Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Team MVPs: 1982 Topps

It's time once again for the regular series in which I determine the best card for each team from a set I have completed.

I've now done 12 of these things since 2011, and I've felt a bit of trepidation about the 1982 set. As you know, the '82 Topps set featured "In Action" cards and I didn't know how to treat those. Should I eliminate them from contention? If I included them, would the "best card" be nothing but "in action" cards? I did lean toward action cards at that time, after all.

I decided to keep the "in action" cards in contention and it turns out they didn't dominate the final selections as much as I feared. There are six "in action" cards among the 26 teams that existed at the time.

For this latest run-through, I returned to the floor to sort the cards, to replicate how I sorted cards as a kid. Unfortunately, since the last time I did that for this series, we have removed much of the carpeting in the house and I was forced to sit on the hardwood floor.

Here is what it looked like:

Looks gosh-darn pretty, don't it. And it is. But when you get close to my age, sitting on a hard floor in your stocking feet isn't an enjoyable experience. It took me a little while to stand up straight again.

But the exercise is finished, and I have to admit, 1982 Topps turned out pretty well, despite its reputation as not one of Topps' finer efforts of the decade.

Once again, broken down by the divisions that existed at the time, here is the best card for each team in 1982 Topps:

American League East

Orioles: Doug DeCinces; Red Sox: Tony Perez (in action); Indians: Ron Hassey; Tigers: Kirk Gibson; Brewers: Gorman Thomas; Yankees: Ron Guidry (in action); Blue Jays: Danny Ainge

Team with the best cards: Orioles, by a hair over the Brewers. Baltimore has so many oddly fantastic cards in this set, from Steve Stone to Tim Stoddard to Gary Roenicke. But I had to go with DeCinces signing for a fan. The Brewers feature lots of dugout and batting cage shots. Can't go wrong with those.

Team with the worst cards: Blue Jays. Thank goodness Danny Ainge decided to play baseball for a little bit.

Team I should go back and review: Yankees. I'm a little too enamored with Guidry's wingspan, and the Yankees put up a bunch of action cards.

American League West

Angels: Rod Carew (in action); Royals: Dennis Leonard; Twins: Hosken Powell; A's: Rickey Henderson; Mariners: Tom Paciorek; Rangers: Jim Kern; White Sox: Carlton Fisk (in action)

Team with the best cards: White Sox. By far. But Fisk's action card, one of the best things the '80s ever put out, shut his teammates down.

Team with the worst cards: Mariners. So many head shots.

Team I should go back and review: Royals. I like the "Leonard and his henchmen" card a whole lot. But there's that Willie Wilson staredown cards, too.

National League East

Cubs: Ivan DeJesus; Expos: Andre Dawson; Mets: Mookie Wilson; Phillies: Pete Rose (in action); Pirates: Dave Parker (all-star); Cardinals: Darrell Porter (in action)

Team with the best cards: Cardinals. Pirates, too.

Team with the worst cards: Nobody's really lousy, but I guess the Cubs.

Team I should go back and review: Pirates. I don't know why I should be forced to choose between cards from Parker and Stargell.

National League West

Braves: Al Hrabosky; Reds: Ken Griffey; Astros: Nolan Ryan; Dodgers: Mike Scioscia; Padres: Terry Kennedy; Giants: Gary Lavelle

Team with the best cards: Astros

Team with the worst cards: Everyone else. Lots of meh-ness in this division.

Team I should go back and review: Padres. After awhile I just stopped paying attention.

The benefit of going through the entire set like this is the little discoveries you make. There are the blog ideas that are unearthed, of which I came up with a couple. And then there's the card weirdness that I never noticed before.

Players were so territorial with their equipment.

And speaking of the Manny Trillo card:

Here's another card taken at the same time and you can see Armas on Trillo's card. This was obviously at the All-Star Game, likely from 1981. Is that Fred Lynn in the background?

The 1981 sets will be the next stops for Team MVPs, both with Topps and Donruss.

I'm probably done with doing this on the floor, though. Unless I can learn to type blog posts while lying down.


  1. knees, hips, creeks and cracks....

  2. Gratuitous plug alert - I've just started blogging my attempt at completing this set!

  3. Looks like M. Schmidt behind Trillo and Armas

  4. Some pretty iconic images here. The Henderson especially showcases him getting ready to do what he does best. I've always been partial to the Mookie Wilson card as well. He just seems to fit perfectly within the borders of the card. The Nolan Ryan is a beaut as well despite the orange-creamsicle uni's. Gary LaVelle actually lives down the street from me. I took pitching lessons from him back in the 80's. Super nice guy.

  5. The 1982 Topps Carew IA was such a good pic that 1982 Fleer used it also.

  6. I've always had a soft spot for 1982 Topps. I remember pairing up the In-Action subset cards with the players' base card in my binders. The Ryan and Henderson are easily two of my favorites. I also really like the on-the-mound-action-shots of Danny Darwin, Dennis Eckersley, John Denny, Geoff Zahn, and Greg Minton. Great cropping and perfect timing usually translates into a positive response from me.