“Lost Cards”: The Year After, 1993

28 02 2014


1993 Topps Gary Carter

Best Player to retire in 1992.   Gary Carter (Hall of Famer).

Did he have a 1993 card?   Yes – Topps, Upper Deck, Select and Donruss.

Carter spent the end of his career back where he’d started – in Montreal.  He got a couple of very nice cards out of it, particularly from 1993 Topps and Upper Deck.

Apologies to:   Bert Blyleven (Hall of Famer).  Blyleven was featured in quite a few 1993 cards, a few more than Carter in fact.

“Lost Cards”: The Year After, 1992

27 02 2014


1992 Topps Dwight Evans

Best Player to retire in 1991.   Dwight Evans.

Did he have a 1992 card?   Yes – too many to mention.

Evans went to Baltimore after nearly two decades in Bean town.  Despite calling it quits in 1991, he was featured in just about every set in 1992 – including the Topps card shown above.

Apologies to:   Dave Parker.  Parker had 1 card in 1992 depicting his time with the Blue Jays – from the 1992 Upper Deck set.

“Lost Cards”: The Year After, 1991

26 02 2014


1991 Topps Fred Lynn

Best Player to retire in 1990.   Keith Hernandez

Did he have a 1991 card?   Yes – 1991 Fleer and Score.

1991 Fleer Keith Hernandez

After his skills had declined, Hernandez was let go by the Mets and had one season in Cleveland before he called it a career.  His last Topps card was in 1990 Traded, but he did get a 1991 card from Fleer and Score.  Nothing like going out on the mustard yellow set!

Apologies to:   Fred Lynn.  Unlike Hernandez, Lynn had a plethora of 1991 cards – too many to count, and including 1991 Topps.

“Lost Cards”: The Year After, 1990

26 02 2014


1990 topps Mike Schmidt TBC

Best Player to retire in 1989.   Mike Schmidt (Hall of Famer)

Did he have a 1990 card?   Yes – Donruss.

Screen shot 2014-02-01 at 11.41.57 PM

This is one of the big ones – Schmidt is widely regarded as the greatest third baseman of all-time*.  Schmidt’s last Topps card was in 1989, but he did get a card in 1990 Topps as part of the Turn Back the Clock subset to honor his 1980 MVP campaign.  I wish Topps had put him in the 2012 Archives set on the 1990 design, though he is featured on the 1972 design – which is kind of a “card that never was” also (only at the start of his career)!  Schmidt is featured in 1990 Donruss with an All-time Great card that has his full career statistics – all 548 home runs!

Apologies to:   Tommy John.  Like Carlton the year before, he didn’t last long in the 1989 season, which probably has a lot to do with his lack of a card in 1990.  John was released by the Yankees at the end of May that year.  Buddy Bell, a very underrated player historically, also retired during the 1989 season and didn’t have any 1990 cards.

* – For my money, here’s my opinion on the all-time greats at each position.

  • SP – Walter Johnson
  • RP – Mariano Rivera
  • C – Johnny Bench
  • 1B – Lou Gehrig
  • 2B – Joe Morgan
  • 3B – Schmidt
  • SS – Honus Wagner
  • LF – Barry Bonds
  • CF – Willie Mays
  • RF – Babe Ruth

To me, Rivera, Gehrig, Schmidt, Wagner, Mays and Ruth are pretty clear-cut.  Aaron, Cobb and Mantle are historic players that may have been better than some of the guys at other positions on that list, but Ruth and Mays are the top 2 players of all-time in most rankings I’ve seen.

  • LF – Ted Williams is arguably just as good as any player on this list, and if you want to discount Bonds because of the steroid thing, I understand it (though I obviously haven’t done that here).
  • 2B – Before the rise of sabermetrics, I think most people would have put Rogers Hornsby here.  I don’t think there’s a lot of debate that those are the top 2.
  • SP – Cy Young has 511 wins and the award named after him, Lefty Grove was arguably more dominant than any pitcher at his best, and could you argue that Maddux, Clemens or even Tom Seaver are in the discussion because they were so great relative to their peers, but after the game had changed in a way that an individual pitchers are devalued compared to the earlier part of the century.
  • C – Yogi Berra and Mike Piazza are probably in the argument.

We interrupt this series for some Red Turkeys

25 02 2014

I bought 6 boxes of Turkey Red from the Topps website last week, and they came in yesterday.  I don’t think they’re going to be as popular as last year (though they are sold out), and I know online exclusives aren’t everybody’s favorite.  But I’ve been busy as hell and I liked the ones last year.  They come in a pretty cool box that looks like an old school cigarette pack, so that’s cool.

I’m just going to do one box/pack for now, then get back to my series of last cards.  I’ll open the other 5 whenever audit season (my job) winds down.  That said – who was the first card?  A real turkey!

2014 Turkey Red Braun

Gobble up those steroids!!!  The design is honestly a little weird.  I thought the mock-ups on Topps’ website might be fake, but it’s almost too simplistic.  I like the coloring of the photos, though, so it’s got some redeemable qualities.

You get 11 cards in a pack.  Here are the other 9 regular cards.  Reigning 2-time MVP is a good thing.

2014 Turkey Red box 1

And here’s my auto.  This is #’d out of 99, which if you went off last year means it’s a rarer auto than most.  Delabar is one of only a few pitchers to throw an “immaculate inning”, striking out 3 batters on 9 pitches.

