30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Friday, February 15, 2013

Junk Wax Is Like Wine

Certain junk wax is like wine... it gets better with age.

It's Flashback Friday and I'm headed back to the 80's.  1986 to be exact.

Twenty-seven years ago, I couldn't stand the 1986 Topps baseball card design.  Why the disdain?  I think it had to do with the lack of the team logos and the overall abundance of Topps compared to Donruss and Fleer.

Donruss was always my favorite.  Fleer next.  And finishing dead last was Topps.

Then a few years ago, things began to change.  I started to appreciate the base card's design.  What once was considered boring, was now considered intriguing.  I like how the team's name and colors stand out across the solid black bar on top of the card.  The player's name is easy to see as the black lettering contrasts against the thin white border at the bottom.  Topps also did a fine job with the player's position by inserting it into a perfect sized color coordinated circle in the bottom left hand corner of the card.

The more I see these cards, the more I like them.  And for a while now, I've had this yearning to bust a box in search of a 50¢ Vince Coleman rookie.  Remember when he was worth something?

I guess I should be grateful that this stuff is practically worthless, because a few weeks ago, I purchased a wax box for $10 at the Serramonte Mall Card and Collectibles Show.  There will be those who say I overpaid.  Heck, the most valuable card is the 2nd year Roger Clemens card that books for $4, but can purchased for 60¢ on COMC.

But who cares?  I look at it differently.  Ten dollars gave me 45 minutes of entertainment and helped fill my vintage card binder.  Although 1986 isn't exactly vintage, it happens to be the cutoff year for me, because 1987 was the first year I started buying cards in bulk.  Before that, it was just a few packs here and there.  But that's a discussion for another day.

Okay, I've dragged on long enough.  Let's check out the goodies I pulled.  Here are a few of my personal favorites:

All five of these cards have two things in common.  First, Topps used well cropped action shots that show off the athlete's strengths (okay... so maybe Ozzie should be snagging a line drive or performing his famous back flip, but you have to admit that's a sweet shot of him).  Plus, I love how the team name and color on top complement the player's uniform (and the fans in the stands) in the photo.  They look like they should be hanging up in a museum somewhere.

But if I had to choose one card that's in a league of his own, it would be card #250:

I really want to just stop and stare at this card.  But unfortunately, I have other cards to show you guys.

I also pulled both base cards of the All-Time Hit King:

And three of the better rookies in this set:

Cha-ching!  Winnah... winnah... chicken dinnah.  These three cards remind me of the flag.  Good old... Red, White, and Blue.

And how about dem managers from that era?

Sort of makes me appreciate my childhood during the 80's just a little bit more.  And speaking of the 80's... remember when card companies utilized the bottom of boxes?  Here's what was sitting at the bottom of my box:

I guess the only downside to this box was the fact that I didn't find the Dwight Gooden box bottom or pull any base cards of my favorite players:  Tony Gwynn, Kirby Puckett (the card above is from my binder), Steve Carlton, or Rickey Henderson (although do I really need another card of him pictured in pinstripes?).

So what do you think...

Are you a fan of any of the 1986 baseball card designs?  Which is your favorite?  Least favorite?

I still like the Donruss set design the most.  But I'm starting to favor Topps over Fleer.  Who knows, maybe in twenty-seven more years Sportflics will be my favorite.

Happy Friday and sayonara!


  1. I laughed so hard at this post.

    I think it's great that you, Fuji, a man of Asian decent, put 'winnah winnah chicken dinnah' in a post.

    I love that we don't have to take ourselves so seriously.

    I may have to interject a Holy Frijoles in one of my posts here in the future.

    1. Glad it made you chuckle... hopefully I didn't end up offending anyone. That's one of those things we (me and my buddies) picked up years ago and say all of the time. I have no idea what it came from though.

      I'm totally down for you using Holy Frijoles in a post... if you don't, can I?

  2. i've always been a huge fan of the 1986 Topps set, it was my first and who doesn't still have a thing for their first...set of baseball cards...

    i loved the simple black band across the top, although as a 10 year old it was nearly impossible keeping them in good condition. This may not be the best design ever, but it's my favorite of the sets I own. The Gooden card was great, but I remember when i got the Rickey Henderson card and taking that thing to school with me everyday...every...single...day

    Also love the 1986 donruss set. The rookies in all sets were great.

    1. Unfortunately, my first was the 1981 Fleer set. I wish I had chosen something else, because I'm still waiting for this set to grow on me.

  3. I'm sorry, but I hate the 1986 Topps set... a black band at the top of the card with the team name in really big letters is not a high point of baseball card design.

    I used to like the 1986 Donruss design, but in my advancing age the mix of horizontal and diagonal lines bothers me. 1986 Fleer is boring, but it's the best of a bad lot.

    1. No need to apologize... I didn't like the 1986 Topps design for many, many years.

  4. I like both 86F and 86T, with Fleer getting a slight edge and 86D a distant 3rd. That's actually the way it was for a good chunk of the 80's: Fleer slightly over Topps, with Donruss lagging behind.

    ...and does it make me old that I still think of these sets by abbreviations nobody uses anymore (i.e. 86D)?

    I'm going to have to keep an eye out for cheap boxes at my next show (which looks like it will be April). I could easily get $10 worth of entertainment out of busting junk wax!

    1. I still write 86T, 89UD, 81F, etc on boxes... so if that makes you old, then it makes me old too. And there's no way I want to be considered old. So in short... heck no it doesn't make you old.

      Try saying that 10x fast... if you can't, then "Yep" you're old ;-)

  5. Great Post. Love the Donruss Kirby Puckett card.

    1. Thanks... huge fan of that card too!

  6. I have had the same dilema you have had over the years deciding which of these sets were the best from each year (1981 to about 1988). This was one of the years Topps did not win. I think I like Fleer as my number 1 with Donruss a close second

  7. I'll take Fleer by a mile. The 'striped' Donruss look gave me facial tics. And Topps just whiffed that year.

    1. Looks like Fleer is starting to pull away from the pack. Lol... love the facial tics comment. How did you feel about Max Headroom?

  8. Sorry, but 0 for 3 in my book ,to much border on all three brands that year.

  9. I've also come to appreciate the '86 Topps design a lot more than I did at the time. Today I'd rank them as follows:

    1. Topps
    a lot of distance
    2. Donruss
    3. Fleer

    Oddly, I'm pretty sure that's the exact opposite of how I would have ranked them in '86

    1. Time seems to have that effect on some people... including me.