Retro Review – All Roads Lead To Saturday

As a married man who is a father of two girls aged 10 and 3, I don’t have many days all to myself. Some of that is out of necessity but some of it is because I miss them when they are not home for too long. The thought of peace and quiet is always alluring in theory but when it gets too peaceful and too quiet, I can start to feel a little out of place. That’s more of a recent phenomenon because I have long been a fan of stillness. But things have a way of changing over time and I guess that’s where I’m at. Even my writing time is not as quiet as you would imagine with 2 kids vying for daddy’s attention.

Today was quiet. I have been alone since I woke up as the kids are spending the weekend at grandma’s and Mrs. Dub is attending a women’s conference all day. Though, I haven’t really been “alone” as you’ll soon see. By normal standards, today has been rather uneventful but I somehow thought it would be the perfect day to write about; go figure. I’ve done quite a bit with my free time and most of it has been what I would normally do on any other Saturday. But flying solo has made things more noticeable, if that makes sense. I’m usually running from one destination to the next while trying to coordinate with my wife about what the kids are going to do, trying to keep her sanity in mind and also providing the kids with some excitement on their big non-school day. The only person I had to coordinate with today was myself!

The day started early. I was up at 7 and getting ready for an 8 o’clock basketball game with my 1st grade basketball team, the Typhoon. For the last 7 Saturday’s, I’ve gotten up at 7 to coach these awesome kids and it has been an amazing experience. I’ve coached sports for a variety of age levels over the last 20 years; baseball, basketball, football and even soccer. It truly is one of my passions aside from writing and collecting. I love seeing the confidence that can be built in a kid by a simple game. And I especially love being a part of a game that can bring us all together, regardless of social status, race or who our parents are. Look at this picture; this is true happiness on the faces of boys playing a game with their friends on a Saturday morning. We moved to 7-0 with our win today and we have one week left.

After basketball, it was time for another Saturday ritual; breakfast at Pearly’s. If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or even Instagram, you’ve seen my Saturday breakfast posts from this local landmark. This is my usual – steak biscuit, cheese grits, hash brown casserole and diet Dr. Pepper. This meal can sustain me until supper time on Saturday and I usually have to have a pretty serious excuse for not making it to Pearly’s. It’s blurring between ritual and superstition at this point. I’m pretty sure that all of the Georgia losses over the last few years has been because I didn’t make it in on game day. This place is hopping on Saturday mornings with a packed inside and cars wrapped all the way around the building in the drive-thru. Several of the waitresses know me by name and some even know what I order. I call that a good thing!

The next part of this Saturday was my trip to the LCS in Warner Robins. Because I had the day to myself, I had all the time in the world to make my trek up I-75 to the land of wax. The trip is 90 miles one way so I use that time to catch up on podcasts I may have missed during the week. I have a pretty heavy rotation so I actually enjoy that ride time! The usual suspects are the Fatpacks, That Sportscard Show, DawgNation Daily, Lemme Get That Podagraph and Nightmare on Film Street. I have a few that I’ve rotated in like Up and Vanished and Atlanta Monster as well. I don’t even listen to the radio anymore because podcasts have taken over my listening time!

Upon arrival, my first stop is always the junk wax turnstile. This is where I pick up all the sweet boxes for my retro reviews. We’ll cover one of those in a minute. The turnstile is drying up a little and Charlie commented that he has to work on restocking it. It doesn’t help that I buy up multiple boxes each month. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for some good deals on a couple of mid 80’s boxes if any of you have an inside track. I am also hoping to cover a 70’s box soon, which would be around the time I was born but still worth the visit.

It’s not all junk wax for me when I go to the shop because 1) I’m addicted to the YouTube hangouts when I break boxes with the Dub Gang and 2) I usually do a new product review for Bags Unlimited each week. This week I picked up an old faithful and a new release. The old faithful is my running favorite, 2017 Optic and the new release is Panini Patches and Plates. You can check out the YouTube break here if you missed the hangout and be on the lookout in the next week or so for the review of Plates and Patches.

But before I review something new, I will do my favorite rip and review something old. This week’s review is 1989 Topps Traded Baseball! I picked this up for $9.95 and the cards were in really good condition in the box. I have mentioned here before that I am a sucker for the 89 Topps bubble letter font and design. This was also the year I started collecting so I ripped a ton of wax then. There was one notable omission from the base set and the only place to find him was in this update. More on him at the end. But first, here are some others that were in the update set, with a few I forgot about.

Jim Abbott was a highly touted rookie in 1989. Part of that was his pitching ability but another part of his fanfare came from his amazing ability to make it to the major league level as a pitcher with only one hand. Most people know the story of Jim Abbott but if you don’t, check This out!

I can’t really figure this card out. This is a pitcher, wearing glasses, with eyeblack. What am I missing?

Jesse Barfield was a member of the Canadian version of the Bash Brothers with George Bell until he landed in the Bronx in 1989.

Julio Franco spent the first part of his career with the Phillies and Indians before spending most of the 90’s with Texas. I think he was 53 in this photo.

Flash was a guy that I really collected hard in ’89. I played softball many years later with a guy who played minor league ball with Gordon. I’ve always been a big fan!

Ricky was originally Ricky in Oakland, then became Ricky in New York but by 1989, Ricky was Ricky in Oakland again. See what I did there?

The Big Unit didn’t make the base set but was one of a few Mariners rookies who made the update set. This is my favorite Randy Johnson RC.

Eddie Murray played 21 seasons but only 3 in LA. He hit .330 with 26 home runs in 1990 so still had plenty left in the tank.

You can rest assured that this guy is going to show up in my next “Dated Rookie” column.

Here is an inclusion I forgot about in ’89. Now that I see this card, I can easily visualize his ’89 base card in the Astros uniform. He switched teams but didn’t even have to leave the state.

Another rookie that wasn’t included in any of the base sets of 1989 was Deion. He was in the Fleer Update and Donruss “The Rookies”, in addition to this card.

If I had only known in 1989 that Lonnie Smith was 2 years away from making me cry in front of a TV, I may have torn this card up. But then again, thanks to that baserunning flub, I have a semi-writing career. Who knew?

Another Mariner RC in ’89 was the slick fielding Omar Vizquel. He’s vastly underrated in the hobby but was as solid a Major League Baseball player as you’ll find.

If you’ll go back and read that “Dated Rookie” link above, you’ll find the ’89 Rookie of the Year, Jerome Walton. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Jerome!

Ken Griffey was traded to the Reds in 1988 so I’m not entirely sure how he landed in the ’89 Update set but I am intrigued.

Though Ken Griffey was included , the Griff that drove this set was Jr. He was included in the Fleer, Donruss and Upper Deck base sets but somehow Topps missed him that year. He is probably one of the biggest oversights in set history. The Mariners were stacked in the early 90’s with Unit, Vizquel, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez and Jr. They were really fun to watch!

I’m sure you sometimes wonder if there is anything I don’t like from the 80’s and 90’s. Trust me, there are and I have a few of those on the horizon. This set is not one of those. What’s not to love about this set? The awesome ’89 Topps Design is top notch. There are great rookies included with Randy Johnson, Deion, Vizquel and Jr. There is even a veteran SUPER star with Nolan Ryan. And all of this can be had for less than $10! It gets an easy “5” from Dub!


Scoring Scale

1.Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2.There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3.Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4.You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5.Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Retro Review – The Art of the Comeback

I’ve never been what you would call, “an artist”. I know that there are many forms of art like painting/drawing, singing, acting, playing music, photography and even writing. But I don’t even consider my self a writer beyond the little blog I have and that doesn’t exactly make me a pro. I enjoy writing but I am no Cracknell. I write about personal experiences and just try to be myself. There is no formal training, no major practice and really no expectations that this will ever be more than what it is. I go where the blog posts take me and I am amazed and thankful for any additional opportunity that comes my way. I never really set out to do this when I was a kid but I guess I did show signs of it at certain points along the way.

I remember writing scary stories as a kid (5th, 6th, 7th grade maybe) and I based them loosely on characters like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. I wasn’t very original but my mind was pretty active and I could come up with some stories that could fill three or four pages of notebook paper. My horror career obviously never took off and I really never even let a lot of people read it. It was then that I tried to do some illustration with my story-telling and realized that I wouldn’t be wowing anybody with those skills. I am 40 now and just to give you an idea, I tried to draw Jason just tonight and this is what it looked like. I stared at a photo and drew this and you might think my kids drew it if I hadn’t told you. The only thing I was ever able to accomplish was the 80’s “S” and it was the first initial of my last name so I thought I was pretty cool.

My brother, Chase, could draw a lot better than me. He drew the storefront of an auto parts place one time and I still have it hanging on the inside of my armoire. Yes, I am still using a piece of furniture that I had when I was 15. It is now where I store a lot of my baseball card paraphernalia. I have some old boxes of junk wax in there, along with autographs, patches and 8X10’s that I don’t have in the storage boxes in the closet. But every time I open that armoire, I see that drawing fastened to the back of the door with electrical tape. I don’t know why I still have it but I do. He’s gone on to be a lot more artistic than me in adulthood and his job is essentially based on precision and design, so his skills carried over.

I tried to be a musician one time as well. I was in a band when I was 22 years old that was called “Local Noise”, which my wife absolutely hated. She hated the name, not the band. I was the singer and I could occasionally play some rhythm chords on the guitar but never really learned that much. We played alternative covers that included, “If You Could Only See” by Tonic, “All the Small Things” by Blink 182, “Low” by Cracker and “It’s Been a While” by Staind, among others. We played a couple of garage parties and got one nice paying gig at a local bar in my home town. We tore it up that Saturday night but that’s as far as the musical train ever took me. We had some “creative differences” within the band and we just never got anything going. It was fun though.

Now my cousin, Michael, is in a real band. He plays the guitar and does things that I can only dream of being able to do. They are called Chasing Victory and they formed in 2001. He and his group of high school friends formed the band and just started playing locally. After 3 years of hard work, they would eventually release three albums that are available on iTunes today. Those albums are “A Not So Tragic Cover Up” (2004), “I Call This Abandonment” (2005) and their most accomplished album (according to me), “Fiends” (2007). They also toured during those years and played almost 300 shows per year throughout the US and Canada. They appeared with Underoath, Acceptance, August Burns Red, Emery, May Day Parade and many others. They were featured on several collaboration albums over the years as well.

Around 2007, the bandmates started getting married and planning families and decided to break up. They were pretty well established at that point on the “Screamo” scene and it was a sad thought that they were done. Of course, they were just growing up and the next stage of life was calling but they had legitimate talent and were very popular with their peers and fans. Fortunately, they would remain friends over the years and they never let the talent die because they have continued to do various musical projects over the years. While not quite like the worldwide albums and nationwide tours from the mid 2000’s, they never really lost their fan base. To prove that, they were named by AP Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Bands We Wish Never Broke Up” and “Most Influential Band” last year by the lead singer of Bring Me The Horizon, Oli Sykes.

Now, in 2018, they are about to step out into the public spotlight again. They have been working on an album for the last year and I have had the privilege of hearing some occasional sampling and raw recordings ahead of the album being released on February 9, 2018. The album is called “Friends, Vol 1” and is an alliteration of the last album title in 2007, “Fiends”. The album title is powerful because, according to Michael, “No matter what, we have always remained the best of friends; even through the lowest of the lows that you experience while touring, and also the highs. We named it Friends because of the profound impact we have had on each other’s lives.” Even after a 10 year layoff, they sound like they haven’t missed a beat. They recently released the album’s second single, “Kenosis”, and you can check it out HERE. As the title suggests, the plan is for Vol. 1 to be the first in a series that would be released over time. They might even hit some live shows this year. Go follow their FaceBook page for all of their information.

Of course, before we move forward, I would be remiss if I didn’t link the greatest song they ever recorded! Find it HERE!!

So I’ve tried art, music and now writing but I’m still not an “artist” per se. I do love the arts though and have always wanted to be good at all of those things. My wife has been taking some art classes lately and she is really good. At least someone in my house can do something artistic! As usual, at this point you may be asking how this is going to tie in to sports cards but you should know by now that I always bring it back full circle. While I was trying to learn to draw as a kid, there was somebody else out there that was doing it a lot better than me. I have expressed my love for sketch cards many times here and 1991 Pro-Vision is probably my favorite single insert of all time. But as for a set, I don’t think 1991 Score will ever be topped as it relates to inserts and sketch cards; at least for me. While I loved ’91 Pro-Vision, I really didn’t like the base set so finding those inserts came with a price. I definitely enjoyed the base design of ’91 Score more than Fleer so the sketch cards were a bonus.

