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.
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.
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.
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.
That will teach me to rely on my faulty memory. I posted this earlier, attributing the awesome assortmant of Reds cards to @vossbrink, who is a pretty awesome person. He quickly pointed out that the cards did not come from him, so I checked my messages again. The cards actually came from another awesome person, @ShaneKatz73! Sorry about the confusion. What follows is the original post, slightly edited.
New friend @ShaneKatz73, who blogs at Off The Wall, impressed me with a box of Reds he recently sent my way. There was a little bit of everything in this package from the 1960s all the way to today. As a fan of oddball cards, I was not at all surprised to find several non-standard cards in the box. Here are a few of my favorites…
From 1967, a Topps poster insert. This puppy measures 5×7 and is a great addition to my collection. I’m a big fan of Leo Cardenas, and he’s a big fan of baseball fans. My oldest son and I ran into him once at the Reds Hall of Fame…not a scheduled event, he was just there hanging out. He took the time to shake our hands and gave my son, who was a soccer player at the time, a little advice: “Always eat your breakfast!”
A beat-up 1979 Kellogg’s Bill Bonham, without its lenitcularness.
A 1982 Drake’s Big Hitters Johnny Bench. I have had the 1981 Drake’s set since I was a little kid, and was aware of other Drake’s sets, but don’t think I’ve ever seen one until recently. Shane sent over several different Drake’s samples for me.
A 1989 Topps BIG Manny Trillo…Manny Trillo played for the Reds? Sure enough, Trillo finished his big league career with 17 games in Cincinnati in 1989.
A 2012 Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection Aroldis Chapman game-used jersey card. I’m not a relic or autograph chaser, to the point that I don’t even put them on my checklists. But I’m always happy to see them show up in blind trade packages.
A 2018 Topps sticker Scooter Gennett. I love Topps stickers, and for the past three or four years I have liked the sticker designs better than the base card designs.
Shane also threw in a slew of Allen & Ginter and 1980s Fleer minis…
…and some Topps Heritage Minors and Topps Pro Debut, including three Billy Hamilton cards!
Overall, this was just a fantastic package and really fun to go through.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
Shane also dove into some of my not-yet-official-non-Reds-player-collections…
A 1987? 1988? 1989? 1990 even? Bo Jackson unlicensed Broder-type card. I love these things, but they are so difficult to nail down exactly what they are or where they came from.
A 1978 O-Pee-Chee Buddy Bell. I don’t think I even have the Topps version of this card yet, that’s how far behind I am on organizing these.
A 1991 O-Pee-Chee Premier Dave Parker! A rare celestial Cobra from late in his storied career.
…and a big stack of Reggie Jackson cards!
I really have to get some wantlists started for these non-Reds collections.
Thank you for the cards Shane, and sorry again for my earlier confusion! If anyone wants to dispose of any Red Sox cards, contact @ShaneKatz73 on Twitter!
I’m not sure if I have ever participated in a Blog Bat Around before, but this one might help me organize my thoughts on collecting. Thanks to Night Owl Cards for starting the topic. Here goes…
MY CARD COLLECTING PROJECTS
Cincinnati Reds: I know I will never own every Cincinnati Reds baseball card, but that doesn’t stop me from attempting to create a master checklist. It’s an ongoing project, as new sets are released every year and I discover older sets I never knew existed until some kind soul sends me a card from the set. I’m still working on crossing out my recent acquisitions, and I found a shoebox that had several other needs that have not been inventoried yet.
Kurt Stillwell: The former second-overall draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds has right around 100 cards. At one time, I had a good checklist and kept up with the collection. I was close to completion, and something went off the rails. I have several empty slots in the binder, and the checklist has disappeared, and I really have no idea which cards I still need. It’s not a huge project, and so close to finished, I really need to figure out where I’m at with it.
Shawon Dunston and Doug Dascenzo: As a baseball fan in the mid- to late-’80s and early ’90s, I saw a lot of Chicago Cubs baseball on WGN. I loved watching Dunston fire the ball to first base, nearly breaking Mark Grace‘s hand. I loved seeing Dascenzo hustle around the bases and take the mound on occasion. Both were fantastic “through the mail” signers to boot, so I have quite a few autographs of each. I would like to eventually acquire, at a minimum, all their Cubs cards from their playing days. Both moved on to other teams, and I do have some cards from those later years, but I remember them best as Cubs.
Reggie and Bo Jackson: I think Reggie was my first favorite player. Or at least my first favorite non-Reds player. I don’t have a huge number of his cards, but one of my prized possessions since middle school has been his 1973 Topps card. I recently came into possession of his rookie card, which is now the pièce de résistance of my small Reggie collection. These are not organized at all, and I have no idea what I might be missing. Bo was an amazing athlete. For those who never saw him perform live—even if only on television—you truly missed out. Acquiring his cards from his playing days, even if including the football issues, seems a little more doable than Reggie.
