1990 Topps – Neon Memories

I’m the kind of guy that likes to create memories. There are a lot of people who like to live in one moment and rush to the next one and I’m not against that nor have I never had that sort of attitude. But now, as a 40 year old father, I put a lot of thought into what’s happening around me and what I can do to somehow enhance an experience or make it more memorable for my kids. We all do a lot for our kids and we all have moments when you stop and realize that “if I didn’t have kids, there’s no way I’d be standing here posing with The Count from Sesame Street!” But it’s all a part of a larger life that we created when we chose to have children.I think my love for nostalgia and memories from my own childhood is part of what drives my desire to recreate the same for my kids. I remember a lot of cool things that I experienced as a kid and I’ve written about a lot of them. I remember going to Disney with my parents and Papa, playing little league baseball at Centennial Stadium, going to Panama City Beach to swim and ride go-carts and spending summers at Fort Gaines skiing and tubing and fishing. Those were all fun things that I was given a chance to experience as a kid and I thank my parents for opening the doors to those memories.There are other memories that I have that were just normal, everyday occurrences that were a simple part of growing up and I carry them with me still today. I don’t know how the mind decides to keep or throw away certain memories but some little thing can happen every day that takes me back to a moment in my childhood. Last weekend, I sat down and watched a Married with Children marathon and laughed just as much at the memories I had from watching as a kid as I did at the now corny jokes. The show would come on Sunday Nights on Fox and we would get home from the lake and watch it while we cleaned clothes and got prepared for the coming week. It was one of the rare moments that the whole family was in the same room watching TV since my dad was on the road a lot as a truck driver.A big memory for me is also watching the Braves on TBS while eating supper with my mom and little brother every night. I loved Skip and Pete and even though we suffered in the mid 80’s, I loved players like Gerald Perry, Dion James and Claudell Washington. Dale Murphy was a given but we had a lot of likeable players back then. We had a couple that you had to force yourself to like too like Bob Horner and Rick Mahler but that is truly where I found my love for baseball. In turn, I remember both of my children sitting in my arms until they feel asleep watching football and baseball when they were kids. It’s not that they were bored as much as they slept about 16 hours a day.Bailey actually liked when I had football on TV and still watches it in doses today. She also collects cards and autographs with me, even though she is slowing down some because “her things” are becoming important now too. She will still rip packs with me but we have to make time for it now while she used to be at my beckon call. There was even a time when she came to me and said, “Daddy, let’s open these football stickers and put them in my album.” That’s part of the kids growing up I suppose too. I remember wanting to hang out with my friends more and more and pushing my parents to the side. But it’s weird how as I got older, I drifted back to them as the people that I trusted the most. That’s another reason I want to make sure I am creating these memories with my daughters. I want them to always know and remember that I am here for them and they can turn to me just as my parents have done for me.Bailey and I have a lot in common. She likes the thrill rides at the amusement park, she likes the scary movies, she loves King of the Hill and she loves the Georgia Bulldogs. She also loves Pearl Jam! We are able to create a lot of memories that I know will stick with her for the rest of her life. We can never guarantee what path our children will take in life but if we give them love and fond memories, we have done the very best we can. That’s what I’m trying to establish with my kids. So when we go to the beach, Bailey wants me to swim with her and throw her in the air in the pool so she can flip. She wants me to ride the go-cart with her. She wants me race from one end of the pool to the other. And that’s what I want too.Georgia is only 3 but I am trying to raise her just like I started with Bailey. She knows that when we see football or baseball or basketball on TV that those are my sports too. She’ll point and say, “Daddy play baseball?” She recognizes my city league jerseys when I put them on and knows that it is something I enjoy. She stands next to me at the table when I am ripping through an old box of junk wax and wants to see the cards. She really wants the puzzle pieces when I do Donruss but I found out this week just how important those cards are to her. There were four 1990 Donruss checklist cards in the floor of the living room and my wife went to pick them up while cleaning the room. Georgia ran to her and grabbed the cards and said, “these are mine!” The way I interpret that is that she has seen how much daddy likes “playing” with the cards and she wants to be a part of it too. I am more than happy to oblige.Georgia is more into playing right now than doing something as focused as collecting but I’m sure we’ll go through the same phase with her as we did with Bailey and the cards and sticker collecting. But right now, she still knows that the cards on the table are not to be played with. I will toss her an ’87 Donruss Tommy Herr every now and then to keep her happy. Georgia likes to climb on me and have me chase her through the house “trying to get her” but this last trip to the beach she wanted daddy to “fwim” with her too as she is getting more and more accustomed to the water. She’s going to be like her big sister in that regard. They both are little fish that can’t stay out of the water. Even when we go fishing, they want to jump in and swim around the boat. That’s not too