1986 Fleer is bland

I tried coming up with a witty title, but I just couldn’t do it. 1986 Fleer is so bland it caused my brain to freeze up when I tried to be creative. So there you have it. 1986 Fleer is bland. That’s not to say it isn’t without its charm.

McGaffigan bunting

Look at that. A pitcher at the plate. Bunting. How quaint. Andy McGaffigan spent time with the Yankees, Giants, and Expos before coming to the Reds in 1984. By the time this card was released, he was back in Montreal.

Want to see another charming card?

Rose and Gooden

How about a fella nearing the end of his amazing career, and another just starting what many thought would be equally amazing? Pete Rose eclipsed Ty Cobb‘s hits record in 1985, and Dwight Gooden became the youngest pitcher ever to win twenty games in a season. If you didn’t know those two facts, you can just flip the card over…

Rose and Gooden

…and BOOM! Knowledge. Ironically, I don’t think Fleer used the word ironically correctly.

Fleer was very busy in 1986. In addition to the regular base set, there were at least six boxed sets that included Reds. The bland brand released their third Update set at the end of the year, which included rookies Kurt Stillwell and Tracy Jones and veterans Bill Gullickson and John Denny. They also released a 120-card mini set which was not a parallel of base set cards but featured different photos. What a novel idea.

Then there was the 132-card Star Sticker set. I actually bought a wax box of these a few years ago and had a blast ripping the packs, but fell 32 cards short on completing the entire set.

Browning

Tom Browning popped up in a lot of 1986 sets, and for good reason. His 1985 rookie campaign was overshadowed by the St. Louis speedster Vince Coleman, but Browning was the first rookie since the 1960s to win 20 games in a season. Not Dwight Gooden. Tom Browning. And no rookie pitcher has done it since. I realize wins are not really in vogue when talking about pitcher stats, but 20 wins is still a big deal in my mind. Coleman captured all 24 first-place votes for 1985 Rookie of the Year, and I have to admit that I’m a little perturbed at the Cincinnati BBWAA voters for that.

Fleer also released a handful of smaller box sets. I do not have any of the 1986 Fleer League Leaders cards, and I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen one in person. There are two Reds in the set, Dave Parker and Pete Rose. The relatively new List of Fisk blog breaks down Carlton Fisk‘s card in the set.

Another box set was called “Limited Edition.”

Limited Edition

How limited, you ask? Probably not very. It was 1986 after all and this set is not terribly difficult to track down 32 years later. Again, there are two Reds in the set and again, it’s Parker and Rose. I haven’t gone to the trouble of finding the Rose card yet and I have no idea how long Parker has been in my collection.

Another box set was Fleer’s “Baseball’s Best” (but usually listed in price guides as “Sluggers/Pitchers”). Again, 44 cards.

Soto

Parker didn’t make the cut for this set, but Rose did, even though he could hardly be called a “Slugger.” Browning and Mario Soto were included among the pitchers. I like this particular set because of the consistency of it. Fleer released this set from 1986 through 1988 with the border being the only major change in the design.

Two other 1986 Fleer Reds cards I don’t have were inserts into packs: “Future Hall of Famers” (Rose) and “All-Stars” (Parker). Both of these inserts are more attractive than the base set design. Which isn’t saying a whole lot, because, you know, 1986 Fleer is bland.

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Before Upper Deck, these cards were the “premium” brand

Donruss was ahead of its time in 1986. Topps was for the traditional collectors. Fleer was a little harder to find than Topps, but at the time seemed a bit bland. Donruss, though…

Runnells 1986 Donruss

Look at those blue and black stripes! And the slanted name! I don’t care that I’ve never heard of Tom Runnells, these cards were fancy and futuristic!

Am I the only one that felt this way?

I remember going to a baseball card and comic book show somewhere in Ohio, maybe Dayton or Columbus, with a friend in 1986. It was a long car ride, and I didn’t have a whole lot of money to spend. I spied a 1986 Donruss Dwight Gooden card, and the dealer priced it at $3 if memory serves. $3 for a non-rookie card. Nothing released by Topps approached that! You could get Topps packs at the convenience store or gas station, but Donruss? Not a chance! Packs were more expensive, and singles were more expensive, because they were not as readily available as Topps.

I didn’t buy the Gooden card. I have no clue what I did end up buying on that trip, if anything. It was a long time before I acquired many 1984-1986 Donruss cards. I now own most of them, missing only a handful from 1984 (Dave Concepcion Diamond King and the Johnny Bench/Carl Yastrzemski special) and 1986 (Ted Power and Max Venable). They still look futuristic compared to their contemporaries. Of course, the price has dropped considerably on most of those cards, and with the internet, they are easy to obtain on the cheap. Still there is something about them that is timeless.

Topps and Fleer released update sets at the end of the year to showcase veterans that changed teams and rookies. Donruss didn’t care about traded players, but they certainly cared about rookies. Young up-and-coming players who were sure-fire future Hall of Famers like Jose Canseco and Bo Jackson were a hot commodity and Donruss needed to cash in! There was only one Cincinnati player featured in the green-and-black striped 1986 Donruss Rookies set, and it wasn’t Barry Larkin. Tracy Jones was the can’t-miss rookie in the Queen City. But boy, did he ever miss.

