The Topps Collection

Early in my days of being a player collector, I tried to acquire one card for each year of Emmitt Smith’s playing career (1990-2004). When I accomplished this, I realized that my player collection was rather eclectic and didn’t have much of a common thread, other than featuring Emmitt. I thought it would be cool to see the progression of football cards through out this sure hall-of-famer’s career, especially from one company. Since Emmitt’s rookie cards were produced in 1990, my options were limited as he only has 5 official rookie cards. Action Packed and Pro Set did not last his entire career (and far from it). Fleer got a little messy in the late 90s as they stopped producing basic “Fleer” and changed to “Fleer Tradition,” “Fleer Focus,” etc. At that point in time, I thought that Score had ceased to exist as well, although I now realize my blunder on that front. So my last option was Topps, which was a good choice as it is probably the most iconic and successful sports card brand in the history of the hobby.

So I set out to obtain the Emmitt Smith Topps base card for each year from 1990-2004. It was shortly after this that I discovered the huge online hobby world I now rely on everyday. This quest was a LOT simpler once I realized I could obtain singles from venues other than my local hobby shop (which never seems to have more than 15 or so Emmitt singles at one time). What you see below is the fruits of my surprisingly simple labor:

1990 RC1991199219931994
Click each tiny thumbnail for a full sized scan

I think it’s interesting to see how Topps base card designs progressed over those 16 years. I think my favorite design is probably 1999 for no particular reason while 2004 gets my vote for worst Topps base card in my Emmitt collection, but I suspect that has an awful lot to do with the fact that he is shown in his short-lived Cardinals jersey. One card I think is intriguing is the 2003 card. I hated that Emmitt got traded to Arizona, but I thought this card did well to show an action shot rather than Emmitt holding his jersey at the press conference but shows both team logos. It is a nice transition card for my collection, especially showing the Dallas Star on left and the Arizona Cardinal on the right.

So what do you guys think? What is your favorite Topps base design from 1990-2004?

On two side notes: First, the 1990 RC shown above appears fuzzy because I only have a graded copy of this card (my only graded card ever) and I couldn’t decide if I should bust the slab or not (more on that in a future post). I have a cheap scanner, so the fact that the card surface was a fraction of an inch off of the scan glass meant it was not in focus. Oh well. Secondly, this post was partially inspired by my current side-project from First and Goal, which will be a website featuring my entire Emmitt Smith collection. I am html-coding the entire site, so it will be primative looking, but hopefully that will make it that much more a labor of love…in a weird sort of way. Hopefully I can get it all put together and hosted in the very near future. Stay tuned for an announcement on that.


4 Responses to The Topps Collection

  1. Ross says:

    Thats pretty cool – I think I like the 96 design the best.

  2. jswaykos says:

    The card depicting him on the Cardinals just isn’t right. Can’t blame the guy for doing it – I’d have done the same thing – but still, he should’ve walked away a Cowboy. O’well.

  3. that one in the bottom right corner makes me cringe…

  4. CPAdave says:

    @Joe, Technically he did walk away a Cowboy as he signed a one-day contract with Dallas just for his retirement press conference (I may or may not have skipped a college class to watch it). But yeah, those two years he was in Arizona were pretty awful. Especially since he spent a lot of time on the bench injured…

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