The tenth set of 2018 Topps Throwback Thursday trading cards pay homage to six of the biggest free agent signings of the era. The design for this set — available between March 16, 2018, and March 22, 2018 — is borrowed from the 1994 Stadium Club design which was a stark contrast to previous Stadium Club releases and screams early 90s.
A complete checklist with final print runs can be found by clicking the associated hub at the top of this page but this week’s checklist is as follows:
- 55 – Mike Piazza signed with the New York Mets during the 1998 season after seven years with the Dodgers and a brief stint (five games) in Florida. In his seven complete seasons with the Mets, Piazza posted a 19.1 WAR, 25.2 oWAR and had a batting line of .289/.367/.534. He was a six-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, and finished in the top 15 for MVP voting three times.
- 56 – Nolan Ryan signed with the Houston Astros in 1979 following four seasons with the Mets and eight seasons with the Angels. While in Houston, Ryan had a .530 W-L% and 38 complete games — or 13% of the games he started. His HR9 was only 0.5 while his SO9 was an impressive 9.1. He was a top 10 finalist for the Cy Young three times and a two time All-Star for the team where he had a 25.5 WAR over nine seasons.
- 57 – Carlton Fisk signed with the Chicago White Sox in 1981 and never left. After 10 seasons in Boston, Fisk would play 13 amazing seasons for Chicago with a cumulative WAR of 28.6. His only negative WAR seasons in that span came in 1986 (-1.7) and his final season 1993 (-0.7) for which he only appeared in 25 games. With 214 home runs over 5,500 plate appearances, his final line for the team sat at .257/.329/.438. He was a four-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger and was a three-time top 15 pick for MVP.
- 58 – Ivan Rodriguez signed with the Detroit Tigers in 2004 and despite being remembered as a Ranger, his four complete seasons in Detroit landed him a .298/.326/.453 batting line and 11.7 WAR. He was worth 120 runs over replacement in 529 games and appeared in the All-Star game every year he played for the team. He also picked up three Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger award.
- 59 – Roberto Alomar signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1998 after three seasons in San Diego, five seasons in Toronto, and three seasons in Baltimore. This would not be the final stop of his career but he did leave an impression with a .323/.405/.515 batting line and 20.2 WAR (an average of 6.7 per season). In three seasons with the Indians, Alomar attended his final three All-Star Games, won his final three Gold Gloves, won his final two Silver Sluggers, and finished in the top five for MVP two times. He also appeared in his final two postseasons, ultimately losing both in the ALDS.
- 60 – Roger Clemens spent two seasons in Toronto after signing with the team in 1996 but in those two seasons he went 41-13 (.759), threw 14 complete games and six shutouts. His WAR was 20.1 and he averaged a 100 RAR both seasons. He led the league in ERA and WAR for pitchers and finished in the top five (if not three) in virtually every pitching metric. He won two Cy Young Awards (his fourth and fifth of seven) and appeared in the All-Star game both years in Toronto.
Each of these players made a huge mark on their teams after these signings and this series of cards is a fitting tribute to some classic free agent signings. As with all Throwback Thursday cards, they are only available online and for a one week period so missing out will force you to shop on eBay. You may use the links on this page to be taken directly to the purchase page.