Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Sets Dropping Like Flies

For the past few years, I've been keeping track of the last card I obtained for a set. Because of this, I have a running tally of every set that I have knocked off my want list since 2017. In 2019, I managed to finalize a record 12 sets and I felt pretty good about myself. This year, killing off sets from my want list became even more of a collecting priority for me. This was partially because there were sets I was tired of seeing on my want list after years of back-burner status, partially because I had ideas for new projects that I didn't want to start while I still had too many sets to think about, and partially because new products this year were uninteresting/unavailable to me. The result of spending my time and money searching for set needs was a whopping 27 sets completed in 2020. My annual disclaimer for this post is that these sets weren't necessarily started and finished during the 2020 calendar year, but 2020 was simply when I collected the final card needed for the set.

Some of the images below are photos I took upon receiving the cards, while others come from TCDB.

2016 Panini Absolute Unsung Heroes

20 Cards; Last Card: #13 Joe Thomas

I never opened a pack of 2016 Absolute, but I saw this set and had to have it. This is one of my favorite checklists ever, with guys like Eric Berry, Joe Thomas, and John Kuhn as well as two former BYU Cougars, Brett Keisel and Ziggy Ansah.

2013 Panini Triple Play

100 cards; Last Card: #98 Stephen Strasburg

I really don't like this set. I only decided to build it because I had accumulated the entire base set and thought, Why not? Except for the last 10 cards, which are short printed and harder to find than you might expect. The SP subset is "When I Was a Kid" and is pretty fun. Strasburg was the final one eluding me for a couple years, but I was able to pick it up and put this set to bed.

1992 Fleer Ultra

450 cards; Last Card: #331 Barry Foster

I bought a box of 1992 Ultra on a whim about three years ago. I probably could have finished the set earlier, but the collation was awful and the box didn't get me as close to the set as I had hoped. Every other card that didn't come from the set came from trades.

1992 Fleer

480 cards, Last Card: #469 Steve Young

See above.

1993 Fleer

 500 cards; Last Card #399 Anthony Miller

See above.

1996 Donruss

240 cards; Last Card #143 Emmitt Smith

This set took about 3 years of "once-in-awhile" collecting before I polished it off. This is Donruss's first foray into the football field.

1992 Upper Deck Gamebreakers

9 Cards; Last Card: #9 Michael Irvin

Last year I completed the 1991 Gamebreakers set. I mentioned that I was close to the 1992 set. Well, now it's done. Two holograph sets that fit neatly into a nine-pocket page. 1991 featured running backs; 1992 was all receivers. I didn't realize this before, but I just learned that these had one-per-box odds, so that's kind of cool

1999 Pacific Paramount

250 cards; Last Card: #100 Edgerrin James

Last year, a TCDB member was selling some partial sets and I decided to pick up a few. Even though I had no 99 Paramount cards before that, I ended up buying enough of the set to conclude it was worth finishing it. I took less than a year to buy and trade for the remaining cards. The set has a couple of nice rookies, including this Edgerrin James and Donovan McNabb.

1986 Topps 1000 Yard Club

 26 cards; Last Card: #22 Roger Craig

Earlier this year, I picked up a couple of large boxes of football cards from the local classifieds. Among the good stuff in there was a near-complete set of 1986 Topps 1000 Yard Club inserts. I immediately decided to add the collection and it didn't take long to trade for the last 3 or 4 that I needed.

2017 Topps Update

300 cards; Last Card: #US221 Mark Zagunis

This is a set I thought I had completed a few years ago. It turns out I was still missing one card. A Cub, no less! But I rectified through a trade this year.

2020 Topps Opening Day

200 cards; Last Card: #175 Austin Meadows

My annual box purchase once again yielded a complete set. All of these cards came in one fell swoop, but I marked Meadows as the last card needed as it was the last card of the last pack.

2020 Topps Opening Day Opening Day

15 cards; Last Card: #5 Milwaukee Brewers

This repetitively-named insert set is usually a pretty fun one. I had no particular interest in completing it, though. Until my box came up just one card short. It was a quick TCDB trade away from completion. 

2019 Topps Opening Day 150 Years of Fun

25 cards; Last Card: #23 Francisco Lindor


This was my yearly Opening Day insert set from last year. It took my a little longer, but I finally made the trade for Lindor that completed it. I wonder if some team will finally make a trade for Lindor in real life. It seems like he's been the subject of rumors for ages.

