Sunday, September 18, 2016

Something I haven't opened for a very long time

I was sitting slumped in a chair, watching the Red Sox crush all of the Yankees' hopes and dreams and moping about having to go to work, when my wife walked in and plopped six junk wax packs on the arm of the chair.

"It's your lucky day!" she said.

She was right.

Opening packs is just about the pinnacle of enjoyment in this hobby. It's right up there with completing sets and sliding the first cards into a brand new page in a brand new binder. Who cares if it's junk wax when the packs are sealed and I need cards from the set? Must open!

The packs -- three from 1989 Fleer and three from 1988 Donruss -- came from a dollar store in town that I've mentioned many times. The last time I went there, a couple of weeks ago, there were no cards except hangers and hangers of plastic containers stuffed with 1991 Upper Deck. I have zero desire to own any more '91 UD, so I passed. But these I liked and were three packs for a buck.

"I thought they were all out of cards!" I exclaimed to my wife.

"They just got some new ones," she said, like she worked there or something. I stared at her quizzically. It was like we were dating again. Who was this woman?

I opened the 1988 Donruss first. I have opened lots and lots of '88 Donruss since my return to the hobby. I still kind of like it and I enjoy opening it, but Lord knows, nobody needs to see it.

The 1989 Fleer I saved for last because I couldn't tell you the last time I opened a pack of 1989 Fleer. I'm sure it was in 1989. I have no memory of opening a pack from that set. And this post is my attempt to get that memory back into my brain.

My first question when I saw the packs was about the wrapper. Has there ever been a case of a wrapper matching the set inside prior to 1989 Fleer? I couldn't think of any. I tried to do research, but you know the internet and 1989 Fleer. Type in "1989 Fleer" and suddenly you're in a forest of Billy Ripken F-Face links. It's almost impossible to find your way out of them or find anything else out about '89 Fleer.

So I'll dispense with the suspense: No I didn't pull a Ripken card. I didn't pull a Randy Johnson or a Ken Griffey Jr. either. There are other cards in the set you know.

I'll show you just one pack. It's the only pack that didn't contain any dupes -- because even though I haven't opened 1989 Fleer in 27 years, somehow I have almost half the set.

Cubs sticker

Every '89 Fleer pack starts with a sticker, which is the preferred way to start a pack.

#600 - Pete Smith, Braves

Fleer did not do the hero number thing, although Smith was feeding the rookie hype machine at this time by throwing three shutouts during his first full year in 1988.

#639 - Power Center SuperStar Specials (Kirby Puckett, Eric Davis)

These days I'm more likely to stare at the background than look at the players on these cards.

#452 - Bob Horner, Cardinals

Horner played not even half of one season with the Cardinals in 1988. But because it happened during the late 80s, there are 96 cards of him as a Cardinal. As someone who is still waiting for his card of Boog Powell as a Dodger, this is really annoying.

#103 - Keith Atherton, Twins

Don't be fooled by the uniform, Keith wants to sell you insurance.

#39 - Howard Johnson, Mets

I am the only person still fascinated by the fact that Howard Johnson wore blue and orange colors, the same colors as the Howard Johnson's restaurant franchise.

#611 - Eddie Murray, Orioles

One of Murray's last cards as an Oriole before being traded to the Dodgers. He was already a Dodger when this card appeared.

#182 - Mark Clear, Brewers

#290 - Jamie Quirk, Royals

#51 - Dave West, Mets

I'm sure I have this card somewhere. It's a night card!

#417 - Rich Yett, Indians

Pack over Yett?

#158 - Eric Davis, Reds

Is the pull of the pack Murray or Davis? Let the debate begin.

#506 - Kelly Paris, White Sox

#347 - Trevor Wilson, Giants

#95 - Carlos Quintana, Red Sox

This guy is in every pack issued in 1989.

#426 - Mark Grace, Cubs

Card got scuffed up inside the pack.

And there you are: 15 cards for just over 33 cents total.

It was great fun opening these packs. There is something about 1989 Fleer right out of a pack. It has a sturdy, almost premium feel. And I can't believe I just wrote that.

I was opening these packs as Topps was going through it's daily trumpeting of the latest ToppsNow cards on Twitter. The idea of paying $9.99 for a single current card (or whatever $2 or $3 discount you get for them elsewhere) never seemed more ludicrous than when I was opening those packs. The cards were just as much fun, even though they were of retired players -- plus I got the anticipation of not knowing what was inside!

1989 Fleer and I have had a shaky relationship over the years. It's never been one of my favorites. But at that moment, I couldn't have liked it more. It actually had some meaning to me.

It sure was my lucky day.

Next date night is at that dollar store.


  1. Great post. Makes me want to go and buy a random pack somewhere from the mid-to-late 1980s. The Davis/Puckett card is wonderful. Kelly Paris makes me laugh.

  2. Boog Powell as a Dodger?1990 Target All Time Dodger Series card #633.

  3. Throw me a list of the 89 Fleer you need to close out that set. Julio Franco is in that set, and he's probably still playing in Japan, lol.

    1. You will never see a want list for 1989 Fleer from me.

  4. I've recently been paying 6 bucks for dodger topps now cards, and I'd rather do that than spend a buck on a pack of 89 fleer, even with the element of fun I associate with opening packs.

    1. Correction: A buck on THREE packs of 89 Fleer.

  5. "I couldn't tell you the last time I opened a pack of 1989 Fleer..."
    In which Night Owl gives himself away as someone who never opens repacks which contain unopened packs (as if we needed confirmation of that).

    I would be tempted to call Eddie Murray the pull of the pack, but I gotta say... I love Paris in the springtime. I love Paris in the fall.

  6. Wish the dollar stores near me had old packs at 3 for a buck! I used to get junk wax packs for 50 cents at vending machines at A&P supermarkets, but they've gone out of business.

    I know what you mean about guys in unusual uniforms. I've started a project--call it a virtual Frankenset--looking for cards of Mets on other teams. Guys in the 70s who spent almost all of their careers with the Mets usually don't have a suitable card--there's nothing of John Stearns as a Phillie or Cleon Jones with the White Sox. But Craig Swan with the Angels? Sure!

  7. You know it's true love when your wife brings home wax packs for you to bust. I truly am jealous... you lucky, lucky man.