A box of 1991 Score weighs about a ton. There are 36 packs with 16 player cards and 1 magic motion card per box. The packs are the sweet old school baggies that Score made famous in the late 80’s. The box was split into 2 series’ much like some other sets in 1991. I have a box of Series 1 thanks to my good friend Steve (@waxpack916). He picked this box up for me at his LCS, along with another wax box that will be ripped and reviewed at some point in the near future. Let’s start cracking these little baggies and see if we can find some awesome artwork from 1991. By today’s standards, this box could only have been made more exciting if there were 1/1 artist proofs within.

The fronts of the cards came in 4 colorful designs; Blue, Aqua, White and Black. We’ll cover the fronts in a minute. As for the backs, they were a bit busy. The cards covered every year of a player’s career so players like Nolan Ryan and Joe Carter had tiny stat lines. Where they could, they would fit some written information about the player.

Here are the notable catchers from Series 1. One of the catchers had the unusual designation of C-CF. He would later become a Hall of Fame Second Baseman as well! How many catchers would you guess had the capability to play CF? I always liked the Carlton Fisk card as well because he was in the throwback White Sox uniform and the card had the black design.

The infielders include some of the best players in Junk Wax history! Every one of these players were studs in their own way. The odd man in this section is Dave Justice. While he did play 1B as a minor leaguer and some as a rookie, he played over 100 games in RF this particular season but still didn’t earn that designation on his card.

Speaking of outfielders, look at this collection! The Sosa was another favorite of mine (again in the throwback). Damn I miss the late 80’s and early 90’s!

Every collector likely remembers Pedro Martinez. My buddy Shane (@ShaneSalmonson) has Pedro as his PC player. But in the early 90’s he wasn’t even the best pitcher in his family. Ramon started his career as an ace but Pedro would eventually pass him and Ramon’s career would level off. The trio from Atlanta leveled off at about 20 wins per season!

There were a ton of prospect cards in Series 1. There were some recognizable names like Karl Rhodes, Mickey Morandini and Brian McRae. But the stud in 1991 was Phil Plantier! He was hovering near Judge-Mania territory!

The best rookie in the entire set is in Series 2; Chipper Jones. But there are some names that were highly collectible in ’91. Carl Everett, Rondell White and Alex Fernandez were hot names but the player who had the best career was Mike “Moose” Mussina.

Now we find ourselves in the best part of the checklist; the inserts!! The first cards found were the “Highlight” cards. I REALLY loved the blue dazzle lights in the background. This Bo Jackson was a centerpiece in my binder for a while.

Next up is the “Master Blaster”. These are very 90’s! The Master Blaster series covered big time hitters and used red strobes in the background.

The “Rifleman” was the next group. These were players with cannon’s for arms. Obviously, these used green strobes in the background and another Bo is always a welcome addition.

“K-Man” covered the pitchers who were dominant on the mound in 1990. Here we have that Ramon Martinez guy again. I pulled Bobby Witt but would have liked to have had the other Rangers K-Man.

Finally, the cards we have all been waiting for; All-Star’s! These were sweet artist sketch cards with “big head” designs. While not the same type of feel as the Pro-Vision cards, these were very high on my list of wants in 1991. My favorite was always the Ken Griffey Jr.

Last but not least, we have the “Dream Team” insert. This was another favorite of mine in the early 90’s. I only pulled one from this box but it was a great one; Jose Canseco. These were really classy and each card had a unique shot of the super star.

This set remains one of my favorite overall sets for a few reasons. First, the colorful designs in the base set looked really good and were more appealing than those tried in 1988. Next, every insert card in the set was unique and collectible to me. I liked some better than others but I liked them all. Finally, the All-Star cards are second only to Pro-Vision during that time on my rankings of sketch cards. I liked these better than ’90 and ’91 Diamond Kings to be honest. The box was $10 and the only drawback is that the rookie class was not as stellar as some of the other years. But that small blemish will not deter me from giving this set a “5” on the Dub-O-Meter. I really like ’91 Score and would love for the current Score sets to include some of these cool inserts. I was saddened when Chasing Victory called it quits but they are making a comeback 10 years later. What say you Score??


Scoring Scale

1.Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2.There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3.Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4.You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5.Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Retro Review – Coming of Age

Around the time you hit 15 years old, you really start to learn a lot about life and how the world works around you. For some people it’s earlier and for some it can be later in life, depending on your exposure level and the surroundings in which you grow up. But generally speaking, 15 is a big age for development and growth. At this stage of life, you are getting ready to start driving, you are likely hitting the dating scene pretty hard, working your first job and your parents probably trust you to do more things on your own. You are really becoming your own person to a large degree.

I turned 15 in 1992 and while we always harken back to the good ole days when times were different, believe it or not, we still had some of the same social issues we have today. I was just too young to really put a lot of thought into it. I still try to keep social issues out of my blog because you aren’t reading this to find out which political party I’m in or what I think about the war on terror. But interestingly enough, I found some similarities from a social standpoint in 1992 that make me think times may not be as silly as they seem in 2017. They are pretty crazy now, don’t get me wrong; but “how crazy” can be debatable. Look at some of the events from 1992 and see how they correlate to what is going on today. Disclaimer: I am not about to start debating these items and they are simply for time comparison purposes. Save the political banter for the CNN and FoxNews message board. I WILL say that we all need to try to be better at this human being thing.

• In the UK, there was a public outcry over royal spending and the Queen of England started paying income tax and the number of royals receiving tax payer money started to decrease. The rich getting richer is not a new problem, even if this was in another country.
• Rioting broke out in Los Angeles following the acquittal of four police officers accused of beating Rodney King. Racial discord has been around for ages and I don’t know why we can’t seem to get it right. This topic is much too deep for this light hearted blog but it feels like we haven’t advanced much since 1992. If anything, we might be regressing and that is very unfortunate.
• Abortion rights activists march and hold demonstrations in Washington, DC. I know what you are thinking; Is this 1992 or 2018?
• Mike Tyson was convicted in the rape of Miss Rhode Island, Desiree Washington. The #MeToo movement has been the headline of 2018 so far and has uncovered many men in power (sports, entertainment, politics) who have potentially engaged in the same type of activity.
• Violence erupted in Germany against Immigrants. Germany was blaming the Immigrants for economic problems. Again, different country but it sounds familiar.
• Finally, on a non-social note, the Georgia Superdome in Atlanta was completed. The Mercedes Benz Stadium just said, “Hold My Beer.”

It wasn’t all bad in 1992. In fact, it was a pretty good year in my memory. Except for that part where I failed my learners test the first time around, I was loving life. The age of 15 is really the last bastion of childhood. When you turn 16, you start to see the responsibilities that life will throw at you. You would typically start thinking about what you want to do as an adult, you are allowed to operate some type of motor vehicle and you are old enough to hold down a job. In my family, if you wanted the car, you better be working for it and the gas.

I made my money mowing lawns of a local insurance company and church in Camilla. I ALWAYS had my headphones on! The music in 1992 was about as good as I remember. That was the year that Pearl Jam’s “Ten” was at the height of popularity and I was blown away by “Black”, “Jeremy”, “Even Flow” and “Alive”. While Pearl Jam was #1 on the tuner, there were some others that were pretty hot back in the day. I enjoyed Toad the Wet Sprocket, Nirvana, Cypress Hill, Boyz II Men, The Cure and House of Pain. I wore out the House of Pain CD with “Jump Around” and it finally became useless due to scratches and damage.

Aside from music, I was also watching every movie that released in preparation of my future as a video store clerk. And there were some classic movies released that year. At 15, you learn a lot from movies and I was taken to school in 1992.

  • Reservoir Dogs – I learned that it is actually possible to form the perfect cast for a movie. I have been a Steve Buscemi fan since that movie. But I also have always enjoyed Michael Madsen, Tarantino and Harvey Keitel. This was such a great film!
  • Basic Instinct – I learned that rewinding and pausing a movie on the same scene over and over will eventually do enough damage that tracking can’t even fix the picture. Oh, Sharon Stone, you minx!
  • Unforgiven – This remains my favorite western of all time. I learned that you just don’t mess with Clint Eastwood, even if your name is Gene Hackman. Hackman may have been the boss in “Hoosier’s” but Eastwood was the shooter in this film! Is that play on words lousy or what?
  • A Few Good Men – This is where we learned that despite Tom Cruise’s ability to fly a plane inverted and take out Jester below the hard deck, he wasn’t quite prepared to handle the truth from Jack Nicholson.
  • League of Their Own – Perhaps the greatest lesson for a young sports fan; “There’s no crying in baseball!”
  • Wayne’s World – I learned that if a woman became President, someone would undoubtedly call her Baberham Lincoln. Also, Led Zeppelin didn’t write tunes that people liked; they left that to the BeeGees.
  • My Cousin Vinny – This one taught me quite a bit about “good ole boy” politics but I can’t seem to ever get past Marisa Tomei.
  • Mighty Ducks – I’m telling you, the Flying V would never work in real life! I learned about true fiction in this film.
  • Dead Alive – What is there to say about this one other than I learned that there was a movie out there that could even make ME sick to my stomach.
  • White Men Can’t Jump – Finally, I already knew this one so didn’t really learn anything new. I had been playing basketball for several years and you would have had trouble sliding a piece of notebook paper between my foot and floor when I jumped.

Do you know what else I learned that awesome year? I learned that even though Fleer had created quite possibly the worst baseball card design ever in 1991, they could actually redeem themselves! We have certainly discussed the mustard yellow Fleer of 1991 here and the plain border of 1990 is one you either love or hate. You have to go back to 1988 to find a really good Fleer design so I had really lost faith in the company giving me something I really wanted to collect. Of course, that is with the exception of Pro-Vision. That is the ONLY reason I ever bought 1991 Fleer and the ONLY reason a box today is even worth the $4.95 I spend on it at the LCS occasionally.

But in 1992, they did a complete 180! They released high quality card stock with glossy photos and a border design that was much easier on the eyes. They brought back Pro-Vision and also introduced a new All-Star insert set that was reminiscent of other premium brands of the early 90’s. Finally, the checklist was really, really good and is very reflective of a wonderful time in baseball. They moved away from the wax packs and went to more of a cello type wrapper but it was pretty thick and easy to tell if tampered with. I found this box at my LCS for $8.95. The box has 36 packs with 16 cards each.

This year had a pretty good mix of young and old catchers. One of these guys wouldn’t be a catcher for long and one of these guys was a catcher for 100 years.

One of the deepest power positions in the set, First Base featured some true sluggers. Three of these hitters topped 500 home runs and one fell just three short.

The middle infielders didn’t have as much pop but they certainly got on base a ton! And I don’t know that you’ll find a slicker fielding trio than Larkin, Vizquel and Ozzie.

The hot corner was pretty hot in ’92 as well. You had a little bit of everything here with Caminiti’s arm, Williams’ bat and Sheffield’s all around skill.

I could barely fit all the outfielders in one picture. These are 20 legitimate stars from the early 90’s! Sosa, Belle and Justice represented the young guys while Murphy, Strawberry, Henderson and Hawk provided veteran leadership.

There were quite a few Hall of Fame pitchers in 1992. The following year, Maddux would join Glavine and Smoltz to form one of the deadliest rotations in MLB history.

You can bet your bottom dollar that these guys are going to make an appearance in the “Dated Rookie” Project!

Historically, Fleer has been known to swing and miss on the prospects in their sets. They do hit on one or two each year and I suppose Kenny Lofton would be that ONE in 1992.

How about some “Super Stars”? Who are Boggs and Baines looking at?

Another insert set was the “Record Setters”. Joe Carter got a three-photo card for his 100 RBI seasons.

“League Leaders” was a staple in Fleer over the years. Most of the time the insert set featured both AL and NL players on the same card but this year was a bit different.

Here is the nice glossy All-Star insert along with the Roger Clemens Career Highlights Card. These were very nice looking Cards and had a ’92 Fleer Ultra feel.

Here is what I came for! I pulled the 5 best Pro-Vision Cards as far as I’m concerned. The one thing about ’91 that is superior to ’92 is the black border but damn I love these Pro-Vision cards!

Bernie Williams was one of the three big rookies I pulled from this box. Bernie is a fan favorite in the Bronx and a welcome addition to my collection.

The next big rookie I pulled was one of the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Jim Thome. He was a very classy ball player and one of the best power hitters of the 90’s that didn’t get linked to steroids. Thome was a beast!