1986 Donruss Rookies Jones

Donruss also released a set called “Highlights” featuring gold and black stripes. Monthly award winners, Hall of Fame selections, MVPs, Rookies of the Year, and Cy Young pitchers were all included, as well as record breakers and other newsworthy events. Bill Gullickson, Ernie Lombardi, and Eric Davis all scored cards in the Highlights set. This set seems to have been produced in greater quantities and can often be found for a buck or two.

1986 Donruss Highlights Gullickson

Finally, we have the Donruss version of O-Pee-Chee. Leaf cards were the Canadian version of Donruss and were produced from 1985 through 1988 with a smaller checklist. Reds catcher Bo Diaz is one of only eight “regular” Reds cards that made it into the Leaf set.

Diaz

Donruss also released a set of supersized All-Star cards in 1986 that were as big as two regular cards placed side-by-side. According to my wantlist, I have the Pete Rose card but I’m missing Dave Parker. I think I do have Parker also, but those cards are still in a shoebox somewhere and I’m not supposed to bend over right now because I’m still recovering from back surgery I had in September.

1986 Topps oddballs

When I dove into collecting baseball cards at about ten years old, I collected everything I could get my hands on. There were nearly as many oddball sets as there are parallel sets today, and I grabbed as much as I could. Here are a few of the offerings that bore the Topps name.

Glossy Send-Ins

Cobra 1986 Topps glossy

These cards did not come in packs. You had to collect a certain number of “offer cards” from regular packs, then send them in along with postage to receive them. I never did order them directly from Topps but picked up a few in trades.

Mini League Leaders

1986 Topps Mini League Leaders

Before baseball-reference.com, we relied on baseball cards stats to know who the best players were. In 1986, Topps issued a set of mini “League Leaders.” The back of this card reveals that Mario Soto finished the 1985 season second in the National League with 214 strikeouts, tied for 6th in games started, tied for 6th in complete games, and 7th in innings pitched.

Quaker Chewy Granola Bars

1986 Topps Quaker Chewy Granola Parker

Baseball card companies partnered with food products often in the olden days. Post Cereal, Kellogg’s, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese were just a handful of the food products that featured cards in products. Quaker Chewy Granola bars was another, and Dave Parker was one of the more common Reds players to show up in these sets from 1985-1988. These cards are usually found in very good condition, so I assume they were available through mail-order rather than included in the box itself.

Topps Tattoos

1986 Topps Tattoos

Topps Tattoos were sold in packs, but I don’t recall ever seeing them in stores. I picked up a few featuring Reds players through trades. The full sheets featured several players; this particular sheet included not only Tony Perez, but fellow Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and a player with one of the greatest nicknames in the history of baseball: Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd. Right next to Perez is the late Donnie Moore, who tragically took his own life in 1989.

Let’s flip the image to see what it would look like if you applied it to your skin:

1986 Topps Tattoos

I’m so used to seeing them reversed, flipping it just looks weird.

O-Pee-Chee

O-Pee-Chee

Are O-Pee-Chee cards oddballs? Sold in packs in Canada, but singles always traveled south and into the hands of American kids. I loved cards like this Bill Gullickson, showing the original Topps photo but new team designation.

My first complete set

I started acquiring baseball cards in 1985.

I started collecting baseball cards in 1986. The first packs I remember opening were 1986 Topps. I received some cards here and there in 1985 but didn’t really know what I was doing at all. In 1986, though, that all changed. Not only did I open packs, but I also traded with friends. I read box scores. I researched card prices in Beckett. I became a fanatic. Finding Reds cards of Eric Davis, Tony Perez, Mario Soto, Dave Parker, and Buddy Bell became an obsession.

Bell 1986 Topps

My parents gave me the complete factory set of 1986 Topps ordered from the JC Penney at Christmas, and I was over the moon. Seven hundred ninety-two pristine, gem mint baseball cards. This was before the era of graded cards, and I knew little about printing defects or off-centering. All I knew was that I had the complete factory set in the yellow box.

Rose special

Pete Rose was likely a big reason for my initial interest in baseball. In 1985 he was chasing Ty Cobb‘s all-time hits record and every Cincinnati news outlet covered the milestone. He was a Cincinnati kid, he epitomized the value of hustle and hard work. Topps honored Rose with a special subset in the 1986 base set. The legend was featured on card #1, while cards #2-7 showed all of Pete’s base cards through the years. Topps also featured him as a manager on a separate card (#741), featuring a checklist of all the 1986 Topps Reds cards on the back. And then there was the Record Breaker” (#206).

That’s nine different cards of one player. Complete insanity at the time. Also completely worth it to honor such a legend. Bear in mind this was a couple of years before the whispers of gambling and betting on baseball. To Reds fans, Pete Rose could do no wrong.

There is one other card Topps produced for Rose in conjunction with their standard set, but it was not a part of the complete factory set. Rather, you had to be one of the last kids buying a pack at the convenience store to get this card.

