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?

Fantasy Football – The Cruel Mistress

I sit here this Sunday evening sulking over my horrible fantasy football luck and I’m trying to find positivity among the lit Christmas Tree and simmering pot of Chili. It’s not easy my friends. Everyone has a story but mine includes a knee injury for Rex Burkhead, a 6 point effort from Golden Tate and the worst game of the season for Russell Wilson. At this exact moment, it’s not over because I am down 26 and still have Michael Crabtree and Khalil Mack left and sacks are worth 4 points. But I am of the mindset at this point, based on the way this weekend has gone so far on the gridiron, that my season is over. I was the #1 scorer with the second best record in the league and this was my lowest scoring effort of the season. If you’ve ever played fantasy sports, I’m sure you’ve been there.

I’ve played fantasy football for many years and have experienced varying success throughout my “career”. I have hoisted the imaginary trophy 6 times and have made the playoffs more often than not but each year brings such a litany of highs and lows. I wonder sometimes why it’s so addictive because you are going to be disappointed more than you are elated because that’s just the way the numbers shake out. I’ve been in 16 teamers, 12 teamers and 10 teamers and even in the smallest, you have a mere 10% chance of being the champ. Factor in all of the things that are out of your control and it can become rather maddening.

Let’s talk about Billy Volek, Drew Bennett and the 2004 Fantasy Playoffs for a moment. The mere mention of these names gives me the shakes this time of year. Billy Volek took over in Week 12 for an injured Steve McNair in Tennessee and had what seemed like his long lost best friend at wide receiver in Bennett. I had the misfortune of running into the team that rostered both that fateful Week 14. That week, Billy Volek threw for 492 yards and 4 TD’s. He became only the 4th QB in NFL history to throw for back to back games of 400 yards. Drew Bennett caught 13 of those passes in Week 14 for 160 yards and 2 scores.

I actually had one of the great teams of 2004…..Until Week 14.

At QB, I had Donovan McNabb. Donnie Football went 13-2 in 2004, throwing for 3,875 yards, 31 TD’s and only 7 INT’s. In Week 14, 2004, he threw for 223 yards and 1 TD.

At my RB1 position, I had the great Clinton Portis. He rushed for 1,315 yards in 2014 but couldn’t find the end zone in Week 14 so I was stuck with his 110 yards for only 11 points.

At RB2, I had a running back that has likely been forgotten by most football fans but he was an absolute beast for about 2 ½ seasons. Dominick Davis had 1,188 yards and 13 TD’s in 2004. One of the shortest tenured studs I can remember, he rushed for 1,000 yards his first 2 seasons, winning ROY in 2003 and followed up in his 3rd season with 950 yards. Then he disappeared. He ended 2005 on IR and was released by the Texans, never to be heard from again. He worked out for a few teams up until 2010 from what I can find but he just never made it back to the league. He actually helped me out in Week 14 that year with 158 yards and a score.

WR1 was the unforgettable Chad “OchoCinco” Johnson. Ocho finished 2004 with 1,274 yards, good for 6th in the league. He also added 9 scores that year. In Week 14, he was completely shut down, registering only 2 catches for 10 yards. What a bust!

WR2 was a mainstay on my fantasy teams for several years. Reggie Wayne was automatic during the 2000’s with Peyton Manning at QB. In 2004, he hauled in 77 catches for 1,210 yards and 12 scores. He even had a serviceable Week 14 but failed to reach the end zone so his 8 receptions for 88 yards felt a little short.

Finally, my TE was a Falcon favorite, Alge Crumpler. Alge is another player that is many times forgotten by football fans but he was a favorite in Atlanta. In 2004, he finished with 48 grabs for 774 yards and 6 scores. He was pretty reliable all season from the TE slot; until Week 14. He caught 3 balls for 38 yards that week and was the final nail in my lineup’s coffin.

I don’t really remember the other players my opponent had. I really haven’t had to. Billy Volek and Drew Bennett would’ve combined to take me down as long as my opponent had any combination of warm bodies in his lineup. I cultivated this team all year and Billy Freakin Volek swooped in and ended my season. This wasn’t the only time but it hurts the most when I think back. My season was ended by a 19 tackle performance by DeMeco Ryans one year. Another year, it was the Colts sitting their studs. Last year, I lost in the Championship to Kirk Cousins and David Johnson so that was easier to stomach but I did have Andrew Luck and Zeke.

