Back in those days I worked at a traditional calendar school and had all summer to open, sort, trade, buy, and sell cards. I picked up my two boxes from a card store in South Saint Louis county, made a run to Imo's for a pie, and popped in a movie. Usually I am not very meticulous about sorting out cards into a set while I am opening them, but I was determined with the Topps Total set. The cards had a pretty ho hum design, but the 900 card set was a huge challenge that I was determined to meet.
2002 Topps Total Mike Matheny
Besides the challenge of putting together a large set, at the time of release, many collectors were also excited about the prospects that were included in the set. Of course every team had it's veteran players, but there were also many younger players too. The best of the rookie cards in the set is the Joe Mauer. There is also a David Wright rookie, not his best, and a Chone Figgins.
2002 Topps Total Joe Mauer
After two slow box openings and lots of collation I decided that I was probably going to have to open at least four boxes of cards in order to complete the set. I made a checklist and slowly added to the set throughout the summer. A few years later, I found this box of cards and my list and cheaply completed the set. I still own the set today and enjoy looking at the players. I also consider the completion of this set an accomplishment because of it's enormous size.
The largest set every distinction did not last very long for this set, but the fact that it allowed collectors a small slice of the days when the Topps sets were large, poorly collated within packs, and close to 800 (792) cards, made this set a great part of the hobby.
Like the 2002 Topps Total Set? Not on my countdown of Top sets of the past 30 years are the 2002 Upper Deck 40 Man Set. The concept of the set was identical to the Topps Total set. Large set, featuring many players, and a great chase for set builders. In fact, Upper Deck went a little bit pass Topps. Upper Deck literally included ever player on every teams 40 man roster minus the players who were signed off of replacement player rosters during the 1995 spring training. No Damien Miller.
2002 Upper Deck 40 Man Francisco Rodriguez
Upper Deck 40 Man had two major flaws. First, the price of the packs was around $3 with only 24 packs in a box and 10 cards per pack. Collation of cards was okay, but the cost of buying the boxes and assembling the set was far greater than value of the set. Further, unlike the Topps Total set, this set has no important rookie cards. None. There aren't many completed 40 Man sets floating around, so it would be fun to put together....or not.