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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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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.

Happy Reds birthday, Ron Oester!

Oester

May 5, 1956

Ron Oester was a lifetime Cincinnatian. Born in Cincinnati, he played high school ball at Withrow High School, and played his entire big league career for the Reds. He almost became the Reds manager in 2001, but the team low-balled him and ended up signing Bob Boone to skipper the team. Oester was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2014 along with Dave Parker, Ken Griffey, Jr., and 19th century star Jake Beckley.

Fun Cards: 1991 Topps Ron Oester

1991 Topps Ron Oester

Despite providing a solid bat off the bench for the World Champion Cincinnati Reds in 1990, second baseman Ron Oester was omitted from the 1991 Topps baseball card set; Donruss, Fleer, Score, and Upper Deck all found room for Oester. He batted .299 in 154 at-bats in 1990, his last season in the majors.

He saw limited playing time during the regular season, but Oester was a part of the Reds’ postseason roster, going 1-for-3 in the NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That hit came in the sixth game, after coming into the game during a double switch that saw Norm Charlton replace Danny Jackson on the mound. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Oester singled off Pirates pitcher Zane Smith, then scored on a Luis Quinones single.

In the World Series, Oester saw action in Game 2 as a pinch hitter for Scott Scudder. Oester singled off the late Bob Welch and drove in catcher Joe Oliver.

Oester was the subject of a custom card on Cards That Never Were earlier this year, sharing a 1980 “Future Stars” card with future Red Jeff Reardon and never Red Al Holland.

Welcome to the Reds Hall of Fame, Ron Oester!

Oester

If there is a baffling name among the inductees for the 2014 Reds Hall of Fame, it is Ron Oester. Statistically, it doesn’t make sense. 1118 hits, 42 home runs, 344 runs batted in, and a .265 batting average in 13 seasons…Hall of Fame? Hardly. But Oester’s personality and contributions to the community told a different story. He was an ambassador for the game, a quietly consistent player on teams that included boisterous superstars such as Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Eric Davis, and Dave Parker. He visited sick children on his own time and brought smiles to their faces when there was really nothing to smile about. Ron Oester wasn’t a great player, but he was a great person.

(Custom Hall of Fame “fun card” by TWJ contributor Patrick.)

Fun Cards: 2013 Topps Ron Oester

2013 Topps Oester

This quiet second baseman was never considered a huge threat with his bat, but he was consistent and reliable. In thirteen seasons, Ron Oester collected 1118 hits while batting a respectable .265 for Reds teams that were not very good. He contributed to the 1990 World Series club with some key pinch-hitting, registering a .299 average over 154 at-bats. That would be his final season as a player.

Oester’s biggest contributions came off-the-field. One of my good friends remembers Oester as a kind person who visited her terminally ill brother during his final days in the 1980s. While several players visited with the young elementary school boy, Oester made several return visits and checked on him often, bringing him joy when there was little to be found. Ron Oester was a hero to the young boy and is remembered fondly by the family still today.

I have had the opportunity to meet Oester twice at Redsfest, and he is still a very friendly guy, smiling and talking to fans as they go through the autograph line.

2012 Redsfest: Ron Oester

Oester Redsfest

A lifetime Red and member of the 1990 World Championship team, Ron Oester got me a step closer to getting all the 1985 Donruss Reds cards signed. This is my ninth card from that team set signed.

1985 Donruss

1990 Kahns

Redsfest 2010: Ron Oester

After meeting one of my childhood heroes, it was time to move on to another autograph session. You don’t have time to rest at Redsfest!

At the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum booth, Ron Oester was scheduled to appear along with Ted Power and Dave Collins. I’ll be honest, I was shocked to see Collins on the list of players scheduled to appear, and yes, I was doubtful that he would show up. It turns out my doubts were not without merit. Oester and Power were there, Collins was nowhere to be seen.

Ron Oester was an important part of the mid-1980s Reds teams, but he certainly wasn’t going to make anyone forget about Joe Morgan. He played in at least 150 games each season from 1982-86, batting .264 during that time (with a high of .295 in 1985).

But there is more to Oester than his baseball career. He is also a caring person, and demonstrated that with a young boy in the 1980s who suffered from a disease that eventually took his life. The entire Reds team visited the young boy, but Oester made an impact on the family more than any other. I am good friends with that boy’s sister, and she told me how much Oester lifted her brother’s spirits when nothing else could.

The cards my son and I got autographed are below. Oester took special note of the minor league card, mentioning that he doesn’t see those very often. The 1989 Score card belongs to my son.

#Redsfest was a blast!

I will post photos and scans of autographs later because I really want to go to bed right now…but I had a great time! Signatures were secured from Tom Browning, Todd Frazier, Eric Davis, Ron Oester, Ted Power, Chuck Harmon and Bronson Arroyo! GREAT NIGHT!

eBay bargains (The Final Chapter…for now)

The big package came today…nearly 60 cards featuring Bengals…

and Reds…

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.

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