I don't spend much time thinking about what sets should be in my collection. But if I do think about it a little, there is definitely a theme to what I like and the sets in my collection reflect that.
It comes down to three specifics really:
1. Are the players pictured in the set from when I was following baseball as a kid or a teenager?
2. Is it a kind of set that interests me?
3. Did Topps make the set?
If all three of those boxes are checked, then the set needs to get in my belly ... er, collection.
Sometimes I dismiss sets for some reason or another and then I realize that they meet the criteria and it becomes a no-brainer: Get. That. Set!!
So it is with the 1987 Topps Traded set.
As you know, I consider everything '87 Topps overblown, overproduced and overplayed. It's ubiquitous. I'm tired of it, sick of it, every this is so BOOORRRING phrase that you want to use.
The 132-card set showcases a whole bunch of players that I followed when I was younger. (Every '80s set does that). And it's the Traded set, which has fascinated me since Topps started creating stand-alone traded sets in 1981. And Topps made it, so that's the third and final requirement.
I've been starting to focus on finishing off the 1980s Topps Traded sets. I have all but three completed. I am woefully lacking in the 1984 and 1986 sets, but the 1987 set is now just about done thanks to Bo of Baseball Cards Come To Life!
He had an extra one to spare and I jumped on it. The only issue is it didn't include the once-coveted Greg Maddux card, which was no matter because I assumed I had it already, but actually I was mixing it up with the 1987 Fleer Maddux. So I still need that card.
But just about everything else is here! So let's go through it quickly because I know you've seen this all before. Overproduced and overplayed, remember?
The most exciting thing about Traded sets from the very beginning in '81 for me were the players who changed teams. These are six big ones and if I was still a kid in 1987, instead of spending all my time that year either in a college classroom or bar or nightclub, I'd be fascinated by these.
Rookies were also an interesting part of Traded sets (I don't really know if these are actually these players' rookie cards. I started getting confused right around the time of the '85 McGwire card). I remember being dazzled by the Steve Sax rookie in the 1982 Traded set. But those rookies were still secondary to the big trades profiled in the set. The set was called TRADED after all. Topps should've never changed the name to "Update."
The traded cards from most of the '80s were printed on whiter, lighter stock, which explains why the images are somewhat crooked because they're impossible to line up straight on the scanner.
Airbrushing was still in vogue in the late 1980s, which I always forget. I associate airbrushing with the late 1960s and all of the 1970s. But the practice continued to thrive in Traded sets all the way until the end of the decade. A couple of these are as wonderfully awful as anything you saw in 1974.
Collectors remember Traded sets for the rookies and big names contained within. But super-common players overwhelm those same sets, especially in the 1980s. There are so many players in this set -- Dave Meads, Pat Pacillo, Guy Hoffman, Ken Gerhart -- who are forgotten by time. I appreciate this because instead of merely replicating star cards, as Traded sets these days do, Topps tried to make sure as many players were represented as possible.
Then there are wonderful cards like the above two -- players I don't remember at all. John Christensen has the honor of blowing my mind when I was completing the 1986 Topps set and he showed up as a Met. Who the hell is this guy? (He also showed up in 1988 sets and in 1989 Fleer, but like I said, classes, bars and beer).
Joe Johnson? Not a clue. (He's in '86 and '88 sets, too, drunkie).
Naturally, this set contains familiar cards of players in unfamiliar uniforms. Nettles as a Padre was weird enough but as Brave, it's the weirdest of all.
Reggie should be slim and trim if he's wearing an A's uniform, and the Cey card has always annoyed me. Who dressed him in green? Who gave him a haircut?? What have you done with the Penguin????
Traded cards can also be counted on for interesting little nuggets, such as Kevin McReynolds' first Topps card, even though he had been appearing on Donruss and Fleer cards since 1984. That's sticking it to the man.
Danny Jackson's another one. He ignored Topps from 1984 through the 1987 flagship set before Topps apparently sent a couple of goons to do some convincing somewhere in the '87 season.
Most of the cards in this set are standard head shots, pretty common for Traded sets of the time, but there are a handful of interesting ones, especially if you're into mullets or your stereotypical catcher's pose.
Managers weren't a part of the first couple of Traded sets but I'm glad Topps changed its mind. Here are two who are just itching to scream at their players, or the media or whoever made them have a bad day.
Like I said, I totally missed out on this set back in 1987. That period between 1984-88, I was at an all-time low in hobby disinterest, which would only be rivaled by the period between 1994-2003.
But I know, if I was into cards at the time, that these cards would fit right into my collection, because they meet the criteria: players I knew as a kid, a type of set I liked and it was made by Topps.
I would've loved this card. Finally! He's not on the Dodgers anymore!
So, I'll start working on the '84 and '86 Traded sets at some point and I'll grab that Maddux.
Long live the '80s.