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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.


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.


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.

I miss Riverfront Stadium

I know it’s silly to miss the “cookie cutter” era of baseball stadiums, but I grew up with Riverfront Stadium, fell in love with baseball at Riverfront Stadium, and I long for the innocence I experienced at Riverfront Stadium. Fortunately, we have baseball cards like this one…


There is Tom Browning, tipping his cap to the crowd, celebrating the first perfect game in Cincinnati Reds history. I’m guessing this was a staged shot, since you can see Luis Quinones warming up n the background. But it’s still a nice card, and you can see a bit of Riverfront Stadium behind Mr. Perfect.

And then there is this card…


Chris Hammond never amounted to much with the Reds, but you can clearly see a couple of the different colored seats behind him. The lowest level, barely visible here because there were few in the outfield, were blue seats. Then there were green seats, which are nearly filled behind Hammond. Above are yellow, and then the cheapo seats, the red seats. The least expensive seats in the park were the “Top 6” rows of the red section. I remember only cost $3.50 per ticket, but even the more expensive seats were reasonable. I don’t think they had $2500 seats back in those pure times.

I miss Riverfront Stadium so much I mistakenly, absent-mindedly call the Reds’ current home Riverfront sometimes. I know it’s Great American Ballpark. But I prefer Riverfront. And I always will.

Happy Reds birthday, Tom Browning!


April 28, 1960

Mr. Perfect. The last rookie pitcher to win twenty games in a season. All-around fun guy…just ask the Cubs fans on the rooftops in Chicago. Tom Browning had fun in his baseball career, and when it’s all said and done, that’s what really matters in the end. He was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2006, and frequently makes appearances at Reds fan events.

Cards piling up…

You know how you get new cards, and you put them in a stack to sort later? And occasionally you get some cards in the mail from fellow bloggers, and they go in stacks too? But then you forget who sent what…and you feel guilty for letting those cards sit in stacks for weeks without scanning and posting…and then finally you start scanning but you don’t even know what some of the cards are…


This Tom Browning stamp was not on my wantlist. I was somewhat aware of the existence of these St. Vincent stamps thanks to the Tim Wallach blogger, but I’ve never attempted to make any kind of list of which Reds were included in the set. I believe this item came from 2×3 Heroes.


Another package included this Joey Votto Bowman Chrome (does anyone else call it “Chroman” in your head? No? Just me?). If I’m not mistaken, this came from Jim of the late, great GCRL blog.

I love getting cards in the mail. I also love getting cards in person. A young friend at church who knows I collect cards recently gave me a shoebox full of “junk wax” that was made loooooong before he was born. But there were also some things made after he was born…


…like this gold Sandy Alomar Jr. card from 2007 that I had never seen before. There are apparently different versions and different years of this Danbury mint issue, including one showing Alomar as a member of the Colorado Rockies. I had no idea Alomar ever played for the Rockies until writing this post.

Thank you Jeff, Jim, and David for the cards!

Redsfest megapost!

My oldest son and I braved the winter storm to attend Redsfest Friday night, and loaded up on autographs! I was able to obtain four players that I did not previously have, and got three more cards signed for my 1984 Topps Reds team set autograph project!

If you want to see the scans of the autographs and some photos from the event, click on through…

Read the rest of this entry

Fun Cards: 2012 Topps Tom Browning


One of baseball's perfect game pitchers

The Cincinnati Reds opened the baseball season on the road only twice in the 20th century (and only four times in the history of the franchise). In 1966, it was the rain that forced the Reds to start in Philadelphia; in 1990, a labor dispute between the owners and players delayed the season and the Reds played their first game in Houston’s Astrodome. Mr. Perfect, Tom Browning, was the Opening Day starter that year, and though he didn’t get the decision, Cincinnati won 8-4 over the Astros. Browning started the season for the Reds three times in his career, going 1-0 (but the Reds did win all three games).

Redsfest 2011: Tom Browning

My sons and I attended the 2011 Redsfest on Saturday, December 3. This was my fourth year going with my oldest son, and the first year for my youngest son. I was very tired from the Guns N’ Roses concert the night before, but I had a great time as always. Over the next few days, I’ll be showing off the goodies that we got signed, starting with Tom Browning

The doors opened a few minutes before 11 a.m., and the first autograph session was scheduled to begin at noon. We chose “Mr. Perfect” as our first target of the day. This was not Derek’s first time meeting a player…he’s had the chance to get autographs from Chris Sabo, Jay Bruce, Ryan Hanigan, and his favorite, Joey Votto, in the past.

Both boys put their cards up on the table and said thank you after receiving Browning’s signature. I don’t know if the players actually pay attention whether fans say thank you or not, but I believe it’s important for my boys to be polite. We’re not selling these items; they are for our personal collection and enjoyment.

Both of the kids chose Browning’s 1987 Topps card. I’ve scanned only one of them to display here…

As for me, I chose his 1985 Donruss card. I’m trying to get as many of the 1985 Donruss set autographed as I can, but it is a long process. So far I have Browning, Nick Esasky, Brad Gulden, Jeff Russell, Skeeter Barnes, and Frank Pastore.

Coming tomorrow, the only current Reds player we approached on Saturday.

Redsfest 2010: Tom Browning

I picked Joshua up from school a few minutes after 3:00 and headed straight for downtown Cincinnati to attend the 2010 Redsfest at the Duke Energy Convention Center. By the time we parked and walked across the Skywalk, it was about 3:40, and though it wasn’t scheduled to start until 4 pm, they had already opened the gates and fans were filing in.

We checked the autograph schedule and decided to hit the Hall of Fame display first, as “Mr. Perfect” Tom Browning was the featured guest. We got extremely fortunate, as we were only about 5 or 6 people deep in the line. This was the closest to the front that we got all night, but were never denied an autograph once we chose a line. The event is well-organized and the staffers try to limit the lines to how many people can reasonably expect to get through.

Browning has a nice looking autograph, and now I have it on a ticket stub from his perfect game…

I didn’t attend a game, but a friend did and gave me the stub afterwards. Like most people, he didn’t stay for the entire game because of the rain delay. I’ve kept the stub ever since, and this year decided to take it with me for the autograph.

In 1989, Fleer and Score both commemorated the event with a special card. Joshua has the Score highlight, and decided to get it signed this year…

After a thank you and you’re welcome, Mr. Perfect was added (again) to our autograph collection and we were on our way to another stop…

#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!

SLTB ’88: Tom Browning

Mr. Perfect, Tom Browning. Sure, he’s had his problems. But during his career, he was a guy who genuinely seemed to love playing the game.

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