The 1994 Project – Long Overdue Follow-Up, Part 2

In Part 1 of this two-part post, I addressed how I was making up a 1994 “Frankenset” by selecting the best example I have of each player depicted with each team.  I did this because I had way too many cards from 1994, yet there were no particular sets I wanted to complete (or needed to maintain as complete, as was the case with two relatively smaller sets).

In this post, I’m going to discuss some of the unexpected benefits and issues I ran into, show some more shots from my two 1″ binders of 1994, briefly mention my next 1990’s project, and just generally ramble on.

Going into this experiment, I expected that the main benefit would come from reducing the number of commons I have… Just to pick an arbitrary example, I might go from two or three Matt Mieski cards to just one.  But, after pooling all of my 1994 cards together and organizing them by team and player, I realized that that a major source of “bloat” in my collection came from came from cards like this…
1994 Collectors Choice Up Close Frank Thomas
…Stars who I don’t collect, but who often got a couple of cards in every set.  I think that when I gathered all of my 1994 cards together, I found I had seven or eight cards of Frank Thomas, and while I have no quarrel with Frank Thomas, he’s also a player I don’t collect, on a team I don’t collect… So I really only “need” one.

One other fun “side effect” I hadn’t thought of in advance comes up whenever some new junk wax comes my way.  Let’s say I got a repack with several 1994 Donruss Blue Jays in it.  I hadn’t given them much consideration before because I never had any thoughts of completing the 1994 Donruss set and I don’t collect Blue Jays.  Now they’ll get consideration because I’ll look each one over and say “Is this Duane Ward an upgrade over whatever card I’ve already got in my binder?”

Organizing my cards this way also made me take another look at some of my sets.  I had a complete set of 1994 Donruss Triple Play, which I bought as a hand-collated set in 1994.  I’m quite fond of the set, and part of me bristles at the idea of breaking it up… but if I broke up the set and got rid of the non-binder cards, would I miss those cards at all?  There’s certainly no need to hang on to the checklists other than to maintain a complete set… a set that, I should point out, is largely worthless and the only person who would care about the set being complete is me.  If I should die tomorrow and my wife gets someone to give an appraisal of my collection, nobody is going to say “Oh, it’s such a pity he didn’t have a complete set of ’94 Triple Play”.

Photo break for any of you who get restless without the occasional picture:  Here’s the first of my Padres pages, complete with Bip:

1994 Frankenset Padres Page 1 Jan 16

It occurred to me after the first post that I had featured several pages like this, but some of you might want to see a complete “team set”, so I’ll share that at the end of the post (to minimize the scrolling for anyone who’s not interested).

Getting back to the project as a whole, I was recently reminded of another reason to go the “Frankenset” route when trying to make a representation of a particular season, and that reason can be summed up with one name: Jason Varitek.

Varitek was on a 1992 Topps “Team USA” subset card, made his MLB debut in 1997, but did not appear on a Topps card as a Major Leaguer until 2007. If I used 1998 Topps (just as an example) to represent the 1998 season, they I’d be Varitekless.

…Of course, 1998 Topps was only 504 cards and there was no Traded set that year, so a lot of players would be left out of the festivities if one were to go with just 98T.

I have identified one potential issue with a year-based Frankenset, and it’s a relatively minor one… If I wanted to generate a wantlist for this Frankenset, how would I do that?  If, for example, I wanted to know whether I’ve got a card of every Tiger that was represented on 1994 cardboard, how difficult would that be to work out?

I don’t know that I would ever truly need a wantlist for one of these Frankensets, as I don’t think I would put much effort into filling such wants, but I feel like it needs to be addressed anyway.

For my own situation, I keep my collection inventoried in an Access database, and I could write a query to generate a list of the players I have for a given year, another list of the players that had cards in that same year, and then bump them up against each other to find the players who were on cardboard but not on one of my cards.

And so…

You can say what you will about The Shlabotnik Report, good or bad, I’m about to give you something that you’ve likely never seen in another sports collectibles blog… I’m about to share with you an actual collectibles-related SQL query!

