In the winter of 1990 the trading card presses were cranking, and not just for the upcoming Topps rainbow border set. Topps entered the magazine publishing business with the debut of Topps Magazine.
I was already a Beckett subscriber, and I was happy to pay the $2.95 to purchase another hobby magazine, this one by my favorite manufacturer! Unlike Beckett and the variety of other price guides on the market, Topps Magazine was full color and focused more on player stories and reviews of Topps products than prices.
The premier issue featured Jose Canseco on the cover and included an uncut sheet of 8 “exclusive” baseball cards. Rookie of the Year Ken Griffey Jr. was included along with “A.L. Hot Prospect” outfielder Dan Peltier. In case you were wondering, he ended up playing in 108 games over the course of three seasons in the early to mid-90’s. He batted .255 over 243 at bats and belted one single home run.
I’ve really enjoyed reading back through this over the last couple days. I love looking back at the assessments of the collecting world at that time as well as what the predictions were for the future.
Here’s some of the highlights of Issue 1:
- A relative of Bob Feller needed to ask Topps if they had his autograph so they could get in touch with him.
- 1989 Bowman was a raving success and would be returning for the 1990 season. Details to come at a later date.
- There was a 900 number collectors could call to listen to card stuff for $1 a minute.
- Bo Jackson rookie cards were predicted to be “a few thousand dollars each” in coming years.
- The 1990 Topps set would be releasing soon, and a solid 7.5 pages were devoted to walking us through the specifics. It was a pretty nice write up!
- Eight Exclusive Trading Cards were inserted in the mag: Dave Staton, Dan Peltier, Griffey Jr., Ruben Sierra, Bret Saberhagen, Jerome Walton, Kevin Mitchell, and Mike Scott
- A recap of highlights of the 1989 Season
The Player focused feature articles on Canseco, Griffey, Kevin Mitchell, and Don Mattingly were about 3-4 pages and were photo heavy. As I read the articles again, I realized how much I’d forgotten about these guys who were on the top of their game. I really enjoyed reading back through them refreshing my memory. For instance, did you know that Don Mattingly was driving a 1962 Ford pickup truck in 1989? What about that Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr. made about $250,000 appearing at card shows and signings in the four months leading up to the start of 1990 Spring Training?
Everyone remembers Kevin Mitchell’s one handed catch, but did you remember that he hit 47 home runs and knocked in 125 RBI that season? I didn’t. That was the peak of his 13 year career, but over time the memories of a mediocre part-time player that we saw over his final four or five seasons eclipsed the greatness we saw in 1989 and 1990.
That’s why I love going back through these old magazines. We think back on the “busted” Future Star like Eric Anthony(who hit .300 with 28 HR in the minors during the ’89 season) or “Topps All-Star Rookie” Greg Briley(Who’s 1989 season with the Mariners was on par with Griffey) and laugh in hindsight about how wrong those labels were without remembering the potential that those prospects showed.
Another feature I enjoyed was a tutorial on how to keep score using an official scorecard. That’s an art I learned throughout my high school playing days, but I’d have to imagine the number of kids who know how to do it today is at an all time low? Issue 1 had two full pages devoted to the ins and outs of this lost art.
And finally, they launched the first of a four part series highlighting the Topps sets of the 80’s. 1980-82 were the focus of this issue.
Like I said before, I really enjoyed re-reading the magazine. It looks like I have 15 of the 16 issues that were produced, and that should translate into hours of relived memories and maybe a few more articles……
It’s not too late to pick up your own copy…Ebay has several available from $6-$14 delivered. Wait, that’s 2-4x the cost of the magazine! Come to think of it, that might be the highest ROI of any Topps product in 1990!
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