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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.

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: 1988 Topps Eddie Milner

On Monday, I said Leon Durham was the last Reds “fun card” from the 1988 roster. Guess what? I was wrong.

Milner

The late Eddie Milner was a 21st round draft pick for the Reds in 1976. He clawed his way to the major leagues, debuting in 1980. He only played a handful of games in 1980 and 1981, but by 1982 he was a mainstay on the roster. Sadly, Milner battled substance abuse during his time in the bigs. In 1987, Cincinnati traded the outfielder to the Giants for Frank Williams and a couple of minor leaguers. He only stayed in San Francisco for a year, and signed with the Reds again in 1988. He collected nine hits in 51 at-bats during his final big league season.

Milner

Is that it? Did I include everyone from the Reds 1988 roster? I think the only player left out is Pat Pacillo, who had a Reds card and was traded to the Expos with Tracy Jones, but never appeared in a big league game for Montreal. Since Topps didn’t make “Pro Debut” cards in 1988, I think I’m safe in excluding him from this series. Which means I’m done!

I love the 1988 design and intend to do more with it at some point. After all, there are always “Music Fun Cards” that can be made!

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps Pat Perry

Perry

Pat Perry came to the Reds in late 1987 for the infamous “player to be named later.” In this case, Scott Terry was the later-named baller. Perry was with the Reds for less than a season, however, as he was sent to the Cubs in exchange for Leon Durham.

Perry

And with that, I thought I was finished with the 1988 Reds roster. But I was wrong, once again. One final card (?) tomorrow…

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps Leon Durham

Durham

Leon “Bull” Durham was a popular player in Chicago. Twice an All-Star, once a Silver Slugger, but with Mark Grace’s arrival he became expendable (much like Buddy Bell when Chris Sabo burst on the scene in 1988). The Cubs decided to take the Bull to market, and got pitcher Pat Perry in return. He only played 21 games for the Reds in 1988, and in 1989 returned to St. Louis, where his career began in 1980.

Durham

This is the final 1988 Topps Reds card. But… not the final 1988 card. Come back tomorrow for one more…for now.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps Luis Quinones

Quinones

Luis Quinones came to the Reds via a trade with the Cubs for pitcher Bill Landrum. He stayed until signing with the Twins after the 1991 season.

Quinones

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps Van Snider

Snider

The Reds acquired Van Snider from the Royals for Jeff Montgomery, and after two uneventful seasons in the Reds’ system, he was dealt to the Yankees with Tim Leary for Rod Imes and Hal Morris. Snider entered law enforcement after his baseball career and spent time with the Mayfield Heights Police Department.

I thought this was the final player to complete the roster for 1988. After reviewing the list, however, I realized there are two more. So that will finish out the week nicely. Come back tomorrow for another guy who didn’t get a Reds card in 1988 Topps or Topps Traded.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps Tim Birtsas

Birtsas

Tim Birtsas arrived in Cincinnati as a part of the Jose Rijo/Dave Parker trade with the A’s. Fleer included him in their year-end Update set, but Score and Topps both focused on the big-name players in the trade. Birtsas played three years with the Reds and contributed a 3.86 ERA to the 1990 World Championship team.

Birtsas

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps Ron Roenicke

Roenicke

Ron Roenicke bounced around quite a bit during his 8-year big league career, wrapping it up with 14 games in Cincinnati in May 1988. After finishing the season with the Reds’ AAA club, he moved on to Texas’ minor league system, but never again saw action in the majors as a player. From 2011-2015, Roenicke served as the Brewers’ manager.

Roenicke

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