This year has been a rough ride. I’ve gotten up and down weeks from Jordan Howard and this week was down. Russell Wilson was the #1 QB in the league coming in to this week and finished with 13 points. I lost Zeke 5 weeks ago and was trying to hang on for 1 more. One of my keepers, Andrew Luck, never played a down. Michael Crabtree and JuJu Smith-Schuster both had suspensions late in the season. I lost Chris Hogan to a shoulder injury for much of the second half. I lost Greg Olsen week 1. Golden Tate was one of the steadiest receivers for the whole year and gave me a lame 3 for 36 this week. You win some and you lose some but it really hurts when you lay your biggest egg in the playoffs.

Despite this season’s results, I will be back again next year and hopefully Zeke and Andrew Luck will as well. I enjoy it too much to give it up, even if it is a cruel mistress more often than not. Fantasy Football is the only reason I’ll sit down and watch the Jets play the Raiders during the regular season. I have no interest in watching the Dolphins unless I have Jarvis Landry or Kenyan Drake. And I wouldn’t be caught dead rooting for the Patriots unless I needed that touchdown from Rex Burkhead or Chris Hogan. It makes football as a whole more interesting for me since I don’t play Super Tecmo Bowl anymore. It also helps me stay current with the hobby happenings.

In an effort to close the fantasy season with happy thoughts, I figured I would remember some of my favorite fantasy studs of all time. I collected these players cards and loved when I had them on my fantasy team. They performed well as members of J-Dub’s Baller’s and have their numbers hanging on the mezzanine of Hustle Headquarters.

Daunte Culpepper
Culpepper just lit up the league from 2000-2004 with multiple years of 3,500+ yards, including 4,717 yards in 2004. He topped 30+ td’s in 2000 and 2004 with 33 and 39, respectively. He also ran for 609 yards and 10 TD’s in 2002! Fantasy Legend!

Rudi Johnson
My all-time RB1 has to be Rudi Johnson. I rostered him in 2005 and 2006 and he paid dividends each year. He totaled 2,800 yards those two seasons and found pay dirt 24 times. He was as steady as it got for those 2 solid years.

Jerome Bettis
I only owned Bettis twice but I loved having him on my roster. Even though it was late in his career, he was pretty good for 80 yards and a score each and every week. I wish I had played Fantasy Football during the mid 90’s when he was ripping off 1,500 yard seasons.

Priest Holmes
Priest was the first RB I ever drafted in 2001 and he rewarded me with a 1,500 yard season but only 8 TD’s. He followed that season up with 1,615 yards and 21 scores. For a short period of time, there was no one more dominant than Holmes.

Muhsin Muhammad
One of my favorite WR’s of the 2000’s, Muhammad was as consistent as anyone in the league. Six seasons from 2000-2009 were 800+ yard seasons. I wish I had drafted him in 2004 because he had 1,405 yards and 16 TD’s. In Week 14 of that season, he had 10 catches for 135 yards and a score.

Donald Driver
The other wide receiver that I targeted in drafts during the 2000’s was Donald Driver. He was the #1 for Brett Favre, along with Javon Walker a couple of years. Driver had seven 1,000+ yard seasons from 2000-2009 and averaged about 80 catches. He didn’t find the end zone as much as some other receivers, never topping 9, but he was a yardage monster!

Chris Cooley
Aside from walking around naked in locker rooms with cameras around, Cooley was a pretty solid Tight End during the 2000’s. He was a consistent 60 catch player and could find the end zone a half dozen times a year too. He never had overwhelming numbers but he was definitely a solid contributor each year.

One day my list will probably include Andrew Luck, Zeke, Golden Tate, Jimmy Graham, Julian Edelman and others but for now, these guys are in the Ring of Honor for the Ballers. It’s funny how you remember certain plays, certain games, particular players and otherwise insignificant moments in football history when you are involved in fantasy football. You remember that one catch that Alshon Jeffery didn’t haul in, the extra couple of yards Marshawn Lynch could’ve picked up if they had just given him the ball one more time and that tipped interception that Matthew Stafford threw in a Week 8 win, even though he shouldn’t have made that last pass attempt. Sometimes you are on the right side of history but more times than not, you are left scratching your head at the end of the season and you start to question whether the season has burned you for the last time. As I wrap this up, Michael Crabtree just caught his second TD pass and Khalil Mack has 2 sacks so I’ve defied the odds and pulled off the comeback, barring a cruel stat adjustment. But don’t think for a moment that it is lost on me that my opponent could write this same article tomorrow because he fell victim to the same cruel mistress that I was tortured by just a couple of hours ago.


