30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Monday, February 29, 2016

Musical Chairs w/ Topps Baseball

The past few months, I have been carefully building a list of my favorite Topps baseball card designs and have sort of hit a wall.  The Top 6 are essentially set in stone.  However from #7 down... it's sort of like playing musical chairs.

On any given day, my rankings change.  One day I'll think the 1963 Topps design is better than the 1982 set design.  The next day, they'll swap places.  I tip my cap to all of you who have built your list of favorite Topps sets, because it has been much harder than I ever imagined.

I have managed to narrow it down to three tiers.  Tier One are my top six sets.  These are like first ballot hall of famers in the sense that there's really no debate on my end... which means they don't seem to fluctuate.

The next four sets make up the Tier Two sets, which I'd compare to solid hall of famers, but not quite legends.  Tier Three sets are part of the Hall of Very Good... and round out the final six sets in the upper echelon of Topps set design hierarchy.  The sets within each of these two tiers move around, but are essentially locked into their own group.

Today I'll target Tier Three.  However... before I reveal my selections, you should probably know that my rankings are solely based on the front base card designs.  Not the subsets.  Not the card backs.  Not the photo quality or photo selection.  I considered using Night Owl's criteria... but to be honest... there was way too much thinking involved and it made my head hurt.

With that out of the way... let's get things started:

#16:  1963 Topps

As many of you know... I love bargains.  And with this design, you get two photos for the price of one.  It also bares a striking resemblance to one of my favorite Topps designs that I'll reveal in a future post.

#15: 1984 Topps

Copy my response from #16 and paste it here.

#14:  1952 Topps

I have only owned one 1952 Topps card in my lifetime and I sadly traded it away for some 80's rookie cards.  But it's hard to deny the significance of this particular set.  Personally... I never really considered the design to be anything special, but after comparing it to all of the other set designs Topps has produced over the years, I've come to realize that it has a place in my Top 16.

#13: 1982 Topps

I've always had a soft spot for the "Hockey Stick" set.  It has to do with Topps' decision to use colors like pink, purple, orange, and brown on their cards and the Tron-like lines racing down the sides.  

#12: 2015 Topps

It's been a few years since I saw a base card design from Topps that stood out, but thankfully the drought ended with last year's product.  My favorite thing about it are the colorful borders that match the team's colors.

This particular set has been ranked as low as #11... and as high as #15.  It just depends on my particular mood.

#11: 1980 Topps

Baseball and pennants go together like peanut butter and jelly... which is one of the reasons this design is so high on the list.  It also doesn't hurt that the Henderson rookie card is a thing of beauty that should be hanging up on a museum wall.

Well there's my Tier Three group of Topps baseball card designs.  Stay tuned for my Tier Two selections, which will consist of sets #7 through #10.

Until then... let's hear your thoughts on my selections.

Which of my selections do you consider to be vastly underrated or overrated?

Looking forward to reading your responses.  Happy Leap Day and sayonara!


  1. Maybe because of where it fits in my collecting life (I have a gap from 76-80) but I'm not a fan of 1980. Not that it fits in my collecting life either, (I'm not quite that old!) but I'd have 1952 at the top of this group, if only for the romance of it. I do like the logos and the marquee.

  2. I like 1982 Topps probably more than I should because it was the year the Brewers went to the World Series and everything that year seemed better as a result. As a result, I'd say that one is underrated sort of, though a lot depends on what is yet to come.

  3. So as far as the design goes I like best of each of these is that they are easily identifiable, uniquely I should say. As for the order that I would place them.

    11) 1952 (I might even have to bump it to 8 or 9), 12) 2015 (no matter how upset I am with the 2015 release, the design I like, 13)1984, 14) 1963, 15) 1982, 16) 1980.

  4. I would move 1963 up near the top of this tier and move 1952 down near the bottom... Never been a fan of 52T, significance be damned.

  5. 52 is such a great design. That may had cracked my top 5.

  6. hackenbush - totally forgot to mention the logos on the 52's. that played a role in including this set in my top 16

    tony l. - much like the 2015 set... the 82 design varies depending on my mood. i looked at one of my january edits and noticed this was once at #15... with a peak at #12.

    john & sport card collectors - yeah... after seing a few rankings, i realize that i don't appreciate the 52 design nearly as much as other collectors do.

    shlabotnikreport - interesting... i probably should like the 63 design more since I'm in love with its descendant so much. but i didn't see any list that had it ranked higher than #14

    night owl - well... maybe you didn't actually state your criteria... but your explanations were so detailed it felt like you had criteria. i sort of went with the glance and rate method whereas you did a legit analysis. maybe that's why my rankings vary so much on a day to day basis

  7. Looks good to me, looking forward to Tier II