January 16, 2008

1988, Year of the Card: "We're celebrating the 20th anniversary of one of the great classic baseball card sets, 1988 Topps. We're going through all 792 cards one by one, posting bits about what makes the card awesome and cool stats about the player or team featured on the card."

posted by yerfatma to baseball at 07:42 AM - 23 comments

My very first set.

posted by ggermanctl at 08:19 AM on January 16, 2008

Very cool. I'm surprised this isn't done more often. I had a lot of the 88 Topps and its neat to see them again. Added to favorites!

posted by curlyelk at 09:24 AM on January 16, 2008

This is really cool. For me though, The baseball card set was the Topps set from (I think) '87. The one with the "wooden" background.

posted by drezdn at 09:41 AM on January 16, 2008

This was right before those Upper Deck cards with all the rare special inserts; I got into baseball cards not out of a pure love of the game, but to exploit the imperfect card-show market of the early nineties.

posted by Hugh Janus at 09:48 AM on January 16, 2008

For anyone that enjoys baseball, and especially baseball cards from the '50s and '60s, you need to read "The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading, & Bubble Gum Book" by Brendan Boyd and Fred Harris. Even though the book was written in 1982, it is both poignant and hilarious. It talks about the cards themselves (some of the photos on the cards are funny as hell), as well as about a simpler time in the game. It's a book that's never outdated, and I only wish more similar books were written about baseball cards. I think baseball cards were best when you'd get the one set (or a few different companies would put out one set), and not all these sub-sets, inserts, special cards, special sets, updated sets, etc. I gave up on the hobby because it all became too overwhelming.

posted by dyams at 09:57 AM on January 16, 2008

Dyams, I agree. I was a collector that bought the sets each year - Topps, Fleer, Donruss. I would keep the boxes sealed (still got 'em), then buy individual packs to look at and/or trade. Then Upper Deck came along, the packs were $3-$5 bucks for 5 cards and no gum! Mixed in were all the "game-worn" jersey cards and "game-used" bat cards, gold cards, silver cards, and the complete sets tripled, even quadrupled in size. All that caused a loss of interest for me, mainly financially. Gone are the days of 25 cent packs and the ability for a young child to successfully collect sets while buying the wax packs. Nowadays, getting a "rookie" card doesn't hold a torch to pulling the McGwire USA team card ('84 or '85 Topps, I think), or the '79-'80 Gretzky O-Pee-Chee rookie card. Today, you gotta pull the 1 in 1,000,000 chance Albert Pujols gold, trophy, platinum odd numbered card that was spit on during the 4th inning of a midseason game vs the Cubs. By the way, has anyone had any adverse affects from the hardened Play-Doh pink gum that was covered in powder? I swallowed a lot of that stuff.

posted by BoKnows at 10:17 AM on January 16, 2008

By the way, has anyone had any adverse affects from the hardened Play-Doh pink gum that was covered in powder? I truly believe if I tried to chew that stuff now I'd either break my teeth or ruin every filling I've ever had. Sometimes that stuff would just break apart in the pack like glass so that there were dozens of small pieces. Even so, that was part of what was so cool about buying cards. I'll never forget the taste of the stuff, the consistency, everything. Going to the store and buying all those affordable packs, especially when they first came out each year, remains one of the best memories for me of growing up. Even the waxy wrappers the cards came in were cool (unlike the foil, sealed, security-ensured wrapping cards come in now). Luckily I've kept most of the cards over the years, and they remain in relatively good shape.

posted by dyams at 10:26 AM on January 16, 2008

The baseball card set was the Topps set from (I think) '87 That was a good year for Topps. It was either 86 or 87, not sure which. I didn't have many from that set but I did (maybe still do) have the entire Reds team. Ahh...the memories.

posted by curlyelk at 10:47 AM on January 16, 2008

I remember thinking that my stock of Keith Comstock '88 error cards (fleetingly worth something but eventually exposed as more or less worthless) would help me pay for college some day. 1986 Topps was the big year for me, though.

posted by holden at 10:53 AM on January 16, 2008

I've collected baseball cards for a long time and still do to this day. The 88 Topps set is awesome with many great features. My personal favorite is the 65 Topps set with the pennants depicting the teams. The photography was top notch and is a valued set for many collectors. I remember finally getting the last card in the set. Completes sets were not sold at time (to my knowledge) and I chewed a lot of gum complete the set. Check out the 52 Topps also, another great set.

posted by Nakeman at 11:07 AM on January 16, 2008

Wheres wfrazer? This post is right up his alley.

