When I dove into collecting baseball cards at about ten years old, I collected everything I could get my hands on. There were nearly as many oddball sets as there are parallel sets today, and I grabbed as much as I could. Here are a few of the offerings that bore the Topps name.
These cards did not come in packs. You had to collect a certain number of “offer cards” from regular packs, then send them in along with postage to receive them. I never did order them directly from Topps but picked up a few in trades.
Mini League Leaders
Before baseball-reference.com, we relied on baseball cards stats to know who the best players were. In 1986, Topps issued a set of mini “League Leaders.” The back of this card reveals that Mario Soto finished the 1985 season second in the National League with 214 strikeouts, tied for 6th in games started, tied for 6th in complete games, and 7th in innings pitched.
Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
Baseball card companies partnered with food products often in the olden days. Post Cereal, Kellogg’s, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese were just a handful of the food products that featured cards in products. Quaker Chewy Granola bars was another, and Dave Parker was one of the more common Reds players to show up in these sets from 1985-1988. These cards are usually found in very good condition, so I assume they were available through mail-order rather than included in the box itself.
Topps Tattoos were sold in packs, but I don’t recall ever seeing them in stores. I picked up a few featuring Reds players through trades. The full sheets featured several players; this particular sheet included not only Tony Perez, but fellow Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and a player with one of the greatest nicknames in the history of baseball: Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd. Right next to Perez is the late Donnie Moore, who tragically took his own life in 1989.
Let’s flip the image to see what it would look like if you applied it to your skin:
I’m so used to seeing them reversed, flipping it just looks weird.
Are O-Pee-Chee cards oddballs? Sold in packs in Canada, but singles always traveled south and into the hands of American kids. I loved cards like this Bill Gullickson, showing the original Topps photo but new team designation.
I intended to post these cards last week. They have been in my possession for ten days, thanks to Twitter trader and Yankee fan @Molorange . But last week the flu hit me, and it hit me hard. I didn’t want to look at a baseball card or do much on the computer. I have finally turned the corner, and I’m ready to show off a few highlights.
Nor do I get the love for Leaf cards. These cards are just awful. Don’t believe me? Just ask Pete Schourek.
Well, not all Leaf cards are awful. Leaf Preferred cards look pretty cool. Reggie Sanders always looks cool.
Thankfully, we left much of the hideousness of the 1990s behind when we entered the 21st century. Check out these sweet cards of Hall of Famer Tony Perez.
I miss Johnny Cueto. Can you imagine how much of a threat the Reds could be if they still had the starting pitchers of a few years ago?
Thank you for the Reds cards, Joe. Sorry it took so long to post them.
Tony Perez had a reputation as a clutch hitter in Cincinnati. On a team loaded with superstars, Perez often went unnoticed. How could he compete with such huge personalities as Johnny Bench and Pete Rose? But he kept hitting, day in and day out, and driving in runs. He drove in over 100 runs six times with the Reds, which is pretty impressive considering how many runs were already driven in by the likes of Bench and George Foster. Still, it took nine times on the ballot for Perez to clear the 75% threshold.
May 14, 1942
Seven-time All-Star. Four top ten MVP finishes. Tony Perez was a major part of the Big Red Machine, but was overshadowed by other superstars in Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Pete Rose. It took nine years for the BBWAA to figure out that without Perez, the Reds of the 1970s would not have been the powerhouse they were. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000 alongside his long-time manager Sparky Anderson and 1975 World Series rival Carlton Fisk.
There has not been a new post on the Cardboard Junkie website in four months. But Dave is still quite active on Twitter as @CardJunk, and after telling him that I wanted to send him some Barves cards, he said he had some Reds set aside for me. His package arrived last week. Here’s some of the awesomeness contained inside:
A couple of “1st Home Run” inserts from 2015 Topps featuring Josh Hamilton and Tony Perez. I don’t recall seeing any of these last year, and if I did, I certainly didn’t notice that some were silver and some were gold.
