Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Highly Subjective - Topps in the 1980's

I was so ready to write a post about the awesome cards I ripped from the 2015 Topps series 1 . . . but the local Target hasn't gotten them yet. So, instead, here's something that will more than likely not become a weekly feature:

This week's edition of Highly Subjective is a look at my favorite cards from the 1980 through 1989 Topps base sets. As usual, these selections are Highly Subjective and in some rare cases they are also completely arbitrary.

1980 Gary Carter:
The Hall of Famer with a sweet play at the plate. He thinks the runner is out and his game face is in full force.

1981 Bruce Sutter:

Another Hall of Famer, rocking the big gnarly hair that comes the territory for closing the big game. I enjoy cards that capture the ball in flight like this, too. You can see the back of the Carter card here - maybe if his brother didn't play in bell-bottoms, he'd have advanced further in the Giants system...

1982 Carlton Fisk in Action:

Three for three for Cooperstown. The early version of "Doing the Carlton" was less graceful, but no less athletic than Alfonso Ribeiro's dance moves. The front of this card is technically upside down, though I think the makes more sense for "in action" to be right side up.

1983 Bert Blyleven:

Another Hall of Famer, but I swear it's just a coincidence. Blyleven is a two-time former twin and a current t.v. broadcaster for the team, so he's around the Twin Cities often - he was just at TwinsFest a couple weeks ago and I said hello in the hallway. The best part about this card is that it looks like they made him shave his beard for the portrait on the bottom.

1984 Neil Allen:

The first non-hall member, but he is sporting a first rate jacket. Allen is now the Twins' Pitching Coach, but that did not affect the highly subjective voting at all (probably).

1985 Gary Pettis:

I mean, come on. Where is Pettis posing for this photo? Lifetouch? Or perhaps he is in The Void - a massless, featureless vacuum of gray slate. He's pondering existence here. Also, my vote for best card backs of the 80s Topps run goes to 1984. Really like the team logo there and the color scheme.
Edited to Add: Nick posted this awesome story in the comments about the Pettis card. The photo is actually Gary's younger brother Lynn! I feel this cements the choice even further.

1986 Tony Perez:

This one is a sentimental vote - all my cousins live in Ohio, and my very first baseball cards came from their castoffs and included this Tony Perez card (though in a much more mangled form). I might vote for it anyway given the Eric Davis cameo and the double high five, but since this was the first "cool card!" I ever owned, I had to vote for it.

1987 Keith Mitchell:

The sandstorm of the century! Just one of the best cards of the 80's, period. Great shot and Mitchell was on his way at the time to be a very special player.

1988 Ed Hearn:

It starts to get tough here as I feel like there was a lot of "blah" photography in 88 and 89 in the Topps set. But here Hearn is showing how tough a guy with glasses can be. You wouldn't dare hit a guy with glasses, if that guy was Ed Hearn, would you? The Manager cards from this set are actually some of the more interesting ones - Lasorda is riding a golf cart, and Pinella is showing off his W.S. ring...

1989 Kelly Downs:

Just a pleasing geometric pattern - lines. This one was pretty arbitrary.  

There you have it, now I'll be looking to score some 2015 Topps again for tomorrow!


  1. 1987 will always hold a special place for me because that is the first cards I remember my Mom buying me when I was young.

    1. I probably have more 1987 Topps cards from my youth than any other brand/year. I might even be able to make a set with them (though they are in real rough shape). I bought a factory set of it last year just to feed the nostalgia and to have the cards again in a higher grade.

  2. That Kevin Mitchell is easily one of favorite cards from the '80s. The '86 Perez might be in the Top Ten of that list as well.

    P. S. -- Not sure if you've heard, but that's actually Gary Pettis's younger brother posing on his 1985 Topps card. Pettis pulled a fast one on good ol' Topps.

    1. Oh wow - That's hilarious! I think I like the card even more now.

  3. I've never seen that Fisk card. I agree that they have it oriented backwards, but what a card for 1982!

    1. I think the 1982 "In Action" series was miles ahead of the 1972 version, which I often call the "inaction" series because so many of the subjects are completely still. The Fisk one, though, really takes the cake.
      Tony Perez has a nice one where he's leaving the batting box as his helmet is flying off.

  4. The 1984 Neil Allen is nice and I even got him to sign it for me, but my favorite card ever just happens to come from that same set. Steve Lake's card. He's in the catching position and you're seeing the same view that his pitcher would be seeing. I got that card signed, too, and it was one of my biggest thrills.

    1. The Steve Lake card was definitely up there as a candidate. I agree, it is a great card. My top five from 84 would include Allen, Lake, Warren Cromartie, Tom Herr, and Eric Show.