Wednesday, October 26, 2011

'83 all the time

I am neglecting about a half-dozen regular features on this blog. I'm being especially pokey on displaying recent trade packages, too.

So it's about time I do a good deed related to this hobby of mine:

"HEY, GUYS! Did you know that there is a 1983 Topps blog????????????????"

How is it that I'm the only one that knows about this? I'm like almost his only follower. This is not right! The '83 Topps blog deserves legions of followers! It is the best set of the '80s by any standard of measurement that you prefer!

So I thought I'd help Brandon out and give his blog a plug, as if you couldn't figure that out.

I've been known to effuse (it's a word, look it up) about the '83 Topps set a little bit myself. Back then, I was still 60 or so cards away from completing the set. I've since completed it, which gives me permission to display my favorite 13 cards from the set in the usual descending order.

Yes, 13. I couldn't come up with an even 10 to satisfy your need for round numbers. But this is not for you, it's for the 1983 Topps blog.

You won't find the rookie Gwynn, Sandberg or Boggs in this countdown because HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU I'M NOT SOME SORT OF MOJO BLOG! Go open a pack of Bowman Chrome and leave me alone.

The Top 13 of '83. According to me:

13. Pete Vukovich. This was right after the 1982 World Series, and Vukovich was kind of a cult hero at the time. Besides, look at that wind-up kick. If I tried that, I'd be face-first in the ground after getting my cleats caught in the webbing.

12. LaMarr Hoyt. The '83 cards were the first time we got to see the White Sox's hideous new SOX uniforms on cardboard. At the time, we didn't realize how hideous they were, because the White Sox had been wearing those old-timey, black-and-white turn-of-the-century get-ups that I couldn't stand. So a colorful, new SOX was welcome.

11. Reggie Smith. I can't rank this card any higher because Reggie had just departed the Dodgers for the ... urp .. Giants. But it's one of the more notable cameo cards in history because that's GASP! ROOKIE RYNE SANDBERG on the card, too! Why that must be worth a bajillion, katillion, scillion dollars!!!!

This is just one of several cameo cards in the set. The aforementioned Cesar Geronimo appears on George Brett's card. Darrell Evans appears on Tim Flannery's card. Derrel Thomas appears on Chris Speier's card.

10. Dave Stewart. The first action card of Dave Stewart (actually '83 Donruss had an action picture of Stewart, too, but who was buying '83 Donruss?). This is very important because at the time I wanted Stewart to be the best pitcher the Dodgers ever had. Of course, later -- much later -- he did become a great pitcher. But by then, he was playing for teams I didn't care about, and my life was conspiring against me, and who the hell was this Stewart guy? Was he that Dodger way back when I was kid and life was all chocolate chips and spit wads?

Now I say nothing but good things about Stewart because he's going to get Matt Kemp a big, fat, long-term deal with the Dodgers. Because he's the greatest agent of the greatest player ever. No, I am not pandering.

9. Bo Diaz. Diaz is charging from his catcher's position, no doubt to gun down an irritant on the basepaths, as the umpire signals a strike. Where is the batter in all of this? I think he's been vaporized by the greatness of this card.

8. Willie McGee. McGee did not make an appearance on any mass-produced card in 1982. He was such an unknown when he was called up, and such a distinct-looking individual, that I almost believed it was some a staged stunt by Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog. But I went along with it because I was rooting for the Cardinals, and McGee was so good (how about that catch in the Series?).

The next year, McGee finally appeared on a card. I pulled it, and thought, "I guess that wasn't a dream. McGee really does look like E.T."

7. Fernando Valenzuela. This card and the '83 Fleer Valenzuela card are the first two action cards of Valenzuela. At this period in collecting, when the action card was not unique, but not everywhere (until the '83 set), you hadn't arrived as a ballplayer until you were in action on cardboard. It seemed like a long wait before I saw Valenzuela in motion on a card.

6. Phil Garner. Despite the fact that Garner appears to have given birth to a 160-pound, mustachioed Wally Backman, 185-pound, non-mustachioed John Stearns, the runner is safe, safe, safe!!!!

5. Ron Cey. The final card of Cey as a Dodger. And it took 11 years to show him fielding his position. In the traded set, he is shown fielding AGAIN as a Cub. Eleven years holding a bat, and then back-to-back fielding shots.

By the way, there are no Topps cards of Vance Lovelace.

4. Carl Yastrzemski. This is a terrific final tribute card as Yastrzemski's last Topps card issued during his career. (I don't count that '84 highlights card). Fleer issued a card of Yaz in the '84 set, but Topps knew when to stop.

3. Bob Boone. I can't get enough of this card. I love the synchronized look to the heavens. I don't know who that Mariner is the background. I want to say Tom Paciorek, although he was a White Sox on his '83 Topps card.

2. Mike Norris. Norris wasn't a 22-game winner anymore by the time this card arrived. But you can't convince anyone who looks at this card that he is nothing less than the greatest pitcher to ever fondle a resin bag. The combination of green, gold and pink puts me in mind of 1975 Topps. And there's nothing wrong with that.

1. Gary Carter. Expos love! I've enjoyed this card from the moment I pulled it out of a pack. Carter played all-out and this card captures it. I didn't like him as much after he went to the Mets, but then he joined the Dodgers and it was OK to like Gary Carter again. He always made such great cards.

In fact that gives me a post idea to ignore.

There are plenty of other terrific '83 cards. Keith Hernandez, Jim Palmer, Dennis Eckersley. The first nontraded George Foster Met card. Lou Piniella's bat flying, the crazy Kent Tekulve Super Veteran card. But that's it for now.

Besides, you can see them all on the '83 Topps blog. It's a nice read (and very orange).


  1. I'm already following, Brandon has written some good posts on there already.

  2. Woah Kool! There's an '83 topps blog! I have a neighbor and never knew it. haha

    '83 Topps was my 2nd first cards.. so much love for them.

    ehh hemm... Fernando had an action shot pre-'83...and it is one of the best shots in the '82 set IMHO. I can't believe you, a big Dodger fanatic, forgot about it LOL

  3. Oh, that thing. I didn't consider leaders/highlights cards as a player's true card for a given year. So that's probably why I forgot about it. That and the fact that it took FOREVER for me to obtain that card.

  4. Hey THANKS for the plug. I wondered what in the world was going on with the sudden increase in traffic. I agree these are some great cards. Gotta love Norris' shades.

  5. thanks for the heads up on the '83 blog --- I love following the set blogs!

  6. Based on the uniform and pop-up direction, Boone's card shows a left-handed Seattle Mariner during a spring training game.

    Assuming it was a guy who made the 1982 roster, only a few were both lefty and caucasian. It's likely Rick Sweet, Dave Revering, or John Moses. (If pressed, I'd pick Rick Sweet.)

  7. That's John Sterns on Garners card.

  8. Ah, so it is. A closer look reveals no mustache and the #12. I'll fix.

  9. "thosebackpages" beat me to it, backman always wore #6.

  10. I'm not great with identifying stadiums, but is Fernando warming up in Candlestick in that picture?

  11. I'm a little late on this but here are a few of my favorites:

    #151 Super Veteran Bruce Sutter; great before beard, after beard

    #156 Billy Martin: The classic glassy-eyed look.

    #426 Earl Weaver: Very definition of mad genius.

    #444 Wally Backman: Terrific angular batting stance captured.

    #531 A's Team Leaders: With apologies to the Norris card, this is the single card of the set that most reminds me of the super terrific awesome '75 set.

    #762: Cliff Johnson: He's almost smiling, which would be a first.