Retro Review – A Christmas Morning Score

It’s officially December and the family got the Christmas Tree up in the Living Room last night. Thus begins the greatest month of the year for a nostalgic fellow such as myself. Most of the stuff I write about can be traced back through Christmas gifts, family and holiday times when I was out of school. If you’ve read my work, you know about the infamous Nintendo Christmas, the year I got Tecmo Super Bowl, the first complete set of baseball cards I received, 1990 Topps, and the glory days of the holiday gridiron. No matter how old I get, I will forever remember Christmas from when I was a kid. My goal now is to give those same memories to my kids.

I grew up in a much simpler time than my kids are and our Christmas gifts wouldn’t really make much of an impact on them. They aren’t really interested in a Teddy Ruxpin doll that reads a story when they can sit down with a Leap Pad and write their own. The graphics from my Tandy Computer the morning I got Downland would probably look like cave drawings to them. And in a world with Hover Boards, iPhones and Netflix, the good ole days of the VHS tapes, Big Wheels and Gameboy are as outdated as ever. But for me, and probably most of you, I wouldn’t trade any of the toys I had as a kid.

Donkey Kong Mini Arcade
This is really the first Christmas present I vividly remember. I was 5 years old and I received a miniature arcade game that I could play in my own room. I remember it vividly though because of the circumstances of that Christmas. I had chicken pox on Christmas Day and was unable to go to any of the family functions so Christmas presents were brought back to me where I would open them in a rather uneventful quarantined environment. But while I had to stay in my room that day, I had this Donkey Kong Mini Arcade to keep me company. I’ve thought about buying one of these just for the nostalgic significance it holds for me at Christmas time.

Fast forward a year of two and Santa Claus came through yet again with the Castle of Greyskull! I remember having He-Man, Battle Cat, Man-At-Arms, Man-E-Faces, Skeletor, Panthor and Beast Man. I watch my youngest daughter sometimes and am amazed at how she can play with little character toys and pretend that they are really doing the things she is telling them to do. Then I remember back to when Skeletor tried to take the Castle and He-Man had to fend him off. It was all too real to me in my mind back in those days so I can totally understand what she’s doing. What I don’t understand now is how a hero like He-Man had such a horrendous haircut.

Tyco Challenge Race Track
I actually got a few of these over the years and me, my dad and my brother would set them up in the dining room floor to race each other. We never got the track set up quite as cool as they did in the commercials but we had a blast with them. I was always able to beat my little brother when we got them because I was old enough to know that you had to let off the controller in the corners or the cars would catapult into the curtains. Those little needles under those cars couldn’t take tight turns!

Wise Cracking Alf
This was a classic! Alf is a legendary pop culture figure from the 80’s and this Alf doll was hilarious for a kid. When you pressed his stomach, he spouted off some of his catch phrases like, “Ha, I Kill Me!” and “Hey Gimme Four!” The alien from Melmac was actually kind of creepy in retrospect as he spent so much of his time searching the house for the cat because he ate them. As a matter of fact, according to YouTube, Alf actually did eat 152 cats. I miss the times when everyone wasn’t so sensitive about everything!

I must have had 10 or more of these at one time as a kid. They were “gross” for adults but they fit right in with my Garbage Pail Cards. Plus, they were balls that you could actually throw and bounce and they were useful. I think these have made a bit of a comeback but as we all know, things are always the most fun the first time around. I actually may try to find some of these to get Bailey for Christmas though because she would probably like them!

The Dingo
This was my first “grownup” sort of Christmas present and it was legendary. I wheeled this bad boy all over my yard and often took it to an area behind our house that had some ditches and hills to jump. You could actually fit two kids in the seat and we would fight over who got to drive. I was lucky that I never had any real accidents in this contraption because we didn’t care anything about helmets and seat belts in 1987. I spent a lot of my youth around go carts because of how much my dad and uncles enjoyed them and The Dingo is a big part of the memories of those fun times.

Sony Walkman
Here is one of the gifts from my youth that would go over like a lead balloon with my kids. First of all, they have no idea what a cassette is. They also don’t know anything about having to listen to a full song or fast forwarding to the end of it if you want to hear the next one. That’s right, damnit! If we wanted to cherry pick songs, we had to work at it. We didn’t have it easy like kids today. As was evident when we had to be the remote control for our Dad when he was watching TV, technology was still pretty far from where it is today. But, I also remember black and white TV’s, Asteroids and beta players so the Walkman was a Marty McFly type innovation.

