We have another of the 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders set today, #38,
Jeff Russell. We're almost through the AL half of the set, but have a
few left, including several Texas Rangers. After that we just have the
Toronto Blue Jays, then it's on to the NL.
#38, Jeff Russell.
I can't say that I remember Jeff Russell, but he pitched in the majors from 1983 through 1996. He started out as a starter with the Reds, and led the league with 18 losses in 1984. He moved to Texas as became primarily a reliever, and became a two-time All-Star and got some Cy Young votes. He then played with the A's, Red Sox, and Indians, before closing out his career with a reprise with Texas. His career numbers are a 56-73 record, a 3.75 ERA, and 186 saves.
Jeff Russell card back.
Russell was the AL Rolaids Relief Man for 1989, and earned his way into this league leaders set with a league-leading 38 saves. He led the AL with 66 games finished and was 4th in the league in games pitched with 71.
I've meant for a long time to do a post of the Harmon Killebrew cards in my collection. I've had two good cards of him, and a handful of others of him, in my collection for a long time, and I've picked up some more good ones recently.
1959 Topps Harmon Killebrew.
1959 Topps card back.
This is one of the two good ones, his 1959 Topps card. I was most familiar with the 1959 design in the late 80s and early 90s from the Baseball Cards magazine repli-cards of then-current players. But I did manage to pick up exactly one 1959 Topps card back then; I wish I knew where I got it or how much it cost. As you can see on the card back, the card has been written on. Getting damaged cards was a strategy I employed back then to get vintage Hall-of-Famers.
1969 Topps Killebrew.
1982 K-Mart MVPs.
The other good card of Killebrew from my original collection is this 1969 Topps. You can see the damage very clearly -- it's got what I think is a wax stain across the front, and it's got multiple creases including a big one all the way down the front. As the 1982 K-Mart 20th Anniversary card shows, Killebrew had a good year, being named the 1969 AL MVP. This K-Mart card was also part of my original collection from the 80s and 90s.
1972 Topps Killebrew.
1972 Topps Killebrew In Action.
I've picked up a couple more vintage Killebrew cards as part of building a 1972 Topps set. He has a regular card and an In Action. He was getting towards the end of his career, but still appeared on Topps cards through the 1975 set.
1972 Topps AL RBI Leaders.
Killebrew had one more appearance in the 1972 set (I'm not counting a Twins team picture) on this 1971 AL RBI leaders card. He led the AL with 119, which was third in the majors behind Joe Torre of the Cardinals with 137 and Willie Stargell with 125. Next in the majors were Hank Aaron with 118, Bobby Bonds with 102, and then the next AL player was Frank Robinson with 99, tied with Willie Montanez of the Phillies. Next in the NL were Lee May with 98 and Rusty Staub with 97. Placing third in the AL was Reggie Smith of the Red Sox with 96. So these three, Killebrew, Robinson, and Smith, were the only three AL players in the MLB top ten in RBI in 1971.
1962 Post Killebrew.
1968 Topps Embossed Killebrew.
These two, the 1962 Post and the 1968 Topps Embossed insert, are also recent acquisitions since I've resumed collecting. I posted these both already when I got them. In both cases, I bought a small number of cards to represent these sets in my collection (and in my main binder). I posted all of the 1962 Post cards, but my other couple of embossed cards I never posted. I'll show them soon.
1985 Circle K Home Run Kings.
1987 K-Mart Stars of the Decades.
One of my favorite acquisitions since I restarted collecting is the 1985 Circle K Home Run Kings set. Here's Killebrew's card from that. The guys in that set are, to me, the real deal. I think the worst part of baseball's steroid era is the use of those drugs to destroy baseball's great records, baseball's history. The home run records mean nothing today. But back then, when local hero Mike Schmidt finished 7th all time, I loved learning about the guys in front of him -- Reggie Jackson, Harmon Killebrew, Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, and Hank Aaron.
Then we have another K-Mart card, from the 1987 set featuring stars of the decades. Killebrew would have been one of the stars of the 60s. We'll see if K-Mart is around much longer; it's not looking good. My wife and I have moved a lot, but in different places over the years, when we've lived near a K-Mart we've shopped there, and my family shopped there sometimes when I was a kid in the 80s. All of that is commemorated in my collection with my three K-Mart sets.
1988 Pacific Legends Killebrew.
2018 Donruss Killebrew, in the 1984 style.
Finally we have these two, a Pacific Legends that I pulled from a wax pack back in the day, and a current Donruss card in the 1984 style, that I pulled from a dollar store pack last year.
