After being in the hobby a few years, I was exposed to Topps' Canadian counterpart... O-Pee-Chee. But at the time... I had no desire to collect them. I've always been a person who doesn't like change... and at the time, I had no desire to collect a Canadian version of anything. Honestly... I think it's because O-Pee-Chee baseball cards weren't worth as much as Topps. And back then... I was planning to fund my college education with my card collection.
Fast forward twenty-five years... and I'm still a huge fan of Topps. Sure their sticker autos suck... but I love their Heritage products and of course A&G. However... my opinion of OPC has greatly changed. The past few months, I've been on a hunt for 80's OPC baseball rookie cards.
I have almost every key Topps rookie card from the 80's except for the 1982 Cal Ripken (both his regular issue and the traded set card) and any of the rookies from the 1983 & 1984 traded sets. So, it made sense that now was the time to chase down the OPC versions.
The first two rookies are of players that haven't been on most collector's radar for years, but if you collected during the 80's... then I know you've heard of them.
Orel Hershiser is a three time all-star, who won the Cy Young award in 1988. He was also named the NLCS MVP and World Series MVP in 1988. That was the year he pitched two complete games (one of them was a shutout), had two wins, and allowed only 2 runs and seven hits against my Oakland Athletics. To top it off, he went 3 for 3 with two doubles in that series... it still makes me sick thinking about it. Seven years later he brought home the ALCS MVP while playing for the Cleveland Indians. Hershiser retired after the 2000 season with over 200 wins and 200 strikeouts.
Another pitcher who dominated the late 80's was Kansas City Royal's ace... Bret Saberhagen. He also made three all-star teams. In addition he won two Cy Young awards... one in 1985 and another in 1989. His last season was in 2001 with the Boston Red Sox. He finished his career with 167 wins and over 1,700 strikeouts.
The last pitcher in my small OPC baseball rookie collection is one of my favorite pitchers from the 80's. Mr. Dwight Gooden.
Gooden was the 1984 NL Rookie of the Year after he led the league with 276 strikeouts. The next season he won the NL Cy Young award after going 24-4 with an astounding 1.53 ERA. Only two pitchers have had an ERA of 1.53 or lower since 1919: Dwight Gooden & Bob Gibson. In 16 seasons, he made four all-star teams, won 194 games, and had almost 2,300 K's. When I think of a "what if" player... Dr. K is one of the first people who pops into my mind.
Now it's time for the batters.
One year before Gooden won the NL ROY award as a member of the New York Mets... the Mets had another ROY award winner. Mr. Darryl Strawberry.
Darryl is an eight time all-star, who hit 26 or more home runs in his first nine seasons. He is the Mets all-time home run and RBI leader. He also has the most runs in Mets history, but David Wright should pass him next year. Mr. Strawberry finished his career with 335 home runs. Unfortunately... he had his issues with drugs... much like his buddy Mr. Gooden. However... I try not to focus on the negative... and stick with the positive. At least you can pick up his rookies at a fraction of the cost since his all-star days.
You can't have an 80's rookie card collection without one of the decade's best hitters.
Don Mattingly made six straight all-star games from 1984 to 1989. During those years, he was always one of the top 10 leaders in hits. In fact, he led the AL in hits twice. But... he wasn't only known for his bat. He could also field. During his fourteen year career, Mattingly won nine Gold Gloves. Back problems plagued the better half of his career and he's often called the greatest Yankee to never play in a World Series. Like several other players in this post... he's one of those "what if" players.
Well... I apologize for the long post... but I promise you... I've saved the best for last. Well... at least in my opinion. Anyone who knows me... knows #19 is my favorite player of all-time.
And a few weeks ago, I added this card to my collection. It's definitely one of my favorite cards in my collection. I won't waste your time going into the details of why Tony Gwynn is my favorite player. But if you're interested, please click here... it's a prior post I wrote almost 6 months ago.
Well... it's way past my bedtime. Thanks for bearing with me. I'll leave you with tonight's question of the day:
In terms of 80's baseball (not hockey) rookies...
which would you rather have? Topps or OPC? Why?
I'll be honest... at the moment... I'm a little torn. Up until a few months ago... I would have said Topps in a heartbeat. But... right now... as of this second... I actually think I like my OPC Gwynn... more than my Topps Gwynn.
Anyways... I gotta hit the sack. G'nite!