Some parallel goodies. Red-bordered Jonathan Broxton from 2014, and man, Reds players sure look good on red-bordered cards. The emerald green borders look sharp too, but I bet Donald Lutz would look better in an A’s uniform on that card. The Mike Leake is a mini, alternate-colored bordered Gypsy Queen. And a black-bordered Johnny Cueto Heritage. Are there any sets that don’t have some sort of parallel anymore?
Autographed goodness! Luis Pineda only played two seasons in the bigs, and only one for the Reds. But I got his scribbles now!
Future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman never played for the Cincinnati Reds, but he spent some time in the organization before going to
Miami Florida in the 1992 expansion draft.
Another fantastic reliever, John Franco, from the 1987 Topps sticker set.
Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, from the 1987 Classic green border set. I already had the yellow border card from the travel edition, but the green border features a different photo and everything.
Even more vintage. Leo Cardenas, 1968. This card is going to look fantastic with Leo’s scribbles on it. The only question is whether I wait until December at Redsfest or try to catch him at the Reds Hall of Fame this summer.
There was a ton of other stuff in the package…
…including a card that I didn’t even discover until I went to scan them last night. In addition to all the Reds goodies, Dave included a special 1/1 sketch card of one of my very favorite vampires…
A pleasant surprise slid in between two other cards in one of the hard cases. I absolutely love this sketch card!
I love blind trades. I sent a handful of Tampa Bay Rays cards to @JDaniel2033, a Twitter friend in Indianapolis, and he sent back a handful of Reds. Lots of Barry Larkin and Hal Morris cards, Jose Rijo, and Hall of Famer Tony Perez were included among them. But he also sent a vintage Reds card that I needed:
Former Reds outfielder Bernie Carbo (who also played for the Cardinals, Red Sox, Brewers, Pirates, and Indians).
But he didn’t stop there. He also sent me a non-Reds card from 1972…
Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan!
There are a few players that are always welcome in my collection, whether they are wearing Reds uniforms or not, and that includes any of the Big Red Machine’s Great Eight.
Thank you for the awesome cards @JDaniel2033, and I will certainly be sending some more Rays your way whenever I come across them!
I dropped the ball on this one! I intended to post this “fun card” earlier in the week, and forgot about it until today as I was looking at the other cards I have created for the set. This hasn’t been a season full of highlights for the Reds, but dedicating a statue to Tony Perez would make the list even in a World Championship year. “Doggie” had an outstanding career for the Reds, Expos, Red Sox, and Phillies, and remains one of the most popular players from the 1970s Big Red Machine era. A seven-time All-Star, Perez finished his career with 379 home runs and 1652 RBI. It was not until his ninth year on the Hall of Fame ballot, in 2000, that he was finally inducted. He never had less than 50% support for the Hall.
I picked up two rack packs of 1983 Donruss last night at the Redsfest for $1 each. I thought surely they were just in the wrong place on the table, but no…$1 each. And with a Reggie Jackson Diamond King showing on top, how could I resist?
Two Hall of Fame managers, three Hall of Fame players, and one of Houston’s first star players make up the retired #24’s in the majors.
Whitey Herzog, St. Louis Cardinals
Herzog, whose full name is Dorrel Norman Elvert Herzog, led the Cards to the World Series title in 1982 and NL Pennants in 1985 and 1987. He finished with a .530 winning percentage for the Cardinals from 1980 to 1990. He was named NL Manager of the Year in 1985, edging out Pete Rose by one point, and finished 3rd for the award in 1987 behind Montreal’s Buck Rodgers and the Giants’ Roger Craig.
Jimmy Wynn, Houston Colt .45’s/Astros
Rickey Henderson, Oakland A’s
Tony Perez, Cincinnati Reds
Walter Alston, Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers
Willie Mays, New York/San Francisco Giants
I recently sent a few cards to Lifetime Topps, some to help out with his set-building conquests and a few Reds just because. He returned the favor with a nice package featuring a Hall of Famer (Tony Perez), a future Cooperstown resident (Barry Larkin), and some other current and former Reds. Here are just a few of the goodies he sent:
All of those cards are great, but my favorite card in the package, hands-down, was this 1984 O-Pee-Chee Dave Parker:
I miss the Cobra and his 20-minute home run trot.
Thanks for the cards Chuck!