Non-Reds cards of Eric Davis, Chris Sabo, Buddy Bell, and Dave Parker: Davis and Sabo had their best years in Reds uniforms, while Bell and Parker were better known for their time with other teams. I don’t have checklists available for these collecting goals yet, but I like to pick up cards I don’t think I already have occasionally.
Stars and Famers: I used to hoard cards of Hall of Famers. I didn’t care how many 1986 Topps Ozzie Smith cards I had, they were never available for trade. Until recently. The cards were just taking up so much space, and I didn’t ever look at them. A much more manageable project is to keep one or two favorite cards of these guys. The rest have been shipped off to team collectors. Likewise with the likes of Don Mattingly, Ken Boyer, Dale Murphy, and a few guys that aren’t really should-be Hall of Famers, but once seemed to be on the right track, like Darryl Strawberry and Will Clark. Same rule as HoFers: one or two favorite cards of each is enough for me.
Music Cards: Pro Set Musicards, Yo! MTV Raps, Donruss KISS cards, and a very small selection of other brands. I have nearly the complete set of Musicards (missing only a handful of cards). Two of my favorite music cards came from Steve over a year ago, when he had Topps make custom cards of Vivian Campbell and John Sykes for me.
Miscellaneous: Here is the catch-all. If it’s something I like, I’ll collect it. Be it He-Man cards, Dukes of Hazzard cards, Star Wars cards, Superman cards, you name it. I may never chase the entire set, but I like to have a few cards of pop culture awesomeness in my possession. Come to think of it, I might be close on that He-Man set. No closer than I was 15 years ago when I first bought that wax box, mind you, but close still.
I look forward to reading all the other bloggers’ various card collecting projects.
I received an e-mail from Bo of Baseball Cards Come to Life a couple of months ago proposing a trade. He had a stack of Reds cards that he didn’t need anymore, and he wanted oddballs in return. I was happy to oblige and purge a good number of 1988 Donruss Baseball’s Best, minor league cards, and department store issues from my collection. I also sent along some duplicate stadium giveaways Reds sets that I had, and we exchanged 300ish cards with each other. Below is some of the loot I received…
Bo hit several needs, filling in a bunch of 1990s cards that I had never seen before. I haven’t had time to update the want lists yet, but I know I’ll be crossing off several entries thanks to this blind trade.
You’ll notice at the bottom a few non-Reds. In addition to my hometown Cincinnatians, I also collect cards of Doug Dascenzo and Shawon Dunston, as well as non-Reds cards of Eric Davis, Buddy Bell, Chris Sabo, Dave Parker and Kurt Stillwell. And if I ever get organized (ha!), I’ll probably add more names to that list. But Bo was kind enough to throw in some cards of these players that I had not yet obtained.
I love doing blind trades, though I don’t do it as often as I used to. It wasn’t very long ago that I gifted thousands of cards to a friend in the area, so I don’t have much in the way of non-Reds cards to trade anymore. Luckily, Bo was looking for some items that I just happened to still have and was more than happy to send away.
Thanks for the trade Bo!
Starting January 1, you will start seeing these bad boys popping up at TWJ cards on tumblr, but I wanted to give my reader(s) a preview of the 2015 TWJ pre-season baseball cards. This virtual set of baseball cards will feature legends and personal favorites (such as Buddy Bell, above) from each MLB team, and maybe more. New cards will be posted through Opening Day, when a new design will be unvieled featuring only current players (for the most part, at least). If you have suggestions for players you would like to see included in the pre-season set, let me know!
This is the one I was most interested in, since third base is the most underrepresented position in Cooperstown. No one should be surprised that Mike Schmidt (307.72) is the greatest third baseman of all-time by a large margin, or that Brooks Robinson (277.18) is the second-best, thanks in large part to his stellar defense. George Brett (262.01), the recently retired Chipper Jones (258.35), Eddie Mathews (244.76), and Wade Boggs (230.68) come in at #3-6. The seventh name on the list is Scott Rolen, and I have to admit I was very surprised to see him so high on the list.
Rolen began his career with the Philadelphia Phillies, winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1997 (note: Rookie of the Year is not one of the awards that count toward a player’s ranking in this project). He has driven in 100 runs five times, hit thirty homers thrice, but his biggest asset has been his glove.
After Rolen comes another Hall of Famer, Paul Molitor (222.43), and then two more non-Hall of Famers, Adrian Beltre (221.18) and Graig Nettles (219.86) round out the top ten, just ahead of 2012 inductee Ron Santo (219.3) and 1960s star Ken Boyer (214.23). While there have been steroid suspicions about Beltre, since he has not been specifically named by former teammates or the subject of leaked test results, I have decided to include him in this project.
The reason I was most interested in third base was Buddy Bell (210.83). Bell has such an interesting case, a solid career that went downhill fast after his injury in 1988 and losing the Reds third base job to Chris Sabo. Overshadowed by the vastly superior Schmidt and Brett during his playing days, Bell finished his career with 2514 hits, 201 home runs and 1106 RBI. Once all the numbers are plugged into the spreadsheet, Bell comes in at a very respectable #13. Hall of Fame material? I wouldn’t object, but can’t throw my support behind him either.
