1983 Topps Traded

31 10 2010

Topps again issued a 132-card factory “Traded” set in 1983. The set was again numbered separately from the base set with a “T” suffix as #1-132. Though the design was the same as the base set, the cards were printed in Ireland on white cardstock, which is different from the cardboard-ish looking backs that the ’83 base set and Traded sets from previous years were printed on. The cards are again organized in alphabetical order. This time, the rookies of the set were more frequently “extended” rookie cards (XRC’s) of players who didn’t have a RC in the current year set. This year, in addition to the players who switched teams via trades or free agency, the set also included managers who were hired in the pre-1983 offseason.

Dealers who ordered cases of the Topps Traded set also received a Steve Carlton Bronze Card. This card was a miniature bronze version of Carlton’s 1983 base set Topps card.

Two Big Red Machiners were in the set – both Tony Perez and Joe Morgan re-joined former BRM teammate Pete Rose with the Phillies in the offseason. Morgan was traded by the Giants in December, while Perez was released by the Red Sox and signed as a free agent.

There are 3 Hall of Famers in this set.

  • Morgan & Perez, as noted above
  • Tom Seaver, who was traded by the Reds back to the Mets

Seaver is the only player from the set featured with the team whose cap he’d wear on his HOF plaque. Interesting that this was his 2nd stint with that team. Perez would get the same chance next year.

The set is best known for a Darryl Strawberry XRC, and Julio Franco’s XRC is the other key Rookie card in the set.

Some other notorious players moved teams prior to 1983 to make this set. Mike Scott was traded from the Mets to the Astros after failing to show his promise in New York – a trade Houston certainly got the better of. Former batting champ Carney Lansford was traded to Oakland (primarily for Tony Armas, who was also in the set) to make room for a future batting champ at 3rd base in Boston (Wade Boggs). Keith Hernandez was traded to the Mets in the middle of the ’83 season – this move was one the Mets got the better of. Former MVP Steve Garvey moved an hour from LA to sign as a free agent with San Diego. Though on the downside of his career, he would still go on to help the Padres make the World Series two years later.

As mentioned, the set also had newly hired managers. This included Billy Martin, who was on his 3rd stint of 5 with the Yankees, as well as Frank “Hondo” Howard, who served  as an interim manager for the last two-thirds of the 1983 season. Joe Altobelli replaced Hall of Famer Earl Weaver in Baltimore. He led the O’s to the World Series title, with plenty of help from the emergence of Cal Ripken.

1983 Topps Michigan Test Packs

29 10 2010

As I described in an earlier post, Topps tried a test in 1983 of putting their cards in “tamper-evident” packs made of cellophane as opposed to wax. This is definitely something I wasn’t aware of in the past. It’s pretty forward thinking – except for the fact they didn’t produce it nationally later. I bought one pack from BBXC, just to see what it was like, and I think it’s actually better even than Upper Deck’s packs in 1989 seemed to be. It’s basically about as good as the packs that card companies were making in 1993.

The packs did come with a stick of gum and the “Winning Lineup” game card, so they were basically the exact same thing as the wax packs except for the packaging. Also, out of the 15 cards I got, none of them were stained by the gum, and obviously none were stained by wax! I know the Michigan test generally can be had for about 10 or 2o bucks more than the wax box; from my experience that would mean you’d get  up to 72 non-damaged cards that were damaged in the wax pack. That’s definitely worth it in my mind, for all of those out you pondering buying and opening a 1983 Topps box!

Now, unfortunately, out of the 15 cards, I only got 2 new cards, in other words 13 doubles.  But, for $4 for the pack, it was worth it to see what this was about.

1983 Topps scans

28 10 2010

Rickey was my favorite player growing, before ED44 or KG24. Rickey had 5 cards in the 83 Topps set. 4 of the 6 subsets. Rickey was a bad mutha in 1983. But Rickey wasn’t a manager or a veteran yet, but that’s not Rickey’s fault. Rickey’s Manager was a pretty bad mutha too. Can you guess who’s reflecting in his glasses? Rickey knows, but Rickey ain’t telling.