2014 Turkey Red Delabar

“Lost Cards”: The Year After, 1989

24 02 2014


1989 Topps Wax Box Don Sutton

Best Player to retire in 1988.   Steve Carlton (Hall of Famer)

Did he have a 1989 card?   No.

Carlton is a little different from some other players I’ve featured.  He was barely hanging on in 1987.  Carlton had a fairly unsuccessful stint with the Indians for most of the 1987 season, where he and Phil Niekro combined for an interesting piece of MLB history.  On April 14th, Carlton relieved Niekro in a game against Yankee Stadium to become the first 300-game winners to pitch in the same game*.

Carlton was traded to the Twins at the end of the July.  He was pretty ineffective, and was left off the postseason roster for the eventual World Champions.  He pitched just 4 games in the 1988 season before being released.  The only card showing him with the Twins, and the only card he even has from 1988 is Fleer.  He has nothing in 1989  His last Topps card was 1987 Topps Traded.

1988 Fleer Steve Carlton

Apologies to:   Don Sutton (Hall of Famer).  Like Niekro and Reggie Jackson, Sutton went back for one last hurrah with his original franchise.  He started 16 games for the Dodgers before being released in August.  Like Carlton the year before, he got a World Series ring despite not pitching in the postseason for the club.  Sutton’s last Topps card was in the 1988 set, but he did have a card in the 1989 Score set with his final career statistics.  Sutton does have a card with the 1989 Topps design as one of the 16 cards you could find on the bottom of wax boxes that year.

* – They weren’t the first teammates.  Tim Keefe and Mickey Welch both had 300 wins when they started the season for the 1891 New York Giants, but neither pitched in the same game.

“Lost Cards”: The Year After, 1988

24 02 2014


1988 Topps Wade Boggs

Best Player to retire in 1987.   Reggie Jackson (Hall of Famer)

Did he have a 1988 card?   Yes – 1988 Fleer, Score and Sportflics

1988 Score Reggie Jackson

Reggie’s last Topps card was from 1987 Topps Traded, which shows him back with the team that he started with, the A’s.  But he was featured in two mainstream sets the next year that show off his final career stats.  First, he has a Fleer card.  Second, he’s honored in a 5-card subset in the first Score set.  Card #504 shows him in his second tenure with the A’s.  He also has a card in Sportflics.  Uncle Doc’s Card Closet has again come through with a fine custom-made card of Reggie on a 1988 Topps design.

Apologies to:   Phil Niekro (Hall of Famer).  Like Jackson, Niekro had one last stop with the franchise he started, though Niekro pitched just one game for the braves in 1987 after being released by Cleveland and Toronto earlier in the year.  Niekro didn’t have a regular 1988 Topps card either, but he is featured in the record breaker subset next to his brother Joe for breaking the record (previously held by Gaylord and Jim Perry) of combined wins by a sibling tandem*.  Phil does have a card in 1988 Score showing him in his last stint with the Braves.

1988 Classic red Niekro

As far as I know, there is only one card depicting Niekro’s brief (3 starts) tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays – it’s of the oddball variety, 1988 Classic Red.

* – Trivia question – what two brothers have the most combined career home runs (hint – both were teammates of Niekro’s)? 

“Lost Cards”: The Year After, 1987

23 02 2014


1987 Topps Rose

Best Player to retire in 1986.   Pete Rose

Did he have a 1987 card?   Yes – 1987 Topps, Fleer and Donruss

Rose got 3 cards in the 1987 set – as shown above.  But most importantly, he had a final player card in the 1987 Topps set.  He also had a card in Fleer and Donruss.

Apologies to:   Tom Seaver (Hall of Famer).  Like Yastrzemski, this is a heck of a runner-up – Seaver is one of the greatest pitchers of all-time.  Tom Terrific was also featured in all 3 sets in 1987.  2 more of Rose’s Big Red Machine teammates also retired in 1986 – George Foster and Tony Perez.  Foster didn’t have a card in 1987 – mostly because he hung ’em up mid-way through the ’86 season.  Perez had a Fleer card.

“Lost Cards”: The Year After, 1986

22 02 2014


1986 Topps Rod Carew

Best Player to retire in 1985.   Rod Carew (Hall of Famer)

Did he have a 1986 card?   Yes – 1986 Topps, Fleer and Donruss

After Joe Morgan did last year, Rod Carew had a card in all 3 sets.  Definitely seeing a trend here where there is more inclusion of recently retired players.

Apologies to:   Rollie Fingers (Hall of Famer).  The handlebar mustache was featured one last time on all 3 card sets in 1986.

“Lost Cards”: The Year After, 1985

22 02 2014


1985 Topps Joe Morgan

Best Player to retire in 1984.   Joe Morgan (Hall of Famer)

Did he have a 1985 card?   Yes – 1985 Topps, Fleer and Donruss

Morgan had a card in all 3 sets.  Topps seems to be changing its tune in the 80’s, where they include a final card of these guys – like I said in a previous post, I think this might have been in response to competition from Fleer and Donruss.  

Apologies to:   Jim Palmer (Hall of Famer).  Palmer, however, was a different story.  He retired very early in the 1984 season, which is probably why he had no 1985 cards in either of the big 3.