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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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