1986 Topps Pete  Rose box bottom

The box bottom cards were not easy to come by. Most stores, after selling all the packs, would pitch the box in the trash. If you knew about the special cards you could cut out then you could ask for the box but if it wasn’t close to empty, most store clerks would deny your request. It was difficult to cut the cards out properly because of the thickness of the box and the fear of getting caught with Mom’s good scissors.

There may not have been a lot of great rookie cards in the 1986 Topps set, but it will always hold a special place in my collection and in my heart.

Goodbye, Wayne Krenchicki

(September 17, 1954 – October 16, 2018)

Krenchicki

Former Reds infielder Wayne Krenchicki passed away Tuesday at the age of 64. He also played for the Orioles, Tigers, and Expos, as well as the Senior Professional Baseball League, and went on to manage in the minor leagues.

Fun Cards: 1990 Topps BIG Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips Pawtucket Red Sox

Brandon Phillips played his first 15 big league seasons in Ohio, starting with the Cleveland Indians for four years and then eleven more with the Reds. He reached the All-Star Game three times with Cincinnati and won three Gold Gloves, but his skills were diminishing and his attitude started rubbing people the wrong way near the end. After exercising his no-trade clause when Cincinnati tried to deal him to Arizona and Washington before the 2016 season, he finally relented and accepted a trade to the Braves. On the last day of August 2017, the Braves traded him to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County of Southern California on the West Coast in the United States of America.

Despite hitting .285 with 13 homers and 60 RBI in 2017, Phillips was unable to secure a big league contract for the 2018 season. Last month, he signed a minor league deal with Boston and performed well in 6 games for the class A Lowell Spinners. He was then promoted to the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox, but in 8 games has only collected 5 hits, hitting .172. The Paw Sox have a nice selection of photos from Dat Dude’s time with the team on Facebook.

Will he make it back to the bigs when rosters expand, or is Pawtucket his last hurrah?

Fun Cards: 2018 TWJ American Ninja Warrior Josh Salinas

Josh Salinas American Ninja Warrior

Another finisher in the Dallas City Finals was “The Iron Ninja Josh.” Salinas is in his second season on American Ninja Warrior. He advanced to Stage 2 of the Las Vegas Finals last season, falling during Wingnut Alley, the fifth obstacle on the course.

You can connect with Flip Rodriguez on Instagram.

Watch American Ninja Warrior on Hulu or Amazon Prime.

Do you want to become a Ninja Warrior? Check out the recently published Become an American Ninja Warrior: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide.

DISCLAIMER: These cards are not for sale. They are not even printed. They exist only in digital form on this blog.

Fun Cards: 2018 TWJ American Ninja Warrior Daniel Gil

Daniel Gil American Ninja Warrior

Daniel Gil, “The Kingdom Ninja,” completed the course in the Dallas City Finals and is headed to the Las Vegas Finals Stage 1. He had the fastest finish of the night at 3 minutes and 54 seconds. Only five competitors finished the course in Dallas. This is the fourth time in as many seasons that Gil has advanced to Las Vegas.

You can connect with Daniel Gil on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Watch American Ninja Warrior on Hulu or Amazon Prime.

Do you want to become a Ninja Warrior? Check out the recently published Become an American Ninja Warrior: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide.

DISCLAIMER: These cards are not for sale. They are not even printed. They exist only in digital form on this blog.

Fun Cards: 2018 TWJ American Ninja Warrior Flip Rodriguez

How about some horizontal American Ninja Warrior action?

Flip Rodriguez competed in season 5 and seasons 7-10 of American Ninja Warrior. He doesn’t have a “Ninja” nickname like many of the other competitors. He is usually one of the quickest athletes to run the course.

You can connect with Flip Rodriguez on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can purchase Flip Rodriguez merchandise here.

Watch American Ninja Warrior on Hulu or Amazon Prime.

Do you want to become a Ninja Warrior? Check out the recently published Become an American Ninja Warrior: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide.

DISCLAIMER: These cards are not for sale. They are not even printed. They exist only in digital form on this blog.

Fun Cards: 2018 TWJ American Ninja Warrior Grant McCartney

Last year while on vacation, I was flipping through the channels at the hotel late at night. I landed on a marathon of American Ninja Warrior. I had never watched the show before but quickly became enthralled with the obstacle courses and the athleticism of the competitors. After we returned home from vacation, I caught up on the current season on Hulu and impatiently waited from week to week for a new episode. I was hooked. I’m an American Ninja Warrior fanatic.

I was very disappointed to find a complete absence of American Ninja Warrior trading cards. So I decided to make some myself. My design is very basic, but I’m satisfied with it. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you 2018 TWJ American Ninja Warrior trading cards…

Grant McCartney

I started with Grant McCartney, “The Island Ninja,” because he is one of my favorite competitors. He always seems to genuinely have fun running the courses and has a positive attitude, even when he comes up short.

You can catch “The Island Ninja” on Twitter and Instagram, or grab some Island Ninja swag here.

Watch American Ninja Warrior on Hulu or Amazon Prime.

Do you want to become a Ninja Warrior? Check out the recently published Become an American Ninja Warrior: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide.

DISCLAIMER: These cards are not for sale. They are not even printed. They exist only in digital form on this blog.

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