30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Nifty 90's Nostalgia #1: Topps Magazine

I've been wanting to start this series for awhile... pretty much since I started my "I love the 80's" posts. But the fact is... I love the 80's more than the 90's, because I associate the 80's with my childhood... so it took precedence. Now it's time for me to give the 90's the respect it deserves.

The 90's were my college years and the start of my teaching career. It was also a decade of me going back and forth in the hobby. One year it was rookie cards... the next year it was inserts... then parallels... after that autographs... then back to rookie cards... the following year jersey cards... I was all over the place during the 90's and it was for a good reason... some of the hobby's coolest products came out of the 90's.

This series will be dedicated to those products... and other pieces of nostalgia that came from the 90's.

First up... Issue #6 of Topps Magazine. In the Winter of 1990, Topps started publishing it's own magazine. The first issue featured my favorite player at the time... Jose Canseco. I no longer have that issue, but during one of my flea market adventures, I picked up this issue which features the Pittsburgh Pirates' Killer B's on the cover.

I have no idea what I paid, but I'm sure it was around a buck. I buy older issues of sports card magazines, because they're great bathroom reads. It gives you a great opportunity to see what the hobby was like back in the day.

I didn't open this issue up, until yesterday. But, I was pretty amazed at what it had to offer. Here are some of the highlights:

This is one of my favorite pages from the magazine, because it has Topps' Sizzlers & Fizzlers. In other words, it featured who's hot and cold in the hobby. It's nice to see that a lot of the players on the hot list stood the test of time and remain popular in the hobby. However... this was probably the last time Darryl was #1 on anyone's hot list.

It was also interesting to see who was on the cold list too. I can't figure out if Canseco or Bonds was the coldest back in 1991. Canseco is listed as #1, but he's only -10 degrees, compared to Bonds who's listed at -100 degrees and at the #10 spot. Either way... Topps must have known something, because both players are still on a lot of collector's cold lists.

This page also previewed their upcoming 1991 Topps Micro baseball card set and gave readers a heads up on what issue #7 had to offer.

This issue also included a list of the top 20 rookies (according to Topps) from the 1991 class. Numero uno is Reggie Sanders, who Topps labeled "the consumate five-tool player". They weren't totally off the mark. Sanders had a pretty solid career hitting over 300 home runs in his career. The one that makes me crack up is #2. Mr. Todd Van Poppel. Did anyone else get suckered into this guy's hype?

The list continues with a bunch of role players and an all-star here and there. The only one on the list who has a shot at Cooperstown is Pudge... but like a few of the players on the hot and cold list.... he has the steroid issue to face.

Topps also included a price guide for their 1960 baseball card set. It seems like a conflict of interest, but whatever... let's check out the book values of some of the key cards:

#148 Carl Yastrzemski (RC)
1991: $350 2010: $200

#160 Rival All-Stars (Ken Boyer & Mickey Mantle)
1991: $32 2010: $120

#200 Willie Mays
1991: $100 2010: $120

#326 Roberto Clemente
1991: $85 2010: $200

#350 Mickey Mantle
1991: $300 2010: $600

#563 Mickey Mantle (AS)
1991: $200 2010: $250

I'm actually surprised at the value of Yaz... I just went onto COMC and found a rookie of his listed at $75. Seems like a great deal... but that's just me. Most of the cards look to be around the same value... however the key card in the set doubled in book value.

Each issue of Topps Magazine included free cards. The first four feature the 1960 design and the last four featured a new design for some young stars back in 1991. My two favorites are the Welch and Thomas.

The last page of the magazine featured some caricatures of The Man of Steal. Henderson broke Lou Brock's career stolen base record right after this artwork was drawn. It's a sweet piece... but I wish the artist would have left the Yankee drawing out... I'm still trying to forget the fact that Rickey ever played in Yankee pinstripes.

This issue was well worth the money. It also included articles on Carlton Fisk, future stars, the Killer B's, baseball in Japan, old Topps test products, players who spent 10 years or more with one team, the 1960 baseball set, and Gretzky's rookie card. In addition to the free cards, they also included a huge Stadium Club baseball poster. On the back of that it features a Wax Pack Facts poster, which has a bunch of pictures of different wax packs in Topps history. Unfortunately... it was way too big too scan and I couldn't take a quality picture. Sorry :-(

If you've never read an issue... I encourage you to hunt one down. You won't regret it. And now... I've saved the best for last. Topps also included an additional foldout poster in the middle. It a tribute to four decades of greatness and features Ryne Sandberg (80's), Ted Williams (50's), Carl Yastrzemski (70's), and Sandy Koufax (60's). It was painted by Craig Pursley and it's truly an amazing piece of art.

It's also my favorite thing from this issue of Topps Magazine.

Today's question of the day:

Topps is about to celebrate it's 60th anniversary. If they were going to create a new painting to represent their six decades in the hobby, which six baseball players would you want them to pick?

Here's my list:

1950's: Jackie Robinson - the epitome of "courage"
1960's: Willie Mays - one of the greatest to ever play the game
1970's: Hank Aaron - dealt with death threats & racism, but still persevered
1980's: Tony Gwynn - my favorite player and one of the greatest hitters from my era
1990's: Greg Maddux - my other favorite player and one of the greatest pitchers from my era
2000's: Ichiro Suzuki - maybe not as good as Pujols... but I collect Ichiro.

Enjoy your weekend everyone... Sayonara!


  1. WOW!! Such an awesome post. Those throwback cards are awesome.

    And, I love reading about top prospects/what's hot lists from the past.

  2. Wow, Great questions!

    50's - Jackie Robinson -Luis Aparicio
    60's - Carl Yastrzemski -
    Hank Aaron
    70's - Ron Santo -
    Hank Aaron
    80's - Carlton Fisk -
    George Brett
    90's - Chipper Jones -
    Ken Griffey Jr
    00's - Chase Utley -

    Tried to be creative, I like Utley's style & Ichiro's athleticism.

  3. 1950s - Mantle
    1960s - Mays
    1970s - Rose
    1980s - Schmidt
    1990s - Bonds
    2000s - Pujols

  4. Also, last week the most expensive 1960 Yaz card on ebay sold for $113.

    1. Can u help sold out my card collection somehow stranger ? !!

  5. Dave - Thanks... that's why I love old card magazines

    Martyn - My choices were based on skill, but also by how much I liked them. 4 of the 6 players are PC peeps.

    John - I just saw noticed that a Yaz rookie sold for $16 (+ shipping)... pretty crazy. looks like PSA 7 and higher get a decent amount.

  6. Thanks for posting the pic of the Rickey caricatures on the back page. Somehow, I don't think I've ever seen those before!

  7. Great Post. Looking forward to more to come!!!

    50's: Jackie Robinson/Mantle
    60's: May
    70's: Aaron
    80's: Schmidt
    90's: Bonds (Would be Jr, but Jr was a UD guy.)
    00's: Pujols

  8. ManOfSteal - No problem... glad to see another huge fan of Rickey out there.

    Charles - Great list... If I was going with the greatest of each decade, it would be difficult to argue against yours.