The last big rookie I pulled was Pudge Rodriguez, another recent inductee into the Hall. Pudge was one of the best catchers I’ve ever seen play and was a stud on the field and in the Hobby.

This particular set break is the exact reason I do what I do with junk wax sets. I really had forgotten just how good 1992 Fleer was. The cards are in better condition than most boxes I open from the era, the checklist is loaded, the inserts are very retro and you simply can’t beat Pro-Vision Cards. It’s easy for some to label ’92 Fleer as one of those sets that was smack dab in the middle of the Junk era but the set really stands out when you take the time to look at the design and players found in the packs. In a complete rebound from 1991, I’m giving ’92 Fleer a “5” on the Dub-O-Meter. I can’t find a real problem with this set. It truly holds up 25 years later and deserves to be remembered in a much better light than we currently hold it. Give ’92 Fleer a shot and I know you’ll feel the same!


Scoring Scale

1.Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2.There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3.Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4.You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5.Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

The Collector

Collecting means something different to a lot of people. It can involve multiple goals, many different techniques, countless motivating factors and it lives on a sliding scale of importance. Ultimately, we all have the same hobby but we just go about it differently from one another in most cases. More often than not, collecting is instilled in us at an early age and both our childhood and our environment play a major role in our development within the hobby as adults. There are a lot of reasons/factors that formed the way I collect today. Some are tangible and some are just second nature at this point; but they all have helped me evolve into who I am today.

Let’s start with this very important truth; There is no wrong way to collect (except searching)! Always collect what/who you want to collect and don’t give a second thought to what other people think about it. If you want to collect only basketball cards with players in blue jerseys that are in the motion of a jump shot; Knock yourself out! Who am I (or anyone else) to tell you that it is weird or somehow not the right way to go about collecting? Collecting is supposed to make you happy or help you step away from your daily struggles and if you don’t do it your way, you are wasting that opportunity.

Let me go over some of the factors that brought me here and tell you what collecting is to me. Again, some of these are tangible lessons learned while some are just experiences that I return to when I’m sorting. In any event, they are what make the hobby fun for me still today. And by definition, a hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” These are the things that molded me and brought me pleasure over my life, as it relates to the world of cardboard. Maybe by the end of this, you will recognize some of the things that have made you the collector you are today.

Collecting to me as a kid was sitting in my floor and making an all-star team out of the good players in the packs I ripped. Sometimes, the team wasn’t made up completely of real life all-stars. As a kid, I was lucky to squeeze 2-3 packs out of a trip to Wal-Mart with my parents. While that may have been all I got, I sincerely mean that I was lucky because those trips were priceless. My 3 packs of Donruss may have resulted in me having Jerry Browne or Albert Hall on those all-star teams I formed. I would read the stats on the back to help me finalize the team and home runs or average usually won the tie breakers. I laid the cards out in the baseball field layout and that would be my team. I decided to rip a couple packs of ’89 Donruss just for this piece so I could put together an all-star team to picture. What do you think of this team? The bad part is my infield is weak but I had to pick between Glenn Davis and Mark Grace at 1st!

As touched on above, collecting was reading card backs. That is how I learned about players who didn’t play for the Braves or Cubs. I was able to watch those two teams every day because of the national television stations they were on. When they played the Pirates or the Astros, I could usually look out for Glenn Davis or Andy Van Slyke because I had read up on their stats on card backs. I studied the cards front and back and I liked players because of what I learned about them. A great follow on Twitter is @sportcardbacks because he will share some of the more interesting card backs from the “old days”, which happen to be right in my childhood collecting days. Even now, in 2018, I just learned that Glenn Davis’ home was Columbus, Ga!

All-Star and MVP Cards used to mean something. In a world where relics and autographs were unheard of, we spent our time trying to chase down insert cards. While all sets varied with the exact insert sets they had to offer, almost all of them had some form of a “best of the best” subset. Donruss had MVP’s, Score had the All-Star sketches, Topps had the Bold All-Star Cards and so on. Collecting big names was how you filled your binder pages and loaded up on trade bait. Those cards are in dime boxes at card shows now. Back then, they were the cards in the glass cases!

I learned how to collect because of RBI Baseball and the time I spent playing against my uncle’s on that game. RBI 3 even allowed you to play with teams that won pennants during the 80’s. I could play with the 1985 Royals and it made me want to collect George Brett. Sometimes, I would be the ’84 Tigers and I would go searching for “Sweet” Lou Whitaker or “Never Fret” Chet Lemon. I learned about baseball players from two key sources; cards and RBI Baseball. And I took every opportunity to intertwine those two hobbies of mine. My love for Jose Canseco was actually born on RBI 3 and the fact that he was a hobby superstar only made it stronger.

Collecting was reading up on cards in the Beckett magazine. I had a unique way of opening packs in 1989 and 1990 that was totally dependent on me having a Beckett magazine handy. I bought the mag each month so that never was a big problem. I would open my packs with the backs of the cards facing up and would slide each card just enough to reveal only the card number for the next one. I would go to my Beckett and find the number in the price guide and my excitement would be dependent on whether it was listed or not. If it was listed, I knew it was going to be worth .15 or more and if it wasn’t, I knew it was a common. Excitement was really high when those cards turned out to be Jr. or Gary Sheffield or Ricky Jordan. Those were $1.00 plus cards and worth more than what the actual pack cost. If Beckett had published a History or Spanish book that I enjoyed as much as their price guide, I probably would have been valedictorian of my class!

Collecting was sitting in the lunch room of my high school before homeroom and comparing hits with my buddies. I hit a 1990 Donruss Diamond King Ken Griffey Jr and was the talk of the class one morning. You were somehow better than everyone else on the days you had the big hit. I remember the ’89 Bo Jackson baseball/football card, ’90 Score Frank Thomas, ’90 Upper Deck John Olerud and ’91 Stadium Club Phil Plantier as some of the bigger cards I showed off in that lunchroom. I never beat David and his Andre Dawson Elite but I had some pretty good pulls back in the day.

I enjoy going through a box of old cards, even if it’s loaded with Tommy Herr or Franklin Stubbs, because it takes me back to my youth. Even though it’s called “Junk Wax”, I have never considered those cards junk. I have a few boxes that I’ll go through every year and I already know what cards are there but I will sort them in a different way just to have an excuse to go through them again. I’ll do it with ’91 Fleer, ’85 Topps or ’89 Upper Deck; I don’t have any bias against cardboard. I may not like some of the designs, like ’90 Donruss, but that doesn’t mean I’m trashing those cards. I don’t trash cards at all to be honest. I pass them down or send them to other collectors if they aren’t going to stay in my collection. One reason is that you just never know when a particular card value may rebound. But more importantly, the cards just mean too much to me.

I enjoy autographs, patches, printing plates, serial numbers, graded cards, and just about any other modern day frill you can think of. But I’ll never forget my roots and I’ll never get too far from home. I’ll never choose a pack of 2017 Contenders over a pack of 1987 Fleer. I’m being 100% honest when I type that. For my enjoyment, I would rather have a Bo Jackson rookie than a DeShaun Watson rookie. I know that values are different and I could make more money on eBay and there is more demand for Watson; I get all of that. But that’s not why I’m in this game. Would I sell a Watson to make money? There’s no question about that. But do you know what I would do with at least a portion of that money? I’d go buy a box of 1987 Fleer! The cards I sell don’t make me rich and they won’t pay my bills, but they will help me buy more cards to support my Hobby. That’s my stance on buying and selling. I’m probably in the minority but I’d usually rather give the card to someone who would like it in their collection.

Now, if we’re talking about money cards, I have no problem flipping those to buy more cards. Again, everybody collects different and I don’t think any less of anyone who does it different from what I do. I’ve periodically sold on eBay and Twitter and have no problem with others that do so more often. That’s definitely an important sector of the community because I do buy from time to time. I just don’t see dollar signs when I open product anymore. I did when I was a kid but they were literally $1.00 signs. The tireless hunt for the 1:1’s or the star autographs can both drive you mad and break the bank. That’s part of why I still delve so much in the junk wax era. I pay a reasonable price for what I consider to be good cards and I’m not driven by money at any point during the transaction. It’s not a business to me. It can be, and is, to some; and there is zero wrong with that, but it isn’t me.

Finally, and this might be the most important aspect of collecting to me; it gives me a different purpose, tangible goals and an excuse. Let me explain. I have been married for 17 years, have 2 kids (Age 10 & 3) and have worked at the same job for 20 years. Every day I wake up, I know what my purpose is. I have built the life I have now because it is the life I wanted. I married my high school sweetheart, we have beautiful kids and I’m stable in my career. Isn’t that the American Dream? But as with most other people, it is hard sometimes to live a systematic life without sometimes feeling like a robot. That’s where this hobby comes in. I am constantly challenged by cards; whether it’s finding an old classic, reviewing a new product or trying to complete a project. “Every pack is different”, so to speak.

I am able to be the kid that never grew up when I’m sorting cards. I’m able to mentally sit in my old bedroom and watch the neon dance on the front of 1990 Topps just like I did when I was 13. And the key; there is no pressure. I have pressure in every other aspect of my life; the family, bills, the job. There is absolutely no weight that comes with ripping and sorting. It’s a freeing experience for me and is one of the few things in my life that can immediately lift weight off of my shoulders. And because it does that for me emotionally, it gives me the perfect excuse to be that kid that still wants it to be 1989.

Collecting cards truly means that much to me. It is as close to being a religious experience as you can get without actually having a religious experience. It touches me in a real, palpable sense but the hobby also has emotional, spiritual and therapeutic components to it. Cards are a complete sensory experience for me. I can obviously feel the cards but I can usually smell the card and tell you if it is Topps, Fleer, Donruss, etc. I can envision the setting I was in the first time I pulled a particular card. I can taste the horrible gum that still exists in residue form on my old cards. And the sound of a wax pack being opened is one of the sweetest sounds a 40 year old card addict can hear.

I know what you’re thinking right now. You can’t imagine that the act of collecting sports cards could ever be this important to a person’s life. I’m telling you unequivocally that it is. I love this hobby and I want to spread the feeling that I have to every collector I meet. I don’t care what you collect or how you collect; as long as you collect, you are part of the family!


A Project Of Optimism

We all have a story like this. It may not involve Baseball Cards but we all have a similar tale. I know this because I’ve learned that it’s just how human nature works. We all have a certain level of optimism about the things we WANT to work out. I’ve experienced some crushing blows with the UGA and Falcons losses this past week but before those games, I had the highest of hopes. I envisioned parades, trips to conference championships and more. And not in a big mouth, conceited kind of way. You just have really high hopes when you have the potential to win big. You know the road can be tough, there is a lot of faith involved and some of it is just plain luck; but when you really want something to be, it can take a lot out of you when it doesn’t materialize.

I’ve learned that nothing is a sure thing and until something actually happens or someone proves they are what you expect them to be, you have to be ready for anything. There are so many layers to this too. Surely we all had “that girl” (or boy) at some point as kids that we thought was the one. We were just kids but every girl I called my girlfriend fit that description. I went all in and fully invested because Girl X would be the one that I would be with for the next 75 years. But then, somewhere along the way, I saw enough of her to start to wonder if this really was the one or not. Sometimes, they wondered if I was the one first. But the cycle was always the same. We met, we fell in love, we lived only for each other and then, the relationship went bust. That’s when I would look back and say, “what was I thinking” but it was always too late.

There are a lot of things we see and think could be amazing but simply turn out to be entries into our “crash and burn” memoirs. Anybody remember the NES Power Glove? Yeah, Kelly Kapowski couldn’t even save this abysmal product. This was supposed to change gaming forever but all it did was make me long for the days of the Power Pad. It was virtually impossible to play a video game with the controller on one of your arms. But it had so much promise! I wanted it to work out so badly that I gave it more chances to fail than I normally would have any other toy or game at the time. It was just brutal.

Let’s talk about Caddyshack II for a minute. Was there a better opportunity for a great sequel in the comedy genre in the 80’s? I can do a whole separate post about terrible sequels but the original Caddyshack remains one of the funniest movies in the history of cinema and deserved a better follow up. I just KNEW it was going to be awesome and marked it down as a sure thing. But when you replace Rodney Dangerfield with Jackie Mason and remove Bill Murray from a movie cast, you just can’t expect it to be as good as the first. My heart hurts a little when I happen to catch CS II on the tube nowadays. How could something that was destined to be so right turn out so wrong?

