Thursday, October 4, 2012


A couple of weeks ago, I put together a list of the five most pointless baseball card sets of the last five years. As someone who had been collecting and writing about cards for the same amount of time, I figured I was as worthy as anyone else.

That post was basically met with a collective yawn, except for some people who wanted to know why Documentary wasn't on the list.

But lack of positive reinforcement has never stopped me before (which explains why I've been working the same job for so long), so I am continuing on the same theme. Except this time, I'm rating the most memorable sets of the last five years.

This wasn't quite as easy to do as finding the most forgettable/pointless. After eliminating high-end sets (nothing that doesn't reach the collecting masses can be called memorable), I ended up with eight sets that I thought qualified. I was forced to whittle it down to five. And none of those sets are from anything more recent than 2009. Make of that what you like.

I really wanted to put National Chicle from 2010 on the list, but it's such a wildly inconsistent set that I couldn't do it. I still really like it, though.

These two sets also just missed the list:

2008 Timeline and 2008 Stadium Club. I liked both of these sets so much that I set out to complete each of them. And I've failed in each task. I've given up trying to complete Timeline and have started to trade some away. I'm holding on to Stadium Club for reasons I can't figure out.

Both sets are plagued by short-printing in the most obnoxious manner possible, Stadium Club in particular. It's almost as if the card companies defied you to complete it. So, I can't put either of these sets on the list, even though I think both look tremendous.

But that's not to say that the five sets that remain don't feature short-prints. In fact, three of them do. That's just a way of life for sets today I'm afraid.

So short-prints or no, here are the five most memorable sets of the last five years:

Number 5

2008 Topps Allen & Ginter

For me, this is the high cardboard mark for Allen & Ginter. I'm a bit biased because 2008 is the first year that I collected A&G, but to me, this set just looks the way A&G should. I like that all of the type on the bottom is one color (the blue of '06 and the orange of '07 doesn't look as classy). For the most part, I like the presentation of the images a lot better than some of the sets that followed. This set is pure class.

Number 4

2009 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee

It takes a lot for me to complete three full-sized sets in one year. But that's what I did with 2009's offerings. And OPC can take the credit for that. If it wasn't so wonderfully quirky and reminiscent of sets gone by, I wouldn't have bothered. But the photos won me over and it was too colorful for me to ignore.

Number 3

2008 Topps Heritage

The best part of Heritage is being able to collect an entire set of cards with a design from years ago. When it's a design like 1959 Topps -- one of the greatest of all-time -- that makes it probably the most entertaining set to collect all year. If I was able to focus, I would put my efforts into grabbing the SPs I need and finally finishing this set off. Every time I look through the '08 Heritage binder, I wonder if Heritage will ever be that good again.

Number 2

2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces

Maybe you think I shouldn't put this set here because it's basically a repeat of the original Masterpieces set from 2007. But I didn't collect anything modern in 2007 other than Topps base. So this was my introduction to Masterpieces. I also have to say I like the look of '08 Masterpieces slightly better than '07.

I think this set and the '07 set may go down in history as one of the greatest sets of its time. I've certainly come around on it.

Number 1

2009 Topps

What's this? A common, ordinary flagship set at No. 1?

Yes. Here's the deal. In 2009, I had collected Topps flagship for three years after my return to collecting. 2006, 2007 and 2008. Those aren't the greatest years for Topps and I collected progressively fewer cards each year. By '08, I was practically disgusted with Topps base and was wondering why I should bother with '09.

I think if 2009 wasn't as good as it was, especially the first series, then it's possible that I wouldn't be still buying Topps flagship outside of a couple of packs. But thanks to 2009's interesting photos and pleasant design, I completed the '09 set, then completed 2010, and have bought sizable amounts of 2011 and 2012 (even if I don't like the 2012 set much).

To me, that defines a memorable set. 2009 will always have a place in the Pantheon of My Completed Sets (What? You don't have one, too?). Right up there with Topps 1980 and 1983 and Upper Deck 1993 (but not quite at the level of '71, '74 and '75 Topps).

2009 Topps changed my mind-set, and it probably can take a little bit of the credit for why I continue to buy modern cards and continue to write about modern cards.

And do little "best" and "worst" posts like this.

Yup, 2009 Topps, it's all your fault.


  1. 2009 Topps is so underrated by so many collectors, but it is one of my favorite sets of the 21st century.

    JT, The Writer's Journey

  2. I couldn't agree with these much more. I love all of these sets, although I never did much with 2009 Topps.

    I would have thrown 2004 Donruss Studio on there, but that's just me, as I am a sucker for cards featuring a skyline.

  3. "But lack of positive reinforcement has never stopped me before". Thanks for making me laugh out loud. It's good to do that every day.

  4. I agree with most of these, especially '08 A&G. By far the best in its illustrious history.

  5. Good list - and an excellent blog topic. The '08 Stadium Club set would probably be in my top 5 seeing how I love the set. However, I too have failed in my attempts to complete the darn thing.

  6. I've been searching for the right words for my feelings on the 09 OPC set for a while and I think your last 2 sentances are spot on!

  7. Any set I can buy at Target or Wal-Mart for $39.99 (i.e. Topps) kind of takes the fun out of set building

  8. I think you are pretty spot on with your top picks. I may have had 1 or 2 different sets slide in (I like and completed Timeline) and a tweak in the order but your top 5 would probably be in my top 7-8.

  9. Great choices all, but 2009 Topps will always have a special place in my heart because it is the set that got my son into the hobby.

  10. You had me until #1. While I like '09 flagship (especially better than circus balloons in '08), I think it falls just under 2010 and 2011 in the last few years' designs. Plus, 2012 photography was way above anything in the last several issues.

    '08 Heritage and '09 OPC are in my top 5-10 as well. Still cleaning up the last few on both myself.
    I'd have put in 2004 UD Timeless Teams (Timeline precursor) and 2005 UD All-Star Classics as two of the most gorgeous sets of all time. That might be going too far back, though.

  11. 2009 Topps is a bold choice, yet a pretty worthy one. Topps clearly got their act together on this flagship set. The design and photography were so of its best in years and the SPs of Hall of Famers made it a good, reasonable chase to collect. I think the photography is the 2012 set is even better.

    I wish I got into the OPC, but too many shots I thought had a canvas back drop. This set could have been better.

    I prefer the 2009 (1960) Heritage. I collected way too much of the 59s to then realize a number of photos are too blurry/almost pixelated. Topps played around a little too much with trying to make the photography "old." It's like the 1957 Heritage in which a number of images have a soft drop shadow.

    I've thought about collecting the UD Masterpieces, but told myself just stick to Topps. I kinda wish they did this set at like 600 cards. I think I would have been more eager to collect it.

  12. Here's some positive reinforcement - great post!!!!