The time has finally arrived for the top 5 Topps sets of all time, well in my opinion anyway. This has been one of the most fun post series that I have done on this blog because it is all encompassing. I am a team collector now with my Rockies and I do love them, but I started collecting baseball cards 8 years before the Rockies existed. This series has allowed me to return to my roots of a pure set collector and allowed me to think critically about some of the things that I have taken for granted in the flagship Topps set. I am not usually the most observant collector, so this allowed me to step outside my normal comfort zone and really take a look at my cards. Some of you are really good at in-depth card observation, but for me that isn't, this is a big step forward and make me appreciate my collection that much more. Okay, that's enough of my self evaluation. Let's take a look at what I think are the best 5 sets in Topps history
PLUSES - The pennant is an extremely underused iconic baseball image. Even though the colors are not always good, the pennant never looks bad on this set. The card back is pretty good as well. I like the color, especially compared to others from that era.
MINUSES - Aside from the pennant, there isn't much great about the front. It's good, but without the pennant this is a middling set at best.
PLUSES - Baseball photography took a giant leap forward with this set. You could probably name at least 10 different cards from this set as iconic images in baseball cards. The alternate script logos on the front were a nice change of pace as well. The 40th Anniversary watermark on the back is great.
MINUSES - This set revived the landscape orientation card for the first time since 1974 for player cards. While they are usually great images, they look bad in pages or at least awkward.
PLUSES - Bright, colorful set. The large headshot with the smaller action shot behind it was very popular in the 1950s. The big diamond logo is fantastic. I really like the Inside Baseball strip-style comic on the back. The fielding stats on the back are great as well and gives you a nice picture of the entire player, not just the hitter.
MINUSES - Not much here other than the facsimile signature that I have mentioned WAY too many times by now.
PLUSES - The photo peeling off the wood background just gives the feeling of an old poster on a fence outside a ballpark. A great image for the times that somehow continues to hold up. Once again, the wood background is wonderful.
MINUSES - Why abbreviate the city names on both sides? Perhaps using the team nickname on the front and the city on the back would have worked better than abbreviating on both sides. Nitpicky? Sure, but this is #2 so I have to nitpick a little in order to find something.
PLUSES - This is what a baseball card looks like in my mind. The large colorful team name on a black background is probably the best ever. I like the color matched position bubble as well. Talkin' Baseball taught me more about the game than ESPN ever has. The most under-appreciated aspect of this set is the use of a base for the card number. I love it, especially since a ball was used many other times.
MINUSES - NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!
Did I rank 1986 too high? Perhaps, but without that set I would have never become a card collector. I remember keeping my 86 team sets in an old tool/tackle box that had 25 drawers so I could separate by team (The White Sox and Yankees were kept together). I had cards before this set, but never collected them. 1986 made me a collector and it will always be my favorite. Well, unless a card of me is in a set later on, but that ship has pretty much sailed.
Night Owl (not trying to call you out just giving you credit...and hey you get a link out of the deal) mentioned last week that he didn't care much about 1987 (#9) because it was a copy of 1962 (#2). While the borders are basically a copy, 1987 had so much more color on the front with the name box and the logo to go along with the wood. That would be like saying every white bordered card was a copy of 1952 Topps which we would all recognize as a false statement. But if you were going to flat out copy a set, 1962 would be a good choice.
I will be back next Friday with a recap and wrap up of this wonderful countdown. Check me out then.