NBA Live ’95 SNES
I received a lot of great games at Christmas time, as I have discussed here before. But one that I really loved was NBA Live ’95 on the SNES. To me, it represented one of the bigger advancements in basketball gaming that we had seen to that point. It was a very slick TV style presentation with full season and teams and the ability to make trades. NBA Live ’95 perfected the basketball game for me much like Tecmo Super Bowl did football. The Magic was stacked with Shaq, Penny, Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott; The Rockets had Hakeem, Horry and Drexler; The Knicks had Ewing, Mason, Starks and Oakley. But the Golden State Warriors were absolutely loaded with a squad that suited up Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin, Latrell Sprewell, Chris Webber and Billy Owens!

I would be remiss if I didn’t list this one as a staple of Christmas past. The running joke for us kids at my Granny’s house was that we were always going to get some fruiters from her. Sometimes it was socks, sometimes plain white t-shirts. But sometimes, it was tighty whities! Yes, my Granny made it her mission every Christmas to get us underwear. It didn’t stop when we got older and started bringing girlfriends with us to the family function either. Even today, at 40, someone is going to yell, “FRUITERS” at my Granny’s Christmas function. I guess it’s more evidence that we never really grew up.

Sports cards became a highly sought after gift when I turned 12 and I have been receiving them without fail for the last 27 years. My mother asked me last week what I needed for Christmas and I told her sports cards. Let’s face it, I still need them! I mentioned that the first complete set I got for Christmas was 1990 Topps but there was another set that year that was pretty prevalent. My stocking was loaded with them, my grandmother got me several packs and I used some of the money I got that year to buy more at Wal-Mart when the stores reopened after the holidays. That was when I was turned on to Score and the great rookie class of 1990. Score had some up and down years but I would submit that 1990 was their best effort.

Junk Wax Score can never be accused of being bland, that’s for sure. The box for 1990 was a bold yellow and the wrappers were the same. The wrappers were those little plastic baggies that I have mentioned here before. You could see straight through the pack to the front and back card but that wasn’t highly unusual for the time. And the box is the standard behemoth for 1990 with 36 packs of 16 cards each.

The Base Cards were broken up into three basic colors; Blue, Red and Green. These were broken up by sections of the checklist. First group was Green, mid was Red and the end of the checklist was Blue. Each section had the highlighter yellow trim.

As was typical for Score in the late 80’s-early 90’s, their pack inserts were “Magic Motion” Cards with ’90 focused on MVP’s.

The infielders were highlighted by some of the usual suspects; Sheffield, The Wizard, Boggs and McGwire. Of course, I had to include Sabo and Dunston as well.

The outfield is well represented by Bo, Puckett, The Hawk and Tim Raines. Unfortunately, no Griffey or Canseco.

The pitchers were slim in this box but Ryan, Doc and Maddux are definitely welcome.

There were several “Draft Picks” included in the set and these three were some of the hottest. I missed out on the biggest hit in the set, Frank Thomas. Mo Vaughn looked svelte here!

Here is where this set stands out! Look at some of the rookies included here; Sosa, Deion, Olerud, Alou, Tino, Bernie, Larry Walker and Juan-Gone! There were also three strong prospects here that could land in my “Dated Rookies” Autograph project; Eric Anthony, Dean Palmer and Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens.

The “Highlight” Cards we’re in all sorts of designs. They were blue, white, landscape, portrait and had multiple fonts used. All over the map!

The Dream Team became one of my favorite inserts but not in 1990. These were ok because they had a sketch look but I think they were just airbrushed to some degree. Aside from Sandberg and Boggs, the pulls here were pedestrian.

There are things to like and dislike about 90 Score. As for dislike, the “Draft Pick” Class didn’t pan out besides Thomas, Knoblauch and Mo to an extent. There are also a ton of mediocre players who were included in the full checklist. This also wasn’t my favorite Dream Team Set. However, I do personally have the bright design as one of my favorite Score efforts. It was similar to ’88 but I like it because it’s a little bolder. You would also be hard pressed to beat this rookie class from a depth standpoint. The rip is very affordable and that makes it even more appealing when trying to pull those rookies. I’d give the set a shaky “4” because of the colors and the rookie class. It could easily be a “3” if the rookie class weren’t so deep. It may have been a solid “4” if I had pulled a Big Hurt. Regardless of the final mark, it certainly belongs on my list of favorite all time Christmas gifts!


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?