Then you have some things that start out blazing and even have a reasonable enough run that you get sucked in more than usual. Notwithstanding the 2017 UGA Bulldogs (which I still love) in that particular scenario, think about Guns N Roses. They put out pure gold when they released Appetite for Destruction in 1987. They gave us such gems as “Paradise City”, “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Sweet Child Of Mine” but by 1990, they were kicking guys out of the band, showing up late for gigs or just not showing up altogether. What could have been a magical run as one of the best rock bands ever was derailed by narcissism, greed and hard drugs; or more simply put, the 80’s!

So where am I going with this? You know it always ties into my sports card addiction and this is no exception. I’ve started a new personal project that is related to this premise of Optimism Bias. I started collecting in the late 80’s and there were players that we all had to have and pulling them from folded up wax wrappers was the first step of retirement planning at 10. During that time, the illustrious Junk Wax Era as it’s so lovingly referred to, we firmly believed that these 3×5 pieces of cardboard were going to make us rich. We coveted certain cards like some would bitcoins today. All we needed were toploaders and time and we would be set for life.

Well, like many of the above examples, that didn’t really work out as planned either. A big reason is because the card market was more saturated than any early teen could understand or even be aware of. We didn’t know that there were 10 billion Ken Griffey Jr ’89 Donruss Rated Rookies floating around. What we did know was that Beckett Monthly was our version of Jim Cramer’s “Mad Money” and if it was on the hot list, we were investing! Another reason the financial planning hit a Cecil Fielder sized bump in the road was that most of the players didn’t pan out. That’s the reason I’m more focused on with this project.

With the help of my Twitter buddy Nick (@vossbrink), I’ve dubbed this project “Dated Rookies” and I’m off to a pretty solid start. Nick even put together this sweet logo that matches the “Rated Rookie” found on Donruss in the 80’s. I think the name is perfect and appreciate Nick for the idea. The goal of this project is to collect autographed cards of all the players I just had to have when I was a kid. These were the players that would win big and become as valuable as the ’52 Mantle. Oh, Dub was an eternal optimist when it came to cardboard. There are no real parameters set beyond that at the moment but as the project evolves I might tighten up the requirements. Right now, I’m not worried about what Card is autographed or what jersey the player has but as I branch out to multiple autographs, I may focus on the hot card designs that I had to have when the players were hot.

The player list will probably grow over time as well and some players will be more difficult to obtain than others. Luckily, some of the bigger names from those days are coming back in Topps Archives or some similar set and it is easier to add them. I’m not limiting this to baseball either, but that’s where I have started. There are quite a number of football and basketball players that fit the description of “Dated Rookie” from those days as well. I’m a guy who likes projects because they give me goals and make me feel accomplished as I reach them. That’s part of the fun of being a set builder. So I thought this would be a fun challenge that would look great when I was done. Let’s go over some of the cards I’ve started with and you’ll understand the premise pretty clearly.

Jim Abbott was a pitcher for 10 years in the majors despite the fact that was missing his right hand. He actually pitched a no hitter in 1993 and had a reasonable career but his rookie Cards never took off like I thought they would. He finished his career with an 87-108 career record, a 4.25 ERA and less than 1,000 K’s so he wasn’t a statistical monster by any stretch. But I always admired Abbott and stocked up on all of his rookies.

Sandy Alomar Jr was not exactly a bust but he wasn’t even the best Alomar in baseball at the time. He played a robust 20 year career and hit for a .273 average but with only 112 home runs. He won both AL ROY and a Gold Glove in 1990 so his cards were hot but his card values always fell a little short. I still have Alomar as a top 3 catcher from my collecting youth but he’s not making many lists in 2018 with collectors.

Eric Anthony is one of the players that I went after hard! I had a ton of these Score rookies as well as the 90 Donruss Rated Rookies. Even though Anthony played 9 seasons, he did not have a career that will ever equate to Hobby Love. He hit for a career .231 average, never hit 20 home runs, never had double digit steals and never topped 80 RBI in a season. All of my wishful thinking was for naught. He was a home run crusher in the minors with 31 in 1989 and his first MLB Hit was a 414 foot bomb in the Astrodome. But he never put it all together.

Every collector worth his salt knows the name Gregg Jefferies. As this project grows, I will make it a point to find a 1989 Topps Future Star Autograph. That was the first card that was going to make me rich. Ken Griffey Jr wasn’t quite there yet and Jefferies was as sure a bet as ever. After being drafted in 1985, he won Minor League POY in both ’86 and ’87 before being called up in late August 1988. He hit .328 for the remainder of 1988, which led to the Mets trading their starting 2B, Wally Backman, to the Twins to make room for the young star. He responded by hitting .258 in 1989 and the rest is history. He had a career that was probably better than most on this list with a career .289 avg, 196 steals and 2 All-Star appearances. But his career was supposed to be better than all the guys on this list. It was just supposed to be a lot better than it actually was.

This is the guy that makes me unable to trust Aaron Judge. While Judge put up mammoth numbers that make Maas look like Rafael Belliard, Kevin had his own amazing rookie season in 1990. He set a record for reaching 10 home runs in the fewest at bats (72) and ultimately hit 21 home runs in only 79 games as a rookie. For you mathematicians out there, that is a home run every 3+ games which, when extrapolated over a full season, would be about 45. He played 148 games the next year and hit 23 home runs but his 5 year career would close with a .230 average and only 65 home runs. It sure was fun collecting him in 1990 though!

Big Ben McDonald was one of the hot young arms in Baltimore with Curt Schilling and Gregg Olson. He won a Gold Medal as a member of the 1988 Olympic Team in Seoul, Korea and is an inductee in the College Baseball Hall of Fame. But his major league career did not meet the expectations of a young Dub who was hoarding his 1990 Fleer rookie cards. I expected more than his 78-70 record but he just didn’t get it done.

Another Yankee makes the early list with Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens. You may be too young to even remember Bam Bam from the Flintstones but he carried a wooden club around and smashed things with it. Thus, Meulens was nicknamed Bam Bam because of his propensity to smash things. In 1990, Kevin Maas was at 1B and Bam Bam was at 3rd and I had yet to fully develop my hatred for the Evil Empire. In 1987, he hit .300 with 28 home runs and 103 RBI at Single A so he was a hot commodity when his cards started getting produced a couple years later. Not only did he never hit .300 or 28 home runs or 103 RBI in a major league season, his career totals never reached those numbers either. He mustered a .220 avg, 15 home runs and 53 RBI over 4 years with the Yankees.

I’m going to add Planier in a Red Sox jersey at some point but this one is a start. I do like Plantier’s autograph as it puts many players today to shame. Plantier finished 8th in ROY voting in 1991 despite only playing 53 games. But in 148 at bats, he hit 11 bombs while maintaining a .331 average. After a disappointing follow up in 1992, he was sent to the Padres. He had a very nice season in 1993 hitting 34 bombs and collecting 100 RBI but that was as good as it ever got by a long shot. He would only have one other double digit home run season and wouldn’t hit more than 41 RBI again either. After a promising start, he finished his career with an average of .243 and 91 home runs.

Here is the pitcher that helped provide Braves fans the wonderful career of Chipper Jones. He was drafted 14th overall in 1990 and the Braves were so bad, Van Poppel said he would not sign with them if they chose him. They didn’t choose him and instead drafted Chipper Jones. They would then go on and win 14 straight division titles. What did Van Poppel do? He put together a career shorter than the Braves run (11 seasons) and finished with a career 40-52 record along with a 5.58 ERA. I was in on him as a rookie and his 90 Upper Deck is a classic but I’m grateful he didn’t like my Braves that year.

Greg Vaughn was a home run blaster for the Brewers and a mainstay in my binder in the early 90’s. He really had a serviceable career but he was the #4 overall pick in 1986 and had high expectations placed in him. He was a 4x All-Star, hit 355 home runs and even won a Silver Slugger award in 1998. He also hit 50 home runs in 1998 but was overshadowed by a couple guys named McGwire and Sosa. He never hit for an average, finishing with a career number of .242 but he also clubbed over 1,000 RBI. He was a very solid home run hitter in the 90’s but is mostly a forgotten man in the Hobby today.

Ole Jerome Walton was quite the tease. The Cubs were on my TV every day thanks to WGN and Walton was somebody I got to see often. He won the ROY in 1989 by hitting .293 and stealing 24 bases in only 116 games. He even had a 30 game hitting streak that season. Together with Dwight Smith, a future addition to Dated Rookies, the youth movement in Chicago, along with veterans André Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Shawon Dunston and Mark Grace was supposed to translate into big things and they did win the NL East in 1989. But like Walton’s career, they dropped off in 1990. Walton would settle into a career backup role and only muster 25 home runs and 58 stolen bases while hitting .269.

The last player on the list for this first installment is Todd Zeile. Zeile’s career finished better than most on this list but didn’t match the hype that came with his rookie cards. He played 16 seasons and hit for a .265 average to go along with 253 home runs and 1,110 RBI. He topped 30 home runs and 100 RBI just once in that 16 year career and never touched .300. He had a good but not great career but I had a ton of his rookie cards and was hoping that they would one day give me a shot at early retirement. It was not to be and his career highlight for me will always be his appearance on Seinfeld.

So that is how this project starts. I have some players that I am on the lookout for like Dwight Smith, Felix Jose, Ramon Martinez, Dante Bichette, Percy Snow, André Ware, Jeff George, Rumeal Robinson, and countless others. This list will probably be long and might eventually blur the lines of bust and serviceable but rookies in the late 80’s and early 90’s are what got me into the Hobby and kept me here. I do know that this won’t be one of the easier projects I’ve undertaken because there is no set checklist and some of these players may never have authentic autographs in products. But that’s what makes it fun, right? Like the other examples here, I’m going into this with great optimism that I’ll accomplish my goal. And when I do, maybe I’ll have my own little parade much like the one I dreamt of when I thought UGA would beat Alabama a week ago.


Retro Review – Only The Finest In ‘94!

As I’ve gotten older, I have become a little more reserved than I was as a teen. I know what you are thinking. The guy who blogs about his life, has a YouTube channel and jumps at the chance to be on a podcast is calling himself reserved? Yes, that’s exactly what I am calling myself. There is a reason I write down my thoughts and experiences; because I usually don’t talk (verbally) much about them. By the time this post is done, I’ll bet that I have written more words than I’ll actually speak today. I can go hours without saying a word. I can sit in a crowded room and you won’t know I’m there. I can open up here but in person, getting me to open up can be like pulling teeth.

That hasn’t always been the case. When I was a kid, I had to be the life of the party! I was a jokester, always laughing and poking fun or singing some stupid song. I wore Jams, spiked my hair, made my own tie-dye shirts and had pretty close to the rainbow of colors in my Converse All-Stars. I am a child of the 80’s and I lived it back in those days. Life was all about being noticed. You couldn’t get a girlfriend if they didn’t notice you, right? And who wanted to hang out with the guy who sat quietly at his desk all day? No, I was loud, decked out in neon and making sure everyone knew who I was. For better or worse, it worked out when I was a kid.

I remember my mom telling me so many times that I drove my teacher’s crazy but they just couldn’t get on to me like other kids because I was just so dadgum adorable! I used my outgoing personality to my advantage and made a ton of friends of all ages, gender and ethnicity. I didn’t have a problem talking to anybody and usually wasn’t scared to try anything either. I would climb on high objects, jump off of said objects, eat weird foods, say stupid things in class and do just about anything the other kids wouldn’t because that was my schtick. Like I said, it was all about standing out and getting noticed.

Pop Culture in general during the 80’s and early 90’s was all about grabbing your attention. We were immersed in bright colors, crazy hair styles, new wave music and awesome action packed cartoons. Some of our bright landscape was likely because of color television becoming more popular in the 80’s. While around since the 50’s or so, most of America didn’t get fancy color TV until the late 70’s or early 80’s. Once the color TV showed up, television execs and advertisers made sure they used bright colors to the max! See what I did there?

I specifically remember my two favorite cartoons, He-Man and Transformers, being awesome visual experiences. On He-Man, The Castle of Greyskull was a lively green, Skeletor was Blue and Beast Man was orange. With Transformers, Optimus Prime was red, white and blue, Bumblebee was yellow, Megatron was silver and the rest of the characters made up all the other colors in the Crayola box. The Care Bears were identified by color, Garbage Pail Kids were bright and Smurfs were known for bring blue! These characters got your attention when you were flipping through the channels.

The advertisements that came on during those were pretty flamboyant too. How many of you remember Bonkers candy? This commercial was the worst but I still love watching it. Then there was this classic Frankenberry commercial. We all loved Kool-Aid as kids and they had some of the best commercials. There were even cool baseball card commercials like this one for 1992 Donruss. If you have the time, might as well watch this compilation of ‘80s Saturday Morning Cartoon Commercials!

