Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The best Dodger cards ever made countdown: 50-41

I am one of the very few people left who still listens to his local radio station. It's about seventh on my list of "ways to hear music" (when once it was absolutely No. 1), but it's still an option.

One way that this particular radio station -- which usually airs absolute atrocities that they call "music everyone can agree on" -- has won me back as a regular weekend listener is that it has started airing old American Top 40 countdown shows from the 1970s and 1980s on Saturdays and Sundays.

I imagine other radio stations do this, too, since everything in radio is syndicated. But it is such an amazing blast from the past. My teenage years were filled with Casey Kaseem counting down the hits during the early 1980s, and when the radio station decides to air the countdown show from, oh, say, Nov. 18, 1982, my mind is officially blown.

The '70s shows are even more of kick because that was before I started following music and hearing what was on the top 40 charts in 1973 is crazy good fun.

But anyway, I bring this up because my obsession with radio countdown shows means that I have always placed a priority on what makes the Top 40, regardless of what's being categorized. It WAS American Top 40, after all, so we never heard anything from songs 41 and up. You were 40 or under or Casey said you ain't sh--.

Kind of makes you feel sorry for those songs that just missed the cut, right?

Just like I feel sorry for these cards that just missed the top 40 cut.

But they shouldn't feel sorry for themselves. Because they're part of the 100 best Dodger cards ever made!

That's something you can put right up at the top of your resume. Not that I'm sending out resumes or anything.

And on that happy thought, on with the countdown:

50. Russell Martin, 2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces

Some people like Martin's '08 Stadium Club card, some people like Martin's '08 Allen & Ginter card. But I like this '08 Martin card the best. It was my Card of the Year in 2008, and it's still amazing to view. And the longer we get away from Masterpieces, the more fascinated I am with them.

49. Manny Ramirez, 2008 Topps Stadium Club

I'm fairly certain that some people would put this on a list of the Worst Dodger Cards Ever Made. After all, it is Example A of photoshopping gone amok. But I've put it here for the same reason -- because of the crazy liberties that Topps took with this card. It's historic. Ramirez isn't even IN Dodger Stadium (and neither is anybody else in the photo), but the card wants you to believe that they are. It also wants you to believe that umpires aren't necessary in games (maybe the robot umpire revolution that I keep hearing about started a little early).

It is such an insane card that it MUST be on the countdown.

48. Matt(hew) Kemp, 2005 Bowman

I could have gone the MOJO-SICK-BOOYAH route and shown the chrome version or the chrome autograph version. But that's not what this countdown is all about. This is the best way to view Matt Kemp's rookie card. Clear-eyed and with appreciation for what a terrific "photo of promise" this picture is. Also, is that an 84 on his jersey?

47. Dynamic Dodgers, 1996 Pinnacle

Major kudos to Pinnacle for getting the Dodgers' four consecutive Rookies of the Year all on one card. The only thing better is if 1997 Pinnacle added Todd Hollandsworth to the lineup. But card companies need to recognize history like this more often in photos. I love this card so much that I want to rank it even higher. It's also what I look at anytime any Braves fan rails about Chipper Jones and Hideo Nomo (which invariably will happen in the comments). The card tells The Truth.

The other thing I think of when I look at this card: how is it possible that the Dodgers won nothing in the '90s?

46. Dodgers Future Stars, 1981 Topps

Dodgers fans of a certain era have a soft spot for Jack Perconte. But that's all the mention he deserves here. The rest of the card is about Scioscia and Valenzuela, two legends of 1980s Dodgerdom. This is the rookie card for both men, who were batterymates for quite awhile, of course. For a long time, this was Fernando Valenzuela's rookie card. Then manager Mike Scioscia and the Angels won a World Series in 2002 and this card became something even larger.

45. Jackie Robinson, 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen, bat relic

I think I lied earlier when I said we saw our last relic of the countdown. I forgot about Jackie. Shame on me.

If you're groaning about this card's inclusion, I'll respond by saying, sure, it's possible this piece of wood did not come from one of Robinson's bats.

But what if it did?

If it did -- like the card implies -- this card probably should be No. 1.

So that's why it's in the countdown.

44. Sandy Amoros, 1955 Topps

I went back-and-forth about whether to include Amoros' 1955 Topps card or 1956 Topps card in the countdown.

With the '55 card you have the card that came out when "Wait 'Til Next Year" finally became "Next Year."

With the '56 card, you have a much more pleasing presentation.

With the '55 card, you have Sandy Amoros' rookie card.

With the '56 card, you have a terrific play at the plate.

But with the '55 card, you have a card that -- when Yogi Berra hit that "sure double" with two men on and the Dodgers leading 2-0 in Game 7 of the '55 World Series and Amoros amazingly flagged that ball down -- you could run to your shoebox and pull out, kiss a few times, and exclaim, "I HAVE SANDY'S CARD!!!!"

That's why I went with the '55 Amoros.

43. Orel Hershiser, 1985 Topps

I don't think anyone in the world knew what to make of Orel Hershiser when people were pulling this card out of packs. I certainly didn't. He was a half-starter, half-bullpen guy, very skinny, and his name was "Orel Hershiser." What do you DO with someone like that? Fortunately, Hershiser went 19-3 in 1985 and his rookie card became one of the most coveted out of the '85 set.