Yaz is a good card to show for the super-veteran, as he retired the next year. This was the last Topps set where he had a non-subset base card. The Rickey record breaker is great, because it’s an actual record, not a catcher throwing out 3 guys trying to steal in the All-Star game. Gotta love getting a Hall-of-Famer as a manager. Interestingly, Robinson was the manager for the Giants in 1982, which was the same year he was inducted in the hall of fame. I wonder – how did that work? I assume the Giants had a game the induction Sunday – so what did he do? Does anyone know? Could he be the only manager who faced this situation?

Back to Billy Martin – does he warrant some Hall of Fame consideration? I haven’t put him on my yearly list of “guys who could make the Hall”. But he had a .553 win percentage, going 1253-1013. The 1253 wins puts him in 31st place, right behind… Whitey Herzog! Who just got elected.

Martin has to have  the weirdest managerial stats ever. In 1973, he managed the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers. He won a pennant and a World Series, got fired as the manager of the eventual champ Yankees in 1978 with a 52-42 record… then got re-hired for the same job the next year. He managed the Yankees 5 different times, and made the playoffs a couple of additional times. He only had 2 losing seasons, and 1 of those was a partial season. Add to that, he was a decent player who made an All-Star game and won 4 World Championships with the Yankees in the 1950s.

Speaking of managers. One of these guys is currently the other guy’s boss. And they seem to be doing quite well.

Here are the 4 biggest RC’s from the set (that I pulled). Obviously missing the Gwynn, but I added that for reference below. The cards of the Hall-of-Famers below are some pretty good ones. Great shot of a classic Jackson follow-through swing. He might have hit a homer or struck out there; you never know but there was always a good chance of one of the two with Mr. October! Dawson again with a good pose of his intense-ness. And gotta love the Carew headband. Good thing he wasn’t wearing it upside down, or David Stern would have been displeased. Finally, Brett…. with a chaw… after scoring a run… and congratulating… Yes, I think… we have… a very random Big Red Machine member siting! Baseball Almanac confirms the uniform number – that is Cesar Geronimo!!!!!

Here’s 4 HOF-ers, 2 guys who should be in the Hall, and… Mookie Wilson. Who was a good player, and seems to usually have some pretty good photos. I picked these cards, because each photo is unique, and it really showcased how Topps stepped its game up in this area for the ’83 set. These are all great shots. Also, the Yaz & Perry are each player’s last individual base card set. They were featured together with Johnny Bench in the ’84 set.

And here’s some more good pictures. See below for my thoughts on these pictures:

Tekulve: here’s a guy who looks the same as a rookie as he does as a “Super-Vet”

Fingers: here’s a “Super-Vet” who looks nothing like he did as a rookie

Quisenberry: Should have been the ’83 Cy Young winner. This is him showing off his trademark submarine delivery, which would net him a then-record 45 saves in 1983.

Welsh: On Reds broadcasts, they always talk about when Welsh played the game. I honestly doubted if he really did. I had no recollection of him as an MLB pitcher. He’s not my favorite or least favorite announcer (the post-game guys on Fox Sports Ohio are the real terrible TV personalities). But I guess this is living proof he “played the game”. And he also looks about the same now as he did then!

Balboni: Great shot of Yankee Stadium in the background.

Denny: The NL Cy Young winner in 1983. Two things I noticed. First, his close-up was taken at the same time as the main picture – look at the sky. Second, don’t both photos look like oil paintings or something – not like real photos?

Porter: Chris Sabo goggles before Chris Sabo! At this point in time, this guy was the reigning WS MVP.

Piniella: That shot is awesome. So is Sweet Lou.

1983 Topps cards – Big Red Machine

27 10 2010

I didn’t get Geronimo or Bench regular card, or the Concepcion All-Star card (which commemorates the year he won the AS MVP, in his 9th straight All-Star appearance.

