Tuesday, February 14, 2012

If loving you is wrong, I don't want to be right

So far, this is the baseball-related item that I have received for Valentine's Day. Yes, I'm one of those shallow types who doesn't read the book until I see the movie.

I don't know how much success I'll have with this book. Like dayf, I have reader's block. Only I've been stuck on Chapter 2 of "The Catcher Was a Spy" for two months. I also have this thing about reading books in order. So Michael Lewis will have to get in line behind Nicholas Dawidoff.

In the event that some new cards don't fall my way in the next 10 hours or so, I figured I'd recognize Valentine's Day with the illicit affair theme. I don't know why. Maybe it's just what you do when you've been happily married for 21 years.

So, quick, what is the card set that you feel totally guilty about loving with all your heart?

Time's up.

Mine is 1982 Fleer.

I know I've mentioned this at least a dozen times already. I even ranked '82 Fleer as one of the worst sets of the 1980s, with one stipulation. And that is: It's so gosh-darn lovable. I can't explain how a set can be both one of the worst and one of the most-loved. It just is.

1982 Fleer is awful because of the blurry photos, the off-center photos, the just plain terrible photos. But I also find it lovable because of this:

How can you not love a photo of a player blowing a bubble? This is 1982, folks. Long before Upper Deck was throwing candid, wacky photos at you every third card. Although it appears as if Mills is sitting in the dugout at 2 a.m., I'm pretty certain that when I pulled this card, I stopped and paused because I had never seen a picture like that before.

Another terrific dugout shot. This is how ugly dugouts were in the early '80s. And Pena's shinguards fit with the decor. Contrast that with the bright gold uniform and helmet that he's wearing and this makes for a fascinating card. By the way, is that Dave Parker up top smoking?

Gaylord Perry is 43 years old in this photo. And he's tilting back in his folding chair like a 10-year-old. But that's not the only thing that's tilted. What a great shot.

Some of the best cards in '82 Fleer are the Oakland A's cards. Much like the A's cards in '87 Topps, all of that green stands out in a sea of red and blue uniforms.

But you want action!! OK, '82 Fleer had a few action cards. Some of them goofy, too. But here's one of the better ones. Ben Oglivie has just done something good.

This is one of my all-time favorite George Brett cards. Can you imagine that? 1982 Fleer producing a classic Brett card? Nobody else will understand, but I love you, '82 Fleer.

Actually, 1982 Fleer has a lot of loving qualities. You just have to look for them. Like Jim Bibby looking dazed on a borderline night card at Dodger Stadium.

Or Lee Smith in his Cubs jammies. All of the Cubs cards I have from '82 Fleer show the players in their jammie uniforms. I don't know if they're all like that. I hope so.

And everyone's favorite: Pete Falcone ripping Fleer wax in the locker room.

I've featured many other '82 Fleer cards on this blog: Joaquin Andujar, Hal McRae, Rick Sutcliffe, Bob Sykes, Dickie Noles, the All-Star Game card, Willie Wilson, Tito Francona, etc., etc.

1982 Fleer really is more than just the John Littlefield and Al Hrabosky error cards and the Cal Ripken rookie card.

But I guess you'd have to love the set to know that.


  1. As a sports fan (and not to sound like a snob) I preferred the books Moneyball and the Blind Side to the movies. That's because in both cases Lewis was analyzing a major trend in a sport, whereas the movies, because they were movies, had to have a movie-style plot with extra characters and conflict and the like. Because of this, in both cases, the movies never really drove home the points of the books. That's not to say they weren't entertaining, but it's the same kind of thing that happened with Fast Food Nation. I guess that's just a side-effect of trying to turn a non-fiction book into a drama that will draw an audience.

    That's my long-winded way of saying that you'll really like the book if you're truly a baseball fan.

  2. I have always loved that falcone card. I think it is the first baseball card of a player holding up his own baseball card - before Upper Deck did that like a dozen times (including a parallax effect on a few in '93, I am sure you know all about that). But is this the first baseball card with a baseball card on it? I am pretty sure it isn't, as there had to have been some before, right? I think we need to find this out. What is the first baseball card with a baseball card on it?

    p.s. comic sans? really?

  3. I also love the 82 Fleer set. It is one that I want to slowly try to put together someday. I don't care about the bad pictures or a certain rookie card. Someday maybe, someday. Just like all the other sets I want to collect.

  4. 82 Fleer is the one set that I have had in a binder for the last 25 years. I have written in a profile of mine "They're ugly with bad photography, but they're still special to me". I even like the yellow/powder blue backs. Only 10 cards left for me to complete it.

  5. The 91 topps set. Mass produced neo-vintage cards, yes, but also with some underrated photos.

  6. Falcone card...totally awesome.

    Guilty pleasure ... 1991 Score. But I also agree with Justin about 1991 Topps. Yes it was overproduced and the last of the the true Topps dinosaurs, but it really was well done. Great photography.

    Moneyball ... I'd really love to read the book. I'm envisioning it as less tedious than the Thorn/Palmer classic "The Hidden Game of Baseball" which I somehow just couldn't get through.

    I want to re-read "Boys of Summer" soon. That book was literally life changing for me. No, I'm not overstating that. That's the book that convinced me I wanted to be a sportswriter ... which morphed into photography. So while I'm not overplaying the "life changing" thing, I AM rambling. Sorry about that. It's late and I'm right in the middle of the state wrestling tournament. Iowans take their wrestling seriously. Really. It's a pretty high concentration of angry farmers. Short angry farmers. Short, humorless angry farmers.

    What are we talking about?