PACK BREAK: 1984 Topps Baseball

A few weeks ago, I went into a card shop that I’d never been to before, Autographs Ink, in Richland Hills (TX).  It was definitely an interesting shop and I will certainly be writing more on it in the future.  I didn’t find much for myself in there, but they did have some old baseball wax for sale and a lot of early 1980s.  After the “VIDEO: Want to try some 1990 Topps Gum” piece that I posted on baseball opening day, one of our readers mentioned that he has opened some 1982 wax packs at Baseball Card Exchange in Indianapolis a few days before.

YUM! 30 year old gum!
YUM! 30 year old gum!

I didn’t start collecting cards myself until 1987.  For Christmas 1986, my uncle gave me the 1986 Topps set.  I am not being dramatic by saying that my life has never been the same since.  My parents were happy to help me with my new hobby and there’s no telling how many boxes of Topps and Donruss I busted as an eight year-old.

I’m not into dropping a lot of money on one pack, so I passed over the 1982 Topps.  I was okay with the price on the 1983 Topps, $8.  However, I already have a couple of Tony Gwynn rookies, so I passed.  I was intrigued by the 1984 Topps at a $5 price point.  I know the only “big” hit from the 1984 is the Don Mattingly rookie and my odds weren’t good.  However, for some nostalgia sake, I went ahead and traded a Lincoln for a pack.  When I opened it up, it was an interesting mix of players.  Some I had forgotten, others have stories and unfortunate circumstances.  It was a stroll down memory lane.

As I started to open the pack, this is what I saw:

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It brought a smile to my face.  As a kid, my first favorite team was the Braves.  I admittedly jumped from bandwagon to bandwagon as a kid and by 1989, I was a big Oakland A’s fan.  I knew he would be with another team on this card (hated to discover it was the Red Sox), but the quick thought back to youth was fun.  In 1989 and 1990, the man was almost unhittable.  He had pinpoint control and his ERAs those two seasons were just 1.56 and 0.61 respectively.  Dennis Eckersley was inducted into the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004.

Upon further examination, I noticed two things:

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The first, you can’t really tell in the scan.  There is a wax stain on the back of the card.   You don’t see those anymore, at least not naturally (I refuse to count the Heritage “stained” parallels).  It was another blast from the past.  Also, I never noticed that he was born in Oakland, which is where he had most of his best seasons.  Funny how life works, sometimes.

These were the commons/cards I don’t have much to say anything about:

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What I noticed though was the abundance of the baby blue jerseys that were so popular in the 1970s and early 1980s.  Off the top of my head, the Blue Jays, Mariners, Braves, Rangers, Mariners, Royals, Cubs, White Sox, Twins and Cardinals all had some sort of jersey with that color.

Moving on, I am probably too late for this contest.

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When I first saw “Expos,” I was excited that it might be a Tim Wallach card that I could send to @29collector for his Tim Wallach project (you should view his blog), but it wasn’t.  Nonetheless, this wasn’t the worst card in the world.

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Francona managed the Red Sox to two World Series titles and is the current Cleveland Indians manager.  Before that, he was the manager of the Birmingham Barons when Michael Jordan was on the team.

This one likely didn’t excite too many when it was pulled in 1984.

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Through the 1983 season, Bob Knepper has a 67-83 record in the major leagues.  However, the 1984 season started a nice run for him where he won 47 games through the 1986 season.  He also played in the 1988 All Star game and won 14 more games for the Astros that season.

Steve Howe is certainly one of the saddest stories in baseball history.  He won the 1980 National League Rookie of the Year Award, the second of four consecutive Dodgers to win.  Howe never played in the 1984 season.  After checking himself into a clinic for substance abuse (alcohol and cocaine) in 1983, he was suspended for the 1984 season after a relapse.

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Howe was ultimately suspended from Major League Baseball seven times, including a lifetime suspension for substance abuse in 1992.  He successfully appealed the suspension and played in the bigs until 1996.  In 2006, Howe rolled his truck and was killed.  Toxicology reports showed that he had methamphetamine in his system at the time.

LINK:  The Tragic Tale of Steve Howe

The 1984 season wasn’t a banner on for Ron Guidry, but it was the one rough season he had in a nine year stretch.

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From the 1977 season through 1985, Guidry was one of the best pitchers in the game.  He won 144 games over that stretch, eclipsing 20 in a season three times.  He was also a four time All Star and won the 1978 American League Cy Young Award (25-3, 1.74 ERA).  By the time I got into collecting, he wasn’t a factor anymore.  It was a few years before I understood how good Guidry was for almost a decade.

This card preceded the four year stretch later in the decade that Dave Stewart won at least 20 games each season.

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Playing for the late 1980s Oakland Athletics, Stewart won 84 games in the 1987-1990 seasons.  He finished between second and fourth each season for the American League Cy Young Award.  Like I mentioned earlier with Eckersley, when writing this I noticed that he too was born in Oakland, where he had his best years.   He was a World Series Champion three times, once each with Los Angeles, Oakland and Toronto.  He was hired on September 25, 2014, as the general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

For me, Hall of Famer Steve Carlton is kind of an afterthought on this card.

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I previously mentioned that I started collecting in 1987.  At that point, Carlton’s best days were far behind him.  I liked this card because I feel Jack Morris is a seriously under-appreciated baseball player.  Morris won 254 games in his career and also had the most wins by any pitcher in the 1980s.  He was a five time All Star and on four World Series Champion teams.  When his forkball was on, that thing was just a nasty, nasty pitch.

If you’re reading this, I shouldn’t need to tell you anything about this guy.  I will just let this one be.

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Finally…you are as surprised as me.  I hit the best card that you could get out of this set.

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Random question, is it a “hit” if it’s out of a product that is ONLY base cards?

I know that at one time, I had one of these.  I may even still have it.  However, I bought it or traded for it.  This one, I hit myself.  Any TRUE collector will say that there’s something better about hitting a cool/high dollar card yourself instead of acquiring it.  I do think I will send this off to Beckett (it would be the first card I’ve ever had graded) just to get it slabbed.  It will always be a PC keeper.

Not bad for one $5 pack, if you ask me.  I got a cool piece for my PC and took a nice trip down memory lane.  If you enjoyed reading this half as much as I did opening and writing it, then I know I’ve done a good job.

Happy collecting!

Kin

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