside chance to catch Musial for the batting title.  Musial came in from the outfield to face him in the first inning. Baumholtz grounded to third, reached on an error, and ended his batting title prayer.  Musial has the strange stat line of facing one hitter, not giving up a walk, hit or HBP, but not also having no credit for any portion of an inning.  He has to be tied for the least innings pitched of any pitcher in MLB history!





Completed insert set – 2000 Topps Hank Aaron reprints

20 11 2016

No posts the last week or so, aside from my previously scheduled beer post.  I actually got to a pretty interesting point – I have no more posts in the queue.  I’ve been dwindling on that front for a while, and had basically been less than 5 for a month or so.  And then I went to Mexico for my buddy’s wedding with just 2 posts in queue.  One was a completed insert set, the other was yesterday’s “beer” post.

But yesterday was the last “scheduled” post that I’d done in advance.  So for the foreseeable future, this blog will be at the whim of my schedule and desire to do baseball card posts.  I’ve picked up other hobbies, and with 2 kids, it’s just harder.  I want to get the Lifetime Topps project done, but I may need to rethink the insert part of that.  It’s just become too much by the time I got to the mid 2000’s.

I’m kind of happy about that.  Blogging takes up a lot of time, and I’d like to just do it when I get the urge.  At least for now.  I think I’ll still knock out 10 posts a month or so.  We’ll see.

That aside, I have a few completed insert sets left, and this is one I’d be going after even if I wasn’t trying to get every insert Topps created.

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).  And he would be the last of this run; after 2000 they started doing multiple player reprints as insert sets.  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.  There is a gold Aaron logo, created just for this set.

Set composition:  23 cards, 1:18 odds (2000 Topps)

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

How I put the set together:

  • 5 cards from the 2 different 2000 series hobby boxes
  • 1 card from a trade (thanks Night Owl)
  • 9 cards from COMC
  • 6 cards from Beckett Marketplace
  • 2 cards from Sportlots

Card that completed my set:  #4 – 1957 Topps

I bought the last card I needed from COMC back in July.  I’d been one card shy for over a year, but this card, which is probably his most famous because of the reverse negative issue.  That may be why it was the hardest to pick up.

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):  #1 – 1954 Topps

Aaron is one of those players who has an iconic rookie card.  His 1954 Topps card has to be in any top 20 cards of all time, maybe top 10.  So I’ve got to give the nod there.  But I really like the 1973 card.

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

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