I had meant to do this post for the All-Star Game for obvious reasons but I never got around to it and these scans have been sitting on my computer ever since. I haven’t been collecting much baseball recently, the Red Sox are currently finishing up on their worst season since 1966. But since I’ve been virtually 100% hockey-centric recently and with the playoffs and World Series on the horizon, I figured it was time to get this post written.
I really like tallboys and these are virtually the same size when if they are not “popped-up”. The 1985 All-Star Game was at the Metrodome which, for better or worse, is featured predominately in the background. This set is totally grounded in the mid-eighties; aside from the Metrodome’s strange architecture there’s plenty of button-less uniforms, stirrups, and stretch belts. Two things I dislike about the background: the thick black bar where the card is supposed to be folded and that the upper deck is completely empty. (Not that the Metrodrome was often sold out.) Also, if you actually pop this one up, you’ll cut off half of poor George’s hands. Ouch. It’s sad to think that the Royals have not made the playoffs since this set was released.
The set is only 18 cards and features the starting lineup of both leagues. The National League started FIVE San Diego Padres. Five. An 83 win, fourth place team had five starting All-Stars.
I like the Morris card. It sort of foreshadows his heroics in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Alas, Morris would lose this game as the Nation League won 6-1. I’m bored even typing about the actual game. I used to LOVE the All-Star Game but I don’t think I’ve watched more than an inning or two in ten years.
The backs are simple but I really like them.
The Cleveland Barons didn’t actually play in Cleveland. They played in Ridgefield, Ohio, an hour away, at the Ridgefield Coliseum. The Coliseum was the largest arena in the NHL, sitting 18,544 but the Barons routinely drew less. I don’t think Topps/O-Pee-Chee’s photographers ever made it out there, except for this team card. I like the logo on the ice in front, though it looks like they could have ran the Zamboni over it one more time. Also, I’m curious to way the team chose to line up perpendicular to the logo’s bottom rather than above it.
The Ridgefield Coliseum didn’t see many wins. I can’t find the exact number but the Barons only won a total of 47 in their entire existence.
I guess this is a borderline bad set; there’s a nice design, the photography is solid, there’s a decent selection of rookies. But the checklist is bloated, there’s that silly Lindros subset, and, of course, the Crunch Crew. This card, though, is one of the good ones in the set. The yellow helmet doesn’t hurt.
I’ve recently re-focused my collecting to the eighties and early-nineties, back to when I first started watching hockey. The golden days before Bettman, expansion into markets that didn’t want hockey, and routine lockouts. This means there will be a lot of posts about sets like 1990-91 Upper Deck. Eventually I’ll do an in-depth look at the entire set, it’s so great–especially the photography. But for now, I’d like to take a look at John Tonelli’s base card. I love this card. He’s celebrating like he just netted an overtime winner in Game 7 of the Cup finals when, in all likelihood, he probably just put the Kings up 5-1 midway through the third on a Tuesday night in January in Hartford. Or maybe he just found out there was a sale at Sam Goody down the hall. (Fun fact: The Whalers played in a mall.) Even though it breaks my heart a little to say it, this is a great photo. It’s got everything: a candid, emotional shot with a great sweater, great logo, and great mustache.
The back of the card is even better, with Tonelli doing some sexy stretching in the old Met Center.
Like many collectors, I have a soft spot for 1990-91 Pro Set. It’s not even out of nostalgia, I hated getting them when I was a kid. I mostly like this set due to the so-bad-it’s-good factor. Cards of trophies, coaches, referees, and even the puck; this set is a total mess. It’s currently sitting in a box in my closet but once I track down one of those giant binders advertised on the old wax packs, these bad boys are going into sheets.
One thing I earnestly like about ’90-91 Pro Set is their inclusion of legends in their Hall of Famer and Career Points Leader subsets. This means there are two Gordies and in both, he’s wearing a Whalers sweater. This was way before the Whalers logo became cool (they still had seven seasons left before they bolted for Carolina). I assume they did these for financial/licensing reasons but still: the card above is fantastic. The back, not so much. Though I do like the copy:
The first active grandfather!