Sunday, February 21, 2010

Six-Pack Breaks: 1991 Topps Archives "1953" Baseball

Topps has been playing upon its history for quite some time. Even when you go back to the 'Turn Back the Clock' subsets from the 1980s, you'll see that they've long been happy with showcasing their past. Topps took it to new levels in 1991 with the inaugural Topps Archives set, which would pave the way for the dozens of old-school themed sets that have followed in the nearly two decades since.

1991 Topps Archives Baseball reprints all but one of the original 1953 Topps Baseball set (174. Billy Loes is absent due to rights issues). It also adds several "new" cards including Ted Williams and Hank Aaron. While the original cards maintain their painted fronts, the added cards come in the form of black and white photos. 

I've had these cards sitting on top of my desk for some time. I grabbed a few packs online, I think for about $0.75 a pop. Seeing as how I'll never be able to afford some of the originals from the 1953 set, so this seemed like a cheap and convenient way to look at a few.

Pack 1:

55. Maurice McDermott, Boston Red Sox
309. Leo Durocher, New York Giants
72. Fred Hutchinson, Detroit Tigers
314. Joe Garagiola, Pittsburgh Pirates
262. Bob Oldis, Washington Senators
19. Mel Parnell, Boston Red Sox
238. Cal Hogue, Pittsburgh Pirates
222. Vic Janowicz, Pittsburgh Pirates
208. Jim Wilson, Milwaukee Braves
266. Bob Cain, St. Louis Browns
189. Ray Jablonski, St. Louis Cardinals
27. Roy Campanella, Brooklyn Dodgers

Pack 2:

112. Ned Garver, Detroit Tigers
17. Billy Hitchcock, Philadelphia Athletics
323. Wes Westrum, New York Giants
139. Sammy White, Boston Red Sox
82. Mickey Mantle - I guess it's all down hill from here ; )
143. Billy Pierce, Chicago White Sox
182. Bob Hofman, New York Giants
137. John Rutherford, Brooklyn Dodgers
193. Mike Clark, St. Louis Cardinals
324. Vern Law, Pittsburgh Pirates
155. Dutch Leonard, Chicago Cubs
183. Stu Miller, St. Louis Cardinals

 Pack 3:

169. Dizzy Trout, Boston Red Sox
66. Orestes Minoso, Chicago White Sox
166. Bill Hunter, St. Louis Browns
296. Gil Hodges, Brooklyn Dodgers
104. Yogi Berra, New York Yankees
232. Dick Kokos, St. Louis Browns
22. Howie Fox, Philadelphia Phillies
282. Ralph Houk, New York Yankees
178. Jim Waugh, Pittsburgh Pirates
158. John Logan, Boston Braves
98. Cal Abrams, Pittsburgh Pirates
180. Virgil Stallcup, St. Louis Cardinals

Pack 4:

6. Sam Jones, Cleveland Indians
301. Harvey Kuenn's wad, Detroit Tigers
219. Pete Runnels, Washington Senators
250. Bob Wilson, Chicago White Sox
234. Ray Murray, Philadelphia Athletics
287. Mickey Vernon, Washinton Senators
209. Jim Greengrass, Cincinnati Reds
136. Ken Heintzelman, Philadelphia Phillies
115. George Spencer, New York Giants
252. Henry Foiles, Cincinnati Reds
243. Carlos Bernier, Pittsburgh Pirates
212. Jack Dittmer, Milwaukee Braves

Pack 5:

227. Morris Martin, Philadelphia Athletics
32. Clyde Vollmer, Boston Red Sox
2. Luke Easter, Cleveland Indians
36. Johnny Groth, St. Louis Browns
318. Curt Simmons, Philadelphia Phillies
13. Connie Marrero, Washington Senators
8. Clem Koshorek, Pittsburgh Pirates
91. Ebba St. Claire, Boston Braves
305. Carl Furillo, Brooklyn Dodgers
124. Sibby Sisti, Boston Braves
56. Gerald Staley, St. Louis Cardinals
3. George Crowe, Boston Braves

Pack 6:

126. Billy Connelly, New York Giants
249. Ed O'Brien, Pittsburgh Pirates
27. Roy Campanella, Brooklyn Dodgers (One of those times when doubles are fine by me.)
189. Ray Jablonski, St. Louis Cardinals
134. Rube Walker, Brooklyn Dodgers
208. Jim Wilson, Milwaukee Braves
229. Rocky Krsnich, Chicago White Sox
94. William Kennedy, Boston Red Sox
220. Satchell Paige, St. Louis Browns
171. Bill Glynn, Cleveland Indians
295. Phil Cavarretta, Chicago Cubs
233. Al Aber, Cleveland Indians

 I'll be the first to acknowledge that the slick feel of the cards isn't the same as the cardboard touch of old. Plus there's no rounded corners, added scribbles or faint initials to be found anywhere. Today's sets that celebrate the past, both in design and in content, are missing the ghosts of years past. They don't have the stories that the originals do.

Even still, these cards are gorgeous. The design is one of the best Topps has ever put out. I would have liked the additions to the checklist to have been done in the same painted manner, but the black and white photos are still very classy. It's not an ideal scenario but it works for me.

Today, the set is largely ignored.At least there doesn't seem to be a huge demand for it. Even still, 1991 Topps Archives is something of a milestone release, showing that the hobby loved heritage enough to warrant its own standalone release. The lack of lasting popularity might be in part to the fact that this set was somewhat ahead of its time.

Although I like this set a lot, I don't think I'll be building the set at this time so if anyone's working on a set or needs some of these, please send me an email and we can work on a trade. My wantlists are linked at the top of the page or you can click here.


Carl Crawford Cards said...

I'm with you: old cards with writing and bent corners always top mint stuff.

I also prefer the old printing techniques, the cards just seem richer.

Are the '53 Archives also slightly oversized?

Captain Canuck said...

CC... the Archives are normal sized, unlike their '53 counterparts...

I always wanted to build this, but everytime I find a box online at a fair price, they want $43 S+H...

dayf said...

When these cards came out I realized I could pick up Vintage commons cheaper than a pack of the reprints and I bought those instead. I would too would like to rip a box, but the one's I've seen have been very pricey.

info said...

I like the 53 cards.

capewood said...

I'm a Philly collector. I managed a few years ago to get all the Phillies from this reprint set. It was easier than finding the originals.

Kyle4KC said...

I know this is an old post, but I just broke a box of these and I didn't get the Mantle. Do you still have these cards for trade?