I'll have my September update coming in the next week or so. Got a crowded few days ahead of me including some baseball IP outings!

In almost every base set for four decades, Topps produced the loathsome checklist card. No one wanted to pull it from a pack: it didn't feature a player, just a list of who was on what card. In the early days, kids would mark them off and use them for their intended purpose. In later days, everyone wanted a 100% mint condition set, so it was little more than space-filling junk.

1992 birthed the brainchild (or spawned the brain™™™™™™™, depending on your outlook) of the parallel set. Take the base set, tweak something but change nothing else, and whammo, new tough-to-find collectible! Topps Gold was the first to do this before every company followed suit and now today you have the crazy rainbow chasers who need every single variety of a guy's Chrome or Prizm or whatever card.

So of course, the last thing ANYONE would want is for their short-printed parallel that they pull from a pack to be the checklist card. Instead of leaving gaps in their sets, Topps printed what I call the phantom parallels: inserting players to replace the checklists, but those players didn't have a regular card.

I'm always interested in oddball cards to get autographed so I started to wonder how many of these would be possible to get signed. I haven't gone that far, but I did finally assemble a list of who the phantom parallels were in each set.

1992 BB Gold
131: Terry Mathews
264: Rod Beck
366: Tony Perezchica
527: Terry McDaniel
658: John Ramos
787: Brian Williams
132T: Kerry Woodson

1992 FB Gold
109: Freeman McNeil
218: David Daniels
316: Chris Hakel
341: Ottis Anderson
452: Shawn Moore
563: Mike Mooney
759: Curtis Whitley

1992-93 BK Gold
197: Jeff Sanders
198: Elliot Perry
395: David Wingate
396: Carl Herrera

1992-93 HK Gold
525: Alan Conroy
526: Jeff Norton
527: Rob Robinson
528: Adam Foote

* * * * * * * * * *
1993 BB Gold
394: Bernardo Brito
395: Jim McNamara
396: Rich Sauveur
823: Keith Brown
824: Russ McGinnis
825: Mike Walker

1993 FB Gold
329: Terance Mathis
330: John Wojciechowski
659: Pat Chaffey
660: Milton Mack

1993-94 BK Gold
197: David Wingate
198: Frank Johnson
395: Will Perdue
396: Mark West

1993-94 HK Gold
263: Martin Lapointe
264: Kevin Miehm
527: Myles O’Connor
528: Jamie Leach

* * * * * * * * * *
1994 BB Gold
395: Bill Brennan
396: Jeff Bronkey
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791: Mike Cook
792: Dan Pasqua

1994-95 BK Spectralight
197: Keith Jennings
198: Mark Price
395: Chris Webber
396: Mitch Richmond

1994-95 HK Special Effects
274: Rudy Poeschek
275: Michael Peca
549: John Druce
550: Matt Martin

* * * * * * * * * *
1995 BB Cyberstats
395: Darryl Strawberry
396: Luis Alicea

It doesn't look like Topps did any phantoms for the 1994 Football Special Effects set. Shame, as I'd love to have seen some punters or long snappers represented. The parallel craze died (for Topps at least) following the 1995 Series 1 baseball. Of course Pacific ran the concept into the ground in the late 90s, but they also didn't print checklist cards in the base set. Topps got smart and eventually made the checklists as a random one-per-pack insert that wasn't part of the set, then took from Upper Deck and put them back in the set but put a player or something interesting on the front with the list on the back.

There were a few similar to this in the O-Pee-Chee baseball sets that I'll need to assemble a list of as well. I know Delino Deshields and Nate Minchey both had a 1988 card after the Expos drafted them (Deshields replacing Earnest Riles and Minchey replacing the Nolan Ryan Record Breaker card), and there were several cards replacing the All-Stars in the 1992 set. O-Pee-Chee also typically denoted trades on their cards, such as Dennis Lamp's 1987 card that shows him as a Blue Jays but has Chief Wahoo and a "Now with Indians" notation, and even gave Blue Jays catcher Rick Cerone his own 1977 card instead of just stashing him on the Rookie Catchers card that Topps had, where he was still with the Indians. Granted, the OPC set usually was an abbreviated set rather than a true parallel and a guy might be on card 630 in Topps, but then on 390 in OPC. But aside from that, the cards look the same. So finding a card that wasn't in the Topps set but was in the OPC set is kind of a phantom in its own right.

EDIT: There's a blog on the OPC variations!

Of course, some of these guys might not sign, and some-- such as Rod Beck and Terry Mathews-- may even be dead. But if you're looking for some oddball items to potentially get signed, look no further than the phantom parallel.

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