Monday, August 7, 2017

These 2 sets couldn't be more different

Quick now, name this set.

Those of you who grew up during a certain period probably know it right away.

I know I would if someone showed this to me. The multi-colored curved borders, the tell-tale yellow near the bottom.


Of course, it's 1981 Fleer.

You didn't even need to see the giant baseball in the corner to get that one.

OK, now, what set is this?

Again, some of you who grew up during a certain time know it. But I also know that a large number of you have no idea.


It's a stack of 2003 Topps Finest.

The shiny, bright colors. The honeycomb design behind every player.

1981 Fleer and 2003 Finest couldn't be more different.

One set is 660 cards. It's no-gloss, built on heavy card stock, with a simple design and lots of yellow. The back contains full year-to-year stats but no write-up, and, for crying out loud, a gray border.

The other set is a mere 110 cards. It's all about gloss, both front and back. The design is anything but simple with hexagons all over the place. Players are taken out of their backgrounds and stats are limited to the 2002 season and career. There is a write-up though.

Although these two sets are on opposite ends of the baseball card spectrum, I like both equally.

I received a nice stack of each from Bo of Baseball Cards Come To Life! as he's been distributing cardboard all around the blogs. I requested each set because both interest me.

Here are some '81 Fleer favorites out of the stack.

I collected '81 Fleer -- the first major Fleer set since 1963 -- when it arrived in 1981. I was 15. For the first time in my life there was a major set to collect from a store besides Topps. I enjoyed the new perspective, although '81 Fleer seemed rather primitive compared with Topps. I didn't like the yellow either.

Over the years I've appreciated '81 Fleer more and more, basically because it arrived during that time when I was still collecting cards as a "kid". One day I will put up a want list for it. Although that day is not here yet, I'm very happy to go through all the familiar names in this stack of cards.

Here are a few more favorites.

I've noticed that early '80s Fleer tends to yellow over the years. I don't know why that is, other white border sets from back then don't seem to suffer nearly as much. When I do start trying to complete this set, I'm sure that will bother me and I'll be updating constantly. But I'm not there yet.

Several Fleer cards in this lot featured ragged borders, similar to O-Pee-Chee issues. I remember noticing this in '81, although I didn't see it a lot. This doesn't bother me like the yellowed borders though.

A few random highlights from 2003 Finest. Got to love Oswalt batting. Check out the follow through.

For me, Finest doesn't get any better than 2003 and 2004. I like '04 even better, probably my favorite Finest set of all-time. It's all about the varied and colorful background colors.

At 110 cards, I should collect this already. But this particular era of baseball is of little interest to me. You may see a want list for 03 and 04 Finest someday, but you also might see me land a Honus Wagner T206 someday, too. It's in that "you never know" category.

Check out those colors. The scanner dims them a bit, they look even more impressive in person.

I don't know what's going on with the Mark Prior card. I thought the green portion meant it was some sort of parallel, but a little research didn't turn up anything. Might just be a goof.

Here's a Cub comparison:

In my many years with this blog, I've come across many collectors who appreciate only one era of collecting. It's all vintage or all player collecting from the 21st century for them.

I suppose it's good to know what you like and not throw money at a bunch of different things. But I like a wide variety of items when it comes to baseball cards. I don't try to explain it, I just find something that appeals to me and often the two things aren't anything alike.

Meanwhile, Bo -- he's been a very busy bee -- also found some Dodgers off of my want list.

I forwarded him my old want list from about a year and a half ago, since my current list is under construction. That meant I received some dupes after he checked my old list, but the vast majority of cards I needed.

And since most of them are from that difficult 2000-2005 period, I really appreciate them.

How about that?

Bo has really struck upon some riches lately.

I had a day off yesterday and I spent a good chunk of it finding stuff to send back. It's not every day you can get all those needs from 2000-05.

Plus two set wants that are so vastly different.


  1. Even though we know Bobby Bonds played "for everyone", as the song says, it feels really strange to see him in Cardinals red. Most of his career was spent in teams whose main color was black or navy.

  2. As time goes on and more sets are put out, 1981 Donruss, Fleer and Topps seem like classics.

  3. If the baseball version is anything like the NBA version, there are a couple of cards sprinkled throughout the set that don't match the rest in the background colors. Some with multi-color like yours some with just a totally random different color that doesn't match any others.

    Only parallels were Refractors and Gold Refractors, which had only 25 copies produced. I was lucky enough to pull one.

  4. The '81 Fleer has some great cards...and a few that look like they were taken by a photographer who was afraid to get near the players and stayed in the stands. My favorite card in the set may be the Enrique Romo.

  5. You called it. The 81 Fleer I knew right away from the first picture. The 2nd set, I had no clue. I like the 81 Fleer cards I have...kinda, but not that much.

  6. Great stuff from Bo. I wish Finest was a little cheaper. Love the set, but the price point is more in premium territory. Much easy to have people send them to you!!!

  7. 81 Fleer was the first baseball card set I ever owned... so it'll always hold a special place in my collection. 2003 Finest? Well... I wasn't collecting when that set was released. But I have added a few refractors to my collection over the years.

  8. I think the blue part of the Prior card is the OF wall and the green is the outfield grass. Maybe?

  9. Glad to find cards you could use!

  10. I really like 1994 Finest (it was probably the first high-end card I'd ever seen), but 2003 is a close second.