posted by HATER 187 at 11:22 AM on January 16, 2008

I believe the '87s were the wooden background ones, and '86 had the thick black bar with team name at the top. Think Barry bonds rookie for 86. '88 also featured a McGwire all-star rookie card which I should have sold.

posted by Steel_Town at 11:26 AM on January 16, 2008

Ah the memories. Back in the day [late 60s-80's] Topps had a printing system where they printed sheets of cards then trimmed them. Don't know exactly how many cards were on each sheet. When distributing them, they always made one or two of the sheets extremely rare in each distribution zone. I lived in Missouri and had 6 full sets minus like 12 players each. We went on vacation to Florida that year and bought a box, filled all 6 sets out LOL. My personal favorite was the 72 "Black Beauties".

posted by cheftad at 11:27 AM on January 16, 2008

My personal favorite was the 72 "Black Beauties". I loved those cards, too, but I think you may be refering to the 1971 set, which had the black borders. The only problem was the extreme darkness around the sides made them hard to keep in good shape. I have quite a few of them, though, including the Thurman Munson rookie card action shot, which is one of my all-time favorites.

posted by dyams at 11:54 AM on January 16, 2008

OOP!!!!! You are absolutely right dyams. the 71 set were the black beauties. The 72 set looked like cartoons with all the color LOL

posted by cheftad at 12:00 PM on January 16, 2008

This was around the time other card companies were dipping their respective toes in the card manufacturing pond, such as Donruss and Fleer. Score's first-ever set was in 1988, too. From what I recall, people were starting to look down on Topps because the quality standards among collectors had gone up; the newer companies were producing all-gloss stock, front and back, while Topps cards only had gloss on the front. A minor quibble overall, because most collected either entire sets, or went after all cards of their favorite player. I myself liked the 1987 Topps "wooden border" cards, and I thought the 1989 and 1990 sets were pretty nice looking as well.

posted by NerfballPro at 12:15 PM on January 16, 2008

Wow, I opened that link and could immediately smell the cards. Every year and every brand had a unique scent, and for some reason stuff like that can take me back instantly, as far back as kindergarten. My card collecting heyday was 86 through 92. After that they started costing more and being all glossy and special, and I lost interest and outgrew it all. I still have all my cards though, in my closet at my mom's house. Not quite the treasure trove we hoped it'd be based on the previous generation's stories. I believe the 87 Topps set was the first one I collected on my own just from buying individual packs. I bought the 86 Fleer set for 45 dollars, which I paid in installments to a guy who kept the price at that for a ten dollar deposit. Took me a while to pay it off, and by the time I was done it was worth 85. I was very proud of that investment. Of course, it's probably not worth anything now, since Canseco flamed out (The Canseco/Plunk rookie card was my main target), and also because a kid whose name I forgot but face I remember stole several of the cards in the set, including Rickey Henderson and that ridiculous Mickey Hatcher card where he's got a gigantic fake glove. I can't remember now if I ended up with the entire 88 Topps set too, but I believe I did. I wonder what all of this stuff is worth now. I also have two 1956 cards that I was given as a gift around 88 from a family friend. Of course, they're sitting inside a simple binder, while my mom foolishly stole my two signed McGwire cards to put in the damn safe deposit box at the bank. Like those were worth protecting.

posted by Bernreuther at 08:24 PM on January 16, 2008

Seconding dyams on the baseball-card book -- one of the best sports books ever written. One quibble: It came out in the early to mid '70s, cos' I had a copy when I was in grade school. It was reissued in updated form in the early '90s. Years ago, I wrote a piece for a baseball Web site where I went back and found out that Charley Maxwell really didn't do all that well on Sundays in 1956...

posted by ajaffe at 10:28 PM on January 16, 2008

You're right, ajaffe, the book was first put out in 1973. I saw 1982 on a webpage regarding the book, and didn't think it sounded right. Like you, I also read it when I was a young boy. Great book, and I'm thinking about buying a newer copy because my old one is beat to heck from constant reading over the years.

posted by dyams at 07:23 AM on January 17, 2008

The snarky, yet wistful tone, is just right...

posted by ajaffe at 07:30 AM on January 17, 2008


posted by dyams at 08:18 AM on January 17, 2008

My first set was 86 Topps. And yes, I loved the gum, and the wax packs for 35 cents. Fleer and Donruss had their first sets in 1981.

posted by mbd1 at 01:28 PM on January 17, 2008

1989, the number, another summer . . .

posted by yerfatma at 02:51 PM on January 17, 2008

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.