How about some attention grabbing toys?Of course, we had He-Man and Transformers in toy form like the cartoons above. But we also had things like Lite Bright, which was a light box with colored plastic pegs that would glow when you plugged them in. You could make all sorts of designs and it was much more fun than the etch-a-sketch. Rainbow Bright was a big toy for the girls back then and she was just as her name would indicate; bright and colorful! Even our koosh balls were bright and neon!

All of my friends (and me) were big wrestling fans in the 80’s and they were rocking the spectacular brightness as well! Just look at Macho Man and Ultimate Warrior above. These guys went above and beyond but they weren’t the only ones. Hulk-a-Mania was bright red and yellow and his personality was just as vivid. You also had Ric Flair and his sequin robes, Rowdy Roddy Piper and his kilt, Road Warriors and their face paint and Bam Bam Bigelow with his flame infused tights. Pro Wrestling in the 80’s was as big of a “look at me” sector of pop culture as any!

The lively outfits like Ric Flair wore weren’t just for wrestling either. I remember wearing some pretty loud and eye popping clothes as well. I remember the sweet windsuits where you tried to see just how bold and colorful you could get. We wore silk shirts, rayon, tie-dye, Zubaz, and acid wash jeans that usually matched the color of our footwear. MC Hammer pants were all the rage in the late 80’s. I’m telling you, about every aspect of our lives was filled with visual stimulation. We were tired of the drab days of the early 80’s and we were spreading our wings!

Even our teen crushes were ready for the occasion. I remember the two Kelly’s (Kapowski and Bundy) being the most colorful (and revealing) in their clothing options. Everything about Saved by the Bell was colorful. Bundy was always rocking some pretty wild hair, which was synonymous with the rock and roll chicks of the 80’s. I’ve always had a thing for rocker chicks. Alyssa Milano and Elisabeth Shue were fairly conservative (at least in the 80’s) but even they rocked some off the wall clothing.

There is no denying, we were all about flashy! We wanted colors, we wanted bright, we wanted different. This time frame was at least from 1985-1995 and even the card companies tried to get in on the act. The early 80’s card designs were pretty bland from a color and border perspective. Donruss Baseball started changing the playing field with their mid to late 80’s colors and Fleer was occasionally colorful too. Topps was a little later to the colorful stage and while 1990 Baseball was a bold change, it was a pretty dismal effort, though nostalgic on a different level. Pro Set and Score Football brought more color to that sport. Even though Ultra, Upper Deck and Action Packed came along in the early 90’s to try and improve the quality and pizazz of the sets, it was in 1994 when I fell in love with a card that personified the boldness of my youth!

There was a sneak peek at Topps Finest with a set produced in 1992 but you couldn’t just rip packs so I didn’t see much of it. But in 1994, they were on LCS shelves and were too sharp for me to pass up, even if they were a bit pricey. They were the first real “chromium” type card available for football and they brought things to a whole new level. They hit baseball in 1993 and were a late addition to football but they earned the 1994 title. Although labeled ’94, they didn’t include rookies from that year. The rookies were from ’93, making the set at least a little odd at the time.

The box offered 24 packs with 6 cards each. Each pack averaged 1 RC and the box had an average of 2 refractors, also a first in card sets. The refractors aren’t labeled and to be honest, I don’t know which ones they were in my box. I’ll have to go back and take a closer look. Each box also contained one jumbo RC and the one in my box was this Dana Stubblefield. Unlike box toppers today, this was not in a wrapper of any kind and just loose among the packs. Though I would say it was in fair condition overall.

As you can see from the photo, these cards were quite sharp. They were bright, shiny, sturdy, and felt like something more important than football cards. They did have a tendency to stick together some 23 years later but they didn’t destroy each other when I pulled them apart either. Here are a few of the big guns in 93-94. Remember Boomer with the Jets? Oof

I didn’t hit a bunch of RB studs but I did land a Barry Sanders. Another Barry that ran tough in the mid 90’s was Foster of the Steelers. Roger Craig was on his last leg and Ricky Watters was just getting started.

The solid receivers I pulled were reminiscent of my recent ’91 Upper Deck rip. These guys had staying power. I know Shannon was a TE but he fit in with these pass catchers as much as his brother Sterling did. I was able to check Another Tim Brown off my list too.

Three of the best four defensive linemen I pulled were from the AFC West. Only Reggie White was from the NFC and he was now with the Packers as opposed to the Eagles like in my last few rips.

Karl Mecklenburg is somewhat underrated with collectors today but he was quite a player in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I honestly don’t remember Pat Swilling with the Lions but Chris Spielman was certainly memorable in Detroit. Seau, Mills and Norton make this a great group of backers.

The overall DB haul from this box was less than stellar but all of these guys were steady professionals. Mark Carrier was a league leader in interceptions a couple of seasons in the early 90’s and Mark Collins was a Super Bowl winner.

The best rookies will have their own segment in a moment but there were still some highly recognizable names in this stack. Willie Roaf had a Hall of Fame career while Rick Mirer was supposed to. Lincoln Kennedy started his career in Atlanta but had his best years with the Raiders. The others that had better than average careers were Dana Stubblefield, Robert Smith, Curtis Conway and Natrone Means.

The best QB in the rookie class was Drew Bledsoe. Many collectors today remember Bledsoe as the QB who got hurt and led to the career of Tom Brady. But those of us who watched football in the ’90’s know Bledsoe as a dang good QB. He was a 4x Pro Bowl selection, led the league in passing yards in ’94 and is a member of the Patriots Hall of Fame. This is a very nice RC of Bledsoe.

The best RC in the set, and the one I was chasing, was this of Jerome Bettis. The Bus is a Hall of Fame RB who was ROY in ’93, a 6x Pro Bowl selection, Comeback POY in ’96, Man of the Year in ’01 and a Super Bowl Champ in ’05. If that’s not enough, he was also a 2x First Team All Pro and a member of the All Time Steeler Team. The Bus was one of my favorites in the mid to late 90’s and this pull made the whole box worth it. It’s in pretty good shape too!

This set was not the easiest to score for me. In 1994, it would have received a 5 without a second thought. But in 2017, there were just a couple of small issues that brought it down to a 4. The price is a little steep for a mid 90’s product, although a very nice one. This box was $50 and other than Bettis and Bledsoe, the rookie class doesn’t have much to offer. The cards are stuck together after being sealed for a quarter century and although they came apart rather clean, the cards were somewhat warped before ever ripping the packs due to the UV Coating or Chromium Design or something. Still, I couldn’t go less than 4 because they are really nice cards and I remember just how beautiful they were the first time I saw them. At a time when everybody was trying to be bigger and brighter, Topps Finest certainly accomplished that. And even though the rookie class isn’t super deep, The Bus and Bledsoe are two really good players to chase. I also have a box of Baseball that will get a post soon and I can’t wait to rip that one!


Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Guest Writer – Lanny Ribes

1986 Topps baseball – “A Tale of Two Eras”

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Ah, Charles Dickens. Whether you’ve heard the line in a game of Trivial Pursuit, or you were forced (as I was) to read the novel back in high school, we’re all at least somewhat familiar with the classic, “A Tale of Two Cities”. For me at the time, the year 1986 seemed to go hand-in-hand with that ever-popular opening line from the Dickens classic. And in retrospect, the happenings within the hobby world, as well as the MLB world, have only helped to reinforce these parallel likenesses.

It was March 1986, I was eleven years old and in sixth grade. Baseball practice was to begin soon, summer vacation was on the radar, and in a few months, I would be embarking upon my junior high school career. I was also currently skipping my bi-yearly tradition of wandering the hallways with a broken arm, as I had in 1982 and 1984. There was only one problem: the reason I hadn’t had a chance to break my arm yet was because I had been hospital-hopping due to some sort of digestive condition. I didn’t know it at the time, but eventually I would be diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory condition in the digestive system that, at the time, was rarely heard of. Apparently, I was the youngest person ever to have been successfully diagnosed; I’m in some medical journals somewhere, hooray for me. All that concerned me was when I would be able to get back home so I could put some weight back on and start throwing some pitches to Dad.

It was March, so baseball season had not yet started, which means there was no baseball to watch on television. That makes for some loooooong days of lazing around the hospital. Luckily, I had baseball cards to occupy the time, and keep me connected to the outside baseball world. Friends and family knew that I collected, so day in and day out I was showered with package after package containing a few packs of 1986 Topps baseball cards. As I ripped them open, I feverishly looked for the latest issues of the hottest young players – Don Mattingly, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Roger Clemens, Eric Davis; just to name a few.

As an informed monthly reader of Beckett Magazine, I did notice one thing was missing – a Jose Canseco rookie card. I was too young to know why Topps had not included him. I just assumed all of the same players appeared in all of the sets. I was familiar with his Fleer and Donruss cards, but where was the Topps? Later I would learn that it was a bad oversight on the part of Topps, much like later in 1989 when they did not include a rookie card of a promising prospect named Ken Griffey Jr. It was truly not “the best of times” for Topps in these years, as competitors like Donruss and Fleer, and upstarts like Score and Upper Deck wowed the collecting world with vivid photography, classic card designs, and top-level rookie inclusions.

In 1986, Topps missed out on top rookies like Canseco, Galarraga, and McGriff

“…it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” Later that summer, I had a financial epiphany – I would use my allowance money to invest in baseball cards. So long as prices kept increasing like they had been for the past few years, I could invest a few bucks over the summer, make a few shrewd trades with my friends, and within a couple years my money would easily triple. It was a no-brainer, why wasn’t everyone doing this? Well, they were. So me and a few million of my hobby comrades all went into the same line of business – buying overproduced cards of overhyped (and in many cases over-“medicated”) baseball players that would eventually fund my college tuition, my wedding, a condo in the Hamptons, my dream car… When I was lucky enough to find Fleer or Donruss cards, the dollar signs danced around my head and I could almost hear the cash register. How was it possible that I could pull a $150 Canseco card out of a fifty-cent pack? The better question, as it turned out, was how could so many of us actually think that this was a sustainable real-world opportunity?

My 1986 retirement plan…as financially sound as Enron stock. Remember the haul this was back then?

“…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…” So fitting that Dickens should use the word “season” in this line of the script. Of course, he could not have been referencing a baseball season, although in this text the meaning definitely brings forth so many memories, both light and dark. The MLB season started out like any other. The Cardinals were fresh off getting robbed of a World Series ring, courtesy of Don Denkinger. I have never been a Cardinals fan, even though they are technically my “hometown” team, but even I could see at age 10 that it was a brutal way to lose a World Series. One thing that I could always be legitimately accused of was that I loved to stir the pot. So, when I wasn’t able to take a 4 hour trip up I-55 to watch a White Sox game, I engaged in my second favorite pastime – annoying Cardinals fans.

The Major Leagues at the time was comprised of four divisions, and the Cardinals were most closely rivaled by the young and talented New York Mets. The Mets ended 1985 only 3 games behind the Cardinals in the National League East, but with no Wild Cards and no Divisional Series, all they got was an early offseason and the promise of “next year”. Well, it was next year and young talents like Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra, and phenom Dwight Gooden wanted nothing more than to end their franchise’s 16-year title drought. My dad would take me to Cardinals games where we would watch fans walk around with “Pond Scum” banners and “Mets Suck” hats. With the myriad of young players and the implications upon their baseball card values, coupled with the contrarianism of rooting against the Cardinals and rubbing their fans’ noses in the manner in which they lost the previous World Series – how could I NOT root for the Mets?

We all know how the 1986 season ended and what has ensued since. The Mets did in fact win their first World Series title since 1969. The following spring training found certain future-HOFer Dwight Gooden testing positive for cocaine, sending his career and life into a tailspin. Shortly after that, Darryl Strawberry was accused of breaking his wife’s nose, and began several years of criticizing teammates and his manager, missing practices and workouts, eventually checking into an alcohol rehab center. Lenny Dykstra fell to a gambling addiction. Keith Hernandez was found guilty of using and distributing cocaine to other Major League players. For this team, it was truly darkest just beyond the light.

