Skip to main content

Joy of a team set: chapter 16

I was perhaps a little harsh on the Yankees at the end of yesterday's post.

Not that I care -- still fully want them to lose by many runs tonight -- but I'll throw a tiny chicken bone their way.

I visited my favorite thrift store back in my old hometown Monday. It hasn't been very productive for baseball card hunting the last several visits, but I did find one station that had the usual selection of junk wax sets (the Big 3: 1990 Fleer, 1990 Upper Deck, 1989 Topps).

Above those boxes were a few individual stacks selling for a couple of bucks each. I brought home two that mildly interested me. One was a 1983 Fleer stack with Keith Hernandez on top. The other was a 1986 Donruss stack with Don Mattingly on the top (third-year cards are so underrated).

I thought they were random assortments of '83 Fleer and '86 Donruss, but it turns out they were team sets of the Cardinals and Yankees from those years (I didn't put two-and-two together as there was a Cardinal and a Yankee on the bottom of each respective stack). I selected '83 Fleer because I'm trying to complete it, but the only card I needed was the Darrell Porter.

I selected the '86 Donruss because I own fewer cards from that set, by far, than any other set issued in the 1980s by the major card companies. I have an excuse -- I find the design very disorienting -- but it's time to overcome that.

After all, I now have the full Yankees team set from 1986 Donruss and I can do a Joy of a Team Set post on it!

Here is the whole team:

Donruss kind of front-loaded the stars in this team set.

This Yankees team holds a special place in my heart because it was the start of a wonderful decline by the franchise. New York finished second behind the Blue Jays in 1985, then finished second again in 1986. After that it was fourth, fifth, fifth, seventh, fifth and fifth. It was glorious. I could live my life without anyone shouting in my ear about the greatness of the Yankees.

But enough of that, it's time to run through the team set categories:

Favorite card runners-up: 5. Bobby Meacham; 4. Dave Winfield; 3. Don Mattingly ...

2. Scott Bradley

This could have been first if Donruss didn't obscure the fourth glove with the team logo. Come on Donruss, you can move those things you know.

Team's claim to fame: The 1986 Yankees were the first in franchise history to finish second behind a Boston Red Sox team since 1904, when the Yankees were the Highlanders and the Red Sox were the Americans.

Favorite element on the back:

There are a lot of tales of injury hardship on the back of these Yankees cards -- Marty Bystrom's is one long litany of woe -- but Andre Robertson takes the pinstripe cake. Donruss alludes to the severity of Robertson's car accident and then spells it out it for you -- broken neck, yikes!

Players I've talked to: Both Phil and Joe Niekro in two wonderful phone conversations in a single day. Joe first and then Phil.

Best names: Donruss provides gold with their listing of full names. Here are my five favorites:

5. William Amos Sample
4. Ronald Ames Guidry
3. Neil Patrick (Harris) Allen
2. Rickey Henley Henderson
1.Harold Delano Wynegar Jr.

Famous error card: The 1986 Donruss set doesn't have many errors and none involving Yankees.

Former or future Dodgers: Rickey Henderson, Willie Randolph and Don Mattingly.

Phil Rizzuto was their number one fan:

Rizzuto, the famed Yankees broadcaster and cannoli king, couldn't help but talk up whatever prospect donned pinstripes. He especially liked these two. And, he especially, especially liked Pags, for obvious Italian reasons.

Favorite card in the set:

#645 - Knuckle Brothers

This is how you do a combo card, Topps. I miss these so much.

Naturally I'd pick the two guys I've interviewed. It helps that I consider neither of them Yankees, thinking of Phil first as a Brave and Joe first as an Astro.

Thanks for joining me for Joy of a Team Set!

May it kick off 10 years of the Yankees never making the postseason!


  1. From my recollection the Mid-1980s Donruss sets used to front end most of the stars in the set. (i.e. most of the best players ended up after the Diamond Kings)

  2. The Knuckle Brothers card is awesome! I'm trying to think of the other combo cards in that set. Only other one that comes to mind is the Fleet Feet card with Coleman and McGee.

  3. As is often the case with these posts, you got me thinking of which players I have met. The list is longer than I would have guessed: Scott Bradley, Bobby Meacham, Ron Guidry and Don Mattingly. I disliked those 80's team greatly because, well, I'm a Red Sox. As such, it griped me somewhat that Mattingly was really friendly. Bobby Meacham was very graceful when discussing his playing days in the Bronx, considering the hack job George Steinbrenner did on him. I will give honorable mention to Billy Sample for my list as he was at a Binghamton Mets game I attended and I probably crossed paths and said hi to him. I later wrote to him asking for his autograph, including his '86 Donruss in my letter, and he wrote back referring to why he was there. So that kind of counts. I have the Meacham and Sample cards signed.

  4. I'm not fond of '86 Donruss, but the Bradley and "Knuckle Brothers" cards are surefire gems.

  5. I have good childhood memories of Scooter calling games, talking about cannoli, driving back home over the bridge by the 7th inning, and pronouncing "Pagliarulo" very nicely. Also, wow: Harold Delano Wynegar Jr.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Addressing the elephant in the room

A few people have noticed: I changed the way the blog looked with zero fanfare earlier this week.

I've changed my blog appearance, I think, six times now, although one was just a header swap. Just about all of those came with a bit of a warning or explanation.

I didn't think that was necessary this time, mostly because I've been doing this for over a decade, am pretty established, and don't think I need to justify my decisions here.

But also I thought that people were familiar with the general changes in web sites over the last two, three, four years and wouldn't be that affected by it. For the most part that seems to be true -- or, no one cares and they're all looking at pretty instagram pictures.

I've received a couple of questions though and just because I hate the feeling that some readers are lost, I'll explain what I can.

The changes, like many web site changes, are related to mobile phone use.

I've been irked by the way my blog looks on my p…

Mind explosion: a different way to sort

This may have been one of the most tedious blog posts to put together in the history of this blog, but I think it's for a good cause.

The reason I'm not entirely sure is because I didn't have time to carry it out for a few more attempts, got to shovel that 7 inches of heavy wet snow plopped on my estate on Nov. 12th.

Anyway, a couple of days ago, Colbey from Cardboard Collections was sorting his Topps Holiday set by card number and asked a very common question that I've seen come up many times during my blogging career:

 This is always a satisfying question because this is how I organize my sets when I'm organizing by card number. At the top of the post I showed cards from the 2019 Topps flagship set being sorted in that manner -- stacks separated by hundreds first, then you create separate stacks by 10s within each hundreds stack, then finally order each of the 10s by card number.

I've done this since I was a kid and first knew the card numbers on the back me…

Looking at cards with Johnny B.

Over the weekend, I got a chance to express my inner Mike Oz and share some baseball cards with a former major league player.

I'm working on a story for my paper that involves ex-player Johnny Wockenfuss, who is almost a cult figure with fans of a certain age (I am one) and especially fans of the Detroit Tigers during the '70s and '80s.

I won't go into much detail -- at least not now -- because I'm still in the middle of working on it, have more gathering to go, and I get very protective of my stories while I'm in the middle of the process. Got to retain that exclusive, you know.

But I will say that I was able to sit in the home of Wockenfuss, give him the cards that I have of him in my collection, and ask his opinion on them.

Yeah, cool. Way cool.

I have 17 cards of Wockenfuss ("you have a lot of them," my wife said, and I thought "if that's a lot, what is my Hideo Nomo collection?"). Wockenfuss remembered the cards -- "every bit …