SELECT s.shortdesc, c.cardnum, c.subject,, c.qty, c.wantlevel
FROM cardinfo as c, setinfo as s
WHERE c.cardsetid = s.setid
AND s.setyear = 1994
AND c.subject not in
(SELECT distinct c.subject
FROM cardinfo as c
LEFT JOIN setinfo as s
ON c.cardsetid = s.setid
WHERE s.setyear = 1994
AND c.qty > 0)
ORDER BY c.subject, s.shortdesc;

If anyone revives the “Bip Awards” for 2016, I expect to be nominated for “Best use of SQL in a blog post”.

Through use of this query, I found that I do not have a 1994 card of the Expos’ Brian Looney (who appeared in 1994 Bowman, Fleer and Upper Deck), and I also found that I do not have a card of “Bred Pennington”… Which means I’ve got a typo in my database.

Another way of generating a wantlist would be to compare the binder pages to for a particular team and year. This wouldn’t necessarily get you ever player who appeared on cardboard in 1994 for a given team (prospects might get missed, for example) but it would get you a good part of the way.

So now that the activity on my 1994 Frankenset has plateaued – it will never really be “finished”, and that’s part of the fun – I’m going to turn my attention two years earlier.  Unlike 1994, 1992 has a Topps set I like well enough that I don’t want to break it up, but the year still has a lot of bloat. More significantly, I’m in the process of slowly busting a cheap box of 1992 Stadium Club, so I would like to be able to decide in somewhat short order how many of those Stadium Club cards I want to hang on to.  Unlike 1994, 1992 has a set I like – That year’s Topps flagship. Because of that, the 1992 Frankenset is more likely to end up as an augmented Topps set (we can rebuild it… make it better, stronger, faster…)

So that pretty much covers everything I wanted to mention, so let’s get back to the “team set” I’d mentioned before. When I was trying to decide which 1994 team to feature – remember, I didn’t “Frankenset” my two teams, the Mets and Orioles – my initial thought was to feature whichever team was the 1994 World Champion… but I’d momentarily forgotten that there was no World Champion in 1994 thanks to the work stoppage that resulted in the loss of the postseason.

Since we didn’t have a 1994 Champion, I went back a year and decided I would feature the 1993 World N.L. Champion Phillies.  (Always factcheck yourselves, kids!)

1994 Frankenset Phillies Page 1 Jan 16

As you can see, the bulk of my 1990’s purchases leaned towards the low-end… but these days, junk wax is junk wax, and I’m starting to include more Stadium Club, Ultra, Pinnacle and such in my binders.

1994 Frankenset Phillies Page 2 Mar 16

As things currently stand, the Phillies team set takes up all 36 pockets in my sheets…

1994 Frankenset Phillies Page 3 Mar 16

…but it’s also a team that doesn’t include the 1994 Score team checklist card which features Veterans Stadium. I included that card for the other teams where I had that team checklist, just because I enjoy cards that feature a stadium.

1994 Frankenset Phillies Page 4 Mar 16

So that’s all there is to say about this project.  If anybody’s interested, I can give updates about the 1992 project… and hopefully I’d do so before a year had passed.

4 thoughts on “The 1994 Project – Long Overdue Follow-Up, Part 2

  1. Minor detail: Joe Carter walked off Mitch Williams to clinch the 1993 World Series for Toronto.

    Cool project though, and I’d be honored to donate some 1994 cardboard to such a worthy cause (except that “too many cards” is precisely the problem this project was designed to solve).

    • Joe Carter you say? Home run? Doesn’t ring a bell. :-)

      You are right, of course, and I’m an idiot.

      Three lessons from this , boys and girls:
      1). Don’t rush through your homework
      2) always listen to the little voice in the back of your mind that says “wait, is that right?”
      3) always question authority.

  2. I have done this for years. Mostly because topps quit making large sets and I like the middle relievers, back up catchers, etc. what I do is collect the Topps base set and then pick out players in other sets not in the Topps set. My rule is I only keep multiples of players if they are in different uniforms. I have also started adding minor league cards if they made appearances in the major leagues in the year the card came out.

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