I haven’t made a baseball post in a while so, in honor of Opening Day, I thought I’d post some of my favorite Red Sox cards from my early days of collecting. (The Sox lost out in Detroit to the Tigers in extra innings today. I don’t have very high expectations for the team this season.)
I’ve chosen a card from each Topps set (minus the 1990 one, it’s too ugly) from when I started buying cards until 1993. The late-eighties teams enjoyed a few great seasons under Joe Morgan; they advanced to the ALCS in both 1988 and 1990, only to get swept by the A’s.
The card on the left is from the ’88 Topps set. I love the white vignetting and scripted font. The Red Sox now wear away uniforms like Wade and Spike have on here, but they’ve ditched the navy undershirts for red, which throws the whole thing off.
But first, one of my favorite baseball sets.
1987 Topps #645 — Dwight Evans
This was the first set of cards I ever collected. My dad used to bring them home for me after work. I remember getting upset whenever I didn’t get any Red Sox players in a pack. I think Marty Barrett was the first Red Sox card but I’m not sure. I love, love, LOVE the woodgrain frame. (More soon, from a hockey set.) I really should own this set, considering its sentiment and design.
1988 Topps #377 — Sam Horn
This is one of my favorite cards. For those of you unfamiliar, Sam Horn is something of a folk hero in New England for his prodigious power and being Bill Buckner’s replacement after the 1986 season. Back when I (briefly) collected autographs I sent this away to his home residence. I was pleased when it came back within the week signed. However, I soon realized that Horn wasn’t in Texas at all from when I dropped the card in the mail until it returned; he was in Boston co-hosting the post-game show on NESN. A quick confirmation with a certified autograph on ebay confirmed it to be a forgery, most likely by a relative. Somehow, this makes me like the card more.
1989 Topps #760 — Lee Smith
At some point, I collected a story of Lee Smith, after going a couple of years without an appearance, falling asleep in the bullpen at the All-Star Game with two Big Mac wrappers at his side, but I can’t find any evidence to support it on the internet
1991 Topps Traded #123T — Mo Vaughn
After the loss of Nick Esasky, Mo Vaughn became my favorite player, even before he made the big league club. My dad would take my brother and I to Pawtucket to see the Paw Sox when Mo was on the team. Everyone would chant “Mo! Mo! Mo!” every at bat, even if it was the bottom of the first. I still get sad when I think of him leaving for Anaheim.
1992 Topps #782 — Phil Plantier
Plantier had some pop and a ridiculous batting stance. I remember watching his major league debut in Maine. The Red Sox were in Toronto and he didn’t have a proper batting helmet, so he used his Paw Sox one with the ‘P’ painted over.
1993 Topps #725 — Billy Hatcher
This was the last Topps flagship set that featured a design I enjoyed. It was also the last without a glossy finish. My brother and I were obsessed with Hatcher after he stole home. I remember thinking how impossible and improbable it was. How could it be legal? Why don’t they do it all the time?