One of the most pivotal sets in my collection was the 1997 Topps set. First, over the past twenty years this is one of my favorite sets for many reasons. I would love to say it's one of the best of all-time, but its just merely an important set in my collection.
In 1997 I was a sophomore in college. I never stopped loving baseball, but my love of baseball cards had started to waver when I got to college. I still was adding cards to my collection at that point, but my interest was fading away from the hobby. I had no good card stores in southeastern Missouri and I had not totally embraced all of the changes that happened to the hobby in the mid 90s. Cards had become more expensive and completely over produced. I was overwhelmed.
I was an education major at school and took on a summer job mentoring a fourth grader and second grader that summer while I was home in St. Louis. Both really enjoyed baseball and had recently taken up a small interest in the hobby. Once a week we drove down Olive Boulevard in Creve Couer and went to All-Star Baseball Cards. The two boys would buy a few packs of cards and the store owner would spend a little bit of time chatting me up. I picked up a few cards here and there. Mainly things from the eighties or a few seventies cards to round out partial sets I had put together.
About half way through the summer I took the dive and bought a few packs of 1997 Topps. I had seen a few packs opened and loved the look of the cards. I was hooked pretty quickly and enjoyed returning to my roots as a collector. When I started as a kid, my parents bought me a few packs every week when we went grocery shopping. Later, I got a few packs every week at the Ben Franklin in Webster. I always had to put together a Topps set and always did it a few packs at a time.
I completed the set before the end of the summer and it changed my outlook on collecting cards from a dwindling interest back into something that was fun and enjoyable. Of course, my favorite part of the 1997 set is the Cardinals team set. I will let the cards speak for themselves, but they are everything that is right about a Topps set. Simple design and good photography. If you do not own this set I suggest a trip out to your hobby store to find a copy. Take the cards out, flip through them, and enjoy the cards.