Card of the Day: 1990 Topps Jim Gott

Today’s Card of the Day comes from one of the worst Topps sets. I don’t think many people will disagree with that opinion, but it is just an opinion. The 1990 Topps set has the Frank Thomas rookie/draft pick card, an early Ken Griffey Jr card and…not much else. The front design is awful, the back colors are hideous, and they printed way too many of these cards. There were so many that some collectors just trashed their extras, probably just keeping a few of the better players at the time, but they tossed the rest. The Sammy Sosa card had decent value at one point, but that didn’t hold. Even if half of the people who had these cards did that same thing, there would still be too many in existence.

Today’s featured player in pitcher Jim Gott, who played for the 1987-89 Pittsburgh Pirates, left the team for five seasons, then returned in 1995 as a free agent for his final season in the majors. He set the Pirates record for saves in 1988 with 34, which was topped 14 years later by Mike Williams. He joined the Pirates when there were plenty of sets, so I looked for one that hasn’t been featured recently. I checked his available Topps sets, then checked 1990 sets specifically, which is how we landed on a set I don’t like to feature too often. It’s been almost a full year, so let’s take a look at card #292 from the 1990 Topps set.

Here’s the front of the card:

If you knew nothing about cards, then tried to guess the year of a Topps set just by the front design, this is one of three I think you could get within 1-2 years of getting it correct. The 1972 Topps set definitely feels like the era, as does the 1975 set. This just feels like 1990. I was a wee lad back then, but I do remember some things from a few years later that all had that Saved by the Bell vibe.

I have to give this set a little credit now over something I just realized. This look with different colors of green isn’t specific to the Pirates. The set has all different border colors, with Pirates players having many different looks. However, the frame for the photo that is black and yellow here is specific to the Pirates. That’s something they did specific for every other team as well. I literally just noticed that now. I might have to increase the set design from a half star (out of five) to one star.

Here’s the back of the card:

I hate the colors of the back here. I don’t even know what you would call it, at least a name that is PG. You have all of his big league stats here, including him getting hurt in his one game for the 1989 Pirates, then missing the rest of the year. I just spent way too long reading about Hapikido and whether it was effective in various types of fights, so I’m going to end the back recap here. It’s ugly, what is the design at the bottom, who can I retroactively fire for this idea, etc

This card is a typical Ebay common, where you will be paying more than it’s worth because you have to cover the shipping charges. Try to pay under $2, which shouldn’t be difficult. There are plenty of autograph options in the $5 to $15 range. He has a nice autograph, though it looks like “J Gott” so it’s not as good as most autographs from the era. I’d note that there are plenty he signed in dark marker across the dark jersey, so some of the options are pretty bad in my opinion. One other note. I noticed people listed his O-Pee-Chee card as the Topps card. The reason I point that out is because the O-Pee-Chee card has a little note on the front that says “now with Dodgers”, so I didn’t want you thinking you found some rare variation.