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When a rookie card isn’t a rookie card (and technically isn’t even a card)

Davis 1984

Eric Davis rookie cards were hot ticket items in the Cincinnati area in the mid-1980s. It didn’t matter which 1985 issue you were talking about—Topps, Donruss, or Fleer—if you had a Davis rookie, you were a king on the playground.

But what if you had a 1984 Eric Davis? No, not a minor league card. A 1984 Eric Davis Reds card.

That’s what we have here. Not really a card, but still considered a card by most. Like the Fleer stamps and the Topps stickers, we have here a 1984 Borden sticker of Eric Davis. This regional issue is more difficult to obtain than Topps, Donruss, or Fleer, but it’s not all that much more expensive. It was issued on a perforated sheet with Mario Soto, Dave Parker, and Ron Oester, and featured coupons for Borden dairy products on the reverse.

1984 Reds Borden Davis Parker Oester Soto

Two different sheets were produced, the other displaying Tony Perez, Jeff Russell, Eddie Milner, and Gary Redus.

1984 Reds Borden Perez Russell Milner Redus

I have no idea how these were distributed back in the day. Stadium giveaway? Mail-in offer? Free at checkout with the purchase of a half-gallon of Lady Borden Ice Cream? Now, thirty-five years later, you have to wait until they pop up on eBay for a reasonable price.

The coupons don’t have an expiration date. I wonder if I can still redeem them at Kroger…

Borden coupon

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Fun Cards: 1988 National League All-Star Shortstops

Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz

Say what you will about the ’90s shortstop revolution, I’ll take the ’80s defensive wizards any day. Ozzie Smith was the no-brainer fan pick, starting his sixth straight All-Star Game; he would start the next four straight before passing the mantle to Barry Larkin. Lark would end up starting five ASGs in his career, and being on the roster for seven more. The other backup in 1988, Shawon Dunston, was only named to two All-Star teams in his career, but man he had a rocket for an arm.

Larkin

Larkin

The players poll showed that those who shared the field with the Wizard agreed wholeheartedly with the fans’ choice.

Dunston

Trammell

Fun Cards: 1988 National League All-Star Third Basemen

Bonilla

Bonilla

Bobby Bonilla seemed to be the heir apparent to Mike Schmidt as the regular NL third baseman, and was given the starting job in 1988. He did log six All-Star Games between 1988 and 1995, but no one today would dare claim that his career measured up to Schmidt’s. To be fair, no one’s career measured up to Schmidt’s. Bonilla’s backups, Vance Law and rookie Chris Sabo, couldn’t claim it either.

Law

Law

Again, the voters and players agreed on the starter, and the managers and players were not far apart on the bench. Here are the players picks for third base in 1988:

Sabo

Sabo

Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, eBay proves you wrong

Yearbooks

I recently purchased the 1985 Reds Yearbook, which contains 18 baseball cards. I had previously bought the 1984 edition, and the 1983 Yearbook is on its way to my house as I type this. With that purchase, I thought I had all the Reds Yearbook cards. Double check the wantlist…yup, they are all accounted for.

Except they aren’t.

Another eBay search reveals another Reds Yearbook that contains baseball cards. The 1982 publication appears to be the beginning of the perforated card phase. I found one reasonably priced and have ordered it, so soon my Yearbook card collection should be complete. I have once again updated the wantlist, and of course, I will post some scans when I have it in hand.

1982

Fun Cards: 2018 Stadium Club Lou Piniella

I posted a picture of Lou Piniella tossing second base on Twitter earlier tonight. That led to this response from Giants fan and friend Nick of the njwv blog

It was a great idea, and I couldn’t resist making a “fun card” (because I don’t expect Topps to ever do so, or MLB to even allow it if Topps wanted to).

Piniella

Sweet Lou managed the Reds at such a fun time during my teenage years. Chris Sabo, Eric Davis, Jose Rijo, Tom Browning, future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, and so many more thrived under Piniella’s leadership.

We need Sweet Lou back in Cincinnati.

1984 Reds Yearbook (with perforated cards, in tact of course)

I initially thought I had the 1983 and 1984 Reds Yearbooks, and bought the 1985 edition earlier this week. As it turns out, I am also missing the 1983 book. So that will be next on my eBay-dar.

The 1984 Reds Yearbook was the edition after Johnny Bench and before Eric Davis. The cover of the 1984 book is not nearly as interesting as 1985, so I didn’t bother scanning it. I did, however, scan the cards so I could post them here.

1984 Reds Yearbook baseball cards

1984 Reds Yearbook baseball cards

The Reds welcomed Dave Parker to the fold in 1984 as the team’s first major free agent signing.

Parker

The Reds also brought Tony Perez back to Cincinnati as his career was winding down. For the Perez card, I am assuming the Yearbook editors used a 1970s photo of the Big Red Machine alum. Photoshop was not a thing back in 1984, and Perez hadn’t suited up for the Redlegs since 1976.

Perez

Pete Rose was acquired later in the season and was handed the manager’s job, but Vern Rapp started the season as skipper.

There was one player who started and finished the decade with the Reds with little interruption. Besides an injury rehab assignment in Chattanooga and Nashville in 1988, Ron Oester was Mr. Cincinnati throughout the entire decade of the 1980s.