Yet again, these guys are popular subset options. Concepcion and Bench are the only guys still on the Reds, though Perez, Rose and Griffey would all come back to the team later.

Also, Concepcion was an All-Star and was thus featured in the Topps Glossy send-in set:

1983 Topps vending box break

26 10 2010

I’m surprised, but I might actually be able to say I’m more disappointed with the 1983 vending box than the ’82 one. I didn’t get the Ripken RC in the ’82 one, which is probably the biggest RC in this 30 year project. However, I had good collation with that one (though the wax box for that year was pretty bad for that). Well, this year it’s the opposite. Good collation in the wax box, awful collation in the vending box. I didn’t get a Tony Gwynn RC, which was the one of the big 3 that I didn’t get in the wax box. I did however, pull 2 MORE Ryno RC’s, so I now have 3 extras. Anyone have an extra Gwynn for trade?

Anyways, one thing that is completely random is how the 2 boxes (wax & vending) cross over each other, and I just didn’t do well here. Some of that has to do with how good the wax box was, but I only got 84 new cards out of the 500 card vending box. I guess I view it as interesting more than anything – in hindsight, I don’t know if I’d do the vending boxes. Actually, if I was completely cost conscious on this, I would do the vending but not the wax. About the same # of cards, the collation has been about the same (I think if I did the math, I have around 250 doubles each if I add up the doubles in vending boxes from 80-83, and the wax total is within 10 of that). But the premise of what I’m doing is to buy wax packs / boxes, so I’m definitely sticking with the wax.

This “500 card box” had 524 cards. As before, numbers below don’t include the wax box. Also, as I alluded to above, this year the wax box actually gave me a closer chance to complete the set than the vending box, which was a complete reversal of last year and ’81:

113 doubles, 0 triples

376 of the 792 card set. (47.5% set completion)

I’ve now not gotten the Raines RC in ’81 and the Ripken RC in ’82 and the Gwynn RC in ’83 – so my luck isn’t so great! I guess that’s supposed to be some of the fun.

The crossover between the wax and vending boxes was again terrible this year. I’m 188 cards short out of the 792 after opening both boxes. What I should expect – and in some ways it will be fun collecting the rest of the set (just wish it was a few less to put together!). As usual, I’ll post some pictures in a later post this week.

1983 Topps wax box break

25 10 2010


I finished my 1983 wax box break a little while ago, just now posting it. I bought this box on eBay, it ran right around a hundred bucks. I pulled 2 out of 3 of the key Rookies – Boggs and Sandberg, but no Gwynn. No Ripken 2nd year card either, but I did get a good portion of the HOF-ers in the set.  Given the fact that I missed the Ripken RC in last year’s set, I’ll say that’s not half bad. Collation was significantly better in this box compared to 1982. I had a total of 20 doubles out of 540 cards in the box. This compares to 119 duplicates last year. Considering that both sets had 792 cards, that’s a significant improvement!

By the way – I love the Ripken card, don’t remember it at all from when I was younger, but it’s a great pic! I liked their old unis, and its a great action shot.

One bad thing had to do with how Topps packaged the cards. In the past, they were stacked the way I would put them in a box – with the cards all facing the same direction – toward the back of the wax pack, where you would pull it open. So the first card in a pack always had a wax stain on the front on the picture, and the last card had a gum stain on the back. The gum stains weren’t fixable, but the wax marks were most of the time.

But for the ’83 set, they had the backs of the cards sticking out on both sides. So the gum stain was still on the back, but the wax stain was now on the back of a card, too. And I’m not able to remove it. So as opposed to 1 ruined card per pack – I have 2 in this set. So much better collation, offset a little bit by more non-salvageable cards. Stats below:

36 packs per box * 15 cards per pack = 540 cards

20 doubles

520 of the 792 card set. (65.7% set completion)

36 “Winning Line-up” Scratch-off cards

71 singles were ruined (and 1 double – so there’s your 2 cards per pack), so I really only completed ~57% of the set from this box. Still better than last year, but I can’t wait until the gum issue goes away! I haven’t had a real valuable card with a stain yet, so I guess that’s good.

