Monday, July 7, 2014
Joy of a team set, chapter 2
When it comes to easy targets, no team features a larger bull's-eye than the Padres and the Cubs.
Sure, I dislike other teams more, but the Padres and Cubs have long since moved beyond "lovable loser" status into "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!"
I know that's not exactly an attractive trait of mine, but if you're not wearing blue caps and red numbers on the front of your white uniform, you're taking your chances.
Still, 30 years ago this year, both the Padres and the Cubs made it to the National League Championship Series. Yes, it was just as shocking then as it would be today. The year prior to 1984, the Padres were a .500 team. The Cubs were 20 games worse than that.
And the two teams had more things in common than suddenly arriving upon a stellar season after years of bumbling. Both teams featured a third-year star of the baseball card community in Tony Gwynn and Ryne Sandberg (their second-year Topps cards are each in the 1984 set). Both teams featured two former players of the perennial World Series Dodgers teams of the late '70s/early '80s in Steve Garvey and Ron Cey.
You might think that this last fact would cause me to look kindly upon both teams. But I don't show any favoritism once a favorite leaves the Dodgers. Perish the thought, but if Clayton Kershaw somehow ended up a Seattle Mariner, I wouldn't view them any differently than I do now -- except that I would know at least three of the players on their team.
I spent the 1984 NLCS rooting for the Cubs, but I didn't really care. I honestly just wanted the team that had the best chance of being demolished by the Tigers to advance. It turns out that was the Padres.
For me, the '84 postseason marked a blessed oasis between the angst of the 1983 playoffs and the disgust of the 1985 playoffs. I remember it as a happy baseball time in which I stood along the sideline shouting "jolly good show, chaps" at the combatants. As I've mentioned before, I would spend good chunks of my shift in a department store, sneaking over to the home entertainment section to watch the World Series on the TV that faced the aisle.
Because of that, I decided both the 1984 Padres and the Cubs would be featured in my next "joy of a team set" post. Even though I also have full '84 Donruss team sets for both teams, I went with '84 Topps because I don't show it enough.
So here are the '84 Padres and Cubs in all of their one-year-wonder glory:
The Padres cards are garish as all get-out. Love it.
You can see that Topps featured one more Padres card than Cubs card in the set, which is why the Padres advanced to the World Series. Yup, you're off the hook, Leon Durham.
OK, time for the rundown:
Favorite card runners-up:
Cubs: 5. Thad Bosley; 4. Fergie Jenkins; 3. Lee Smith; 2. Ron Cey
Padres: 5. Alan Wiggins; 4. Tony Gwynn; 3. Eric Show; 2. Terry Kennedy
Favorite element on the back: 1984 Topps card backs are notoriously boring, but the back of Jim Frey's card is phenomenal:
Look at all of those minor league stats!!!!!! We'll forgive Topps for not obtaining stats for Frey's appearance in Evansville in 1950. That card back is so chockful of goodness that they even squeezed in a one-sentence blurb at the bottom.
Famous error card: none
Team's claim to fame: For the Padres, it's the first of two World Series teams in franchise history. For the Cubs, it was their first postseason appearance since 1945.
Player I've talked to: none, although I have written to Ron Cey twice requesting his autograph with outstanding results.
Most interesting card: Ruppert Jones. Not only is he wearing both the brown and gold Padres jerseys, but Giants catcher John Rabb appears on the card. Rabb had only two Topps cards himself, but he somehow squeezed onto another player's card, too.
Also, the only Topps card of Doug "Eyechart" Gwosdz is a very worthy runner-up.
Former or future Dodgers: Steve Garvey, Elias Sosa, Dick Williams, Ron Cey, Bill Buckner, Jay Johnstone
Favorite card in the team set:
#249 - Jay Johnstone
#327 - Ruppert Jones
Thank you for joining me for "joy of a team set".