Oester

I love batting cage baseball cards. Oester is watching Nick Esasky take cuts, patiently waiting his turn. And how about those no-name-on-back warmup jerseys? Pure ’80s gold right there.

1985 Reds Yearbook (with perforated baseball card pages!)

A few years ago I purchased the 1984 Reds Yearbook which came with a couple of pages of perforated baseball cards. It was relatively inexpensive on eBay, but I held off on the 1985 edition because Eric Davis drove the price up a bit. Earlier this week, I decided to go ahead and grab the 1985 Yearbook as well.

1985 Reds Yearbook

A painting of Pete Rose is featured on the cover, along with Ty Cobb as Rose was chasing the all-time hits record. He officially broke the record on September 11, 1985, at Riverfront Stadium with a single off the Padres’ Eric Show, but we now know that the record was actually broken a few days earlier in Chicago.

As I flipped through the pages, I paused on the ticket prices…

ticket prices 1985

Would someone hurry up and invent a time machine please?

Here’s an idea for the teams that like to overdo the throwback jerseys. For any game in which a throwback is worn, throwback the ticket prices as well. So when the Reds suit up in 1980s duds, let me buy some awesome seats for $8 a pop.

The big reason I bought the yearbook, however, was the baseball cards…

baseball cards

baseball cards

Eighteen perforated cards on two pages. The card backs are similar to what would be released in 1986 with Texas Gold as the sponsor, and 1987 and beyond with Kahn’s. The front have a simple yet attractive design. My two favorite players from this particular team were Eric Davis and Mario Soto

Davis

Soto

I’m glad to finally cross these cards off my wantlist, but they will not be residing in the binder with my other 1985 cards. These cards will forever stay safely inside the yearbook!

It’s tough to keep up with all of Topps’ online exclusive releases

Hunter

Pictured above is a Hunter Greene card from the 2019 Topps On Demand “Inspired by ’55 Bowman” set. Thus far, Topps has issued ten sets under the On Demand label this year. Not all of the sets feature baseball cards; there are some soccer, some Star Wars, some wrestling, and some Garbage Pail Kids so far. Checklists for all sets can be viewed on Cardboard Connection, but here is a quick rundown of what has been featured so far:

  • Set 1 – Black and White Baseball
  • Set 2 – GPK Valentine’s Day
  • Set 3 – Women of Star Wars
  • Set 4 – Ichiro Legacy Series
  • Set 5 – 1977 Footballer Soccer
  • Set 6 – Star Wars Phantom Menace 20th Anniversary
  • Set 7 – Inspired by ’55 Bowman
  • Set 8 – WWE Mother’s Day
  • Set 9 – UEFA Champions League Black & White Soccer (currently available at Topps.com)
  • Set 10 – MLB Rookie Progression (currently available at Topps.com)

It’s a nice variety, and not overly difficult to keep up with, right? But add in Topps Now, Road to Opening Day, Future Award Winners, Future World Series, Moment of the Week, Living Set for baseball and soccer, apparently a new Star Wars Living Set, 150 Years of Baseball, the revival of Topps Total, Star Wars Galactic Moments, Garbage Pail Kids, Bryce Harper‘s 220, Ginter X, Brooklyn Collection…and I’m sure I’m leaving a few others out. Those are only the online releases. It’s enough to make your head explode like an Adam Bomb.

It’s no wonder that the card backs for most of these sets are only half-done. They don’t have time to make a proper card back!

Hunter

I still pick-and-choose when it comes to the online exclusives. I don’t have to have everything that is released. A few weeks ago, @WatchTheBreaks posted a $3 coupon code for eBay on Twitter, and the Hunter Greene card was only $3.99 with free shipping. I’m cool with dropping a dollar on an online exclusive that fits into the Reds focus of my collection.

Now if I could just find another coupon code to score the Nick Senzel Rookie Progressions on the cheap.

What a hot dog

Leo Cardenas 1966 Kahns

The Reds have had a loooooong relationship with Kahn’s. In 1987 the team started giving away team baseball card sets sponsored by the hot dog makers, and that tradition continues today. But the relationship is older than that. In the 1960s Kahn’s included baseball cards on their packaging! There are at least ten Reds in the set.

I scored a 1966 Kahn’s Leo Cardenas card last week at the antique mall. The dealer had a few Kahn’s cards, but I didn’t want to drop too much money and I have a special connection to Cardenas. My son and I ran into him at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum several years ago and he stood and chatted with us for several minutes. No autograph, no picture, just a friendly chat. He’s actually not a hot dog at all, but a humble man who understands how fortunate he is and appreciates his fans.

Unfortunately, the Kahn’s part of the card was removed, but it is in otherwise good shape. It’s the oldest Kahn’s card I have in my collection now, but I may pick up another one next time.

It’s not a Reds card, but it’s going in my Reds binders

Here’s another beauty from my recent trip to the antique mall…

George Wright

Cincinnati is celebrating 150 years of professional baseball this year. No one can deny the impact of Harry Wright and George Wright on baseball in Cincinnati. The picture may show a Boston uniform, but this card will be nestled in my Reds binders with the other Baseball Immortals cards.

George Wright

There, the Red Stockings are mentioned on the back. If I needed any justification for keeping this as a Reds card, there it is.

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