Cheese Puffs with Phoebe Cates

As I put more years behind me, I know I have experienced a metamorphosis both physically and mentally. The physical part hasn’t been so great, as I am about 50 lbs. heavier than I was as a senior in high school. There has been a steady increase in that category since age 30 at a rate of about 5 lbs. per year. I have gone from being able to eat a full box of oatmeal crème pies to only being able to eat one a week if I want to keep from feeling terrible about my choices. I also know that my hair has thinned on my head and the hair in my beard has gotten progressively grayer over the last few years. My face is starting to show more lines (I like to call it character) and my back just can’t handle the rigors of basketball and softball like the days of yore.

From a mental standpoint, the changes can sometimes seem less dramatic but I know that they are just as prevalent. For one, I do seem to worry less about things that are out of my control. I have more perspective now than I did when I was a spry young adult. I also don’t get so wrapped up in some of the nuances that life can challenge you with and try to focus more on the important stuff. That is a work in progress but I know that I am on more solid ground at 40. I have a better idea of what is important to me and my family at this age and don’t have as much time for the less important stuff. I have also seen and heard a lot over my life so I’m not as naïve or surprised by things anymore. That doesn’t mean that wild moments don’t exist; it just means that I am less surprised or shocked by them now. I think all of that is a part of maturing mentally.

But one of the key downsides to aging for your mental state is that your memories start to slip. Part of that is age but part of that is today’s society as well. We live in an age where we need to be entertained 24/7 or we get bored and want to pull our hair out. Because we have sensory (and information) overload from Twitter, FaceBook, or any of the other “have it now” tools, we move from one highlight to the next and don’t really take in the full experience anymore. This has a way of affecting the way we remember things, as moments are less of what we create and more of what is created for us. I know, I’m not a fancy psychologist or anything but I promise I am going somewhere with this.

Take for instance, movies. When I was a kid, the only way to see a movie was to go to the theater, get your parents to take you to the video store or catch it when it was on TV. Every time I bring up “video store”, I shed a lone tear in memoriam. So when you watched a movie, you have this experience of going to the video store, scouring the shelves, reading the back of cases and checking it out. You then had one or two days to watch the movie and get it back to the store before you were charged more money. So that meant you would grab a snack, turn the lights down and actually watch a movie from start to finish. It was a movie watching experience and it created memories; even if they are now just anecdotal callbacks to your youth.

Now, we pop on Netflix or our phones and watch a movie over a several day span when the mood strikes us. Or we’ll watch a 15 episode season in one night, which has a way of diluting the event as well. It isn’t about the movie or show anymore as much as it is about filling time or being someone who also saw the hot thing that every one is talking about on Twitter. There are spoilers now. And if you don’t want the spoiler, stay off social media or you will be berated for not seeing it yet. And by being subjected to the spoiler, you would have somehow gotten what you deserved. It’s about being first to see it and having the most sensible fan theory or whatever the kids are calling it now.

This is just an example of a bigger issue. This could be expanded to music, politics, sports and yes, even hobbies. We have forgotten what life was like when we had to appreciate the little things. We have forgotten the little things altogether. Maybe those things didn’t mean as much as we thought. Or maybe we have overrated things today. Either way, we have forgotten the small things and only remembered the major songs, movies, foods and toys from our youth. But there was more! Believe me when I say that “Saved by the Bell” wasn’t the only Saturday morning teen show on the tube. And “Tecmo Super Bowl”, “Super Mario” and “Contra” weren’t the only video games we played. And “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” aren’t the only horror movies the 80’s had to offer!

With that outline in place, and by keeping the context of this blog post light and fluffy, let’s look at some of the things that have been lapped by other pop culture icons but were still great when they were around. Then, strangely enough, this will tie into baseball cards. Because in the end, isn’t that what this is all about anyway? Consider this a list of forgotten/underrated/overlooked favorites according to Dub. I’m here to bring awareness to the masses.

Minute Maid Juice Bars
Everybody my age remembers the bomb pop and the push up and pop-ice that we had as kids. But why have we forgotten about the Minute Maid Juice Bars? These were magical small frozen treats that were fruity delicious and they were available at all of my school snack bars. The tops were oddly shaped triangles that morphed into a different facing triangle at the bottom. Does that make sense? You show me someone who didn’t like those and I’ll show you someone who is living life wrong. They are still around but I showed them to my daughter the last time we were at Publix and she thought I was nuts. We have to make the Minute Maid Juice Bar great again but I think the hashtag #MMMJBGA would be too cumbersome!

Cheese Puffs
While we are at it, let’s bring back another classic snack that is grossly underrated today; the Cheese Puff! I personally am a fan of any cheese puff but my friend CJ swears by the local grocery store brand puff. He doesn’t like frills in his cheese puffs. He just wants air and cheese! You can have your Doritos and Ruffles and I’ll take the Cheese Puffs all day. Again, they still make them and they are popular in pockets but they are definitely more of a kid snack. That doesn’t have to be the case anymore!

