Tuesday, August 1, 2017

1989 ... finally

One of the best things about cards from the 1980s is how accessible they are.

In my card collecting travels I am constantly knocking heads with "rarity," "exclusivity," and "just too damn expensive." So it's nice to know an entire decade in which the majority of the cards are not only available, but attainable.

I've taken advantage of that by completing most of the sets that I want to complete from that decade. I've owned a complete set of each year of Topps flagship, from 1980-89, for awhile now. And I'm in the middle of looking to complete the few non-Topps '80s sets that interest me. But I don't expect those projects to take very long. They're from the '80s! They're all so gosh-darn agreeable!

Yet, there remains some sets that have been inexplicably elusive.

The ones that bother me the most are the 1980s Topps Traded sets. Yeah, I know, most of those I could buy tomorrow if I wanted to -- but for whatever reason I just haven't done it. So they sit in my brain, snickering at me.

I own the '80s Traded sets from 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1988. I should have the others already, too, which explains why when the 1989 Topps Traded set popped up on Baseball Cards Come To Life's recent Little Fun Game, I knocked aside a few old ladies and yelled, "MIIIINNNNE!!!!!!"

This was the third version of this type of game I've played and I have picked last or close to last each time. And each time, something I've really wanted was available to me.

I'm probably the only collector on earth who didn't already own the 1989 Traded set. But the embarrassment of that fact is history because I now own it!

The year 1989, as you longtime readers know, is a notable one in my collecting history. I recently enjoyed Dub Mentality's perspective on his '89 collecting experience. I also enjoyed everything that 1989 had to offer, but from the opposite end of youth. I was in my first year out of college, trying to find my way in the adult working world but not ready to give up the partying college life.

There was a lot of free time and I decided to spend much of it returning to collecting Topps cards with a vengeance. After basically six years away from "going to the store and buying packs," I made weekly treks to one drug store in a suburban mall in Buffalo, trying to complete the '89 Topps set and accumulating more cards from a single set than I have in my life.

Because of this, I know '89 Topps as well as any set ever made -- every card image burned into my brain forever. And that's what makes the '89 Traded set so great! Same design, many of the same players, but crazy, wacky new looks!

Rickey was an Oakland A again!

McDowell had left the former World Champion Mets!

Sax left the defending World Series-winning Dodgers for the Yankees! (Booo).

The '89 Traded set, of course, featured young standouts on their first Topps cards. With Donruss, Fleer, Score and now Upper Deck all updating sets, Topps was scrambling to keep up on the rookie front. They desperately threw a few into '89 Traded.

Most notably:

Probably the least desirable of the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards, but I'm happy one is finally mine!

Some other rookie notables include Vizquel, Neon Deion and Flash.

As well as Jim Abbott's first Topps appearance in an Angels uniform.

Here are a few more "fresh, young, newcomers" that could have caused a bunch of collectors to blow money on them needlessly if they had only appeared on Bowman cards 25 years later.

One thing that I noted with interest is the appearance of a few veterans in the set that probably should have been included in the flagship set.

Darrell Evans and Kent Tekulve are each featured on Traded cards and also have cards in their old uniforms in the Topps wax box set that you could cut from the bottom of the box. But it's odd that they're not in the actual base set.

Veteran player Lonnie Smith did not make it into the flagship set. Only the Traded set.

Ken Griffey Sr., also, did not get a flagship card, just a Traded card.

For me, though, the most interesting aspect of any Traded set is not the rookies, but the dudes in new uniforms!

Let's look at some of the big transactions from this set:

Ryan's Express moved west across state from Houston to Arlington.

Blyleven was on the move again.

Dykstra moved on to more success in Philadelphia.

The Expos landed Langston.

Topps confirmed in pictures what it had already written: Jody Davis was indeed with the Braves.

Jesse Barfield left one of the best outfields in the majors to join the Yankees.

And here are few more moves that may not have meant a lot at the time but became significant in retrospect:

And there were others: Julio Franco from Cleveland to Texas, Andy Hawkins from San Diego to New York, Bruce Hurst from Boston to San Diego, Juan Samuel from Philadelphia to New York, Wally Backman from New York to Minnesota, Jamie Moyer from Chicago to Texas, Bob Boone from California to Kansas City.

The '89 Topps Traded set has all the moves.

And the airbrushing, don't forget the sweet airbrushing.

These are cards that I should have possessed a long time ago, just based on the fact that I owned 20 dupes of Scott Bailes and Moose Stubing in the flagship set. But there is something to be said for gaining the cards so many years later.

It allows me to return to 1989 again, the year before I plunged into the workforce full-time. That year, 1989, seems so distant and wonderful now.

But, now, after all of those trips to that one drug store in the shopping mall that year, I can say I have all the Topps cards from that time.

Except for those wax box ones (I don't care about the minis or the ones that talk).

But at least they're easy to find -- like most of those '80s cards.


  1. I don't own the '89 Traded set either...and in what is probably my collection's worst "sin", I don't think I own a single Griffey Jr. rookie card (from any brand). I may have to track down my own version of the '89 Traded set to fix all those wrongs in one swoop.

  2. I really like the design of these.

  3. I was seriously considering stealing this during the Little Fun Game.. I do want to get the 89 Traded as I do not own it..
    Then again, I only have 87 and 90 Traded lol

  4. I didn't care for the 1989 flagship set much, but loved the traded set. And the Kent Tekulve is probably my favorite of the set!

  5. Call me crazy, but I prefer the Junior Traded card over the Upper Deck. Just a lot better photo, more of a 'classic' look to it.

  6. I love that Griffey rookie card! It's got a great look to it. It's my second favorite next to the iconic UD card.

  7. i was still four years from collecting when this set arrived so I'm a bit behind on 89 Topps love. It'll hit me in a few more years.

  8. That John Kruk Phillies card isn't a very flattering photo, is it?