Sunday, September 19, 2021

One Card Only - Topps Tek

I occasionally mention the glut of parallels in the hobby currently. Okay, I mention it more than occasionally. But it's not a new phenomonon. Today's card is from perhaps the most overblown set ever produced in terms of the sheer number of parallels. 

It's well over the top. It's Topps Tek.

Card Number 736: Topps Tek (pattern 22), 1998; #23

There were 90 base cards in this card set which was printed on acetate, and each card was printed with 90 different 'patterns' on the acetate. That's 8,100 different cards, if anyone was committed enough to try and collect them all. But then there were also 'diffractor' versions of each pattern of each card as well - another 90 parallels of the 90s cards, and another 8,100 cards in the set! 

That set bloat might explain why there are only 1.1% of the images on Trading Card Database. This card wasn't pictured on there, so I have submitted it.

Compared to some of the other designs, this is a lot less snazzy. It's a ripple effect. 

Because it's acetate, they've flipped the image of Tony on the back to match the shape of his head and bat. We have yet another serious photo - hey, it's a card from 1998. That's what they did.

The cardback threw me a bit because it had milestones for Tony in 1999 and 2000. But this is definitely a card from 1998 - I have triple-checked! (Thank you, YoRicha, for uploading some pictures on to TCDb!) So I think those were Topps trying to predict when Tony would achieve the milestones. 

Tony reached 3000 hits in 1999, and hit his 500th double the same year. The target of 1,500 runs was aspirational, and Tony didn't manage to reach it in 2000, or at all. He finished his career on 1,383 at the end of the 2001 season. I guess two predictions from three isn't bad.

Getting a Topps Tek card for the collection had been one of my aims for a while. Collecting all 90 is very unlikely. 

Total: 736 cards


  1. When these came out in 98 I remember thinking 90 parallels for a base was absolutely insane. I told myself I just want 1 and I will feel satisfied. When I got back into the hobby around 2015 I still didn't care about Topps Tek. It was around 2018 the bug hit me. I started actively collecting these. It turns out these are not the easiest cards to hunt down. As of right now I have 27 variations.
    As for collecting the Diffractors, I am not there yet. Even though I may be considered a Super Collector, I have my limits.

  2. I'd be satisfied with having one card for my collection... but would pick up others if they were cheap (a buck or less). I do think it'd be cool to see a 9-pocket page filled with different patterns, but I doubt I'll ever get to that point.

  3. I think there is somebody with a basement of binders - 1 for each player - grimly scouring the web for the last few cards they don't have

  4. Actually, I went back and checked and with the diffractor versions too, there are 180 versions of each card. This isn't a diffractor. I have edited the post.