Tuesday, February 21, 2017

C.A.: 1991 Score Rick Dempsey

(Yup, we're back to Cardboard Appreciation posts after installing another card into the Cardboard Appreciation Hall of Fame. if you're new to these posts, this is where I feature one card of particular interest to me, in hopes that it will be of particular interest to you. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. But welcome to Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 251st in a series):

In continuing with my research on helmets on Dodger baseball cards, I struck upon this semi-historic card.

This card features one of the last known examples of a catcher wearing a cap while fielding his position on a baseball card issued during that player's career.

Rick Dempsey was the last catcher to wear a cap under his mask instead of a helmet. Even long before this 1991 Score card was issued, Dempsey's cap-wearing was a novelty. Many catchers had gone over to the helmet long ago. So card companies would often show Dempsey wearing his cap just because it was so delightfully unusual.

But by 1991, Dempsey was the last, there were no other catchers foolish enough to wear almost no protection on their head while crouched behind a large man swinging a piece of lumber.

Yet, Topps went with a head-and-shoulders shot of Dempsey wearing a helmet.

Stadium Club showed Dempsey running the bases, wearing a helmet.

Donruss, Fleer and Upper Deck didn't even bother with Dempsey. They were done with his career, cap and all.

So, Score ends up with the landmark card, one of the last to show a catcher in a cap while working behind the plate.

There is another card issued that same year that shows Dempsey in a cap.

Dempsey was signed as a free agent by the Brewers after the 1990 season after being granted free agency by the Dodgers. So, actually, this photo was taken later than the Score Dodger photo. But since the cards were issued in the same year, I'm calling it a tie. The Leaf and Score cards in the 1991 set were the last to show a catcher wearing a cap behind the plate. (There are also oddball Brewers cards issued that same year that show Dempsey in a cap while catching).

Of course, with the advent of retro cards there are plenty of newer cards showing Dempsey in a cap, but he had long been retired when those were issued.

I don't have nearly enough time to track down the one-off cards that appeared after 1991 that show a catcher in a cap. I'm sure they exist.

I'm comfortable thinking that the '91 Score Dempsey card is one of the last of its kind. You have to give that to '91 Score. It has so little.


  1. I like most of dempsey's dodger cards for this very reason. In an unexpected twist, Jerry Grote's 2005 topps atff card shows him wearing a helmet while In a posed crouch.

  2. I guess it's up to me to show Dipper as an Oriole wearing his cap in action.

  3. Because the world needs to know: I believe the 1979-80 Topps Basketball card of Darrell Dawkins showed the first basketball player wearing an earring. I know Dave Parker wore an earring but I could not see it on any of his late 70s Topps cards.

    Not that you need anymore to do, but I wonder if you know (or could find) the first baseball card of a player wearing a earring (or visible tattoo, a chain necklace etc.. - the possibilities are endless)

    1. i remember seeing parker's earring on his 1981 topps super card, and of course on his 1982 topps all-star card. not sure if it showed up before those two.

  4. Very cool card and post. A few weeks ago, I wrote a posts about "famous lasts". Dempsey and this card would definitely fit the bill.

  5. I'll have to dig out a Bob Monthomery card. One of if not the last guy to hit without a helmet.