1991 Topps Stadium Club Jim Abbott
The cards arrived in foil packs, just like Upper Deck, and had edge to edge pictures that featured either great action shots of the players or very nice portrait style photography. Even though it took Topps two calendar years to answer the bell on creating a "premium" baseball card to match Upper Deck, it was well worth the wait for many collectors. Two of my favorite cards are pictured here. Above, I have always loved this Jim Abbott card. The one handed pitcher for the Angels had a unique way of making his physical limitations work and still perform as an above average Major League pitcher. This card captures his pitching motion perfectly. Below, is a picture of Ozzie Guillen wearing a White Sox throwback. Stadium Club always had tons of cards like this and I love the old fashioned White Sox uni.
1991 Topps Stadium Club Ozzie Guillen
The Stadium Club set still had it's limitations. First, it lacked important rookies. The 1989 Upper Deck set hung it's hat on innovation, but also featured the rookie cards of several important players. The biggest rookie cards in the 1991 Stadium Club release were Jeff Bagwell, Luis Gonzalez, and Kenny Lofton. That's actually a pretty good clump of rookie cards with what should be one Hall of Famer and two good above average players. However, Stadium Club ended up having another common problem of sets in the 90s.
1991 Topps Stadium Club Jeff Bagwell
The set was completely overproduced. Just like Upper Deck, the word "premium" in the 1990s meant that Topps still produced these cards in ridiculous quantities. The cards are beautiful and if you felt the need to pick up this set, a quick trip down to your local card shop would find plenty still in stock and at a very reasonable price. I still love this set and every once in awhile spend my extra dollar to rip open a pack or two of old Stadium Club.
Like the 1991 Stadium Club set? Not in the Top 50 is the 1998 Stadium Club set. Actually, there are many good Stadium Club sets and they all generally follow the clean design and great photography mold established by the 1991 set. The 1998 Stadium Club set is my favorite though, but there are many others out there to collect. Let's take a look at the 1998 version.
1998 Topps Stadium Club Jermaine Allensworth
There are a few more game action shots in this set then some of the other Stadium Club issues and that is one reason I like looking at these cards. There is a John Smoltz robbing someone of a batting practice home run and also a Scott Hatteberg card I am pretty sure the Moneyball people knocked off during the movie. This Jermaine Allensworth card is a perfect example of a great in game shot. I like that the ball is in the picture after he's bunted it. Jermaine Allensworth also always had cool baseball cards despite not being very good.
There were also some good inserts, but the highlight for me was the Co-Signers autograph set. The Co-Signers cards were also in the 1997 set, but they were signed front and back. The 1998 version featured the players signatures side by side.
1998 Topps Stadium Club Co-Signers Roberto Alomar/Tino Martinez Autograph
The Co-Signers set obviously had some pretty big names which were teamed up with other big names. In my quest to find a Tino Martinez autograph, he was a Cardinal, I found a rather cheap and damaged USA baseball autograph. However, a few weeks later I ran across this card and added to my collection too. I like the Tino Martinez autograph, but I like the Alomar autograph more. Of course, there were also big names that were combined with some duds. For example, I owned a Matt Morris and Roger Clemens Co-Signers card for a couple of years, ended up trading it, but always felt like the Morris ruined my Clemens autograph. Same with this card which I still own:
1998 Topps Stadium Club Co-Signers Randy Johnson/Jaret Wright Autograph
I understand that Eric Gregg's double wide strike zone during the 1997 playoffs made Jaret Wright and Livan Hernandez look like Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax, but I've always been sad that's he's on this card. My all-time favorite Stadium Club Co-Signers autograph from this set belongs to Andres Galarraga and Larry Walker. Both were on the Cardinals. Both were on the same team at the time of the card. Both have really nice signatures. Both were really good players.
1998 Topps Stadium Club Co-Signers Larry Walker/Andres Galarraga Autograph