I’ve opened the vending box as well, so I’m updating my checklist of cards for the ’83 set now – including that break. I’ll do a post later about the vending box.

I’m also updating my 2010 Topps completion; as mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve opened these cards but will do all my overviews in order.

1983 Topps Overview

24 10 2010

Moving right along from the 1982 Topps set, here’s an overview of the 1983 Topps set:

  • 792 cards in the set – same as the previous year.
  • Subsets: Record Breakers (#1-6), All-Stars (#386-407) League Leaders (#701-708), Team Leaders (26 cards throughout), Managers (26 cards throughout), and 34 Super Veterans.  Team Leaders has a picture of the team’s Average and ERA leader on the front and the team checklist on the back.  The Manager cards returned after a 1-year hiatus, and show a picture of the manager, as opposed to a team photo, and contain the manager’s picture and career stats as a player and as a manager.  Gone to make room for the manager cards are the multi-card Future Starts subset – so any rookie cards are of a single player this year.  The Super Veteran cards show a recent picture with a rookie-year picture and are numbered directly after the respective player’s base card.
  • Set Design: The card front has a white border and features a large photo bordered by a team-specific color connected with the Topps Logo at the top.  There is a small cameo portrait at one of the bottom corners, while the other corner has the player name, position and team.  The red card back features player stats from each season and career totals and, if there’s room, 1982 season highlights for the player next to a silhouette of a pitcher.
  • Packs: Cards were issued in 15 card wax packs (30¢ SRP) and cellophane test packs (also 30¢, see below) that came 36 packs per box and 20 per case.  Also available in 51 card rack packs, 36 card grocery rack packs and 28 card cello packs (49¢ SRP).
  • Rookies: There are three significant rookies card in this set – three future Hall-of-Famers in Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, and Ryne Sandberg.  Other rookies include ’88 AL Cy Young / ’87 World Series MVP Frank Viola and ’85 NL MVP Willie McGee.
  • Hall of Fame: There are 51 Hall of Famers in this set, up from 40 the year before.  Willie Stargell retired in 1982 and was not featured in the set, and the same 8 HOF managers (Sparky, Whitey, Weaver, Dick Williams, Torre, LaRussa, Cox and LaSorda) who were removed from the ’82 set, were back with their own card in this set.  Additionally, Frank Robinson was hired by the Giants as manager in ’81, and so he got a manager card for this set as well.  Add the 3 aforementioned RC’s of future HOF-ers, and there’s your net increase of 11.
  • Harold Baines, Johnny Bench, Bert Blyleven, George Brett, Rod Carew, Steve Carlton, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Carlton Fisk, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Fergie Jenkins, Jim Kaat, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan, Jack Morris, Eddie Murray, Phil Niekro, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Tim Raines, Jim Rice, Cal Ripken, Nolan Ryan, Mike Schmidt, Tom Seaver, Ted Simmons, Lee Smith, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, Don Sutton, Alan Trammell, Dave Winfield, Carl Yastrzemski, Robin Yount, Sparky Anderson (mgr), Bobby Cox (mgr), Whitey Herzog (mgr), Tony LaRussa (mgr), Tommy LaSorda (mgr), Frank Robinson (mgr), Joe Torre (mgr), Earl Weaver (mgr), Dick Williams (mgr), Boggs, Gwynn, Sandberg
  • Last Active Player: Jesse Orosco was back with a card – so both he and Rickey Henderson qualify as on the active roster at the end of 2003.  Orosco’s last game was later than Rickey’s.

The red and yellow wax box has a picture of a stack of cards with Reggie Jackson’s card at the top.  Below the card is the “Topps” logo and the words “Baseball – the Real one” with the MLB licensing logo below it.

