One of baseball's nicest guys, Gary Carter's 1975 Topps is his debut card issue. Shared with three other players whose major league careers never amounted to much, this card shows Carter at the start of his All-Star heyday with the Montreal Expos, though it wasn't until he moved on to the New York Mets that Carter was a member of a World Championship team (1986 Mets). Carter made a couple end-of-career stops on the West coast with the Los Angeles Dodgers and finally the San Francisco Giants but Montreal is how we remember Carter.
Possibly one of the most unique baseball cards ever, Glenn Hubbard's 1984 Fleer issue is an automatic inclusion into any celebration of the best gumcards in history. Coming off a season in 1983 in which he posted perhaps his best season, smashing 12 homeruns and earning an All-Star game berth, Hubbard's 1984 Fleer card tops even that. Forgoing the traditional batting pose or awaiting a line drive fielding stance typical of most baseball cards up to the time, Hubbard is grinning ear to ear with a huge boa constrictor snake wrapped around his neck and across his shoulders. As if that were not enough, the Philly Phanatic mascot makes an appearance in the background distance over Hubbard's left shoulder and Barney Rubble from The Flintstone's off to his right shoulder. Apparently, in the early 80's there would be an annual birthday bash for the Philly Phanatic and the word is that they were an all-out celebration, typically held on a Sunday home game. So it can be ascertained that this card captures a moment from the 1983 bash at Veteran's Stadium. Throw in the technicolor stadium seats, the Atlanta vintage powder blue uniform of the 1980's and it's pretty difficult to top this card.
Bo Knows Baseball Cards! During his career, Jackson was equally exciting to watch, both on the baseball diamond and football gridiron. This duality of All-Star talent and proficiency was something that had never been seen before and the 1990 Score captured this spirit perfectly, in black and white. Jackson was infamous for snapping a bat in half over his shoulders out of frustration after striking out, so the picture of the muscled Bo clutching a bat, while wearing his football pads, displays the menacing power that Jackson was capable of.
Sometimes your favorite baseball cards are like one of your favorite screwball comedy movies of the 1980's. They both are sometimes goofy, don't make sense at all and you can't quite explain it but you just love them anyhow. The 1986 Topps Razor Shines card falls into this category. A friend and I quickly took to the catchily-named "Razor Shines", becoming big fans of the light hitting but very cool named Shines. While Shines did have a couple of other baseball cards produced, it was the 1986 Topps that was the gold standard for us. The pinnacle was attending an Indianapolis Indians minor league game (and the minors was where most of Shines' career was regulated to), meeting Mr. Shines and having him autograph my cardboard treasure. Now that's truly awesome for a kid and still is twenty-five plus years after the fact.
This is a great card, with the superstar Reggie Jackson completely filling up the entire card with his presence...a larger than life star, already putting up great numbers that would shortly be making their way to the Yankees and be on display in the Bronx. The psychedelic card colors of blue and orange, combined with the Athletics green and yellow uniform colors of Reggie, create a visual "trip".
In 1987 Mark McGwire burst onto the scene, quickly establishing himself as one of the most popular and exciting players in the game, by smashing an American League rookie record 49 home runs. Combined with fellow "Bash Brother" and 1986 American League Rookie of the Year Jose Canseco, McGwire was one half of the tandem that was leading the Oakland Athletics to the top of the standings and perennial World Series participants. McGwire was elected the 1987 American League Rookie of the Year and while McGwire's 1987 cardboard issues were popular, collectors preferred his pre-Major League Olympic team card from the 1985 Topps set. Pictured with a huge grin, plastered with "USA" in big, bold letters, McGwire was the All-American kid representing America's favorite past time.
The first player to reach the hallowed 40-40 Club of 40 home runs and 40 steals in season and one half of the "Bash Brothers" tandem with Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco's 1986 Donruss card was once the equivalant of hobby gold. Frantically collected, the Donruss card skyrocked to $150-$200 in value as Canseco emerged as one of the most feared sluggers in all of baseball. Collecting Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards in his prime, Canseco is now more known for his post-career confessions of using steroids and whistle-blowing that "85% of major league players use steroids", "dating" the pop singer Madonna and infamously botching a fly ball in the outfield that bounced off Canseco's and over the fence for a home run. But ahhhhhhh.....the 1986 rookie with it's image of a pencil-thin mustached Jose and the disignated of "RATED ROOKIE" on the front of the card fondly reminds of a time of greatness before all the negativity.