PSA Set Registry® 115,883 Registered Sets

Expert Comments:

The first thing we want to do is thank all of the Set Registry participants on behalf of PSA. You have all made it possible for PSA to remain the industry leader in sportscard grading with your unrivaled support. From Ron Hobbs to Shane Leonard to Hal Lewis to a slew of other great people too numerous to list individually, thanks. Now to the awards! This was, without question, much harder to do than any of us previously thought. To select one winner in each category was truly a struggle.

The awards were given to registrants based on, but not limited to, the following criteria: set popularity, difficulty, grade average, completion percentage, domination, degree of competition within the set category, etc. There were so many phenomenal sets from which to choose, that the collectors participating in the Registry should be very proud. Keep in mind that this is our first annual awards and next year PSA plans to add new categories as well as new set registry features and benefits.

For our first annual PSA Set Registry Awards, we did make a few changes to the ballots. First of all, we added a few categories to the ballots like Best Topps Specialty Set, Best Overall Specialty Set, and Best Regional Set. With so many great sets from which to choose, we did this in order to add more set categories and to reward more collectors.

We also modified some of the categories. Most notably, we pushed back the dates in the modern set categories to 1972. We did this in hopes of enhancing the fairness in the judging. In other words, we found it inappropriate to judge a 1973 Topps baseball set against a 1963 Topps set. While we are open to suggestions for next year's ballot, we felt this would be an appropriate move in light of the circumstances this year.

Once again, we cannot stress how tough it was to select winners from a host of spectacular sets. PSA fully intends to find ways to make the ever-evolving Set Registry better each and every year and we hope all the collectors out there enjoy this PSA feature for years to come. From the PSA Set Registry a collecting community has emerged and what was once an unconnected hobby of individuals has now become an extended family of enthusiasts who share common interests. For those who reached the top this year, congratulations! If you didn't win this year, there is always next year. The battle is never over, keep up the fight!

- Joe Orlando, PSA President

Marshall Fogel - Best Collection of the Year
The sheer vastness of Marshall's collection puts him over the top. From pre-war, to post-war, to 50's and 60's to player sets, Marshall's collection exhibits a wide range of material, all high-quality, which gives his collection the distinction of being the best of the PSA Set Registry in 2002.

Charlie Merkel 1952 Topps Baseball - Best Set of the Year
This set is one of the Big Three (along with the T206 and 1933 Goudey sets) and no post-war set is more desirable. The fact that Charlie's set is able to stand out amongst the heavy competition is truly astonishing. In fact, if you look at the numbers, it isn't even close. Choosing a winner in this category was extra difficult, but when you consider the degree of competition, popularity, and significance of this set along with Charlie's dominance, the winner is clear.

Wes Verno 1955 Topps All-American Football - Best Rookie of the Year (Best New Set Registered in 2002)
This category was created with the intention of rewarding the best recently-added set to the Registry. Since we are only a year and a half old and this was our first awards ceremony, the choice was very tough. Just a short time ago, we received a call from Mr. Verno who hoped to participate on the Registry. With the degree of competition on this set and its importance in football card history, the choice was made. Consider this. Rob Ruth, who owns the 2nd best set on the Registry, had a very commanding lead with a great GPA of 8.35. Verno's set came in with an 8.85 GPA! This is a set that almost grades Mint 9 throughout and it's nearly 50 years old - wow!

Baseball

Charlie Merkel 1915 Cracker Jack - Best Vintage Pre-War Baseball Set of the Year
In advanced set collecting, this particular set has a reputation - a reputation for incredible quality. At the time of the voting, Charlie's set was the only complete set to exhibit a GPA over 7.00 and it was nearly 8.5! There were other close contenders like Don Louchios' amazing 1941 Play Ball set and Marshall Fogel's dominant 1938 Goudey set. Hey, even Charlie's 1933 Goudey set was a major contender, but in the end we felt that this set deserved the award.

John Branca 1951 Bowman - Best Vintage Post-War Baseball Set of the Year (1948-59)
Keep in mind that since Charlie Merkel's 1952 Topps set won for best overall set, it was deemed ineligible for this award. That being said, this category tough! There was heavy, heavy competition on this set and in this category. From the 1948 Leafs to the 1953 Bowmans to the various Topps sets from the 1950s, there's a lot to choose from. The 1951 Bowman set is filled with huge stars like Mantle and Mays rookie cards and tough commons, but one set is unquestionably better than the others - John Branca's. In fact, if we gave the stars more weight, his lead would be even more impressive. All of the big keys are in PSA Mint 9 - wow!

Revere's Finest 1968 Topps - Best Vintage Baseball Set of the Year (1960-71)
There are other sets that are technically more difficult and more popular from this time period, but this nearly 600-card set has a GPA that resembles Nolan Ryan's K's per 9 innings statistic - 9.18! How fitting considering Ryan's rookie resides in this set. With a hoard of Mint 9 and Gem Mint 10 cards included, this set is simply too nice to pass up. Case closed.

FB 1972 Topps - Best Modern Baseball Set of the Year (1972 to present)
This is another category that had stiff competition. When you think of the 1972 Topps set, you think of its sheer size, and while it may be massive (almost 800 total cards), it is also considered one of the best looking sets of the era. The 1970s sets have all received increased attention this year, but no other set from the era received more than this one. Knowing that the competition was fierce, we had to pick this set - a set that features a GPA of 8.75.

Basketball

Heifetz 1948 Bowman - Best Vintage Basketball Set of the Year (1971 and older)
There are only a handful of truly classic vintage basketball sets, but this is arguably the toughest. Home to the legendary George Mikan rookie card (A PSA NM-MT 8), the most valuable basketball card on earth, this set symbolizes basketball's beginnings. This particular set was not only the only complete one at the time of voting but it also has an astonishing GPA of 8.33. Contenders on the 1957 Topps, 1961 Fleer, and 1969 Topps Tall Boy sets were all considered but this one is both complete and dominant.