Silver Bullet
I have spoken about “Silver Bullet” before in one of my articles about 1985 Fleer. What’s not to love about this 80’s horror movie? It was a Stephen King adaptation that starred Gary Busey and Corey Haim and was about a preacher that turned into a werewolf. I mean, that sounds like pure gold to me. There is even a part in the film where they are playing poker and using baseball cards as cash; “You can’t bet managers.” This one does not get mentioned with some of the greats from the 80’s because we had to make room for all the new crap we are watching, like “Annabelle”. Chucky would run circles around “Annabelle” by the way.

Halloween III
This one is more about being underrated than forgotten. I have even been a critic of the film but only in the context that it was in the middle of the Halloween franchise. Had this been a standalone film that was never associated with the Michael Myers line of films, this would have gotten much more praise. The film is really quite good for a mid 80’s horror flick but when it didn’t have Myers, fans wrote it off. It is only remembered now as a movie that was drastically out of place.

Maximum Overdrive/Who Made Who
Here is where we cross over from movies to music and the segue couldn’t be more perfect. “Maximum Overdrive” was another Stephen King adaptation that starred Emilio Estevez. Electronics came to life, cars drove themselves and lawn mowers attacked their owners. All of this was to the soundtrack of AC/DC! One of the theme songs in the movie was “Who Made Who” and is one of their best in my mind. They will always be remembered for “Hells Bells”, “Shook Me All Night Long” and “Thunderstruck” but damnit, “Who Made Who” is a great song and should get more recognition when AC/DC comes up in conversation today. I’m betting 9 out of 10 hipsters that wear AC/DC Retro Shirts today don’t know that song.

I’m talking about the band, not the liquor. People know about Green Day or Gin Blossoms or Bush but how many of those people name Everclear as an influential band from the 90’s? I know you have heard the song “Santa Monica” but you have probably heard a laundry list of their other songs and didn’t even know it was them. They pumped out gems like “Father of Mine”, “Wonderful”, “Everything to Everyone” and “Learning How to Smile” and we aren’t even scratching the surface here. Kids today think they know what music is but if you don’t have Everclear in your catalogue (on iTunes) then you really are missing a major contributor to the 90’s garage band scene.

California Dreams
How many of you remember this gem? Not enough, because “Saved By The Bell” has taken over your memories and that is the only high school teen show you have room for anymore. This was also about a group of teenagers but this group formed a band that would have slaughtered Zack Morris’ “Friends Forever” routine. Granted, it was not as good as SBTB and Kelly Packard was no Kelly Kapowski but it deserves to have its place in our memories!

You Can’t Do That On Television
Before Nickelodeon went full on bore-fest with Dora, iCarly and Victorious, they were pumping out quality programming that included Ren & Stimpy, Double Dare and Mr. Wizard. One of the best shows in my memory though is “You Can’t Do That On Television”. This was a teenage sketch comedy that originally aired in Canada before moving to a more international audience. This is where slime was created. This was also where we were first introduced to Alanis Morisette and Christine “Moose” McGlade. It was funny, irreverent and corny at times but I really miss that show.

StarTropics was one of the most underrated and thus forgotten NES games of my youth. It was a strategy game very much like Legend of Zelda but was based on archaeology, science, space and oceanography. We’re talking extraterrestrials, speaking parrots and singing dolphins here. The game even came with a physical letter that you had to dip in water to reveal a code to continue gameplay when prompted. The only downside of the game is that it was before the internet so when I lost that letter, I couldn’t play it a second time through because none of my friends had the game and there was nowhere to go to find that code again. You could also throw RC Pro Am and ExciteBike as forgotten gems from my youth as well.

Barbara Crampton
As a teen, I liked horror movies and I liked chicks! And one of the hottest horror movie chicks ever was Barbara Crampton. She was famous for “Re-Animator” but was in others like “Puppet Master”, “The Beyond” and “Chopping Mall.” She’s been in more recent films like “We Are Still Here” and “Beyond The Gates” and still has that mojo. Sure, people remember Jamie Lee Curtis and Danielle Harris but Barbara Crampton is a true Scream Queen that should be more recognized today.

Phoebe Cates
Here is another actress that was pretty well known in the 80’s with movies like “Gremlins”, “Bright Lights, Big City” and “Drop Dead Fred”. But she was most well known for her amazing performance in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” She was drop dead gorgeous but has been relatively absent from our minds since the mid 90’s. We must not forget Phoebe Cates! I cannot and will not allow that to happen to our society. A society without Phoebe Cates is not a society I want to be a part of. Too much?