Other items of relevance:

Factory Set

Topps issued a full factory set. It was available for order in J.C. Penney’s Christmas Catalog.  I believe this set was just contained in a cardboard box, not the packaged sets with pictures like they would produce in later years.

Update Set

Topps again released a 132-card Topps Traded set in factory set form.

Parallel Set

Canadian-based O-Pee-Chee again issued a set that was a partial parallel to the Topps base set.  Each of the cards in the 396-card set had the same design and photographs as the Topps set, with lighter card stock and bi-lingual backs (French and English).  The set leans contains more players from the Canadian teams, though for the second year the set also had subsets (Super Veteran and All-Stars) included.  Tony Gwynn and Ryne Sandberg’s rookie cards are included in the set, but the RC of Boggs is not.

Insert Set

  • Glossy All-Star set – 40 cards (send-in).  This is actually a send-in set.  By collecting 25 total bonus runs from the “Winning Lineup” scratch-off cards, collectors could mail-in (along with 50¢ S&H) for 5 cards which were part of the Topps “All-Star” Glossy sets.  Topps would produce this send-in set for nearly a decade.


  • Topps issued boxes with sealed cellophane wrappers as opposed to wax wrappers in a test effort.  These tamper-resistant packs were released in limited quantities in the Michigan area, and are generally referred to as “Michigan Test”.
  • Each wax pack contains a “Winning Lineup” scratch-off game card that could net collectors various prizes. The grand prize, 4 home was a trip with tickets to the World Series for scratching off 4 Home runs.  For scratching off 4 singles, collectors could send in for a 7.5″ x 10.5″ League Leaders sheet depicting 1982 NL/AL Leaders in HR, BA, W, and SV.
  • Again, for $2 + 60¢ S&H, you could send in for 10 “Official Topps Sports Card Collectors Sheets”; these are 9-card sheets to store your cards, similar to what Ultra-Pro makes today.
  • Again, for $5.75 plus 75¢ S&H and 1 Topps (any sport) wrapper, you could send for the 1982 version of the Sports Card Locker.
  • You could send in for the collecting box for the same cost as the year before, $1 and a wrapper (wonder why Topps advertised these as new?)

That’s the overview – I’ve had the box for quite a while, which I ordered from eBay, and the vending box, which I got from D&A Card World. I’ve already opened the wax box, and will post that over the next few days. Forget the fact that I would be 3-years old and still trying to figure out the world; if I was collecting cards this year, I would definitely be buying wax and trying to collect enough to get the 40-card glossy all-star sets.

Other redemption – Series 2 (accompanied by a soapbox rant)

20 10 2010

Aside from the Million Card Giveaways – I pulled a redemption card in Series 2:

That would be Rookie Redemption #8. Looking that up, that would be…


According to the redemption on-line, Strasmus will come late this year. In fact, it will arrive at my household around May 2011. Seriously? Ummm…. Won’t the term “Rookie” be kind of incorrect for these 10 players by that point? I’m pumped I pulled the “key” card from this set, but any excitement pretty much gets dampened as soon as I saw that.

What kind of business model allows for a company to ship a product to its customer 7 months after purchase? Actually, this really came out two months earlier, so it’s really 9 months. And that puts Topps right in the same category as the stork. Difference is, newly pregnant couples need that 9 months to prepare for a baby, but by the time this ships – if it doesn’t somehow get lost in the shuffle – I’ll have forgotten it was coming (hopefully that’s not the case with an infant!).

Imagine if you ordered the following items and were told they weren’t going to arrive for 9 months:

New HD TV set – you could miss all but 1 month of the entire football and baseball seasons combined. And your TV would be either obsolete or available at Best Buy for half the price.

New Car – you’d waste a lot of money taking public transportation in those 9 months. And the new model would already be out.

