Here’s what I’d consider the most famous cards of the set. The first two are the most recognizable RC’s from then and now. I’ve read on a lot of blogs that collectors born before the 1980’s (so basically anyone older than me) generally don’t like the RC craze that took over the hobby in the 80’s and 90’s. I tend to disagree with them up to a point. To me, the idea of rookie cards is generally a good one. Having the first card of a star means you’ve either got a card from when no one knew what was to come, or, for these 2 guys, from when they were the new “buzz” in the baseball world. When Doc Gooden or Darryl Strawberry were a rookies for the Mets, it wasn’t just that their RC’s got valuable. They were the biggest stories in baseball at the time. For Gooden, he was the biggest story in baseball in the ’84 and ’85 season. Why shouldn’t their first card carry a premium? Now I agree, this can go too far – it’s done so when you had sets or large subsets that are built just for prospecting guys who are 3 years from even making the majors. The new fix MLB imposed a few years ago (no cards until the guy has made his debut) seems to help this.
The Ryan/Carlton/Perry highlight card is truly iconic to me. Johnson’s mark of 3,509 strikeouts had stood for 56 years, and Johnson himself set the record 6 years before he retired. So this was a 62 year-old record. And 3 guys surpassed it in the same season. Plus, it was the all-time strikeout record – if chicks dig the long ball, the second best thing is the strikeout.
The Quisenberry may not quite rise to the same category as the other 3 – but to me, this card also commemorates a pretty big record. His 45 saves shattered the record of 38. And he truly had a great season. Quiz was quite the character in baseball – at times he seemed halfway amused with his success, halfway struggling with it. He became a poet after he retired, and published a book of his work, “On Days Like This”, in 1998. Sadly, Quiz died of cancer that same year. See the picture of his book at the end of this post.
Speaking of pretty good players, here are some pretty good players on cards pretty early in their career (but not the dreaded RC’s)! These guys hod quite a few batting titles, MVP’s, and a Cy Young Award.
Speaking of winning Cy Young Awards. This guy won a few. Topps honored him with a bunch of different subsets, and they sure went with a variety of poses in doing so. The highlight card acknowledges his 300th win in addition to his ending the season as the all-time strikeout leader.
Speaking of all-time leaders with a lot of subset cards. Here’s Rickey’s 4 cards that I pulled. Much like fellow recent Hall-of-Famer Andre Dawson – Rickey’s base Topps cards always seem to be a really good picture.
Speaking of recent HOF-ers. Here’s 12 more cards of Hall-of-Famers. I like most of these shots. The Jackson card does seem to show another lack of variety across the years – most of his 80’s Topps cards have him kneeling down at the end of that powerful swing. The Jenkins card was his last Topps card; it’s strange that he had a base card this year, despite retiring at the end of the 1983 season. Bench, Yastrzemski and Perry did so as well, and they were only featured in subset cards. The Seaver card shows his 1-year return to the Mets, and I never knew Jim Rice was in the “Oscar Gamble crazy afro” club too!
Here’s some other recognizable players. This is Hernandez’s first regular issue card with the Mets (he was in the Traded set the year before). I like the Fernando shot – this was when he was still considered one of the best in baseball. Garvey is shown in his first regular issue card without the Dodgers – he helped get the Padres to the World Series in 1984. Good shot of future manager Brenly in all his catcher’s gear. Bucky Dent with the Rangers? I didn’t know he played with the Rangers. He had some cool glasses though.
Speaking of cool glasses, these guys are the pre-cursors to Chris Sabo. I wonder if Knicely wore his glasses under that catcher’s mask.
As mentioned, here’s Quiz’s book. This is the largest picture I could find.