So that brings us to baseball cards. I’ve used all of these examples to set up my list of players from when I was a kid that are grossly underrated or forgotten in the hobby today. Maybe this was a flimsy setup but I enjoyed putting this list together. Collectors today will occasionally jump on an old cheap box and ask me what they should be looking for. The short answer is always the same; Bo Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Nolan Ryan. But yes, just like the list above, there is more to the 80’s baseball card scene than those hot names that everybody remembers. There are some high quality players to be found in 80’s wax that may not break the bank on eBay but certainly should have a more prominent spot in our collection when we pull their cards.

The list is by no means comprehensive but these are some of the bigger names I look for when ripping old wax. These are non-hall of fame players that probably aren’t as obvious to today’s collectors as they are to the old guard like @oriolesrise, @JunkWaxTwins, @OffHiatusBBC and @ShaneKatz73. These are players that we loved to put in our binders and were usually trade centerpieces when we wanted to pick up those Jr’s and Canseco’s.

Ruben Sierra
Sierra spent some great years with the Texas Rangers and I remember seeking him out in the late 80’s. He had 4 seasons with 100+ RBI and 17 seasons with double digit home runs. Seven of those seasons produced 20+ bombs. His best season was in 1989 when he hit .306 with 29 HR, 119 RBI and 13 triples. He was a 4x All-Star and Silver Slugger Award Winner and is in the Rangers Hall of Fame.

Vince Coleman
Coleman didn’t have the all around numbers like Sierra but he was a beast on the base path. He played 13 seasons and finished with 752 career stolen bases. He had 3 seasons with 100+, 7 seasons with 50+ and was a 6x SB leader. He hit for a mediocre average over his career at .264 and only mustered up 28 career bombs. But damn, he was fast!

Shawon Dunston
This was more of a personal favorite of mine than anything. He had so-so numbers over his career in which he hit for a .269 average with 150 HR and 212 SB. He did have 5 seasons with 20+ steals and was a 3x All-Star. I really enjoyed watching him play.

Kevin Mitchell
Mitchell was a real beast! He played 13 seasons and racked up 234 career home runs, which averaged out to 31 per 162 games. He also averaged 101 RBI per 162 games and had a career .284 average. In 1989, he won the NL MVP with a .291 batting average, 47 HR and 125 RBI. He was also a 2x All-Star and Silver Slugger Award Winner.

Jay Buhner
Buhner played 15 seasons and tallied 310 home runs and 965 RBI. Those aren’t HOF numbers but they are dang good as it averaged out to 34 HR/106 RBI per 162 games. He did strike out a lot and only hit .254 over his career but he made up for it with an All-Star appearance, a Gold Glove in ’96 and he’s in the Mariners HOF.

Benito Santiago
Santiago was one of the first catchers I really paid attention to. Alomar Jr. was a hot rookie but I really liked Santiago. He played 20 years and mashed 217 HR and amassed 920 RBI. He also collected 91 SB over his career, which is nothing to sneeze at for a catcher. He was a 5x All-Star, NLCS MVP (2002), 3x Gold Glove Winner, 4x Silver Slugger Winner and the 1987 NL ROY. He was and still is highly collectible for me. He is also a member of the San Diego Padres HOF.

Eric Davis
This may have been the easiest one for me when compiling this list. Davis was beloved by fans in Cincinnati and around the country. He was a likeable player and I enjoyed watching him play. He played 17 seasons and hit 282 HR and 934 RBI which averaged out to 28/93 per 162 games over his career. He also had 349 SB for an average of 35 per 162 games. He had a massive 80 steals in 1986 and 50 in 1985. He was also a 2x All-Star, World Series Champ (’90), 3x Gold Glove Winner, 2x Silver Slugger Award Winner, Roberto Clemente Award Winner and is a member of the Reds HOF. Former teammate Paul O’Neill said that Davis was the “Best Everything” he had ever seen play.

Mike Greenwell
Greenwell played 12 seasons and averaged 17 home runs, 10 SB and a .303 batting average per 162 games. He was a 2x All-Star, Silver Slugger Award Winner and is a member of the Red Sox HOF.

