In 1992, Topps began to wake up to the changing trading card world around them. After a few years of continuing to issue the same cardboard product that it had always produced -- just because it was TOPPS and Topps didn't NEED to change -- it realized it needed to change.
Upper Deck was attracting a whole new kind of collector, and it was receiving all kinds of praise for the look of its cards. Even Fleer, Donruss and Score were attempting to keep up with the changing collecting habits. And Topps was left alone in the corner, sniveling all over it's gray cardboard stock.
So in 1992, Topps changed. A little.
The most drastic change was the disappearance of the gray card stock. Topps went with a brighter, cleaner white cardboard. The other change was on the back. Topps went with pictures on the back for the first time since 1971.
The pictures weren't of players, like other card companies had done, and they weren't sharp and candid, like Upper Deck's. But, hey, Topps was trying, so it came up with this:
(Yes, I picked this particular card because "Greg enjoys listening to the music of Huey Lewis." Who doesn't enjoy a rousing karaoke session of "Hip To Be Square"?)
I love stadium pictures. I know I'm not the only one. And there is at least one other set on this countdown that uses stadium photos.
Topps' use of stadium pictures isn't perfect. The photos aren't all that clear. They're rather tiny. They don't appear on every card. But the concept is cool. Match up a player's team with the stadium in which they work? And make the photos panoramic? That's a nice idea.
I'm not sure where Topps obtained the photos. This was before wikipedia, so it's not like it could be lazy and steal it from a website. But there isn't consistency in the types of pictures. Some feature the inside of the stadium, like the Astrodome.
And some feature the outside of the stadium, sometimes from about 3 miles away, as it appears in this photo of Olympic Stadium.
But all in all, I think it's a nice idea, and at least it showed that Topps was trying to keep with the times. Was it a case of Joe Morgan acknowledging the benefits of OPS? No, nothing that huge. But it was certainly something different.
Some people wish we never turned away from gray cardboard stock. I feel like that periodically. But before I start getting cranky, how about a look at all of the stadium photos from that set?
It doesn't seem like 1992 was that long ago, but out of those 26 stadiums only seven are still used for MLB games, if they even exist at all. Also, there are four more teams in MLB now -- five if you count the Expos' conversion to the Nationals.
You can't stop change. Isn't that right, Topps? Now, fix your website.
Best of the set:
I'll take any card that features Dodger Stadium.
(Previous card back countdown selections):
50. 1978 SSPC Yankee Yearbook
49. 1993 Score
48. 1999 Skybox Thunder
47. 2000 Upper Deck
46. 1999 Skybox Premium
45. 1953 Johnston Cookies Braves
44. 1995 Topps
43. 1997 Fleer
42. 1992 Pinnacle
41. 1989 Bowman
40. 1977 Kellogg's
39. 2004 Topps
38. 2004 Topps Total