1986 was a pretty eventful year for both the country and for your humble sports blogger. Some events were awesome, some were frightening and some were just downright tragic! I was 9 and certain things freeze in your mind at that age that you carry with you for the rest of your life. Not every memory sticks but the ones that do are pretty important and meaningful, whether good or bad. 1986 was loaded with them and really stands as a pivotal year in my youth.
The year started with a horrible tragedy witnessed by most of the world on national television. In January, one of America’s most memorable disasters happened when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded about a minute after launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida. I was actually 8 when this happened with my birthday being in February and I, like many other school children at the time, watched this unfold on live television. This was an important launch because a teacher, Christa McAuliffe was chosen among 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher In Space program. She was going to teach a few lessons from space on the ship and I remember it being a really big deal.
I can still see the image of those astronauts walking through a galley and smiling and waving at a crowd of people. It’s one of those moments that I’ll carry with me forever. We all have those certain moments and this is definitely one of mine. I remember just staring at the TV trying to figure out what happened. The adults didn’t know what to say. The kids didn’t really even know what we were actually seeing. It was a horrible tragedy that took the lives of all 7 astronauts and captivated the nation. The compartment that held the crew was eventually found on the ocean floor with all crew members still inside. Such a haunting moment in our history.On a much more upbeat note but still frightening for me personally, I saw The Shining for the first time that year as well. You may be asking how a 9 year old would wind up seeing The Shining. Well, I don’t really remember how it happened. I just know that I was at the summer babysitter’s house and she had an older son who had the movie on the tube. I remember the first time I saw those creepy twins in the hallway. I had one of those big wheel tricycles and I was horrified at the thought of riding it around that haunted hotel. That movie could’ve broken me at that early age but thankfully, I’ve stuck with horror movies as my favorite genre into adulthood. I still watch that movie on a somewhat regular basis and I think about how paralyzing some parts were to me but I couldn’t look away. When he burst into the bathroom with an axe and said, “Heeerrreee’s Johnny!”, I almost threw in the towel.Another movie I watched that year was actually a new flick. Top Gun hit the big screen and it was more my speed at 9. I do remember being pretty broken up about Goose dying (spoiler alert) though. The best/worst memory from that movie was when Ice Man said he was “dangerous” and made a horrible clenching of his teeth that even gave us kids douche chills. I was not a fan of Ice. It was the first movie that made me hate Michael Ironside too. He knew Maverick got him whether he was below the hard deck or not – sore loser. And even in 1986, the volleyball scene seemed so out of place and unnecessary. All in all though, it was a classic movie and still very watchable to this day. There is even a rumor of a new Top Gun Reboot coming out in 2019 that will star Maverick himself, Tom Cruise. The jury is still out on that idea.
So as you can see, I’m not lying about how packed the year was with events and memorable moments. But the year was packed with something else that hits closer to home with this blog. 1986 was a tremendous year for Rookies in MLB. Specifically, the ’86 Topps Traded set was loaded. Everybody clamored for the ’86 Donruss Canseco Rated Rookie, and rightfully so. But the ’86 Topps Traded set included a few players that wouldn’t be included in other sets until 1987 so it was really a sneak peek at the ’87 hotness that was coming.The ’86 Topps Design has always seemed like one of those “you either love or hate” sets. But I have personally always loved the design. It was a total change from the previous few years with the heavy black border at the top so as to include the team name. Unfortunately, the black top border has caused nightmares with grading over the years and a “10” is quite elusive. The backs of the cards were a pinkish red that I really liked, which may come as a surprise to those who know I dislike the deep ketchup red of ’90 Donruss. But this red was more subtle and soothing to the retina. They differ slightly from the base set as the red is deeper there. The Traded Set came with 132 cards, including a checklist that included later season rookies and players that had been on the move during the season.The set can be found for $10-$15 and represents a very affordable buy if you are in the market for some big name 80’s rookies. Here are a few that are included.
Bobby Bonilla – Here with the White Sox but would soon become a teammate of Bonds in Pitt. He had no clue at this point that he would be a millionaire way into his retirement thanks to a terrible contract on behalf of the Mets.
Bo Jackson – The greatest athlete of my generation – Vincent Edward Jackson. Side note for those who didn’t know. He got the name “Bo” from his brothers who called him a Bo “Boar” Hog when he was a kid.
Kevin Mitchell – If you watched baseball in the late 80’s, you know Kevin Mitchell. He was an absolute terror in the batters box and even caught an Ozzie Smith flyball barehanded in the outfield once That you have to see to believe!. Just a monster!
Airbrush – I couldn’t complete a post on ’86 Topps Traded without a couple of examples of the horrendous airbrush jobs. This Seaver and Claudell are really bad but there are others. The Griffey Sr. above is weak as well.
Did I mention there were a ton of rookies in this set? 1986 Topps Traded is a very affordable set and is a great one to own because of some of the big names included. I love this Traded Set and these players are part of the MLB I grew up with. To me, this would have been a great time to start collecting if I hadn’t been abusing my own psyche by watching movies like The Shining. I do remember collecting some Star Wars stuff around this time but it didn’t stick and baseball cards eventually took center stage. Fortunately, I can go back and buy these sets now and they are cheaper than some shiny variation of a middle reliever in 2017 Bowman Platinum. This set is a perfect example of what I like to sort through when I sit down and go card rummaging. Star power and affordability make this a 5 for me. It could get a knock by some for the design and lack of mint condition in most cases but I like the design and I’m not getting these graded anytime soon.
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?