Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The best Dodger cards ever made countdown: 80-71

The best thing about this countdown series is I get to write about the Dodgers even though they're not in the postseason.

Topical posts are always good, but writing about other teams sometimes gets me in trouble, mostly because I try to be honest. Some would call it "uncivilized." While that's not going to stop me from writing what I feel, conflict does wear me out. So a post in which I do nothing but praise cards is a nice breather.

What follows are the next group of 10 cards in the list of the 100 best Dodger cards ever made -- which, of course, are Dodger cards that I own.

If you don't see your favorite Dodger card here, don't panic. There are still 70 cards to go. If you still don't see it after 70 cards, then there's only one thing to do -- send it to me.

And if you don't have a favorite Dodger card, then that's your problem. Because your team sucks.

Oops. There I go being uncivilized.

On with the countdown:

80. Steve Garvey, 2002 Topps Traded, Who Would Have Thought subset

The "Who Would Have Thought" subset in the '02 Traded set is a great idea for a subset. Too many subsets today are filler, but this is not. What puts this card in the Dodger countdown is that the trade was epic in the annals of Dodger blue fandom. I have come across two people in my life who actually stopped becoming Dodger fans and transformed into Dodger haters just because the Dodgers let Garvey go. Although I find that reaction bizarre and borderline insane, that just shows you what a big deal this decision was in Dodger history.

79. Orel Hershiser, 2005 Topps Pristine

You can't go the entire countdown without showing a shiny modern card. And this one is probably my most favorite just because it juxtaposes Hershiser's nerdiness with the very coolest in card technology at the time. The glasses he's wearing are actual refractors! The card is so gorgeous and comical at the same time that I marvel at it even three years after I received it.

78. Eric Davis & Darryl Strawberry, Boyhood Friends, 1993 Upper Deck

If things had worked out with these two guys in the Dodger outfield, this card would be a lot higher on the countdown. Instead, Davis and Strawberry had an abysmal first season together in '92 as both players were injured and the Dodger finished last. Still, UD pressed on and made a card. And speaking as a Dodger fan, I was thrilled to obtain it. Because I still believed. Yeah, I was a sucker. Aren't we all?

77. Dave Stewart, 1982 Topps

The single meanest looking man on the mound possibly ever, and he began as a Dodger. I knew about Stewart long before he appeared on his rookie card here -- announcing his presence with his name on his glove -- having seen his glare in Dodger yearbooks in years prior. Stewart never achieved with L.A., but he sure did with Oakland and Toronto, which makes this card something special.

76. Jim Gilliam, 1993 Ted Williams, Barrier Breakers subset

This card captures old-style baseball excitement as well as anything I've seen on a card. The name placement on the card kind of detracts from the whole scene, but it's still a fantastic shot. And look at all those empty seats -- and all that foul territory!

75. Adrian Beltre, 1997 Bowman's Best

OK, it's more shiny. But it's a shiny rookie card of one of the best prospects to ever be signed by the Dodgers. This card was bananas, as the kids used to say, back in the day, as the kids also used to say. Beltre is still a premier player all these years later and I don't think he gets quite the attention that he deserves. Unless he collapses quickly, he'll be one of the all-time greats.

74. Eric Karros, 1992 Upper Deck, Walter Iooss Collection insert

You know you're living right if you're a rookie, in a Dodger uniform, and Walter Iooss wants to take your picture for a baseball card set. According to the card back, Karros got a lot of flack from his teammates for this photo shoot, but what a tremendous card -- especially considering what Karros would go on and do for the Dodgers.

73. Pedro Martinez, 1991 Upper Deck, Minor League Diamond Skills insert

I have no idea how much a Martinez rookie card was worth back when he was at his peak. I wasn't collecting then. I have to imagine it went for a decent amount. That's not the case now -- unless you're into graded cards. But it's still cool to have the rookie card of Pedro -- with that monstrously large cap.

72. Carl Erskine, 1956 Topps

Stacked with other 1956 Topps cards, the Erskine is nothing special. But then you remember that this is the set that came out after the Dodgers finally won the title in 1955. And you remember how much of a big deal Erskine was to the team then. And then you look again at his pitching follow through on the card, full of effort and power, and you know -- or at least I do -- that it belongs here. This has always been one of my top five favorite '56 cards.

71. Tom Lasorda, 1988 Topps

Manager cards can be pretty dull. Not a lot of excitement going on with the guy sitting in the dugout. But Lasorda changed all that. He was so animated, photographers found a way to get that across in photos. Seeing someone on a golf cart might have been pretty standard on baseball cards in the '90s, but it wasn't all that common in 1988 -- especially for Topps. This photo captures Tommy perfectly.

And a quarter of the countdown is in the books -- or the blogs, rather.

