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1990 Topps TV Chicago Cubs Review

Two weeks ago I posted about my steal of a deal on EBay acquiring a sealed complete set of 1990 Topps TV Chicago Cubs.

That eBay purchase was about as perfect timing as one can get after a random search. An email that morning offered 8% eBay bucks for a limited time and my eyes had been set on a 1990 Topps TV Cubs lot. When I typed in 1990 Cubs Topps TV something else showed up on my screen. It was a complete sealed set on auction and ending in just a few hours.

The bid was placed and by the afternoon I had the set coming my way for just $22 shipped. Another sealed set is listed on eBay for $57.91 so I was happy with my final purchase price.

After submitting payment I realized I’m not going to unseal this set. But I want to see these cards, so back to eBay I went to purchase the one 20-card lot I had my eyes on. This particular lot includes Ty Griffin, whom I loosely collect. It was still available and for $11.90 it was on the way to my mailbox.

The Topps TV set includes 66 cards, and many of the players didn’t appear on any other big league cardboard. First, though, the card I was after was Griffin. The Cubs first round draft pick in 1988 did appear in many sets from 1988 to 1991, despite never appearing in a MLB game.

Jeff Hearron did appear in a Major League game, but his last appearance came four years before this Cubs card. The catcher played 16 games for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1985 and 1986.

Phil Harrison was a 16th round draft pick out of the University of Nebraska in 1986. Harrison topped out at AAA Iowa in 1990.

Brian Guinn was so close to the big leagues…for seven seasons. The outfielder from Berkeley, California was drafted three times (1979 30th round by the Oakland Athletics, 1982 6th round by the San Francisco Giants, and 1983 5th round by the Oakland Athletics). He made it all the way to AAA Tacoma in Oakland’s system in 1986. Before the 1987 season, Guinn came over to the Cubs and spent the year with AA Pittsfield. Guinn played with AAA Iowa from 1988 through 1991 and his final pro baseball season in the White Sox organization in 1992.

Darrin Duffy played the 1990 season with AA Charlotte, and fell back to Single-A Peoria in 1991. Duffy did get back to AAA in 1992 with the Iowa Cubs.

A highly touted prospect, Derrick May was the Cubs first rounder in 1986 and made his MLB debut in 1990. May played with the Cubs through the strike-shortened 1994 season, and the final years of his career with the Brewers, Astros, Phillies, Expos, and Orioles.

Ray Mullino joined May in the Cubs draft class of 1986. The Mississippi State product was selected in the 25th round. Mullino never made it past Double-A.

Bill Long had a six-year big league career with the Cubs, White Sox, and Expos. Long split the 1990 season on both sides of Chicago going 6-1, 4.37 ERA in 55.2 innings on the north side. He was released by the Cubs in December 1990.

Cedric Landrum played one season for the Cubs, batting .233 with 27 stolen bases in 56 games during the 1991 season.

1990 was the final year of pro baseball for Greg Kallevig. The pitcher played six seasons in the Cubs organization.

Doug Strange played in 55 games for the Cubs in 1991 and 1992. Strange also played with the Tigers, Rangers, Mariners, Expos, and Pirates in his nine-year career.

Jeff Small spent the 1990 and 1991 seasons with the AAA Iowa Cubs. Small finished his career with both the Reds and Marlins organizations.

I’ll always remember Laddie Renfroe from his 1991 Score rookie card. Renfroe went 0-1, 13.50 ERA in just four games for the Cubs in 1991.

Dave Pavlas appeared in 13 games for the 1990 Chicago Cubs sporting a 2-0 record in 21.1 innings. He was released by the Cubs in September 1991, and later made a return to MLB with the Yankees in 1995.

Steve Parker appeared in 44 games for the 1990 Iowa Cubs, and was later sent to the St. Louis Cardinals where he played in six games for Louisville in his final year of pro ball.

Fernando Zarranz was drafted by the Cubs in the 14th round of the 1985 draft. After working his way up the ladder he made his first AAA appearance with the 1988 Iowa Cubs. Zarranz reached AAA again in 1990 for five games. It was also his last season in the Cubs system.

Here’s a surprise. And typically I am not surprised when reading about players in the Cubs organization…even as a minor leaguer. Dana Williams had me stumped. First, I saw the Williams Cubs card and said to myself: “who?” Then, I turned the card over and read Williams previously played in the Red Sox organization. Then it dawned on me. This is the same Dana Williams that appeared on a 1990 Fleer rookie card with Rich Monteleone. I know the card well, but never knew he would later be a member of the Cubs minor leagues. Williams played eight games for the 1989 Boston Red Sox. He was traded to the White Sox in 1989, and then came over to the Cubs in 1990 playing in 50 games for the 1990 Charlotte Knights.

This player certainly didn’t make me go, “who?” Rick Wilkins had some good years with the Chicago Cubs in the early 1990’s. He made his debut in 1991 and played in Chicago through the 1995 season. Wilkins batted .303 with 30 home runs and 73 RBI in 1993.

Another catcher that didn’t quite have a splashy year like Wilkins ’93 was Hector Villanueva. Though, the big guy was a highly regarded prospect early on. Villanueva played 174 games with the Cubs in three seasons.

Finally, Gary Varsho, who had already played two seasons with the Cubs by the time this card was printed. His final season in Chicago was 1990, but did play an additional five seasons with the Pirates, Reds, and Phillies.

The plan is to finish off the set by finding lots and cheap singles. This set gets a solid A from me. A great junk era set that is fairly difficult to find.

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