I lived in eastern North Carolina at the time of the announcement that Beaufort-natve Brien Taylor was drafted by the Yankees. You see, I lived just off of a military base in Havelock, which is roughly 30 minutes apart from his hometown. So it was pretty exciting in that area, and even more so as a Yankees fan.
Since I was only 11, I can look back and be thankful that a pack of 1992 Topps baseball cards was only 50¢, because I spent so much of my lawn-mowing money on packs hoping to get his rookie card. Don’t get me started on the Topps Gold and Topps Gold Winner parallels. I had enough trouble trying to obtain this white whale, if you will.
This was when Topps still released their product as a one-series set with 792 cards. Let’s not forget that finding duplicates in a box, or even a pack, was pretty much a given. I did live near a few local card shops but they never seemed to have the card available.
After what seemed like months of buying packs, I finally hit the one card I wanted. You know that feeling you get when you finally find something, only to find out there’s more? Yeah, about that. I pulled his rookie out of a pack and the dealer at the shop told me it would be paired great with his Topps Gold Autograph card.
I already knew about the Topps Gold and Topps Gold Winner parallels, and the way my luck was with pulling his regular base card, I knew (at the time) there was no way in hell I would be able to complete the rainbow, so-to-speak.
But his autograph! Now that would be something worth trying for…if it was inserted into packs. No, Topps had to go out of their way to create a special factory set with all 792 cards in gold foil, with the additional card #793 of Brien Taylor. Limited to just 12,000 sets and complete with a certificate of authenticity, this would be something I’d never afford.
Not only that, the card was a brand-new one, with a headshot of Brien Taylor holding a baseball and his glove, and his signature to the left of his face. Can you imagine signing 12,000 cards? I’m just glad that Topps was able to get them on-card, and not use stickers that we’re used to seeing nowadays.
I did manage to track down a copy about 10 years ago on eBay for roughly $25, seen above, and promptly stored it safely. This was my first and only attempt at prospecting, even if I didn’t know it at the time. I did manage to complete the rainbow: base, Topps Gold, Topps Gold Winner, and his Topps Gold autograph.
11-year-old me can now sleep soundly at night. I just hope he never learns of Taylor ending his career over a bar fight or that he was arrested for cocaine many years later…
Bonus reading material: Beckett Media recently covered Brien Taylor in their 10 Big Sports Card Busts.