42. Dee Gordon, 2011 Topps Update

You've been waiting for this one, I'm sure. I recently passed up on the hope diamond parallel of this card that popped up on ebay. I was paying for a shipment from COMC and I couldn't afford both, so I had to let the hope diamond card -- the last parallel I need aside from the 1-of-1s -- go free. (*sob*)

I have a feeling that the 2011 Card of the Year has the best chance of sliding down this countdown of any card. I don't know if it stands the test of time. We'll see.

41. Manny Ramirez, 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights

Two Mannys in one countdown? Some are shaking their head. But I don't let my opinions about the person affect where I rank these. At the time that this card arrived, Ramirez was the hottest thing in baseball and the biggest deal for the Dodgers in ages -- perhaps since Nomo or even Fernandomania. It was phenomenal and unique. I couldn't WAIT to get this card, and I think that goes for plenty of other Dodger collectors.

Sadly, though, Manny U&H is card No. 41, just missing out on the Top 40.

That means we have 40 big ones before we get to the top.

Night Owl ranks them and Night Owl Cards counts them down.

Until next time, keep your feet in the ...

Ah, never mind.

Nobody listens to radio anymore.


  1. Yeah, I'm saying it again...Dee Gordon has the ball in his hand. That takes away all of the awesomeness of the card.

  2. I honestly thought the Dee Gordon would have gone higher. But then again, I don't know my Dodger cards as well as you do...

    I will also keep reaching for the stars...Casey told me to

  3. I'm not a fan of Manny either, but I'll admit my love for that '08 Stadium Club card. It's certainly one of the strangest I've seen as a collector.

  4. I prefer the Amoros from 1956, but I'm minus the Dodger blue.

    Casey is another star to shine on Saved by the Bell.

    I'm enjoying the countdown again too.

  5. I'm not a Braves fan, so I not going to say a word about Chipper or Nomo.

    However as a child of the mid 80s, I do have to question your thoughts on the 1985 Hershiser. It's a nice card and Orel is one of the few Dodgers I don't dislike, but it was never the most sought after 85 rookie. Dwight Gooden was the first "best rookie in 85 Topps," then Eric Davis, then Mark McGwire, then Roger Clemens, then Kirby Puckett, then Mark McGwire again. Even in his big 1988 season, he was still 3rd behind McGwire and Clemens. Great card though.

  6. "He was a half-starter, half-bullpen guy, very skinny, and his name was "Orel Hershiser.""

    Shoot, I wasn't too young to remember Orel when he first came on to the scene, but I could totally see myself saying that with baseball card. Well written.

    Love the Robinson card, even with all the possible places that sliver of wood could have came from.

  7. hiflew ~

    I don't believe I said that it was "the most sought after 85 rookie." I said it was "one of the most coveted out of the set," and that was definitely the case, especially in '88/'89.

    I run an '85 Topps blog, I know what a big deal the Gooden, McGwire, etc., etc., cards were.

  8. I totally remember and loved the Top 40 countdowns. I actually got a record from the early 80s that was the entire countdown (I think it was a package of 4 or 8 albums). It had all the ads and everything. I wonder what ever happened to that???

  9. I'm in the '55 Amaros card camp. The team logo is the tipping point for me.

    I've had my car almost three years. I have no idea if the regular radio works. I've never had it off Sirius.

  10. A. 1955 Topps < 1956 Topps

    B. That Dynamic Dodgers card reminds me of the Mother's Cookies card with Weiss, McGwire, & Canseco.

    C. Fernandomania was awesome!

    D. That Dee Gordon photograph is awesome!

    E. Gypsy Queen + Jackie Robinson + Possible piece of game used Jackie bat = best card in the bunch.

    I look forward to reading about the remaining 40.

  11. Card #48 were the stars of my childhood. Classic card that is a must have for all Dodger collectors.

  12. I only listen to music on local radio. I only own about 4 CDs and the last time I downloaded a song Napster was a free site.

    50. I'm surprised that this was only 50 on your countdown. The top 40 must be loaded with vintage since the very best card of 08 (in your opinion) is only 50th.

    49. If it wasn't for your blog I would have never noticed that the Dodger Manny was photoshopped. In 08 I was still sick that he was in Dodger blue and wouldn't have even given it a cursory glance.

    48. Does Kemp still sign cards Matthew or has he now shortened it to Matt? I'm sure I could find it out real fast on ebay but I'm not in the ebay mood at the moment.

    47. Good thing they made a card of it for you to post or I never would have realized that the Dodgers won 4 consecuative ROYs.

    46. If I would have got this card before Fernando mania I would have said the only guy on the card that may become a star I would have guessed Perconte baised on the picture. With that mustache in just coming off the 70s Jack could have been a star in a certain business.

    45. Relic card, Meh. Bring on some real cardboard.

    44. I konw it is your countdown but you blew it. The PATP gives 56 the edge.

    43. I didn't even know Orel's RC was an 85. I guess I never really thought about it before. The RC phenomenon never really has caught on with me.

    42. I think when the "new" wears off this card it will fall on the list. Side by said it isn't better than any of the 08 Martins you listed or most of the 51-100 either.

    41. I wonder where they got that signature from because I have never seen a Manny auto that was that clear. Usually it is a garbeld mess like Manny in Dodger blue.