In the 1985 Topps Traded set, there were two Reds cards: Tom Browning and Alan Knicely. Browning was the highlight for the Cincinnati fans, as he had just won 20 games as a rookie pitcher…a rare feat. But there were other players traded to the Reds during the season, and other rookies that could have made an appearance in the set. Over the next few days I will highlight a few of those “cards that never were,” starting with third-baseman Buddy Bell:
Buddy Bell was a very good player for the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers, but more importantly to Reds fans, he was the son of a former popular Reds player, Gus Bell. So when this transaction was announced, the city was excited.
July 19, 1985: Traded by the Texas Rangers to the Cincinnati Reds for a player to be named later and Duane Walker. The Cincinnati Reds sent Jeff Russell (July 23, 1985) to the Texas Rangers to complete the trade.
Buddy only lasted in Cincy a couple of years, losing his job in 1988 to eventual Rookie of the Year Chris Sabo. Bell was traded to the Astros and never was able to get back on track. There are some who believed he may have had an outside shot at the Hall of Fame if he had not been sidelined by injuries late in his career, as he fell less than 500 hits shy of the magical 3000 mark.
I recently completed a trade with Chewing Liquorice. For a stack of Expos, he sent back a treasure trove of Reds cards, many of which I had never seen, including a ton of Conlon cards from 1992-1994. This one commemorates one of Johnny Vander Meer‘s no-hitters…
These cards are fantastic as they help to keep the old stories alive, allowing us to learn about players that we never had the privilege to see.
There were a lot of other historical cards in the bunch, too. There were some 1991 Topps Archives, which were reprints of the 1953 Topps set. And some reprints of the 1954 Topps set, which I assume were released in 1992. They are not on my master checklist, so I will have to research them a little bit more to find out for sure, but they are exactly like the 1991 reprint set with glossy cardstock. Here’s the Ed Bailey card from that set:
All of the old players weren’t on newer or reprinted cards, though. Geoffrey threw in some fantastic vintage cards of Reds Hall of Famers and Baseball Hall of Famers, such as Wally Post, Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, and an O-Pee-Chee Joe Morgan:
I don’t remember the Action Packed baseball cards at all!
And a whole slew of George Foster awesomeness…
That last item is particularly cool. The Ted Williams Company made pogs that you could punch out and included them in their baseball card packs. This is something I have never seen before…but that just goes along with the rest of the package!
If you have some Expos to get rid off, you need to contact Chewing Liquorice and work out a deal. He’s a great trader!
Charlie of Lifetime Topps is doing something very cool, trying to complete all the Topps sets released during his lifetime the old-fashioned way: through packs and trades. Good thing he wasn’t born in the 1950s.
After a slight mix-up with the packages, our trade is complete as of today. I sent over a few cards that he needed for his sets through 1987, and he sent a slew of his Reds doubles that I didn’t have yet…both Upper Deck and Topps. Here are just a few of the Topps cards that arrived today (the UD cards were received a couple of weeks ago, already sorted and put away).
When I was young, I received a Paul Householder bat at a stadium giveaway. It was not a mini-bat like they have today…this was a full-sized Louisville Slugger. I still have it in a closet somewhere. I can’t remember if they had more than just Householder and that was the bat I was randomly given, or if everyone got a Householder model. But it was cool, my first stadium giveaway.
Gus Bell played for the Reds in the 1950s, and thirty years later his son Buddy Bell manned the hot corner. But it doesn’t stop there. In 2000, Mike Bell got in 19 games for the Redlegs. Three generations of Bells, all who wore the Cincinnati uniform. Pretty cool, ain’t it?
Thanks for the trade Charles! And good luck on completing those sets! I’ll keep an eye out for your future wantlists.
The big package came today…nearly 60 cards featuring Bengals…
guys who had previously been Reds…
guys who had not yet been but would be Reds…
guys who were never Reds but I would have really liked it if they had been…
guys who are in the Hall of Fame…
guys who are in the Reds Hall of Fame…
guys who should be in both Halls of Fame…
guys who should be in neither (although he should have been the manager in 2000)…
guys who some think would be in the Hall of Fame if not for injuries…
guys who are banned from the Tracy Jones Fan Club…
and guys on Canadian cardboard…
There was one slight problem with the order concerning a 1990 Ken Griffey Jr. card, listed as O-Pee-Chee but it was actually Topps. According to Wikipedia, “In 1990 O-Pee-Chee printed a set virtually identical to the 792 card Topps set complete with the Topps logo. The only differences between the two are the bilingual reverse sides and the copyright line.” The card I received was clearly the Topps version, so I contacted the seller. Within seconds, he responded stating my money ($1.26) had been refunded for that purchase and to keep the card.
That’s a great seller. He has a bunch of other stuff listed right now, so go check out his shop and buy some stuff from him.