At the time I pulled every Gooden, Strawberry, and Dykstra, placed them in semi-rigid top loaders, and dreamed of the day that I would eventually sell them off to purchase my dreams. Obviously that did not, and will never, happen. But as the title suggests, this is a tale of two eras. Not only in the sense that my financial take on the 1986 card issues has drastically changed from childhood to now, but also now that I am able to look back to that set a generation later, I can appreciate it for what it truly is, rather than in terms of dollars and cents. The 1986 sets, when it was all said and done, did not produce any must-have rookie cards. We have come to realize that the fads of Cecil Fielder, Andres Galarraga, Mickey Tettleton, and yes even Jose Canseco, have come and gone and only the wisest of us unloaded our troves of their cards at the height of popularity. Now that the playing field has been leveled, and players’ careers have ended, we are left with the card designs and set checklists as the very fitting ways to rank the sets and give them their place in collecting history. Fleer is very “Fleer-like”; long time collectors know what I mean. I have to admit that Donruss was exciting at first, but I also have to believe that the inclusion of Canseco and the hype surrounding the card most likely fed that fire. Over time the border colors and diagonal lines have put me to sleep. To me, Topps stands out as the forgone winner of the year, something I never would have said back then.

No Canseco. No Rated Rookies. No multi-player rookies to invest in. Oddly enough, in 2018 none of this matters at all. What we are left with is what I feel to be a beautiful set. It is a purist’s dream and nightmare in one, with an established border for centering issues and two black corners that reveal every touch of age and mishandling that have ever come upon each card. There is a large picture, with clean and clear fonts used for the player name and position. The font used for the team name has grown on me over the years, to the point that I have recently spent hours searching the web to try and find a suitable font style to use on my son’s mock-up cards. So far I have been unable to find one to use. Luckily my son has played for teams with names like Indians and Pirates, so I have been able to doctor up some scans and change the colors. His high school team is the Miners, so I am either going to have to get ultra-creative, or ultra-lucky in my ongoing font search…

The checklist itself looks like a veritable Who’s Who of historic baseball figures. It starts out with the lifetime card collection of Pete Rose, featured on a special subset and celebrating his passing of Ty Cobb on the career hits list. You have early cards of Clemens, Mattingly, Puckett, Gwynn, Sandberg, and Boggs. There are cards depicting the ends of storied careers of Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, and Rollie Fingers. There is a nice list of future HOFers smack dab in the middle of their legendary careers, players such as Nolan Ryan, Dave Winfield, Eddie Murray, Rickey Henderson, Ozzie Smith, George Brett – the list goes on and on. There is even a “Turn Back the Clock” subset featuring past Topps cards of Roger Maris, Frank Robinson, and Willie Mays. And last but not least are the cards of players whose stories must be told when preaching the history of baseball’s past, with promising cards of Dwight Gooden, Cecil Fielder, Darryl Strawberry, Eric Davis, and Vince Coleman eventually finding their way out of our display cases, but not out of our memories.

The 1986 Topps set has much to offer in the way of superstars and HOFers

When looking back, the 1986 Topps baseball set truly embodies the best and worst of times, both in the hobby and in Major League Baseball alike. As a life-long avid collector, I am happy that I can now enjoy this set for its beauty and for the never-ending list of players included from 1 through 792. I can appreciate a well-centered specimen alike with those lucky enough to have stood the test of time with two perfectly square and black top corners. And in many cases, I can do it all for the same price now as I did back then, even if that wasn’t exactly my original plan.

And for those of you wondering, I did manage to break my arm in my first baseball game of the 1986 summer, fresh out of the hospital. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Lanny Ribes @DOCBZ17

Retro Review – All I’ve Got Is A Photograph

Music has always been a big part of my life. I never really panned out as a musician or singer, though I tried it one time. I had a lot of fun with a group of guys playing 90’s Alternative Covers from Smashing Pumpkins, EverClear, Tonic and others. I’ve written more than once about the Deftones and Mrs. Dub and I go to 4-5 concerts a year in Atlanta and Jacksonville. I am primarily a Rock guy (along with its many iterations) and I got my start at an early age. My dad tried to get me to be a country music guy and my mom listened to pop but Uncle Greg and my close friends pulled me in the right direction.

Rock carries a pretty wide definition and I like just about all of it. The thing about rock music is that it usually has some deep meaning to the band and listener and takes a little bit more thought to write. That’s just my opinion so don’t lose your mind over it. The musician’s are generally creating their own music in most cases as well instead of a computer generating the tune or beat. The music is mostly original with very little sampling from other songs. It’s original and unique to me and that’s why I’ve always been drawn to it. I will not quibble over the fact that I am a rock snob.

There are some instances where I prefer a heavy riff and some screaming. That’s usually when I’m about to play a basketball or softball game or otherwise need some sort of adrenaline boost. That is another thing about rock music for me; it’s visceral. A song can put me in a certain state of mind or cure the blues or even bring me down from being too amped up. I’m not extremely picky when it comes to rock music but there are certain pockets of the genre that hit me harder than others. One such pocket would be the illustrious Power Ballad of the 80’s.

I was right in the middle of the young teenage years in the late 80’s so rock music and girls were pretty high on my priority list. Dances were also pretty popular around that time so the Power Ballad was the perfect opportunity to snuggle up to a cute girl and enjoy the tunes. I remember a lot of birthday party dances that were at friends houses and all that was needed was a boom box and open floor. Well, you also needed some tight-roll, acid washed jeans and hair gel but that was with any type of party. We learned all the words to the Power Ballad and we imitated the glam rock singers because it was obviously what the chicks were into. It was a crazy time!

I have my go-to list of power ballads loaded up on iTunes that were a big part of my budding youth and I often listen to that playlist when I’m working up a blog post because the music is soothing to me. So I figured, why not write about the songs I’m listening to as I type? I could have possibly ranked these in numerical order but I had a real problem with the top 3 so I decided to just put them in relative order of good to best with some room for shifting around in the lineup. The last 3 are no doubt list toppers though and shouldn’t be confused with any of the others.

Before we get started, there are 5 that made Honorable Mention because I had to trim the list for space purposes. I didn’t want you to get bored halfway through. The songs that almost made it include:
• Mama, I’m Coming Home – Ozzy Osbourne
• The Flame – Cheap Trick
• Close My Eyes Forever – Lita Ford
• Wind of Change – Scorpions
• Patience – Guns N Roses

On to the songs that did make the cut! For your listening (and viewing) pleasure, I’ve linked the videos for these. Just click the song title!

Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone) – Cinderella
I was all about Cinderella for a short while. I really only had “Long Cold Winter” but it was a really good album from beginning to end. There were some heavy classics like “Gypsy Road” and “Last Mile” and it slowed the mood down with “Long Cold Winter” and “Coming Home”. But the best song on the entire album and still one that gets play on my iTunes regularly is “Don’t Know What You Got”. We went to see Poison in Atlanta around 2011 and Cinderella opened for them. I was super excited but the singer’s voice had blown up and he was singing everything in a lower tone so it was a bit of a disappointment.

November Rain – Guns N Roses
I was not a huge GNR fan except for “Appetite for Destruction” but I did love this one. It ran almost 9 minutes long so if you could keep your date’s attention, you could really get two slow dances out of it. It was also a very fun song to sing, as was most songs by Axel Rose. I was more a fan of their hard rock but “November Rain” is certainly on this top 10 list without hesitation!

Home Sweet Home – Motley Crue
This wasn’t exactly a love song but it was a Power Ballad in every sense of the word. You can argue that it might be sort of a love song but I don’t classify it as such. It started out with a piano and soft singing (for Vince Neal). Then the drums and guitars kick in and bring the power. It’s a classic but wasn’t one that we would always dance to. I was a bit of a Motley Crue guy thanks to Dr. Feelgood, Kickstart My Heart, Girls Girls Girls and Shout at the Devil.

18 & Life – Skid Row
While another power ballad that isn’t a love song, this has all the emotional punch you’ll ever need from a rock song. Sebastian Bach can wail and this song was a perfect display of the notes he could hit. I remember getting this cassette from my buddy, Jason Lee, for my birthday one year. I actually remember us watching the old “Rock and Roller Games” TV show when he gave it to me and another song on this list was being played at halftime. What a classic show! I think it was on Fox and was essentially roller skating + wrestling with the storylines and everything.

I Remember You – Skid Row
This was a bonus on the self titled album that I really only wanted because of “18 and Life”. This song was definitely a dance hit! I remember holding the hand of an older, hot chick named Melissa while skating to this song at the Pelham Skating Rink. But here’s the kicker, my cousin Corey was holding her other hand and she was just being nice to us younger guys and there was nothing romantic at all about it. I’m pretty sure she was dating my neighbor Bryan at the time but hey, I still remember it. I highly doubt she does but that is how most of the memories happen with girls that are considered unattainable. She was being nice while my 13 year old mind was thinking boyfriend/girlfriend. Those were the days!

Heaven – Warrant
This is the song that was playing at halftime of the “Rock and Roller Games” when Jason gave me that Skid Row cassette. I immediately considered this song as my next get because it was awesome. This was another that you could slow dance to and I remember hearing it a couple of times at a friend’s birthday dance at Plant Mitchell but I don’t really remember who I may have danced with that night. Believe it or not, your humble blogger came up snake eyes from time to time in the girl category. This may have been one of those times. I know, hard to believe.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison
This one just missed the top 3 and some of you may heavily disagree. I loved this song, don’t get me wrong. We even performed it with our 90’s Alternative Cover band. But the top 3 are my clear favorites from the Power Ballad era. This was another heavily danceable tune and I remember this being a staple at every dance party. Heck, I even dance to this one now with Mrs. Dub if it comes on where we are at. I also remember singing this song in my bedroom with my imaginary band on a regular basis. When we went to see Poison and Cinderella in Atlanta, Bret Michaels’ voice was just fine and this one was worth the trip!

I Won’t Forget You – Poison
This is the beginning of the top 3. These 3 could really be put in about any order but I think I have them right for the moment. I liked this song from Poison more than “Every Rose” because of the electric guitar. It had a better beat for dancing than “Every Rose” too. I remember a birthday dance at my house and dancing with Misty, who was actually my “girlfriend” at the time. I’m not sure how that happened though because she was way out of my league in 1990. She claims today that I’m the one that broke things off but that’s not how I remember it. I was only 14 so I can’t be certain that it wasn’t me but it just feels like it was the other way around.

Hysteria – Def Leppard
Here is the #2 Power Ballad for me; “Hysteria”! I loved this entire album! Along with this amazing song, there was also “Rocket”, “Animal”, “Love Bites”, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Armageddon It”! Come to think of it, “Love Bites” should be on this list too! I knew I would leave some good songs off. Mrs. Dub and I were fortunate enough to have seen Def Leppard in Atlanta and they were unbelievable. I was skeptical because of the way they sing. Remember, I was burned by Cinderella so I thought the Leppard might not be able to get to those high notes either. I was pleasantly surprised and I got legit chill bumps when they sang this song.

Photograph – Def Leppard
#1 is another Def Leppard classic; Photograph. This was a bit heavier than Hysteria but was still very melodic. It truly was a POWER ballad. I think it was about Marilyn Monroe but I always imagined it being about Kelly Kapowski. If I was good at videography stuff, I probably would have made a Kelly montage video for this song. These guys still had it in 2012 and I would go see them again today. I always liked Phil Collen (not the Genesis guy) and he put on a tremendous show in ATL. They also had one of my favorite “Behind the Music” episodes on VH1 back in the 90’s. Def Leppard is my #1 “hair band” and it’s not even that close. I loved Poison, Motley Crue, Skid Row and others back in the day but Def Leppard has held up better than all the others.

Speaking of holding up better than others, let’s talk about a football set that has stood the test of time. I am going to call it underrated because I had really forgotten about how good the product was until I recently went through one of my old school boxes looking for “random” hits from the past. I think that 1991 Upper Deck Football has some of the best photograph for a football set outside of some possible current releases and it deserves a comparison to Stadium Club Baseball in the fact that it was a huge step up from what the market was offering at the time. Even Fleer Ultra was pretty far behind what ’91 Upper Deck brought to the table. Let’s call 1991 Upper Deck the Def Leppard of Junk Wax Football. Most Junk Wax is really good but some just stand out more than others.

The box was fairly standard for 1991; 36 packs with 12 cards per pack. Upper Deck football did not have any filler in the packs like puzzle pieces or gum or even the hologram stickers like UD baseball. The packs were all cards. They were very similar to baseball in that they were foil and sealed on each end for that UD standard “tamper proof” feature. The only feature I question is “Limited Edition”. I’m not sure how limited any sets were in 1991.

One of the best features of 1991 Upper Deck football was the team checklist sketch Cards. Here is a Prime Time that was just awesome! You know I’m a sucker for sketch cards and these were nice. I have the full spread of what I pulled later in the post but this one deserved it’s own photo.