much unlike me when I was a kid though.As we continue to create memories, my desire for them is that one day when they are 40, they will be able to look back on certain things in their lives and smile and think, “I’ve really lived a good life.” That’s really what my entire blog has been built around up to this point. The focus is almost always sports cards but there are stories that go with the cards that make them so worthwhile to me. If I hadn’t experienced some of the great times with cards as a kid, I am sure I would have moved on from them by now. I know that some people are able to start collecting as adults and I am all for anybody who wants to join the hobby. I just openly recognize that my love for the hobby today was forged in the late 80’s and early 90’s.Which brings us to the set for this post; 1990 Topps. This one was second to ’89 Donruss in cementing my love for the hobby. That ’89 Donruss was the first pack of cards I ever opened but ’90 Topps was the first full set my parents ever bought for me. I remember getting the full set for Christmas and I didn’t really know what to do with it at first. It was sort of a catch 22 in a weird way. If I had the full set, did that mean I wouldn’t need to buy any packs of ’90 Topps? Did I take the superstar cards out and put them in my binder? Did I keep the full box intact and just keep buying packs for my binder? I really didn’t know what to do. So I just opened the box and started sorting through the cards. And what I found were the neon crazy design Topps cards that I still love today.The set was a massive 792 cards and the first 5 cards commemorated Nolan Ryan’s 5,000 K’s. Remember that one in my post about 1989 Donruss? Then there were some Record Breaker Cards for Vince Coleman, Rickey Henderson and Cal Ripken Jr. Aside from that, the other “insert” types were “Turn Back The Clock”, Future Stars, #1 Draft Picks, All-Star Rookies, and All-Stars. You could get various other inserts in rack packs, cello packs and mail-ins but these were the basics. The big get from that year was the Frank Thomas Rookie and it came with an error version where his name was left off of the front of the card. It remains a highly sought after 1990 Topps card!Let’s go to the design for just a moment. The front of the card had a very 90’s feel with bright neon like colors in the border that matched up with the team colors to a large degree. There were some oranges and yellows that were a little out of place but for the most part, team colors. The back of the card is where things got weird. The color choice was strange with the greenish yellow and the checker board bottom border was just confusing. ’90 Topps is a perfect example of a set where I love the front and hate the back. The front reminded me of Saved By The Bell and the back reminded me of Buster Poindexter in “Scrooged”.I found a 500 count vending box at the LCS yesterday and I’ve never actually gone through one. I have always assumed they were commons and picked through but several Twitter peeps have shown me otherwise. So I figured, for $6, what’s the risk. If anything, I paid $6 to relive a major Christmas gift from my childhood. Let’s see how that panned out.I did pull one of the Nolan Ryan 5,000 K cards and the ’89 Record Breaker Vince Coleman.I also pulled an A. Bartlett Giamatti Commissioner card. I remember this card vividly!The lone “Future Star” in the vending box was Mark Gardner.I pulled five #1 Draft Picks, led by Ben McDonald. I didn’t pull the one I wanted though in Frank Thomas.I was able to put together the full Turn Back the Clock Set.There were seven All-Stars in the stack, including Ryno, Ozzie and McGriff.I missed out on the Griffey Jr. Topps All Star Rookie but did pull Gregg Jefferies. I can’t pull him in 1989 to save my life but here he is in ’90!I pulled a solid crop of rookies with Sosa, Walker, Juan Gone and Bernie! Pleased with these.The stars were a little sparse but did pick up Bo Jackson, The Big Cat and Murphy, which is always fun. McGwire, Canseco, Larkin, Ryan….all eluded me.Finally, one of the most memorable hits in Braves history came from this man. But the airbrushed hat is all I can think of when I look at this card. Not good….1990 Topps has a special place in my collection since it was the first full set I owned. The vending box was not as fun as ripping packs but I don’t feel like it was picked over or anything. The cards had a little bow to them because of being stuffed in that box for 27 years but they’ll probably flatten out when I let them breathe. The vending box experience was a little subpar but the set gets a strong 4 on the Dub-O-Meter. I will be getting a box soon and trying my luck with some wax packs. I would still enjoy pulling a Jr. or Frank Thomas (with or without the name). The set means a lot to me and it’s definitely one of the odder Topps sets in the late 80’s-early 90’s but I enjoy the design as much as I do the ’87 Wood Grain. I like it and can understand how some may not. I think it is often overlooked when navigating the junk wax era for some fun ripping. The boxes are cheap so give one a shot!


Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

7 thoughts on “1990 Topps – Neon Memories”

  1. Well done yet again!!! Married with Children is on when I get home in the morning from working overnight and I often find myself watching them before I go to bed. One of my personal all time great shows.

    Keep the memories coming.

  2. That set brings back the memories…thanks for sharing. Make sure you check all the the cards as there were more cards than just the Frank Thomas that had the black ink missing. They command a premium!

  3. One of the first sets I collected – living in Canada, I had the O-Pee-Chee version. Really enjoying your blog… thanks for the memories and keep up the great work! Cheers,

  4. One of the first sets I collected – living in Canada, I had the O-Pee-Chee version. Really enjoying your blog… thanks for the memories and keep up the great work! Cheers,

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