This 1991 Topps set has really grown on me over the years. For those that remember collecting baseball cards over 25 years ago, the sets of the late-'80s to early-'90s probably bring back bad memories of poor investments in overproduced cards. Unfortunately, many people still have trouble even looking at these great sets.
Well, I too was a victim of the baseball card boom era that saw that led to people making huge investments into mass produced cards that would never appreciate; however, there wasn't too much for me to lose out on the the salary of a 14 year old in 1991. I actually quit collecting baseball cards midway though '91, and never even saw the wax packs change to cellophane packs by the end of the year. I never really felt all that burned from my overspending during my first 5 years of collecting between 1987-1991, although relatively speaking, I did spend a large enough percentage of my income/allowances to have learned a few lessons about collecting baseball cards.
The more I look at my 1991 Topps baseball cards, the more fond I become of this set. I'm still in the middle of a set upgrade that includes 10 complete '91TT factory sets, but keep getting sidetracked by other collecting goals.
Lately, I've been trying to add to my Mariano Rivera collection, which doesn't for Topps until the 1995 Topps Traded set. I've always thought that was kind of unfair, since Rivera had turned 26 that year--and he still managed to play for 19 years in the majors. He teammate, Derek Jeter, came up to the majors during the same year at the age of 21 and was able to play for 20 years. I can't help but to imagine how much more Rivera could have accomplished if he had those 4 extra years.
In collecting modern baseball cards, I've been forced to think even further outside the box while staying true to my hobby interests. Today, we have so many variations and inserts that complete set builders may have difficultly determining what to consider a complete set. How much money do you really want to spend?
My sets are organized in a way that tells me a story about the year in baseball; they are functional and educational. You're not going to learn much from a set organized numerically and separated by each type of set produced that year (i.e. Traded, Debut, Inserts). I began integrating my Traded sets into my base sets when I started back up collecting again in 2001. I discovered the Debut sets some years later and began organizing those into my sets as well. I recently began integrating all of the special cards that I used to store in the back of my binder into my base sets as well. I started doing this because the back of my binders were starting to get overcrowded with special cards. I still haven't found a way to effectively integrate many of the insert sets from the back of my binder--I tried. Besides the inserts sets (Wax Cards, Glossy All-Stars, Glossy Rookies), the only other cards stored at the back of my '91 binder are the checklists.
I mentioned many times how my sets are organized by team performance and then player age. How do I handle having more than one of the same player or multiple players? Multiple player cards go in front of the youngest player. Same player cards are organized from newest to oldest, meaning that in terms of the '91 set, the order is: Traded, then Base, then Debut. What if there is more than one card in the same set? In this case there are All-Star cards and Record Breakers. Since they represent achievements of the previous year, I put them after the Base cards, but before the Debut cards.
So how does Mariano Rivera fit into all this? Actually, another turning point in my collecting habits has recently taken place, and since it relates to the set that I'm currently upgrading, so I'll discuss it here. I already include "cards that never were" into my collection, but now there are times when even a non-Topps card will make it into my collection.
Since Topps did not produce a Mariano Rivera in its 1996 base set, I included a Topps Stadium Club card. For 1995, I included a Topps Stadium Club and a Bowman. For 1994, I included Classic card. For 1993, I included a Bowman card. I'm still strategizing my acquisition of a 1992 Bowman and a 1990 Diamond Mariano Rivera. Today, my 1991 Topps set gets a new prospect card of Mariano Rivera as a 21-22 year old minor leaguer.
You can see here that Mariano wouldn't have been the youngest player in the Yankees team set.
Here's a close-up of my new card.