Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sets in My Collection: 1987 Topps Highlights (Woolworth)

1987 Topps Baseball Highlights box.
There's no indication on the set that this came from Woolworth's, but what I read online says that Topps produced the set for them.  We did go sometimes to Woolworth's (there were two that I remember, in Newark Shopping Center in Newark, DE, and in Prices Corner near Wilmington, DE).  The one in Newark even had an old lunch counter that we ate at sometimes.  It's entirely possible I got the set at the one in Newark.  This is one of at least three such boxed sets that I have that recount the 1986 season.  I was just increasing the seriousness with which I paid attention to baseball in 1987, so these sets actually helped me, I think, have a grounding in where the game was at that moment.
Steve Carlton got his 4000th strikeout in 1986.
Since the 1980 World Series, won by the Phillies, led by Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, and Steve Carlton, made such a big impression on me, I was accustomed to thinking of Carlton as a Phillie.  He was getting older, though, and started bouncing between a few different clubs.  Seeing him as a Giant here was a bit of a surprise to me at the time, and his 1987 Topps card had him on the White Sox.  Before retiring in 1988, he also spent time with the Indians and Twins; I remember reading that he was trying to stay in the majors long enough to break Warren Spahn's record for wins by a left-hander.  He didn't make it, and it's a shame that he even slightly tarnished his record by staying around for a bit too long.  He ended 34 wins behind Spahn, but with the most strikeouts for a left-handed pitcher at the time, and the only other pitcher than Nolan Ryan to have then reached 4,000 strikeouts.  Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens have surpassed Carlton, and Johnson is a left-hander, so he doesn't have the record anymore.  He also retired as the only pitcher with 4 Cy Young awards, a feat later matched by Greg Maddux and surpassed by Johnson and Clemens.  Carlton may not be the greatest pitcher or the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time, but he was the best of his era and certainly one of the few greatest ever.
Mike Schmidt won his third MVP award in 1986.
Speaking of Schmidt, he won his third MVP award in 1986.  Early in 1987, he hit his 500th home run, and early in 1989, he retired.  Not everyone can stay with the same club forever, but I'm glad that Schmidt only played with the Phillies.
Cecil Cooper.
Jim Rice.
Cecil Cooper and Jim Rice both joined the 2000-hit club in 1986.  Rice went on to make the Hall of Fame, eventually.  Cooper's career ended in 1987, and Rice's in 1989.
Reggie Jackson.
Reggie Jackson kept hitting home runs, and moved up to 6th on the all-time list when he hit his 537th.  He finished his career at 6th, but he did hit a few more in 1986 and 1987, reaching a total of 563; he was behind Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Robinson, and Killebrew.  Schmidt ended his career at 7th, behind Jackson.  The current list is completely meaningless to me in the post-steroid era, but these guys were the real thing, and this was quite the pantheon.
Ray Knight.
Ray Knight was the World Series MVP, and was also Comeback Player of the Year.   I'm just about to start reading the book The Bad Guys Won!, so I haven't found out yet if Ray Knight is a bad guy.
Rickey Henderson.
Like Reggie Jackson just kept hitting home runs, Rickey Henderson kept stealing bases.  In 1986, he reached stolen base #600.  He was only almost halfway done, as he ended his career with 1270.

While I suspect most collectors don't miss these boxed sets, I think it was nice to go into stores and find baseball cards for sale.  If I go into the CVS or 7-Eleven today, there aren't even current packs, let alone something made just for the store.

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