As I mentioned last time, this set makes Rangers seem exceptional with their inclusion of 5 players as league leaders; they finished, though, 4th in the AL West with an 83-79 record. Franco, of course, was known as an All-Star middle infielder back in the day, but then became known for his longevity, with a career spanning 1982 through 2007. He was just over 49 years old at the time of his last game. Franco made good use of the time, racking up 2586 hits in his career.
Julio Franco card back.
Franco earned his way into this league leaders set by placing 5th in the AL with a .316 batting average. He also placed 9th in on-base percentage with .386.
Thanks for reading! There are three more Rangers in the set, so next up is their closer, Jeff Russell.
There was a lot of positive response to the 1988 Fleer set of the 1987 World Series that I posted last week; I am going through the other years, too, and today we have the 1991 Fleer set of the 1990 World Series. It is nice, especially if you're a fan of the teams involved, to have such a commemoration; it's something of a letdown that Topps didn't have a World Series set that year.
Billy Hatcher and Carney Lansford.
For all of these sets -- they're of the 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990 World Series -- Fleer goes with a red, white, and blue color scheme. This one is infinitely more subtle, though, compared to the set of the 1987 series, which featured bold red borders with blue bunting covered in white stars. Fleer must have seen the World Series as a patriotic American affair; it's too bad that Fleer didn't keep making them long enough to see the Blue Jays win in 1992 and 1993, so that we could see if they'd have any kind of Canadian modifications to the theme.
If I remember anything about the 1990 World Series, it's being shocked at how quick it was over. The A's seemed so dominant, but then the Reds squashed them like bugs. The Reds swept, with the scores 7-0, 5-4 (in 10 innings), 8-3, and 2-1. At least two of the games were close. The cards that feature the A's here give a sense of their talent, but the A's batted a collective .207 in the four games, to the Reds' .317. The Reds really shut down most of the A's power; Rickey Henderson was a bright spot, batting .333 with a home run and three walks.
Chris Sabo and Carney Lansford.
Dave Stewart lost two of the games for the A's, and the other two losses went to Mike Moore and Dennis Eckersley. On the positive side, the games were won for the Reds by Tom Browning, Rob Dibble, and twice by Jose Rijo. Randy Myers earned one save. Those Reds were known for their bullpen, the Nasty Boys, and they sure did shut down the A's. The starters shut down the A's, too. And the Reds' bats produced. Billy Hatcher, pictured above on one of the cards, had seven straight hits. Hatcher batted an incredible .750 in the series, going 9-for-12 with four doubles, a triple, and two walks. Eric Davis, Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo, and catcher Joe Oliver also turned in great perfomances. Davis, of course, hurt himself and wasn't able to be on the field for the final win and celebration. The team left town with him still in the hospital, unfortunately.
Pitcher Jose Rijo was the World Series MVP, despite Billy Hatcher's superb performance. Rijo's performance was stellar, too, holding these A's to 1 earned run in 15.1 innings, to go 2-0 with a 0.59 World Series ERA. You'd think that they could have had Hatcher and Rijo share the MVP award, the way three Dodgers shared it in 1981.
There are three more of these to go, for the 1986, 1988, and 1989 World Series. I'll post them in the coming weeks. Thanks for reading!
I showed half my Slurpee discs the other day; all of the Slurpee discs I have, I pulled from the bottom of Slurpee cups in the 80s and 90s. The ones I showed the other day were two from 1985, one from 1986, and two from 1991. Then I have six from 1992. Why do I have more from 1992? I was able to drive. I turned 16 at the end of 1991, and I didn't get my license for a few more months, so it wasn't until 1992 that I could drive on my own. I appear to have availed myself of the opportunity to get a Slurpee at least 6 times that year. Probably more, but they didn't always have the baseball discs on the bottom of the cups.
Roberto Alomar disc back.
The early ones, like the 1985 and 1986 that I showed in the last post on these, didn't have any kind of maker's mark on them. The 1991 and 1992, though, were marked with the Score brand on back. I don't think that I connected back then that Score and Sportflics were the same company, but it makes sense in hindsight, with the magic motion trivia inserts and all.
Cecil Fielder disc back.
I remember being taken by surprise by Cecil Fielder's stardom. I was over my cousin's house one day, and he collected cards too. He asked me if I had any Cecil Fielder cards, and I had never heard of Cecil Fielder, but I said that I was sure I did. I mean, if you buy wax boxes of the current product, then you had cards of everyone. So when I got home I went and looked, and sure enough I had some Cecil Fielder cards here and there. That must have been in early 1990, since that was Fielder's breakout home run year, and I must have not been paying much attention to the AL stats at that point, and missed Fielder's rise.
