Collector Stories | Mike Moynihan

The Hobby’s Ultimate Series 1 Collector

Date: Mar 1, 2024
Author: Greg Bates, Senior Writer
Topics: Collector Stories, Mike Moynihan, Set Collector, Topps Series 1
Length: 763 Words
Reading Time: ~4 Minutes

Still fresh in his mind nearly four decades after its release, the 1987 Topps Baseball set was a game-changer for Mike Moynihan.

That was a formative year in his collecting as a teenager.

“I remember going to Sam’s, and there were pallets of ’87 Topps,” said Moynihan, who grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, where he still resides. “I cannot tell you how many boxes of ’87 Topps I opened. I think I ended up with five 5,000-count boxes of ’87 Topps when I finally put them all together.”

That ’87 set captivated Moynihan; it set in motion a lifelong project.

Moynihan’s complete sets

Collecting Every Topps Flagship Card

Moynihan, now 50 years old, has made it his goal to collect every Topps Baseball base card that has ever been produced. That’s 1951 through 2023. And that’s a lot of cards—46,781 cards, to be exact. Moynihan has 42,506 of the cards, which means his passion project is 90.9% finished.

“It’s kind of this lifetime journey of building these sets,” Moynihan said. “There’s this feeling of satisfaction as you fill in gaps on a set in a binder. There’s nothing like it. It’s a unique hobby experience to do that.”

Moynihan first started collecting Topps cards in 1981, at age 8. The first set Moynihan remembers piecing together is the ’87 Topps set.

“That is, ironically, one of the first early years of factory sets being existing,” said Moynihan. “Throughout the ’90s and 2000s, I was mainly a singles guy. But I always got a Topps Flagship set. It’s the staple in The Hobby that everybody can relate to. It’s the foundation of my collection. Everything else is ancillary to that.”

More Moynihan complete sets

Moynihan picked up his first factory set in 1988. Now, every year, when the Flagship factory sets are dropped — which is usually around the National Sports Collectors Convention — Moynihan is quick to add it to his impressive Topps run.

“I started buying multiples every year because I’ll keep one box sealed, and then I’ll break one open and put it in a binder,” Moynihan said. “I’ve gotten back to that. It’s like this full circle of collecting. I started with binders back in the day and got out of that for a long time. Now, it’s like, what’s the point if I can’t look at the cards?”

This Year’s Flagship

When images of this year’s Topps Series 1 baseball started to pop up on social media, Moynihan was intrigued by what he saw.

“It’s different,” Moynihan said. “The neon, I like it. I really liked 2023 a lot because I think it paid homage to other previous years. This feels just completely different this year. They need to be different. I think it will appeal a lot to kids; they will dig the design. It will also look cool as a Chrome card.”

One insert in the 2024 Topps Baseball product pays its respect to the 1989 Topps set. The 35th anniversary of this product brings back thoughts of the Ken Griffey Jr. Topps Traded card, Jim Abbott’s #1 Draft Pick card, and the Future Stars Gregg Jefferies. “I always love that stuff,” Moynihan said. “I’m a big Heritage guy. I’m trying to do every Topps Heritage set as well. Heritage is my second favorite set. Flagship is number one, and Heritage is number two. I get them both every year.”

Hall of Fame Collection

Moynihan has a subproject going with Hall of Fame players within his set collecting project. Every one of his Hall of Famers cards is graded.

In what Moynihan has dubbed the “Four-Decade Set,” he is collecting Hall of Famers from 1950-55 Bowman and 1951-1989 Topps. There are 2,464 total cards; Moynihan has crossed 2,247 off his list. His set is 91.2% complete.

Since the graded cards have thick slabs, Moynihan has found a unique way to display them in his binders.

“I have a buddy who reorients my scans,” Moynihan said. “I have all my graded cards scanned in, and he takes those and reformats those to the right ratio of a regular card. He prints it out for me on cardstock, and I put it in that slot in the binder.”

Moynihan owns a 1951 Bowman Mantle and every Topps Mantle except for the holy grail: the 1952. That’s all part of Moynihan’s master plan for finishing his two projects.

“That’s going to be the last card I buy,” Moynihan said. “It’s the cherry on top of what I’ll consider the best collection I can build.”

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