Video Game – the sequel might be out before you have time to beat the game

New Computer – see new TV set. And you’ll have to put fantasy sports on a 1-year hiatus

Red Hot Rookie Redemption – The new season is a month+ old. The players are no longer rookies, much less “Red Hot”! The next year’s Series 2 is almost out, so you can basically buy the box to procure the equivalent card for next year, and start the silly cycle again.

You see where I’m going – how can this possibly be good business, good customer service, etc? Additionally, if the cardmaker can’t figure a way to send it faster than 9 months, shouldn’t they at least let the expiration go further than June, 2011? Anyways, until then, I’ll wait in anticipation of receiving the “Red Hot 2nd year slumper”.

Or in my case, the “Rehabbing 2nd year question mark”.

Topps Million – the rest

18 10 2010

My next two cards after Larkin were both subsets of the same player and the same set:

An interesting combo thus far. Adding in the Larkin card from the last post – that’s 3 cards, 2 Hall-of-Fame caliber players, all from sets that were completely overproduced. I guess it’s better than pulling, say, the Lance Parrish all-star from ’87? At a minimum – Topps has me intrigued, but I’m worried I’m going to pull a bunch of cards I’ll end up seeing in a few months when I get to 1987 or 1989 in my set project! Next 2 cards changed that a bit:

2 cards from 1972 Topps! And another Red! Albeit one I’ve never heard of, but it’s pretty exciting to pull a card that’s 38 years old! I have no idea who Bob Barton is either, but I’m guessing he’s not a Red, because he looks like a Catcher, and Johnny Bench was playing 145 games a year in the early ’70’s. The last Series 1 card was also a 70’s card:

On to Series 2 – the first card was ’68 and made me pretty excited, but then I recognized the ’68 Rookie Stars subset also included a certain pitcher who now owns the Texas Rangers. Too bad I didn’t get him; I bet Topps bought back a few more of this card than that one! Still I went on a run of 3 cards from the 60’s, 1 from the 70’s and then got another ’72 card. Then, I got a 1958 card (I’m just stoked to get a card from the 50’s)!

I was really expecting a ’52 card the way trends were going, but instead, I pulled another 87 card, this time an actual Hall-of-Famer:

Topps Million – first card

17 10 2010

I’ve been sitting on a 2010 Series 1 box since February – at the time, I had in my head I was going to do this project, but I was thinking about starting this year and going in reverse. As opposed to starting with 1980 and moving up. Well, this year’s set has some redemption options – the Red Hot Rookies in Series 2, and (more importantly) the Million Card Giveaway. There’s nothing I would hate more than getting a sweet card I could’ve redeemed, but the date has long passed. This happened to me in the past, with one particularly glaring example – see the end of the post for the story.

But I’ve decided I’ll open and collect the current year sets, starting with 2010 going forward – until I catch up. My guess is that will happen later next year or early 2012. I’ve opened both Series 1 & 2 boxes, and above is my first card. Barry Larkin, 1989 Topps. Great player, out of the set I think of most when referencing the over-production era of cards. But either way, this is a future HOF-er, and a Reds one at that.

When I started collecting again, about 3 or so years ago, I bought a 2002 SP Authentic box and pulled the redemption card for a Joe DiMaggio autographed poster. That’s right, a Joe DiMaggio auto’d poster. Now I don’t know if I’d call myself a Yankee fan, and I’d be more interested in just about any of their other 3 “super-icons” (Ruth/Gehrig/Mantle), but I definitely appreciate their history and DiMaggio’s place in it. And, yeah, I’d love a freaking signed poster. Well, I didn’t know much about redemptions at the time, so I sent it in hoping against hope that I’d get this back from Upper Deck, even though the back clearly said the date had passed. Of course, I didn’t get it, but I will say Upper Deck sent me a decent number of other packs that actually netted me a few (much) lesser-known Yankee autos. Regardless, I kind of hate the idea of redemptions after this experience – they should be used only when necessary, and I at least think they should keep the redemptions open for a longer time than 9 months or so after the product was released.

That story aside, I’ll post my other cards later.