Skip to main content

Catch this!


I have long admired this card.
 
It's an Awesome Night Card from way back and it was one of the only 1986 Topps cards that I owned in 1986. I don't remember at all buying packs of cards in '86 and I had so few that year, but I must have bought some because I've known about that Bo Diaz card for 35 years.
 
I've known about it for so long that it seemed a given for the upcoming Greatest 100 Cards of the '80s countdown. A tag at the plate was relatively rare on cards in the '80s and to get the entire scene in the frame, and also knowing who is being tagged out, was an achievement. It is an achievement. (Also, they're somehow playing while it's snowing).


But after reviewing eligible candidates for the countdown, I began to have my doubts. Oh, that's not taking anything away from the Diaz card. It's still great. But have you noticed how terrific the catcher cards are in 1986 Topps?

We'll start from the beginning.


At card No. 88 is Tom Nieto, a backup catcher for the Cardinals. He seems to be chasing down a squibber off the bat or maybe a passed ball. It's not often that you see the catcher's helmet almost taking flight. Except this is 1986 Topps and we'll see it again.
 
 
At card No. 137 is Charlie Moore, the sometimes starter for the Brewers and at the tail-end of his career. He looks plenty spry on this card though, aiming to gun down a thieving base-runner (it's probably just a warm-up throw to second). It's not a shot you see on cards all that often. And, again, it's a pleasing full-body shot of the catcher in action.


At card No. 218 is our second backup catcher for the Cardinals. (Starting catcher Darrell Porter is pictured in action at the plate in the '86 set, but he's batting). Randy Hunt played in just 14 games for the Cardinals in 1985 and this would be his only Topps card. But what a card! You want to talk airborne catcher's helmets? You want to talk about bespectacled backstops searching vainly for that foul pop-up? Who is Bo Diaz again?
 


Here is card No. 280. Tony Pena is also gliding toward a foul pop. It's perhaps a bit less frenetic than the Hunt card and there's no catcher's mask. But how do I pick between the two?

We take a break from the catching super-action in the 1986 set for a couple hundred cards or so, but when we come back it's with a knockout at No. 616.


You have everything you want in this card. Play at the plate, ball in the glove, ump making the out call, Yankee dead to rights. It's all there. This is Glenn Brummer's final card. It's also his best card.
 

Then, finally, at No. 639, is the Diaz card. It's still awesome. Maybe not the show-stopper anymore after seeing what came before it.

I don't remember seeing so many super-action catcher cards in one set, at least not anything before the beginning of the "every card must be action" era.

I quickly looked through the set that preceded '86 Topps, in 1985. I counted up about 10 catcher cards but all of them were similar to the other less-exciting catcher cards in '86 Topps:


You can tell that the photos are taken during a game, or at least during practice. But they're not the full-body action photos, those that I showed earlier. There is none of that in 1985 Topps.

So I think 1986 Topps is special in that way.

The Diaz card has always reminded me of the 1977 Topps Carlton Fisk card. And that Fisk card was ranked No. 13 overall when I did the Greatest 100 Cards of the '70s countdown.
 
 
I won't put the Diaz in '77 Fisk territory though. The '77 Fisk card is about anticipation and that makes the photo so much more real. There is tension all over that card.

But maybe the Diaz card will sneak into the '80s countdown. Or maybe it will be Brummer. Or Hunt. Or Pena ...

You'll have to tune in.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

The 1980 Topps Andre Dawson card has advanced into the Greatest 100 Cards of the '80s countdown after your votes!
 

It was a super-tight tally with 16 votes for the '80 Dawson and 15 for the '87 Fleer Dawson.

I am doing the final, final finalizing of the list and I even found a spot or two for a couple of the candidates that I said on the earlier post wouldn't be making the countdown. This list will continue to be fluid up until the final week of December when I start putting together the first countdown post.

Thanks for voting and thanks for your interest!

