1983 Topps Wade Boggs
I haven't brought up the card backs once in my countdown, but today I must. What is so great about the back of the 1983 Topps? First, the stat line was changed from the 1982 Topps cards. This set offers a few more categories, which has been expanded more over the past 30 years. I also really like the small batter and pitcher graphics on the top and bottom and I also like the highlight box at the bottom. In summation, I really like the backs of the cards.
1983 Topps Ryne Sandberg
Similar to the 1983 Fleer set, the 1983 Topps set's popularity is linked to the same three players' rookie cards. The Boggs and Sandberg are kind of a wash for me, though I really like the road Cubs uniform in Sandberg's Fleer card. The best of the three players, Sandberg, Boggs, and Gwynn, in both the Fleer and Topps sets belongs to the Topps rookie card of Tony Gwynn.
1983 Topps Tony Gwynn
Ask any collector who was alive to collect in the 80s for a list of cool baseball cards and 99% will likely have this card on that list. Where do I even start? First, my first recollection of the Padres was probably during the 1984 World Series and I remember them wearing the brown and orange jerseys. I know at some point, 1986?, the orange disappeared. Now, they are just boring. The yellow and brown sanitary socks, the orange and brown stripes on the pants and waistband, the orange numbers...all awesome. The card also features the skinny and in-shape version of Tony Gwynn and a cool picture of him with a mustache and huge hair.
1983 Topps Pete Rose
Beyond the design and the three rookies, the 1983 Topps set is a typical eighties era Topps set with 792 cards including all kinds of subsets. My favorite is the Super Veteran cards which featured older players, such as Reggie Jackson, Pete Rose, and Nolan Ryan, in a current uniform and also showed a picture of them as a rookie. Topps used a similar concept in some of their Traded and Rookie sets, but they called the cards Trading Places.
1983 Topps Super Veteran Nolan Ryan
Overall, this is a great set and a must own for any collector. Not to give away my countdown, and what's left, but I consider this set the greatest Topps base set of the past 30 years. That statement does not include traded and update sets, of which there are two remaining. When I was compiling this countdown I thought long and hard about the Topps sets, spent time looking back through all the cards, and the combination of design, rookies, and overall quality of the set make it come out ahead of the rest.
Like the 1983 Topps set? Not in my Top 50, and flying in low under the radar, is the 1993 Topps set. This set was under consideration for my Top 50, but came up just short. I like many things about this set, aside from the fact that it is home to a Derek Jeter rookie, but wasn't quite up to snuff. Similar to the 1983 set, the 1993 Topps set has a nice design. Not great, but the best design of the early to mid 90s Topps sets.
1993 Topps Kirby Puckett
Unlike the 1983 Topps set, the 1993 set was 825 cards split between two series. Topps had not issued to series of cards since 1973, but they were following a trend set by Upper Deck, Donruss, and Fleer. The decision to split the set into two series wasn't very popular with me at the time of this sets release. There are also special editions of the set that commemorate the inaugural season of the Rockies and Marlins that are pretty popular, and more valuable, versions of the set. There is also a micro set which is popular among some collector.
1993 Topps Derek Jeter
The Derek Jeter rookie card in the 1993 Topps set is the obvious star card in this set. While I am not a huge fan of the Yankees shortstop, he is a Hall of Fame shortstop and will be remembered as one of the great players from this generation of players. To some degree he is overrated, especially defensively, but I cannot argue with over 3000 hits and 5 World Series rings.
While the Jeter card is the clear stand out in the set, it is not the only important rookie in this set. In my opinion, there is a second important rookie card that collectors should pick up and add to their collection.
1993 Topps Jim Edmonds
I spent numerous summers watching Edmonds roam the outfield for the Cardinals, so maybe I am a little bit biased, but Edmonds was also one of the best players from the last twenty years. Last summer, fans ewwed and ahhed over catches that Mike Trout made jumping over fences and robbing hitters with a flash of his glove. More than a decade before Trout roamed the outfield Angels, Edmonds did the same with equally spectacular results.
Further, Edmonds also almost hit almost 400 home runs during his career, played on a World Series Champion in 2006, and has a higher career WAR than players such as Dale Murphy, who frequently is mentioned as a Hall of Fame candidate. The Edmonds rookie card is easily found for a few bucks and is a great pick up for any collector.