Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why Aren't There Checklist Cards for 1992-1994 ToppsGold sets?

An excellent question. According to Topps Magazine (Winter 1992), ToppsGold cards are "similar to their 'regular' counterparts except that the player and team names are engraved in gold foil...Collectors can also obtain complete ToppsGold Ffactory sets, produced, however, in limited quantity. But there's an added surprise: Six new player cards will replace the six Checklist cards..."

Okay, so that doesn't give an explanation as to why. My guess is that because the odds of finding ToppsGold cards in packs (while in 1993 and 1994, they came one per pack, 1992 cards were impossible to find in packs. In all the packs of 1992 Topps that I bought, I never found one...ONE...ToppsGold card) was so high that I'm pretty sure that not too many people would be thrilled that the one ToppsGold card they pulled was a checklist card. In hindsight, it was a smart move by Topps to replace the checklists with six new player cards.

But...which players do you use here? Do you now include a card of the ultimate bench player, who in other sets would never get a card? How about bonus rookie cards using five "up-and-comings?" In 1992, Topps replaced the checklists for their ToppsGold product with the following players:

Mathews played for nine years during the 90's. He finished his career with a 22-21 record, struck out 300, saved 10 games, and had an ERA of 4.25. His was on the playoff roster of the Baltimore Orioles in 1996 & 1997.

Beck might be the biggest name of the 17 players featured today. He was a three-time All-Star closer for the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, and San Diego Padres. He finished his career with a 3.30 ERA, 38-45 record, 286 saves (including a NL record 51 in 1998), and struck out 644. Sadly, the "Shooter" passed away in 2007, but he will always be remembered as one of the games' unique characters in the 1990's.

Perezchica finished his career in 1992, only playing in 69 big league games in his five-year career.

McDaniel lasted only one season in the bigs 1991, so the stats on ack of his card are complete (23 games, 6-29 for a .207 avg).

Ditto for Ramos. His only season was in 1991, (10 games, 8-26 for a .308 avg).

Williams played for nine seasons with the Astros, finishing with a 26-38 record, six saves, and 397 punchouts.

Topps extended the ToppsGold program into its Traded set. Back then, these only came in factory form, so it was not as if these came inserted into packs. And as with the six checklist cards, checklist card #T132 was replaced with Seattle Mariners prospect Kerry Woodson (not to be confused with Kerry Wood).

In 1993, Topps sold their baseball cards in series for the first time since 1973. And while it was a lot easier to acquire the Topps Gold cards, Topps still recognized the disappointment that would be made possible if they made Gold parallels of their checklist cards. So, enter the following six players to make their trading card debuts:

Brito, a power hitter in Triple-A, did play sparingly in three seasons with the Twins. But because of the crowded outfield situation, was constantly squeezed out. He did hit five home runs for the Twins.

McNamara played in 34 games as a Giant (his only games in the bigs) in two seasons. While his hitting left a lot to be desired (.210, 1 HR, 10 RBI's), he was practically flawless behind the plate defensively (,993 fielding avg in 152 total fielding chances).

Savuer made his MLB debut in 1986, but rarely stayed around long enough in the bigs. He was last seen in the Majors with the Oakland Athletics...in 2000.

Brown last pitched in the majors in 1992, so the stats on the back of his card are complete (2-2, 3.40 ERA, 23 K's).

After his one year stint with the Rangers, McGinnis resurfaced with the Royals in 1995 for a three game cup of coffee. That would be the last time Russ played in the majors.

Like Keith Brown, Walker's only year in the bigs was 1992 (0-3, 7.36 ERA). This card is an error because it shows his stats with the M's happened in 1993 (this card is from 1993...oops???)

In 1994, Topps reduced the number of checklists for their 792-card set from 6 to 4. And again, Topps included four "bonus" player cards to replace the checklists for the ToppsGold set. This time, they mixed a couple of prospects and big league veterans as checklist replacements:

Brennan pitched for two seasons in the majors, making his debut with the Dodgers in 1988, and in eight games in 1993 as a Cub. The stats on the back of his card, then are complete (for the majors anyway, 12 games, 2-2, 5.18 ERA).

Bronkey spent parts of three seasons with the Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers. For some reason, in a May 30, 1993 game between the Rangers and the Boston Red Sox, Bronkey had to bat (0-1).

Mike Cook finished his five year MLB run withe Baltimore Orioles with a 1-6 record, 5.56 record.

I never understood why Dan Pasqua was used as a bonus player. Here you have a 10-year veteran of the majors, an established hitter, and a role player for the White Sox. And suddenly, he's not in the regular set. They didn't even add him to the Traded set. His lone Topps card is from ToppsGold.

Topps put the ToppsGold program on ice after 1994, only to bring the set back again starting in 2001 (and serial numbering the cards to boot). By this time, checklist cards were just extras for the set, not part of the actual set. So there was no need to create bonus ToppsGold cards since. Many of the 17 players didn't have an impact in the bigs. The few that did, became all-stars or role players for most of their careers. But each of them can claim the fact that while they were not part of the flagship set, they did have a card that year.

And their names were embossed in gold.


JayBee Anama


Jim said...

I love this kind of post! I had no idea these cards existed, and I opened a ton of '92 to '94 Topps.

Chris Harris said...

You forgot perhaps the most famous (or infamous) Topps Gold-Exclusive card of them all: the Brien Taylor autograph from 1992 Topps Gold (#793).

David said...

That is a very young looking Rod Beck.

madding said...

Great stuff here. I was a big Bernardo Brito fan because he played here in Portland in AAA. As a teenager, I completely did not understand why he wasn't a full-time major league player. I thought the Twins just hated him.

Jeremya1um said...

Nice informative post. I had a few of the checklist replacements but not all of them, and it was good to read about the others.

unclemoe said...

I had totally forgot about these. Nice cards!


GOGOSOX60 said...

I will probably go pack searchers HELL for searching 1992 jumbo, rack and regular packs for those ToppsGold Brien Taylor cards. I still have those unopened packs some day hope to get a phone call from Brien's Mom to see if she will buy up these Gold cards.

I have a nice stack 0f 1992 and 1993 Gold cards and wondered if it would be easy to buy singles today and get a complete together.

Chris Harris said...

You can search all the 1992 Topps packs all you want, but the Brien Taylor autographed Gold card was exclusive to factory sets.