The Bryant 86 Fleer PSA 10 Collection 1986-87 Fleer - Best Modern Basketball Set of the Year (1972 to present)
When you talk about the post-1970 era, few sets can compete with the significance of the 1986 Fleer issue. Filled with rookies and stars that changed the game forever, this set receives more attention than any basketball set ever produced, vintage or modern. When you look at the leaders in the 1986 Fleer category, the competition could not have been any closer. It was amazingly close, but in the end one set emerged above the others by a hair. Even MJ himself (a PSA Gem Mint 10 here) would be proud to be in this group. Carlos Aponte's dominant 1976 Tall Boy set was one consideration, but the importance of the 1986 Fleer issue and the competition within could not be ignored. Who will be the first to an all "10" set?

Football

Don Louchios 1935 National Chicle - Best Vintage Football Set of the Year (1971 and older)
This set, much like Charlie Merkel's 1915 Cracker Jack set, has a reputation of its own. Most of you know how tough this set is; a set that includes tough cards like ones featuring Bronko Nagurski and Knute Rockne (both PSA NM-MT 8's). That being said, consider this - the only other complete set on the Registry has a GPA of 3.00 while Don's set has a GPA of 8.35! This set is one of the most dominating major sets on the list.

John D. McLane 1972 Topps - Best Modern Football Set of the Year (1972 to present)
This particular set has a completion percentage of 97%. Despite being just short of a complete set, we just couldn't ignore the quality and dominance in this category. With a GPA of 8.61, John has a commanding lead. This 351-card set (a big one as football card sets go) has many key stars and a tough high-number series - a challenge for any serious collector.

Hockey

Hockeycrd 1951-52 Parkhurst - Best Vintage Hockey Set of the Year (1971 and older)
This one was close. There are many tough vintage hockey sets like the 1954 Topps and 1964 Topps Tall Boy issues but we felt that this particular set was so tremendous amongst its peers. Housing great rookie cards featuring the likes of Gordie Howe, Terry Sawchuck, and Maurice Richard, this set is of the utmost importance. Again, it was close but the combination of completion %, difficulty, domination and GPA (almost NM-MT across the board) makes this one the winner.

Miscellaneous Sports

Andrew Kaplan 1933 Goudey Sports Kings - Best Miscellaneous Set of the Year (other Sports, including non-mainstream and regional issues from all sports)
There were several contenders in this category but it was hard to look past this wonderful set. From Babe Ruth to Babe Didrickson, no other set captures the variety of sports stars like this one. The quality of Andrew's set speaks for itself and there is probably more interest in this set than any other set in this category. Like the 1952 Topps set and the degree of competition within, to have the best 1933 Goudey Sport Kings set on the Registry is a huge accomplishment.

Marshall Fogel Mickey Mantle Basic Set - Best Player Set of the Year
Mickey Mantle is still adored by more collectors than any player we know. Marshall Fogel's run of Mickey Mantle cards is a fitting tribute to such a legendary slugger. Featuring the finest-known 1952 and 1953 Topps Mantle cards, this run is currently the best there is. Even with very strong competition, stemming from Mantle's popularity, Fogel's set vaults to the top with an unbelievable 9.25 GPA!

Charlie Merkel 1968 Topps 3-D Baseball - Best Topps Specialty Set of the Year
This was, once again, a hotly contested category with fine examples in the 1969 Topps Supers and 1971 Topps Greatest Moments areas to name a couple, but one set had an edge in this year's balloting. The 1968 Topps 3-D issue is one that is elusive, to say the least, and one of major popularity. With Charlie's 9.90 GPA (every card is Gem Mint except one) and overall rating lead of over 1.00, we decided to go with this great set. Once again, there were some phenomenal sets in this category; the voting was close.

Honus and Friends 1909-11 T206 White Border HOF Baseball - Best Overall Specialty Set of the Year
If any of you have the opportunity to view this set on-line or at a show in the future, please take the time to do so. The quality throughout is simply overwhelming. A wide variety of sets were available from which to choose in this category, but this one emerged as the winner. Every single HOF player is accounted for in NM-MT 8 condition or better with the exception of one - the Eddie Plank rarity. Visually, this select group may have no competitor with its incredible artwork and bold colors. The fact that the famous PSA NM-MT 8 Honus Wagner resides here, while incredibly impressive, was just part of the reason for selecting this set. From Cobb to Johnson to Mathewson, the consistency in quality is just spectacular.

RGOLD 1952 Red Man Tobacco Baseball - Best Regional Set of the Year
Red Mans have been very hot over the past year and the 1952 issue is the toughest of the Red Man productions (1952-55). Those who have tried to locate high-grade examples know how tough these huge cards can be in PSA Near Mint 7 or higher. This particular set has a current GPA of 7.45. Consider this - the only other registrant with a 90% completion % on this set has a GPA of 4.62. Does that tell you how tough this issue is and how dominant RGOLD is? Congratulations!

Non-Sports

MastroNet 1962 Topps Mars Attacks - Best Non-Sports Set of the Year
We know what some of you are saying. "Hey, isn't this a set that is going to be sold at auction?" Well, while Bill Mastro is the proud owner of the country's biggest sports auction house, he is also a collector and owner of one of the finest collections in the country - this is from his personal collection. This non-sports set is, without question, one of the most desirable non-sports sets ever produced. This set has unrivaled quality (A GPA of 8.15) and unrivaled importance in the non-sports area, what a great set!

Best of the Registry Certificate Winners of 2002