Photography was a highlight for 91 UD. I mentioned that in my last post and it’s what prompted me to rip this box. This was one of my favorite Cards from 1991. You may recall the similar Nolan Ryan triple exposure card in baseball. This was a great card in the early 90’s and set the bar for innovative photos in football sets.

As for other QB’s I pulled, here are some of the Stars. You may not be able to tell from this photo but the Marino was taken in the snow. There is another Dolphin shot later in the snow, which was ironic for Miami.

I pulled the usual early 90’s studs at running back with the exception of Bo but I did pull a cool team checklist sketch I’ll show off later. Ickey is doing the shuffle in his photo! You may remember Marcus Dupree from the great 30 For 30; “The Best That Never Was.”

More great photography can be found in the wide receiver selection. Flipper Anderson is making a one handed catch while Mark Jackson is about to take a big hit.

Tight End was slim but these were great ones! Looks like Novacek is the holder for a field goal. How many Tight Ends are asked to do that these days?

If you read my last post, you’ll know that this Reggie is one of my favorites. The Fridge even looks good in 91 UD. Collectors from my generation will remember Dennis Byrd. For those of you who don’t, do yourself a favor and look him up.

Look at this Matt Millen card! I was not a huge fan of Millen (especially as a GM) but this card just screams old school football! My man Percy Snow was included too so, cha-ching!

I’m still blown away by how clear these photos are! Felix is getting stretched out, Scott Case just laid Cleveland Gary out and Rod Woodson is in his Pro Bowl uni.

The headliner of the Star Rookie Class was Dan McGwire (Mark’s little brother). Todd Marinovich got a lot of hype too. But that first QB on row 3 wound up being the best of the bunch. Russell Maryland, Alvin Harper, Ricky Watters and Eric Turner all had solid careers while Browning Nagle and Aaron Craver fizzled.

Here are the great sketch Cards! These are just awesome! I love the ones with the names on them. Bo and Herschel are my favorites but I also like Flash 80 and LT. Once again, Warren Moon is pictured with an actual moon in the background just like ’90 Score Hot Guns.

The Team MVP’s didn’t have very many surprises but there were a couple. Greg Townsend got the Team MVP for the Raiders. That Raiders team had Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson and Tim Brown. Bobby Humphrey also got the honor for the Broncos over Elway. I won’t complain about André Rison for my Falcons!

The season leaders insert covered the major individual stat leaders. I remember Mark Carrier being a real ball hawk on Tecmo.

Aerial Threats showcased prolific QB and WR tandems. Here is the other Miami snow card. I’m a little surprised Steve DeBerg made it into this insert set.

As with baseball, UD focused on a legend for its “Football Heroes” insert. Joe Montana got the call in 1991 and I pulled 7 of the 9 Cards on the checklist.

I pulled one Game Breaker in the box and it was the great Barry Sanders. I may check this subset out and try to put it together. This is a striking card in person but maybe even more striking with my reflection in it!

This was a very easy set to score. The box cost me $14.95 so price is a plus. Photography is top notch and unrivaled for football at the time. One of the key rookies is Brett Favre. It’s loaded with stars and Hall of Famers. The design is clean and classy. It has great sketch cards littered throughout the checklist. This is about as perfect a set for the early 90’s as you will find. I would highly recommend you find a box and rip it just because the quality is so good for the “Junk Wax” era. This was an easy “5” on the Dub-O-Meter and may be the highest quality set I’ve reviewed for under $20 per box. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!


Scoring Scale

1.Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2.There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3.Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4.You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5.Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

The Power Of Random Memories

Sometimes life can come at you pretty fast. It’s easy to get bogged down in our day to day lives and take everything around us for granted. We constantly want time to go by too fast. We are ready for the work day to be over, we are ready to go to bed, we are ready for an event a week or month in the future, we are ready for our vacation, we are ready for Christmas! Being ready and anxious for things though means that we are certainly not living in the present like we should be. But life has a way of reminding you sometimes that you have to slow down and appreciate what is in front of you today rather than what the future might bring.

Focusing on the now helps me remember that while I am always ready for the work day to be over, I do have a job to be thankful for. I am fortunate that I have been coming to the same job for the last 20 years and I know my co-workers and I know my customers. I don’t have to learn a new trade and I don’t have to lie in bed at night wondering where my next meal will come from. For that, I am truly thankful. My job has given me the ability to enjoy life and have events to look forward to. Sure, sometimes I get bogged down and only think about having to be there and not being able to spend those moments doing something fun and exciting. But hey, it could always be worse.

When I get home from work, I find myself longing for sleep. I am tired and my mind is ready to shut off. But before I go to bed, I usually have supper to plan, laundry to navigate and kids to help with homework and give baths to. What I often forget when I have my eye on that late night crawl into my cool bed in my dark bedroom, are the people around me that I am doing these chores for. I focus too heavily on the work sometimes and not the reason for the work. My wife has been a part of my life for over 20 years and I never want to lose the desire to do anything for her. I never want to take her for granted. And while I look forward to growing old with her, I’m not ready to be old yet! Wishing away today just makes that happen sooner.

My kids are my life and even though it can be stressful, I don’t know where I would be today without them. While I wish there were some things they could do on their own, like getting a snack out of the refrigerator or turning the bath water on, I am not ready for them to grow up either. It’s easy to miss the moments when I am folding laundry and Georgia wants to help and folds clothes that I have to refold. It’s easy to miss the positives when I have to stop what I’m doing to try and remember 5th Grade math rules with Bailey. The positive is that she still needs my help and comes to me when she can’t do things on her own. That won’t always be the case. You have to take the hard work that comes with having the good times and sometimes that is difficult.

Wishing for my vacation time will fast forward my life 4 full months! I’ll miss Christmas, New Year’s, my birthday, Valentine’s Day, Easter and even Bailey’s birthday if all I can focus on are those 5 days of freedom from work where we might travel somewhere fun to enjoy ourselves. Wishing for Christmas Day makes me lose the fun of the weeks leading up to Christmas when we pick out a tree, wrap presents, navigate the world of Elf on the Shelf and watch all the fun holiday classics on TV. Everything you rush to in the future makes you lose time today. That’s just the bottom line. I don’t know how to deal with that just yet but I am going to figure it out.

One thing I have figured out is how to look back on yesterday and find the great times that I had and may have taken for granted at the time. I am a self proclaimed expert when it comes to living in the past and remembering the “good ole days.” I remember even the smallest of meaningless moments when I get my mind set on exploring old events. There are some major parts I may misremember or leave out but it’s the strange small details that I seem to remember that make some of these moments a blast to relive through my blog. I might even get a year wrong but I’m likely going to remember the shirt I was wearing or the music in the background. I guess I’m sort of random like that.

Remembering those good times makes me appreciate the life I have lived so far. I have been very fortunate to have great family and friends that have provided for great memories that have been building blocks over the years. I have made mistakes and I have memories of those as well. But all of the memories I carry with me every day of my life have helped me accept and appreciate that no matter what tomorrow brings, I have lived a great life up until today. I hope to say the same tomorrow.

Memories are what sustain me and I love it. I remember the time me and Coop stayed up all night playing Nintendo and in a fit of disappointment, he flailed his arms and brought down a shelf of photos and decor in my living room, waking my mother at 3 am. I can’t think of a time throughout middle and high school that didn’t include my cousins Coop, Trent, Corey or Jared either. I was blessed with some really cool cousins growing up. Me and Coop would play basketball at his house until one of us scored 100 points and we would start all over again. Coop’s family also had a place at Fort Gaines with us so we spent a lot of time together their too. We almost flipped a golf cart there and I did push him off the back of it once and he broke his wrist.

I spent time at Trent’s watching Arnold movies like Total Recall and Predator. My favorite movie was Aliens at one point and I remember watching it with him and my Aunt Nancy for the first time. I always got my scary movie fix at their house!

Corey, Jared and I would play sports in the yard during the day and on Nintendo at night. When it comes to random memories, I specifically remember staying up late one night and sorting baseball cards while Corey and I listened to “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor on a loop. We would talk about cards and girls while we listened to those cheesy popular songs of the 90’s. I also remember endless ping pong tournaments and RBI Baseball battles!

I remember going through a cheese biscuit phase when I was a kid. I’m not talking about something fancy like Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Red Lobster either. This was the canned Pillsbury biscuits I would bake and when they were just getting ready, I’d pop the top and throw a piece of American cheese on them and let it melt. I would eat the entire 10 biscuit can! That was nowhere near the weirdest food phase either. Does anyone remember gummy peaches? They were peach flavored gummies in a ring shape and they were delicious. Well, I would dip those in Frito Lay Jalapeno Dip from time to time. Yeah, peach gummy candy dipped in jalapeno cheese dip….mmmmmm.

What is fun about the gummy jalapeno memory is that it is always tied to some event that happened at my friend Michael’s (Munt) house where we were usually playing pool or wiffle ball or Shaq Fu on SNES. Munt was one of my best friends and he hung out with us at the Video Superstore and we always tried out the new releases before they hit the shelves. Shaq Fu was a classic; as was Lightning Jack and Little Big League. No matter what we had going on, we had a great time together. The only time I ever got crossways with Munt was that time he and Hickey played basketball against me and Brewer in my backyard. He had scored a few times and I stuck my leg out a little too far when he made a move around me one time and we had words. The game ended without really ending and that really is the only time I can ever remember he and I having words. Sorry about that one Munt.

Of course, Brewer and I were best friends too growing up and we have a lot of great memories. I’ve written before about the viewing of “Night of the Living Dead” (MY VERY FIRST POST) and the time we went to the cemetery and were told the story of Annabelle. But we also scared the pants off of unsuspecting trick or treaters several years by hiding in trees and bushes when they came up to his front porch to get candy. We stayed up all night at each others houses making stupid videos long before YouTube was invented. We even had a fake talk show in which I would mimic one of our teachers as the host and he would portray various people from school that I would interview. We recorded pranks we would play on our friends if they made the mistake of being the first person to fall asleep at these all-nighters. We actually could get ruthless with each other at times. But we had a great time!

There was my friendship with Josh in Middle School where we spent almost all of our time together! Whether it was watching free movies from the library at my house after school or riding his motorcycle and fishing at his house on the weekend. We spent time at the radio station that his stepdad worked at, I watched scary movies at his house that I wasn’t able to watch at my own and I even played “Bloody Mary” for the first time on a dark and scary night at his place. Josh and I went our separate ways at one point in High School and he left this earth far too soon but I think of him quite often.

Then there was my buddy David from high school and we have plenty of memories too. He had a 9-hole mini golf game that we would set up throughout his house and compete with each other for the title of greatest mini golfer. We were always competing! We played home run derby with ping pong balls and tennis rackets, tennis balls and wooden bats and any other combination we could think of. We were also competitive with sports cards. I remember him pulling the Elite Andre Dawson and wanting to be happy for him but really being as jealous as I had ever been about a baseball card. He was also a Minnesota guy so he had a lot of MN trinkets around his room that made me want that ’91 World Series more than anything. Just like the Dawson Elite, David won that competition as well. David is one of the friends from growing up that still collects and we text each other photos of our recent purchases from time to time. I guess we are still competing!

But thinking about all these friends and memories has gotten me feeling super nostalgic and I decided to pull out one of my old “memory card boxes” and sort through some of my old football favorites. I guess while I am being random, I can go through some random cards and try to remember what made me hang on to these otherwise cheap cards in 2017. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; value is in the eye of the collector and I wouldn’t trade these cards for the world today. They are very meaningful to me even now and during times like this when life has thrown its curveball and made me put things into perspective, there are no better reminders of the good times than these rustic and weathered pieces of cardboard.

I always liked Marcus Allen and thought he was underrated (if that’s possible) in my generation because of him being tied to Bo in the Raiders backfield. He is the first player by alphabet in my “don’t toss” pile.

Biscuit was another player that I thought was somewhat underrated. He was well known but he got lost sometimes on a team with Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Bruce Smith. This was always one of my favorites.

Another Raider, Tim Brown was one of my favorite wide receivers of the 80’s-90’s, which I’ve covered here many times before. When I think of Brown, this is the card that always comes to mind.

QB Eagles was the man! I remember sitting in my room all by myself and trying to rush for 500 yards in a game with him on TSB. This is the first of several ’91 Upper Deck entries.

You probably knew I would have to include a Pro Vision. This Irvin was always a trip to me. His shadow was the Lombardi Trophy and that horse in the background was a little over the top. But again, it was Pro Vision and they were really taking a turn in ’93 to the psychedelic side.

I don’t believe I have ever put a Bo card to the side when sorting for it to be put in the common box. I hold these in the highest regard whenever I pull them. And this ’91 Upper Deck was always a great photo to me.

