Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Joy of a team set, chapter 7

The 1991 "Worst-to-First" Minnesota Twins are 25 years old, you guys. Flagship sets on real cardboard are 25 years old, you guys!!!

You guys ... you're old!

Yeah, I'm old, too. But we knew that. You're old!

It's staggering that the 1990s, which for me was a whirlwind-shitstorm of not the friendliest decade, is 25 years old. We just got rid of all that Yankees-Braves nonsense, didn't we? Is it possible that people active in the workforce right now have no idea what EMF is? Unbelievable!

But confronting reality head-on, here I am acknowledging the '91 World Series champion Twins in the latest edition of Joy of a Team Set.

As you know, the 1990 Twins finished dead last. So when the 1991 Topps set came out, there was no indication that the team featured on cardboard would end up as World Champions. I get the sense that with some of the older sets, Topps featured better or more distinctive photos for the best teams (i.e. the mid-1970s Oakland A's). But if that's true, Topps couldn't do that with the Twins because everyone knew as 1991 began that this was a BAD TEAM.

Still, I think the Twins fared pretty well in the 1991 set. Except for one unfortunate incident:

OK, on with a complete look at the team:

I included the '91 Traded Twins in the team scan, which is every card from Steve Bedrosian forward. It really gives you a look at how the Twins went from last to a championship. Every one of those Traded guys was a key component for the championship Twins.

Meanwhile, Nelson Liriano, John Moses, Jack Savage, Roy Smith, Tim Drummond and that "future star" Rich Garces, did not play on the '91 Twins, and it's safe to say they didn't miss those guys a bit.

Now, on with the rundown:

Favorite card runners-up:

5. Junior Ortiz; 4. Jack Morris; 3. Kirby Puckett; 2. Greg Gagne

Favorite element on the back:

"Rick played in Alaska in 1981 and Hawaii in 1982." This is the perfect baseball card blurb. It means absolutely nothing yet is fascinating at the same time.

Famous error card: The errors in 1991 Topps have been examined to an excessive degree. But I don't know of any with the Twins cards.

Team's claim to fame: A small-market franchise was able to win two World Series titles in five years.

Players I've talked to: None. But Kirby Puckett was on my fantasy team in 1996 when he went on the DL with glaucoma and then retired in the middle of the season. Yeah, I know that doesn't qualify as talking to someone, but I just wanted everyone to know why I don't participate in fantasy baseball anymore.

Most interesting card:


Former or future Dodgers: Greg Gagne, Kevin Tapani, Mark Guthrie, Jack Savage and Scott Erickson. All except Savage played for the Dodgers after playing for the Twins, including Erickson -- who didn't play for the Dodgers until 2005!

Favorite card in the set:

#672 - Shane Mack

That base might as well be a door floating in the North Atlantic and Shane Mack Leonardo DiCaprio.

By the way, Mack was a repeat fantasy team player on my squads. I use this card as a metaphor for those fantasy days.

Thanks again for joining me for "Joy of a Team Set."


  1. Cool set. Since I collect autographs in person, I counted the number of guys in this set I have met. I was surprised to see that total land on 7. Drummond, Kelly, Erickson, Gaetti (great guy), Hrbek, Harper and Garces. All pretty nice guys. The photos were pretty nice on many of the cards though even then I think some were too closely cropped. I like the full cardboard treatment too, though I think the overall design is kind of meh.

  2. 1991 Topps (and 91 Donruss and 91 Fleer) was the end of the era. Goodbye thin non glossy brown cardstock and hello glossy foil stamped cards (ugh!). These cards blow away anything (except maybe the 2008 Topps set) in the last 25 years that were made by Topps. The Topps 40 years of baseball logo is probably the greatest non sports team logo to appear on any Baseball, Football, Basketball, or Hockey set ever. The 2001 Topps logo for 50 years was foil ugh.

  3. That Shane Mack pic reminds me of the '71 set. It would fit there I think.

  4. I'm reminded of how much I enjoy '91 Topps more and more every day. I'm kinda looking forward to seeing the design honored in this year's Archives. (Let's cross our fingers that Topps doesn't screw it up.)

  5. It still freaks me out to see Junior Ortiz as a non-Pirate.

  6. Awesome post (I might be biased). Berenguer, Tom Kelly, and Shane Mack are my favorites from this set. Of course, Jack Morris in a Twins uni is always a welcome sight. 91 Topps is a landmark for me as well, I was right in the sweetspot of my childhood collection - I actually tried to build this set as a kid, trading with other kids. Never did make it, but I have a factory set now on the shelf.

  7. Gene Larkin stands out to me In that set.He was just one of a bunch of little guys who contributed big time In that series.This post put a smile on my face.

  8. Topps had some high quality action shots in this team set. Berenguer, Gagne, Mack, and Castillo are especially unbelievable.

  9. Awesome post! 1991 Topps is my favorite of all time, as it's the first I remember collecting as a kid, and of course, the Twins won it all that year (my team). Thanks for featuring both!