1992 Pinnacle Team 2000

80 cards; Last Card: #29 Brian Hunter

This was an interesting set for me to build. I had never bought any 1992 Pinnacle and had never seen this insert set. But when I did discover it a few years ago, I loved the checklist so I decided to chase it. I just completed an 80-card, nearly 30-year-old insert set that I had not started before. It was fun to do.

1996 Select

200 cards; Last Card: #200 John Elway/Barry Sanders Checklist

Like the Paramount set above, this came from the same lot of set starters I bought from a TCDB member. This design isn't my favorite; it's all horizontal and the football leather texture makes it hard to read the text. But 1996 was a pretty good rookie class and Select was a pretty good product back in its day.

2016 Topps Archives

300 cards; Last Card: #101 Babe Ruth

This set was completed almost completely from blaster boxes and then trading. This last card cost me way more than it should have, but I guess the pandemic-induced price hikes on cards included modern-day Babe Ruth base cards. I paid over $2 for this card, but I haven't been able to trade for it and I really wanted this set off my wantlist, so I went for when I saw a seller on Sportlots that I already had included in my cart had a copy available. Although, I have to admit that showing the Babe as a pitcher for the Red Sox makes for a pretty cool card.

1998 Pinnacle Mint Bronze

30 cards; Last Card: #7 Ken Griffey, Jr.

This is such a weird product. The base cards have big holes in them. Coins came in packs with cards. This particular set is one of three parallels with foil coins printed in place of the hole. These parallels look more like real cards than the base. I picked up a starter set of base, coins, and bronze for $1. I'm still working on the coins, but Griffey polished off the Bronze foil set.

2016 Topps Bunt Program

30 cards; Last Card: #P-10 Albert Pujols

It feels like this set has been sitting on my wantlist forever while I just added a card or two every year. They weren't hard to find or cost prohibitive to pick up, but I always seemed to find something else that I would have rather picked up. With one Sportlots order, I decided just to knock out the last few that I needed. I really fell in love with the idea and the design when they first came out, so I'm glad to finally have them all.

2017 Prestige

290 cards; Last Card: #267 Jeremy Sprinkle

There are actually 300 cards in this set, but the final 10 are short-sprinted and too far out of my price range for players that amount to just set fillers for me, so I don't plan to collect those. As far as I'm concerned, this set is done.

2020 National Baseball Card Day

30 cards + 3 Bonus; Last Card: #9 Francisco Lindor

I already posted about my quest for this set. Thanks to a generous card shop owner, I was able to come within a few cards from free packs alone. The last few came from Sportlots and eBay. Francisco Lindor is my final card in a second set this year.

2019 Topps Big League

400 cards; Last Card: #375 Christian Yelich

I really thought it would be easier to build this set. Two hobby boxes barely netted me 50%, but I was determined to finish it. Most of my TCDB trades this year involved 2019 Big League, but this popular Christian Yelich had to come from Sportlots to finish the set.

2008 Upper Deck X Xponential

90 cards; Last Card: #X-RO Roy Oswalt

This cool holographic set was the bright spot for 2008 Upper Deck X. It took me years before I decided I wanted to complete this set and another year or two before I decided to complete it and get it off my wantlist. Once I did, I found it was surprisingly easy to chase it down. I like the sister insert set, Xponential 2, more and I'm making good progress on it right now, too.

1998 Ultra Pizazz Subset (Short Printed)

25 cards; Last Card: #494 Mark McGwire

I never made a goal to put the 1998 Ultra set together. I merely acquired a good chunk of these sparkly Pizazz cards and thought it would be nice to finish it off. I didn't know that these cards were SPs at the time. I think this set is the highest value set (by average card, not cumulatively) I have ever put together. No, I'm not a high-end collector.

1997 Upper Deck

300 cards; Last Card: ??

One more set that I bought off the TCDB seller and completed. I don't know which card was the last because I didn't realize that it was done until later and I couldn't remember what the last card was.

1988 Topps 1000 Yard Club

28 cards; Last Card: #24 Eric Martin

After I completed the 1988 Topps football set for nostalgic purposes (the first cards I ever owned), I thought I'd add the one-per-pack 1000 Yard Club Cards to the binder. This set came almost entirely via trades. Fun fact: due to the 1987 strike, the threshold for these players to be included in the 1000 Yard Club was only 750 yards.


  1. Congrats on completing so many sets! I'm fairly close to the 2016 Archives set myself, but don't think I'll ever get those short prints...

  2. Congratulations! Looks like 2020 was a pretty solid year for completing sets for a few bloggers.

  3. We're gonna have to nickname you "The Set Killer"! :)

    1. Well, my sets tend to die slow, painful deaths, so that moniker may make me one sick puppy.