Ellis Burks
Greenwell’s teammate, Ellis Burks, is another stud I search for in the Junk Wax sets I rip. Burks played 18 seasons and hit 352 HR and knocked in 1,206 runs. This came out to an average of 29/98 per 162 games over his career. He also had 84 SB, hit for a career .291 avg and hit over .300 a total of 6 times in his career. He was a lock for the Red Sox HOF with these stats and his 2x All-Star, Gold Glove and 2x Silver Slugger Award.

Mark Grace
Grace has had his share of off-field troubles since he retired but he was a very good player during his career. He played 16 seasons and hit 173 HR and 1,146 RBI. He also won 4 Gold Gloves and went to the All-Star game 2 times. He had 9 seasons with a batting average over .300 and finished his career with a .303 average.

Chris Sabo
I’m not going to lie; some of this was about the goggles. Chris Sabo is such a nostalgic player for me because of how unique his cards were. His stats weren’t bad either though as he hit 116 HR and knocked in 426 runs over a 9 year career. He was a 3x All-Star and the NL ROY in 1988 on his way to being inducted into the Reds HOF. The goggles made him fast too as he swiped 120 career SB’s, averaging 21 per 162 games.

Andres Gallaraga
One of the reasons I like collecting Gallaraga is the Expos uniform he is found in on his 80’s cards. He was a Brave for a while too but I believe that the best looking uniform ever belonged to the Montreal Expos. He played 19 seasons and hit 399 HR, collected 1,452 RBI and swiped 128 bases while keeping a career batting average of .288. He was a 5x All-Star, 2x Gold Glover, 2x Silver Slugger, NL Batting Champ in ’93 and NL Home Run Leader in ’96. He was known for his power but he really was a 5-Tool Player for many years.

Will Clark
Clark has a few PC guys out there so this one is not a middle of the road player. Clark played 15 years and had a career batting average of .303 while hitting 284 HR and 1,205 RBI. He also was a 6x All-Star, NLCS MVP (’89), 2x Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner. He hit over .300 for 10 out of 15 total seasons. Will “The Thrill” was amazing at the plate.

Fred McGriff
The “Crime Dog” is the one player on this list that should definitely be in the Hall of Fame. He played 19 years and hit 493 home runs, falling just 7 shy of the magical “500” number. He also hit for average with a career number of .284. He was a 5x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger, 2x Home Run Leader and hit over .300 during 6 of his seasons. Please tell me why a player with 493 home runs, 1,550 RBI, a World Series Ring (’95) and these other accolades is not in the Hall of Fame. It’s a travesty!

Dave Stewart
The first pitcher on the list is a 3x World Series Champ with a career 168-129 win-loss record. The key for me with Stewart was what he did during my collecting heyday. From 1987-1990, he won 20+ games every season and finished his career with 1,741 K’s and a 3.95 ERA. He was the 1989 WS MVP and a 2x ALCS MVP. He also threw a no-hitter in 1990. He doesn’t have the numbers for the HOF but he was a very good pitcher when I started collecting.

Jose Rijo
This is not just because I pulled his auto in a recent box of Archives Postseason Signature Series. Like Dave Stewart, Rijo was a stud in the league when I started collecting. He had a career 116-91 record over 14 years but won 14+ from 90-93 and was the WS MVP in 1990. He finished with 1,600 K’s and is a member of the Reds HOF.

Bret Saberhagen
The final pitcher on my list is Saberhagen. He played 16 seasons and finished his career with a 167-117 win-loss record. He had a stellar 3.34 career ERA and struck out 1,715 batters, averaging 151 per 162 games. His best season was 1989 when he went 23-6 with 12 complete games and finished with a 2.16 ERA. He tallied 193 K’s that season. He finished his career as a 3x All-Star, World Series Champ (’85), World Series MVP (’85), 2x AL Cy Young Award, Gold Glove Winner (’89), MLB Wins Leader (’89), AL ERA Leader (’89) and pitched a no-hitter in 1991. It’s no surprise that he is a member of the Kansas City Royals HOF.

For the collectors that ask me who I look for when I rip open those classic junk wax boxes, this is your answer. There are others that are personal favorites of mine that may not have had numbers this good but these are all studs you can find in late 80’s products that make the relatively low cost very much worth it. These are also players that are highly collectible with their team collectors as well. So while Kelly Kapowski was #1 in the late 80’s, I don’t think I would have been complaining if Phoebe Cates gave me a call back then. In that same regard, while Ken Griffey Jr. and Jose Canseco were the big catches in the card world, I would complain about pulling any of these guys either. It’s easy to forget about players, songs or movies that we aren’t constantly reminded of today but that doesn’t mean they aren’t classics and worthy of our attention. Get out there and find some of these 80’s legends