Then we have two National League Hall of Fame shortstops, Barry Larkin and Ozzie Smith. I have a lot of great cards of Smith, and always enjoyed watching him play. Barry Larkin is one of the many great rookie cards in the 1987 Topps set, and I have several of it. Tomorrow's post will be of the 1990 Reds destroying the A's in the 1990 World Series, which Larkin played a big role in, hitting .353 in the series.
Then we have two AL stars. Robin Yount was near the end of his career, which finished up after the 1993 season, and had fairly recently won the AL MVP in 1989. Yount's 3,000th hit came on September 9, 1992. Then we have Roger Clemens, whose likeness must be in absolutely every set of the era (along with Don Mattingly). I don't like Clemens, and won't say much about him. I include him here for completeness, since I'm showing all of my Slurpee discs.
Thanks for reading! Tomorrow's post, as I alluded to above, is of the 1991 Fleer World Series set (of the 1990 World Series).
Dad and I went to see these Phillies play all the time. We had Sunday season tickets, for about four years, I think, probably 1989 through 1992. The Sunday season tickets were for all the Sunday home games, which I think was 13 games per season. We had seats on the 200-level, and we moved a couple of times but for the last couple of seasons these were low down, near the dugout on the 1st base side. This was at Veterans Stadium. Citizens Bank Park has been open since 2004, and like Camden Yards in Baltimore which has been open since 1993, I still think of it as the "new stadium."
Tickets back then, even for good seats in the 200 level, were about $10. So the season tickets were about $260 for the pair.
Anyway, like I said, we saw these guys play all the time. Dickie Thon is famous for being beaned in 1984. His career never really recovered, but with the Phillies he had a chance to play everyday again. Ricky Jordan was a hot rookie starting in 1988, who hit a homer in his first at-bat. Darren Daulton was a charismatic figure in the Phillies teams of the time including the 1993 pennant-winning team. He looks thin here since he bulked up afterwards; he didn't exactly admit to using steroids specifically, but he said he took a lot of substances. May he rest in peace.
Tommy Herr was featured with the Cardinals several times in the Fleer World Series set, showing the 1987 series, that I showed a few days ago. He was with the Phils for 1989 and 1990. John Kruk was one of the power hitters on the Phils of those days, coming in second in RBI on the team in 1990, and coming in 4th on the team in RBI for the 1993 penannt winner.
A couple of these guys I don't really remember; that would be Dennis Cook above, and Pat Combs here. Cook pitched as both a starter and reliever and went 8-3 in 1990. Combs may actually have been their ace, with a 10-10 record. They weren't that good a team in 1990. Roger McDowell, late of the 1986 Mets, was their relief ace, with 22 saves. McDowell was replaced for 1991 as closer by Mitch Williams, who will never live down the 1993 World Series in Philly.
Of all the players here, Von Hayes had the longest tenure with the Phillies at the time. He really was from the mid-80s teams, whereas the rest of these are the early-90s Phillies, in my way of thinking about them. Hayes was hit by a pitch in 1991, breaking his arm, and his offensive production never recovered. His last season was 1992, with the Angels. Hayes was the RBI leader on these 1990 Phillies. And then there's Lenny Dykstra. I don't really want to say much about Dykstra; it's a shame what has become of him. He sure played hard back then, though.
Charlie Hayes was another rookie prospect for the Phils around then; he had some success but didn't stay with the team for long. Ken Howell was a pickup for the Phils from the Dodgers, and was one of their top pitchers for a couple of years, going 12-12 in 1989 and 8-7 in 1990. That was the end of his career. Howell died just recently, in November; may he rest in peace.
Thanks for reading. The remaining teams from the set are the Reds, Expos, Giants, and Mets. I'll show one of those next Friday.
Thanks to Paul at Wrigley Wax, I have a new Andy Van Slyke card. It's a cutout from the May 1992 issue of Sports Card Price Guide Monthly, which was one of the several Krause Publications card magazines of the time. I don't know that I ever read Sports Card Price Guide Monthly, but I've posted a few other Krause Publications issues that I do have, of Baseball Card Price Guide Monthly, and primarily Baseball Cards magazine.
Andy Van Slyke.
Paul did an outstanding job cutting these out; I decided to leave my issues intact after a certain point, but the first several such issues that I got with cards like this, I did cut them out. Let's just say that whether it's cutting or coloring, I have trouble keeping to the lines.
For these cards that came from the magazines with "Price Guide" in the name (i.e., not Baseball Cards magazine, but the others), these cards function as miniature price guides for the players depicted. The card back here says that Van Slyke's cards have "investment potential" since they're only priced a little more than commons. I hope no one invested too heavily! I love these little reminders of the way baseball cards were talked about back then.