So that's a lot of nice talk about cards. I hope you enjoyed it.

Because you never know. I might be back saying something nasty later.

But if you think I'm bad, you should go on Twitter.

This is nothing.


  1. This outta be a fun countdown. I can think of some pretty cool Dodger cards!

  2. It is funny to see Stewart using what looks like an outfielder's glove on his 82 card. Karros almost has that look like " hey ladies look what I have in store for you".

    I guess with all these top 100 countdowns I need to get off my butt and maybe get one together for the Mariners.

  3. Picking nits - that Pedro is from 1991 upper deck final edition; its not an insert.

    I like the garvey - I was, in of all places, a card shop in Santa Barbara the morning after the deadline for the dodgers to re-sign him passed.

  4. The Erskine card is terrific. I'd take the '82 Stewart next. Purple and violet hockey sticks and all.

  5. Lot's of thoughts:

    Whoa - that LaSorda went a bit earlier than I would have thought. I'm officially panicking.

    I always found it weird and disconcerting to see Davis in anything but a Reds uni. That Davis and Straw card is still pretty cool regardless of the complete failure of both players in LA.

    The Gilliam card is excellent. Never seen that one before. Topps could sure learn something from those sets about how to find some better photos of classic players.

    And last - I have seen that Stewart card many many times. But I never noticed the Stewart on the glove. One of the great things about cardboard.

  6. I have a feeling that's not the last we'll see of Mr. Lasorda.

    I've seen that Gilliam card around the blogosphere a few times now, I need to find a copy of it for myself one of these days.

  7. i thought i was gonna make it to the end and not have a single one of these...but i hit on the Lasorda card.

    gotta have Tommy in a golf cart.

  8. I am probably a little biased, but all those cards are awesome. The Tommy card is always good for a laugh and captures him in splendid spring training mode.

  9. I gave comments on the last 20 why not this 10.

    80. For me Garvey never got traded to the Padres. He was just ceased to exist in baseball the day the blues came off.

    79. This Orel came off the board way to early. Shiny plus those nerdy glasses should have got him in the top 25 if not the top 10.

    78. Like Garvey in San Diego I can't remember both those guys in Dodger blue. They are entrenched as a Red and a Met for life in my brain.

    77. Meanest looking man on the mound ever? What about Gibson? Let’s just say meanest looking Dodger on the mound ever.

    76. Was there photoshop in the 50s case this card just doesn't compute? Gilliam obviously thinks it is a close play. The catcher is waiting for someone to throw him the ball. The pitcher (I’m guessing that is a pitcher backing up the throw to the plate) is watching something happening at first. The third base coach is watching but doesn't seem that excited that the Dodgers are going to score. Most amazingly with all of that random stuff is going on the baseball is floating over the catchers head. Nice looking photo but truly odd. Someone needs to go all CSI on this thing and find out what exactly happened on this play.

    75. Beltre was skinny in his LA days. I don’t think he gets the attention he deserves because of those years of obscurity he spent in Seattle. If he would have just stayed in Boston…

    74. How did the Karros card not make the top Night card post, or did I miss it?

    73. I already gave my Pedro in LA comments in an earlier post.

    72. It is a 56 Topps but it has to be one of the more boring 56 Topps cards. I don’t think it would make the top 100 Dodger cards that I own. (and all of the Dodgers I own are from 87-93.

    71. If I think of Tommy Lasorda this card is how I remember him. In 30 years if someone asks me who Tommy Lasorda was I will say fat guy in a golf cart.

  10. Really enjoying this series.

    And you know I won't copy it with Blue Jays. Becuase, well, it would be 95 Carlos Delgado cards and five Kelly Grubers.

  11. @AdamE ~

    My guess on the Gilliam card is that it is a steal of home by Gilliam. The guy you think is the pitcher is actually the batter. And the pitch has glanced off the catcher's glove and into the air.

    I don't know that for sure, but it seems possible.

    I'd say Gibson is "meanest-acting." Stewart is still "meanest-looking."

  12. I got to meet Carl Erskine a few years back at an event at Ball State University (he's from Indiana) where he and Buck O'Neil were with a staffer from the Hall of Fame discussing Jackie Robinson, Negro Leagues, etc. He's an amazing guy who had a front row to so much history...

  13. I don't think it is a batter because he doesn't have on a batters helmet he has on a normal hat. I thought maybe it was before batting helmets but Gilliam does have a batting helmet on.

  14. Just to play devil's advocate:

    Batting helmets weren't required in the 1950s (N.L. didn't officially mandate them until 1959), and there are many photos/videos from '50s of batters minus helmets. It's possible it was up to player's discretion and Gilliam decided to wear helmet.

    (Dodgers were early batting helmet pioneers -- but I think some early helmets were just an inside lining in their cap).