Comments

Jeremya1um said…
That Brummer cards is cool. I remember getting him to sign it after a game and him mentioning that the ump blew the call. I think he said Mike Easler was the one who got the RBI.
Brett Alan said…
I agree that there's a lot of goodness among those catcher action cards, but I do think the Bo Díaz is special. It's the rare action card that really captures the full action of the moment AND gives you a good look at the player being pictured.
Topps wouldn't dare do those today. lol.
Fuji said…
Not sure where it'd land, but after seeing these awesome cards... the 86T set definitely moved up in my 80's flagship set rankings.
steelehere said…
I think what puts the Diaz card over the top is that it's a night game.
Nick Vossbrink said…
As I was building 1986T I definitely noticed that the catcher cards were almost all quality. I've been sending duplicates out TTM because "I think your photo is great" is a fun letter to write too. Only Brummer has come back though.

Also as I said on twitter. That 77 Fisk makes a great pair with his 91 card.
gregory said…
Like-minded Gregs: I shared the same sentiment on the great-looking catcher cards when I did my 1986 Topps set completion post last year, and even used many of the same images! On top of that, just a few weeks ago I put up a special post on how cool that Charlie Moore card is. Kudos to the folks at Topps that year.
acrackedbat said…
Diaz and Brummer are fine cards. While this set is not my favorite by any means, both cards are represented in my catcher binder.
Jafronius said…
Yay! The Dawson I would have voted for if I read the blog regularly won!
bbcardz said…
Those are some very cool catcher cards. I wonder if there were any similar/comparable Dodger catcher images that could have been used in the 1986 Topps set. Well at least Dodger catcher Austin Barnes has a couple of recent Topps flagship cards that are impressive (to me at least).
Johngy said…
My favorite part of those catcher cards is how many featured backup catchers (and you know I love backup catchers). Great post!

Popular posts from this blog

G.O.A.T, the '80s: 90-81

  I've been watching the Netflix documentary series on the doomed Challenger mission, whose anniversary is 35 years ago this month. Depressing viewing, I know. I was a college student at the time and heard the horrible news as I was driving to the bank to cash a paycheck after classes. I can't imagine what it was like for all those school classrooms that had tuned in to watch the broadcast that day. The documentary is quite well done, so far. The footage is incredible. Not just from all the space shuttle technology video and the awesome lift-off camera work but the depth of it. Every astronaut's every move from student eight years prior to the fateful day seems to have been cataloged. Also the background music is spot-on as far as time period (always a big thing with me) and takes me right back to those days. As always, it's difficult to believe that Jan. 28, 1986 was that long ago. I can still feel 1986 in my heart and that year still seems like it was on the cutting e

G.O.A.T, the '80s: 80-71

  The longer you've been alive on this planet the more perspective you have on what "a long time ago" means.   A person I know is a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan. He's pretty young. He says he's waited a long time for the Bucs to appear in the playoffs. It's been agony, you see, waiting all the way since ... 2007! ... to see his team in the postseason. How has he managed? As a Bills fan, I know waiting. Buffalo spent 17 straight years out of the playoffs, a longer wait than any other team. The last time Buffalo made the AFC championship game, where they are now, was 1994. That was the month of the Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles. That was the month I moved to the town where I live now. That was the month of 20-below temperatures for a week straight. That was a long time ago! A fellow co-worker said prior to Sunday that a Bills-Browns title game would sum up the 2020 NFL season, implying that these teams never make the postseason. But again, this is another ca

Saving vs. waiting

  Hello, it's contrarian night owl here, telling another tale about how obsessed we are with saving our cash.   I can tell you're shocked already.   Saving is a good thing, right? It's the American way. Getting the cheapest possible deal on whatever you're interested in purchasing gets you a little gold star or check mark somewhere, correct? Actually, I don't think that's the way it works. Which is why I haven't been much for trying to find the cheapest way to buy cards. I've addressed this before . I see the point if you're on a strict budget or your job status is shaky or you're paying tuition for three kids in college. But saving for saving's sake I just don't get. Sure, I get excited when I find a deal on ebay. And I pat myself on the back when I discover a shirt I bought that I like was on clearance. But it's never the point of the sale for me. The point is: did I get what I want? Recently, I think I found another point, when it