1991 Score had some great art cards in both football and baseball. I’m going to rip some baseball soon to enjoy those but this Marino has been in my collection since the day I pulled it in ’91.

This may be my favorite football card of all time. This card takes me back to 1990 every time I see it and I have so many fond memories. I have to figure out a way to tell Mrs. Dub that I want to be buried with this card.

I didn’t know much about Okoye before TSB but when I found out about him, I went to my card box and started trying to find a card of him. This is the first card I found and it’s been in my keeper box ever since.

Sweetness was winding down his career by the time I really started collecting football cards. This was the first card I ever pulled of him and I always thought it was one of the more classy ProLine cards, which was par for the course for Payton.

This card was from the latter days of my childhood collecting but I loved Action Packed and Jerry Rice. I have a TON of Jerry Rice cards but this is one of my favorites.

Have I mentioned before that I loved Andre Rison when I was a kid? How strange that one of the cards I have in my “untouchable” box is a card that doesn’t even feature Rison on the card. Classic error card!

This was ’91 Pro Set and the set from the previous year is when I really fell in love with sketch cards. But this Barry Sanders has always been a highlight of my collection. It has so much detail from the jersey to the lines on his face. This is such a great card to me!

More love for ’91 Upper Deck. Deion was decked out in his gloves, towel, armbands earrings and bandana for this photo. I remember the “You Gotta Believe” slogan and this card is representative of my early passion of the Falcons.

This is a latter 90’s card but it’s one of my favorite sets from that timeframe. Fleer Metal Universe was awesome in 1998 because we had never seen anything like it. I bought a ton of this and they still look good to me.

More great photography from ’91 Upper Deck; this time of Derrick Thomas. Even though DT was a Bammer, I was a huge fan. I remember a clip from the early 90’s VHS classic, NFL Rocks, where Marty Schottenheimer has a heart to heart with him about keeping focus in an overtime game. What a great video. If you haven’t seen it, the whole thing is on YouTube HERE and I’d recommend giving it a look.

Thurman Thomas was such a great back. I really wish Buffalo had won at least one of those Super Bowls in the early 90’s because these guys deserved it. As for Wild Cards, they didn’t have as solid a run as the Bills but I have an unusually high amount of these cards sitting around from my early collecting days.

I just pulled one of these a few days ago in my ’89 box break but this particular card has been in my old school box for a long time as it was one of the first trade hauls from when I was a kid. I don’t remember what I Traded to get it but I really love this card.

I’ve mentioned Fred Washington on the blog before, I think from my ’90 Topps post. This card was always striking to me because of his jersey and the photo but when I found out he was killed in an automobile accident his rookie season, I held onto this card. It’s still in my old box some 27 years later and he is but a distant memory to most NFL fans.

Well, this card has convinced me that I need to pick up a box of ’91 Upper Deck for a Retro Review. I know that Stadium Club is known for photography and ’89 Upper Deck Baseball is the king in UD history but these cards look so great! This set is really good and I’m going to make a point of trying to build it in 2018.

We never know what tomorrow will bring us. We never know if we will even get tomorrow. But we always have yesterday to look back on and find the good times that sustained us. We are who we are because of these memories, for better or worse. Time doesn’t have to change who we are unless we want it to. I personally don’t. I want to always be that kid that admired Walter Payton and tried to be Barry Sanders in the front yard and ran for 3,000 yards with Bo on TSB. I’m sure that while the Bills players would tell you they’d love to have a Super Bowl ring, the early 90’s was still a great time to be a Bill. The early 90’s was a great time for me to be Dub too because of the friends, family and hobbies I had. Some of the friends have changed, my cousins have started their own families and we’ve grown apart but the hobbies will never change for me.

I mean this with all sincerity. As long as I’m able to collect cards, I’m going to do it. As long as 80’s and 90’s cards are available for public consumption (which may be a while based on production), I’m going to focus my efforts there. Junk Wax is only “junk” in name and every card has a story for me when I see it for the first time in years. Life can be challenging and unpredictable but we all have to find that one thing that makes it simple and painless. For me, that one thing is cardboard from my childhood. Looking through this box from when I was a kid is like watching a movie or reading a book about my life. The cardboard tells stories of laughter, fun and even sad times if you just slow down and listen. I know this is all a little deep for a blog post on football cards but when you come face to face with your fatal flaw (Thanks Ma for that one), you start to think in deeper terms and you try to find meaning in the experiences you’ve had. The meaning for me has come to light and I plan to immerse myself in those experiences as often as possible.

I appreciate you giving me a voice and taking an interest in these experiences. I’ve written for myself for years and finding out that there are those that enjoy reading is one of the great blessings I’ve received in 2017. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.


Retro Review – A Super Rookie Wishlist

I think I have sufficiently established here at DubMentality that 1989 was likely the greatest year ever. The movies were stellar, the music was rockin’, video games were 8-bit dream weavers and Sports Cards were catching fire! I’ve said it before but it bears repeating; if I could go back to any one year and live it over and over, it would be 1989. I’ve covered that great year from a ton of different angles but now it’s the Christmas season so there’s really only one way to approach this post; the 1989 Sears Wishbook!

Everyone who is over the age of 30 likely remembers the Sears Wishbook. This 600 page publication had just about everything your heart could desire. Kids loved this book but now that I have a couple kids of my own, I can imagine that parents didn’t get the same enjoyment from it. I found the 1989 book online and was able to sift through the entire 683 pages. It brought back some great memories but one thing that stuck out to me was how expensive some of the items were some 28 years ago. If they seem expensive now, imagine how that felt in 1989 currency!

For example, can you believe that VCR’s in 1989 were as much as $300? You can buy 8-10 BlueRay players for $300 today. You had to rewind tapes and constantly adjust tracking on your VCR too! I do remember these old sports videos though and they were certainly worth the $15 price tag.

You had to have a TV to watch those videos on as well. I’m pretty sure we actually had the middle TV when I was a kid. This is a 27 inch TV for $750! Computer monitors are bigger than 27 inches now. But these were top of the line in 1989.

And what about communications? A normal corded phone would run you anywhere from $50-$100. If you wanted a cordless, it would cost upwards of $125! For the fun loving teen, there was also the Garfield phone for $50. I’m going to guess that this phone outsold all other designs throughout the course of history.

If you wanted personal music, that was going to cost you as well. Some of these Walkman’s were over $100! We are talking about cassette playing, wired headphones, AM/FM devices that cost a Benjamin. I totally feel for my parents and what I probably put them through.

Video games were certainly more important to me back then than VCR’s. And for half the price of a VCR, you could own the sweet Nintendo Entertainment System. No piece of technology has ever been more important to me throughout the course of my life. And just look at these games; Friday the 13th, Marble Madness, Double Dribble, Excitebike and Tecmo Bowl! I really think time could have stood still in 1989 and I would have been just fine.

There were other choices in 1989 for video game consoles but I was a couple years away from the 16-bit Sega and had outgrown the Atari.

If you wanted your gaming on the go, you could opt for the GameBoy. I played it a ton but I actually never owned a GameBoy of my own. I never really wanted one all that bad but I did enjoy the occasional playing of my friends games.

Some people were lucky enough to even have a computer. This Commodore wasn’t much more costly than the Nintendo but that didn’t include the monitor and the mouse. If you wanted those necessities, you were approaching $500. And you certainly had to have the disk drive, which was another $200. By the time you threw in the printer, you were looking at a $1,000 setup. The games were pretty awesome though!

For the gamer on a budget, you could always go with these gems. I had several different baseball and football handhelds during my youth.

When I had to put down the video games and actually go outside and play, I would throw baseballs at my pitch return. I threw at that net for hours on end and learned just as much about fielding as I did pitching.

I always wanted one of these pool tables as well but the closest I ever got was the small pool table in the picture. This wasn’t the easiest table to navigate but I remember playing quite a few games on it.

Then there was the clothing. Pajamas and Sweatsuits were my go to choices back in the day. The Nintendo sweatsuit was pretty sweet. And the team pajamas were pretty awesome too.

I’m pretty sure I had one of these get ups as well but it was UGA. I think there is a picture floating around somewhere with me wearing it. Maybe I’ll find that one day.

And of course, I had a couple of pairs of the sweatpants with the team names down the leg. I had some bicycle shorts too but they weren’t Lakers design.

I had to include this because who didn’t love a great sleeping bag. I remember taking mine to spend the night parties and zipping myself up in it to get all cozy. My daughter sleeps in her sleeping bag now in her bed so kids must still like them.

Finally, for the collectors out there, Sears offered some pretty sweet sports card deals. They had the exclusive Sears Ingots, which I bought at a recent card show(’85 version). They also had “Talking Baseball”, Baseball Star Pop Ups, the Baseball Card Collector’s Case, Price Guides, Binders and more! But item #8 could be had for $14.90 and it’s one of my favorite football sets from my youth; 1989 Topps.

I recently picked up a wax box of 1989 Topps to relive some of the magic of the greatest year ever. Even though some of the key rookie cards from this set are found in the Traded Set, the base set is still loaded with stars and some of the classic rookies from 1989. I love the box and wrappers from 1989 and who will argue over a .45 cent pack?

There were also box bottom cards as was customary for Topps in the 80’s. This year was Players of the Week and I picked up Week’s 13, 14, 15 and 16.

Also a customary inclusion in late 80’s football were the 1,000 Yard Club cards. These were glossy inserts at 1 per pack and covered a plethora of players that hit 1,000 yards. There are familiar names here!

The late 80’s were loaded with Hall of Fame and Star QB’s in the NFL. I pulled Boomer, Jim Kelly, Moon, Cunningham, Elway, Marino and many others.

It’s hard to beat the stud running backs in 1989. Bo Jackson and Christian Okoye were on the way in while Herschel and Craig were mid stride and Tony Dorsett and Eric Dickerson were wrapping up their illustrious careers.

Wide Receiver was not devoid of stars either.  Jerry Rice and John Taylor were both 1,000 yard receivers on the same team. Sterling Sharpe, Cris Carter and Andre Reed were some of my favorites.

In 1989, Tight Ends were more blockers than pass catchers. While that isn’t too much the case today, these were some good pass catchers back in the day. And we have the rare Jay Novachek in a Cardinals uniform.

The Defensive Line in 1989 was nasty! Bruce Smith, Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, Reggie White and Howie Long?? These dudes were absolute beasts!

Things didn’t get easier for the offense if they got to the second level of the defense either. LT and Mike Singletary were legendary at the linebacker position but all of these guys were studly.

Finally, the big hitters were in the secondary. Ronnie Lott was a man among men and Joey Browner and Rod Woodson could cover as well as they could hit. Now I am pretty sure Chuck Cecil wouldn’t have had a long career with today’s NFL safety rules. This guy was not scared of anything and he would absolutely take out receivers any time they came across the middle.

The Record Breakers were pretty dang good players too! Tim Brown, Eric Dickerson, Steve Largent and Dan Marino are all 80’s Icons!

I pulled 5 of the League Leader cards and I’ve always loved the Herschel/Dickerson card.

I pulled a ton of these team leader cards as well but I’ll only picture a few to show the design.

The “Super Rookies” were solid in ’89 with the inclusion of Brian Blades, Mark Rypien and Chris Spielman. Though there were two others I pulled that deserve their own photo spots.

Michael Irvin was the man and was one of the key players that helped turn the Cowboys around in the 90’s. This RC is always a welcome addition.

Then there is the gem of the base set, Thurman Thomas! I used Thurman so many times on Tecmo because the Bills were loaded. I wish they had won at least one of those Super Bowls because those guys deserved one.

Because I wanted to make this post complete, I also swiped the Traded Set for $7.95 from my LCS. Not including the big guys, there are still some solid names in this Traded Set that make it well worth the price. Steve Young, Don Beebe and Herschel headline the non-big guys. And I didn’t forget about you Scotty; Mr. Steve Grogan is included!

Here are the studs (except one) in the traded set. The rookies of Aikman, Deion, DT and Rison make this Traded Set worth so much more than the cost!

The best card in the entire 1989 Base and Traded Set is this awesome Barry Sanders. I love this card and it might be my favorite 80’s football card!

I don’t think anyone would argue that the 1989 Topps set is loaded and a great addition to any collection. I give it an easy “5” on the Dub-O-Meter because the design is classic 80’s and the checklist is star studded! This was such a great rookie year and still included many big stars that were either in the middle of their careers or winding down. There is really nothing I don’t like about this set, except for the 28 year old gum!


Scoring Scale

1.Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2.There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3.Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4.You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5.Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?