Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Not letting my ARMS atrophy (Archives Reserve Master Set additions)

It's not a great time for fans of modern baseball. Oakland is getting their team snatched away. Wander has a wandering eye for little girls. Ohtani looks to be in for a second Tommy John surgery. Mike Trout still can't stay healthy anymore. Advertising on jerseys. Tinkering with the rules. And then looking at the current card manufacturer landscape, one giant company is taking control of everything, aiming to get more out of customers while giving them less, focusing in on high-rolling investors/breakers without thinking much about the majority of collectors.

But thankfully this hobby has been around a long time and you can spend every second of your time and money on old cards and still not scratch the surface.

With that intro rant out of the way, I'm still trying to get every single Archives Reserve card that Topps put out back in the early days of the millennium. I guess I'm just a sucker for refractor reprints of vintage cards. With zero parallels or numbered cards released, an Archives Reserve Master Set is not out of the realm of possibility. All I have left now are hits. I still have several big name autographs on my wantlist, and whether I truly ever get close to finishing this ARMS race might depend on how dramatically the sports card bubble bursts in the next few years.

But even if the "inner circle" guys are too pricey for me to target at the moment, I've been going after the lower-hanging fruit, hunting for "less than a blaster" autos I still need. 

Ready to check out some shiny hits in classic Topps designs?

Gaylord Perry is the only card in this post that cost more than the old school definition of "price of a blaster" (but works under the current definition), so I'll give him top billing. I remember when I first returned to the hobby as an adult, I decided Perry would be a top PC guy of mine (former Padres great in the HOF; played a long time, lots of cards out there; and pretty much a "household name" yet not much collector competition, relatively speaking). He hasn't exactly remained a primary focus for me since, but I've got a solid PC and he reminds me of those early days getting back into collecting.

Happy to cross this 2002 auto off my Archives Reserve needs. The rest of the cards in this post are rookie reprints from 2001, but for '02 they picked the "best year" for each player as the card design to use, choosing '72 Topps for Perry. And they do the odd but thoughtful practice of adding 1972 stats on the back so you can get an idea why that year was big for him.

Don Larsen is another notable figure in baseball history whose autographed cards won't set you back too much. He's got a rookie card in '54 Bowman, but his first Topps card was '55.

So weird to flip over a Don Larsen card and not read about his perfect game in the World Series. But you get a depiction of Satan, I guess?

Mickey Lolich put together a fine career highlighted by 3 complete game victories in the 1968 World Series and 25 wins in '71.

I prefer 1964 Topps reprints that show you the cartoon rather than the blank space. Obviously Topps doesn't actually re-print old sheets from the dusty archives but rather their graphic designers put together recreations, and sometimes it's kinda dumb when they tell you to rub a nickel on your card.

Dick Groat was NL MVP in 1960, winning the batting title for the eventual champs. Picked up another ring with the Cardinals in '64.

Groat was one of those guys who never played in the minors. There were some nice tributes to him after he passed away last April.

Sneaking in a football card, Terry Metcalf is probably the cheapest of the Archives Reserve football autos. Finally pulled the trigger on one, but somewhere the devil must have yelled "JINX!" at me as I finalized the transaction...

Unfortunately this card got folded longwise while in the mail, creasing it up something fierce. And it was in a freakin' top loader, so the USPS either ignored the "non-machinable" label and it had a dustup with the sorting machines, or maybe just some asshole mail handler "going postal" on a random envelope to blow off steam or something. At least it was only a few bucks so I won't bother making a fuss, but wouldn't mind upgrading someday. But when you consider I've got some huge NFL names to pick up still (like Montana and Namath, just to name a couple joes), I probably won't ever finish the football portion of this collecting goal unless I really stick with it for the long haul. So yeah, no rush, lol.

I haven't been hitting the relics very hard yet, but scored this Johnny Mize bat chip card for a good price.

Funny that you get hair and eye color on the back of '52 Topps. Mize was in '51 Topps, but they usually ignore that set when it comes to putting out rookie ("first Topps card") reprints. 

A couple more autographs to show off quickly. Nice looking Frank Howard here.

Fun comic.

Tommy John wraps up the post. Multiplayer rookies always look weird when reimagined as solo cards, but what are you gonna do?


  1. OK, I just had a really odd moment, where I thought "gee, I'd like to have a Gaylord Perry auto" followed by "wait a minute, I do!" From 1998 Upper Deck Retro. So thanks for the reminder! Can't say I see those Archives Reserve cards around much but I'll try to remember to keep an eye open.

  2. No way would I consider most of those as low hanging fruit. Some nice grabs. As for the bent fb card, the sorting machine didn't do that.

  3. These are such great looking cards. Would love to see this set make a comeback one day.

  4. Are you collecting the football base set too, or have you already completed it? I don't know if I knew that they did relics for the Reserve set or not, but it's a little strange to see a piece of bat on a such a bright rainbowy card.

    1. Yep, I bought a complete set of the football Archives Reserve back in 2015. I don't have any of the football relics yet, so I should probably at least get one example into my wanna-be master set.

  5. Love the back of the Larsen card. I’m hardly an expert but there can’t be too many appearances of the Devil on baseball cards. I can’t remember seeing one.