Sunday, June 10, 2018

Put coach in, Topps

I'm still going through the cards that I received months ago from ARPSmith's Sports Obsession. I'm in the middle of filing a batch of 1982 Donruss and I've enjoyed recalling one of the unique aspects of the set.

Coach cards.

There are eight individual cards of coaches in the '82 Donruss set.

This seems completely bizarre from the viewpoint of the modern card set, but take it from me, it wasn't exactly normal finding these old dudes in our packs of 1982 Donruss when the stuff was on store shelves.

I didn't have much of an issue with the cards. They seemed kind of cool actually. The coaches I pulled were Vada Pinson, Johnny Podres and Tommy Davis. I knew those guys. Two of them were former Dodgers. And since they had retired several years prior, this was my first chance to own picture cards of those guys. The 1982 Donruss card of Johnny Podres dressed as a Minnesota Twin was my first Johnny Podres card.

Donruss chose the coaches wisely. The majority of them had been stars in the major leagues during their playing careers. It would have been a feat to pull any one of the above coaches when they were players.

That's how you know Donruss didn't select just any coach for the set. There is no coach card of Alex Monchak or Monty Basgall or Peanuts Lowery -- all coaches during the 1981 MLB season.

The card backs underline the reasoning for selecting these coaches. The writeups are all about how great the coaches were as players and the backs include lifetime playing stats.

Of the eight coaches in the set, I have all of them except for Harvey Haddix, another fine player in his day.

Those are the others.

The exception to the '82 Donruss rule -- pick only past MLB stars -- is the Cal Ripken Sr. card (what I believe is the "rookie card" for the career minor league player).

I'm not sure why Ripken Sr. was added with the others as Donruss could have selected another former star for a coach card (how great would it have been to see Bob Gibson, a coach for the Mets in 1981, in a Mets uniform on a card?).

It's possible they were jumping on the Cal Jr. bandwagon by adding his dad into the set. He's certainly not included for his major league playing record.

The coach cards may have seemed a bit out of place in '82 Donruss back then, but looking back on it, it added some character to a rather ho-hum set. This wasn't something anyone was doing. Coaches almost never made card appearances on their own. If they showed up at all, they were attached to a manager card, likely as a floating head.

I would love to see coach cards in a mainstream product again.

I know it will never happen -- you're more likely to see a pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-rookie prospect card of some 7-year-old in a future set than a card of a coach.

That's too bad, because as I've mentioned many times before, I collect cards to enjoy all aspects of the game, not just certain star players or rookies. I want to see it all represented.

Topps could even make a coaches insert set and I'd be interested. Don't short-print that thing though.


  1. I remember being shocked (and sort of pleased) when Jimmie Reese got cards in 1991 Bowman and 1991 Studio since, by the time I started collecting in the late 80s, 82 Donruss was even ancient history for me.

    And yes the only way I see Topps doing coach cards now is if there are enough famous-name coaches they can sign up for signature chases and things like that.

  2. I try to add coaches to all of my ‘missing player’ Topps sets. Perhaps I’ll do a post of all of the coach cards I’ve done.

  3. I don't remember ever seeing any of those.

    Certainly there is no coach today who is a legend like Yogi, but there would certainly be value in having new cards of Mark McGwire and Edgar Martinez. Other possible inclusions would be Mark Prior, Roger McDowell, Tim Wallach, Chili Davis, Gary Pettis, and Alfredo Griffin. I could see the appeal.

  4. Amen! I know managers were still included in flagship Topps sets not all that long ago (well maybe ten years ago, or slightly more, man we're getting old!), so maybe there's hope they'll be back some day. If not the flagship set I always thought it would be nice if they at least included the manager for each team in those locally-available 17-card blister pack team sets they put out every year...

  5. Seeing Vada Pinson in a White Sox uniform is just plain weird.

    I'm with you though, I'd rather get a card of a coach or a manager instead of some player that may not see the majors for another 3-4 years, if at all. That's what minor league cards are for. If they don't want to throw manager cards into the flagship set, there's a whole slew of other options like Heritage, Archives, A&G (it'd get rid of some of those goofy celebrity cards), or who knows what else. I do know that as recent as 2016 Heritage, Topps did include manager cards. I have the Bryan Price card to prove it.

  6. As someone who's trying to make a custom set of anyone who appears on the field for the Mets this year, I can say that one major stumbling block is the photography. Any readily available picture of a third base coach has him with back to the camera, high-fiving a player in a home run trot. Any readily available picture of a pitching coach has him with back to the camera, talking to a struggling reliever. Hitting coach? That's just a total crapshoot. I suspect that any cards featuring coaches would either have to use "Photo Day" images which are taken in a studio, or would require commissioned shots, and then we're talking money that Topps doesn't likely want to spend.

    1. ...I should have said "taken in a studio setting". I don't think they're trotting the team over to the J.C. Penney Portrait Studio.

    2. I've made coach cards for my custom
      2018 Brewers set. I had to go back a few years for most of the pics. Usually to a newspaper profile piece on the guy.

    3. I haven't even touched coach cards for my set yet. It's hard enough finding manager photos from the season.

  7. I love manager cards. They are few and far between today. I know Heritage had some and Ginter had a really hard insert set based on managers. How about an action shot of the managers arguing. Truth be told, I just want more like you.

  8. Always been a fan of the manager cards, especially those early 80's ones you mentioned. As an Oriole collector, I recently enjoyed pulled some Buck cards. I do need to go out find that 82 Donruss Cal Sr. I def don't have that one.

    Really cool ideas about including the previous players no matter of their role i.e. McGwire, Prior etc. And the action shot of the managers is awesome! They would struggle to find an image of Buck in any action motion what so ever.

    Great post!

  9. I'm so out of touch with that part of the game... having coach cards would keep me in the loop. As it stands... I don't think I could name more than 5 MLB coaches.

  10. Coaches cards? I'd be happy if Topps could just make manager cards again.

  11. I'd love to see managers especially, maybe with a grid on the back with their 'managerial tendencies'. A dozen or more coaches would also be cool. I wish cards companies would adopt the 'It's in the Game" philosophy of the EA brand of video games, and put more of the ancillary stuff in sets, instead of more Aaron, Ripken, Chipper, Griffey, etc. The same HOFers every year...

  12. I had no idea that Cal, Sr. never made it to the Majors.