I decided a few months back that I was going to compile The Ultimate Baseball Card Set, a franken-set of my all-time favorite baseball cards to go along with the hockey version I've been plugging away at. I selected the first card, a 1971 Topps Thurman Munson, all the way back on the first Sunday of the 2011 NFL season. I've done nothing since! Time to get cracking...today I'll choose card #21 for the set. As usual, let's look at some of the cards that did not make the cut first:
This 1975 Topps Rollie Fingers was in the running for sure. Despite that fantastic facial hair though, this card just didn't cut it. The photo isn't exactly stellar, and as you can tell from the scan my copy of this card is more than a bit off-center (it's got some wax stains on the back too!).
Nolan Ryan's 1990 Leaf card didn't really stand a chance, but '90 Leaf was one of the more desirable sets during my first go-round at collecting so I thought it was at least worth showing. I picked this card out of a quarter box at one of the few cards shows I've ever been to about 4 years ago.
The runner up was this 1962 Topps Jim Kaat. A great card for sure, but like the Hall of Fame selection committee recently did, I'm going to pass on inducting Jim here.
That brings us to our winner. If you were a child of the 80s and 90s like I was, you might have already guessed which card I went with for #21 in the set...
Aside from being one of the iconic cards of the 80s (if not one of the most iconic Topps cards period), this card was the pride of my childhood collection. Ripken was a boyhood idol, and this card was one of my most prized possessions from the time I pulled it from an '82 Topps vending box I got as a birthday present. When I think of the baseball card boom of the 80s, this is one of the first cards that comes to mind.
I think most collectors feel the same way about this card, as it came in at #12 in this past year's top 60 list of Topps baseball cards. True, Ripken's solo card from the 1982 Topps Traded set is much more valuable but in my mind this is the card I think of when it comes to Cal's rookies. Nowadays you can get a really nice copy for less than the cost of a blaster.
When I first got back into collecting in 2007 I actually pulled another one of these in a 1982 Topps rack pack from Dave and Adam's Card World. That one's been traded away, but I still have my childhood copy to this day.
The Ultimate Baseball Card Set, which now stands at 2 cards and counting, can be viewed here.
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