Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Fun With Football

I've been spending quite a bit of time lately putting together Topps football sets from the 80s. It's my favorite NFL era despite the fact that the Colts bailed in 1984.

I showed the '86 set a month or two back. That will always be my favorite 'modern' Topps fb set. But the follow-up, the 1987 set ain't bad. Topps matched team colors to the cards (mostly), and they could show helmet logos and all that. The flag design element leaves room for a large player pic. I wouldn't call it 'inspired', but it's grown on me. And, hey...Eric Dickerson appeared in those ultra-cool goggles.

I put the William Andrews card here because those Falcon uniforms were amazing. So good, in fact, that I insisted my teams wear similar ones. I got laughed at.

Nice, right? OK, maybe it's just me. But I love the color combo.

Only the Chargers were close.

The set runs to 396 cards including the two checklists which finish it off. Topps used the team-by-team format as they had in '86. Teams are in order of the '86 season records, from the SB Champion Giants, through the other playoff squads, and on down to the 2-win Bucs.

The 80s were a star-laden time in the NFL and obviously, they are all here. Joe Montana on the headset. I used to have a collection of 'Guys on the phone' which showed players using electronic devices, bullpen phones, headsets, microphones, etc, and this was part of it.

All-Pro players like Jerry Rice got a designation under the team name. 

The backs are readable. I've seen plenty worse.

The set starts off with a Super Bowl tribute card saluting the Giants' win the previous season.

 Then we get seven Record Breakers.

Then it's on to the teams. Each gets a highlight-type with a checklist on the reverse and then players presented by position, quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, and on and on through the DBs. Occasionally a team threw Topps a curve and they had to adjust.

In the case of the Eagles, LB Mike Reichenbach takes the spot that would have belonged to Ron Jaworski. Jaws was winding down his playing career and had been released by Buddy Ryan between the time this set was planned and the time it was executed. You may also notice in the scan above that the Steelers only had four defensive players on cards. No more Steel Curtain buy 1987.

There were five Leaders cards. In this case, we have ED and Curt 'The Other One' Warner.

Interesting cards are scattered throughout.

You don't see many choreographed pre-game stretch cards these days.

Pensive kicker being pensive.

Man, the Colts' lack of talent at QB between Bert Jones and Peyton Manning is displayed right here. But by this time I was happy to see it.

Here is the optimally-named Chuck Long.

Mark Malone was entering his fourth year as the Steelers' starter and his 29th year of looking like a Hollywood type-cast badass.

Topps had a few guys designated as 'Super Rookies" including my man, Ernest Givens

I'm a sucker for sideline cape shots.


And Lawrence Taylor, a guy whose personal life drags down his legacy as the best defensive player I've ever seen.

As they did many times, Topps had an insert that featured the 1000 yard runners and receivers of the previous seasons.

I picked this one up cheap. I'm kind of surprised at the fact that sets from the late 90s cost much more than this one. Chalk it up to overproduction.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Graig Kreindler Negro League Centennial Set

A few months back I saw an ad (somewhere..Twitter?) for a new Negro League set. It was produced in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro National League in 1920. Of course, black baseball in the Staes and the Caribean goes back to the 1860s. There are included cards of players and pioneers that reflect that.

The cards were to feature the artwork of Graig Kreindler. I love his work and the set looked promising.  I ordered one and pretty much forgot about it until I got a shipping notice last week.

The set, produced by the site, arrived yesterday and I'm happy with it. Kreindler's art is super. The set consists of 184 cards plus a couple of unnumbered extras. There are cards for every star and multiples of many which reflect different teams they played for.

The backs give the player's vitals and contain a short write-up. When there are multiple cards of a player the write-up is different for each one as they reflect the team/career path of the player.

Included was a two-sided card that gives some background on the project. I'm showing it and any other text-heavy cards because the font is not easy to read otherwise.

Just gonna toss a few of my favorites up here. There are many of the Cuban and other Latin American players here, and some of the Negro leaguers played winter ball in those spots and have cards showing them in those unis.

Josh Gibson, as you'd expect, has a few different cards included. Beckett has the checklist and other info on their site.

There are also cards for some of the well known MLB stars that got their 'professional' start in the Negro Leagues.

When Jackie Robinson's KC Monarchs club took the field even Bob Uecker would have known where they were from.

Minnie Minoso looks like he's 40 years old here but he played for the NY Cubans in 1948 which would make him 22.

I love this card of Elston Howard in his Monarchs gear. I may pick up a single for my Howard PC.

Here's something I didn't know...Luis Tiant's father was a baseball star in Cuba. Orlando Cepeda's father has a card in the set as well.

Goose Tatum became famous for his Harlem Globetrotter success, but he played ball, too. The card mentions that his super-human 'wingspan' helped him as a first baseman but put a huge 'hole' on his swing.

Pioneers get cards including Toni Stone who played right alongside the guys.

Some of the unis that were worn were very sweet:

In a nice touch, Kreindler included a card of an 'unknown' player as a tribute to the many, many guys who played in obscurity. As noted on the reverse, teams traveled with small rosters and sometimes picked up local players to fill out lineups. Some players slipped through the cracks of the spotty recording and chronicling of teams/games and never got credited in a boxscore. Others played briefly before giving up due to the tough travel conditions and the difficulties of travel in a country where they were not welcomed everywhere.

As an 'early adopter' (i.e. I think that I ordered a set when it was still being financed) I received an extra copy of card #23 which depicts Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson signed by the artist. It was a nice surprise.

Even the box is attractive.

With the borders of the cards being a what they are I'm not wasting any time sliding the set into binder pages. And I may unfold that box and stick it in a one-pocket if I can.

EDIT: P-Town Tom was posting his thoughts on the set about the same time this went up. Check out his post here.

The set runs from $55 to $60 depending on where you purchase it. I've seen it on eBay and at the site I linked at the top. Net54 members can get it thru one of the authorized dealers who posts over there. Search for member 'buythatcard' and you'll find Howard's post about the set.

Money well spent for me.