In the past few months, I bought a number of small 80s sets to shore up my 80s cred, I guess. I've been slow to post about them, but some that I have featured were the Fantastic Sams discs and the Chef Boyardee set. Today here's one of my favorites, the 1984 Topps Milton Bradley Championship Baseball set. It's a set of 30, although I only scanned 9 of them to show. One reason I like this is that I feel like 1984 was a kind of fallow period in baseball, a time just before a changing of the guard. That huge crop of rookies in the 1987 Topps set were just about to hit the scene, and the stars of the 70s were having a last hurrah. Also, as for the cards, it's always funny to see a Topps set without the team insignia.
Here are two sentimental favorites, two Pirates greats who also played with a number of other teams through their careers. Bill Madlock and Al Oliver were both just wonderful hitters. Madlock is the only four-time batting champ not in the Hall of Fame. Al Oliver may well have made 3000 hits if not for collusion. They both helped the Bucs to World Series titles, Oliver in 1971 and Madlock in 1979. They were both near the end of their careers here in 1984.
Cecil Cooper card back.
Another great hitter, this time from the AL, was Cecil Cooper. I've shown a number of Cecil Cooper cards on the blog, and I really remember him for sharing the 1981 Topps RBI league leader card with Mike Schmidt. The card back here shows the game. I admire Topps for trying its own version of the Topps card game many times, such as with the 1968 inserts and the back of the 1978 cards. This is a different game, based on dice throws. I posted the 1969 Milton Bradley Willie Stargell once, and this is essentially the same game as that, but more detailed.
Here's some more evidence for my "fading stars of the 70s" hypothesis, the local heroes, Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton. Schmidt still had a couple good years in him, winning the NL MVP in 1986. Carlton still had a few more strikeouts to make, but soon had a not-so-graceful retirement as he tried to hang on a bit too long. Schmidt and Carlton had just had a second pennant in 1983, losing the World Series with the "Wheeze Kids" to Baltimore. A couple of the cards in the set are badly off center, including this Carlton.
Even though I wasn't an AL fan, Dave Winfield and Rod Carew are also a couple of my all-time favorites. Carew retired at the end of the 1985 season, and Winfield of course had many seasons left at that point. They ended with very similar career numbers, 3053 hits for Carew and 3110 for Winfield.
Dave Concepcion played through 1988, and I did see him in person at the Vet, when Dad and I started seeing a bunch of games around 1987. Guidry also played through 1988, posting great numbers through an injury-shortened career.
The rest of the set.
I didn't scan the whole set, but here's a photo of the rest. My thesis about it being all aging stars in the twilight of their careers isn't perfect of course, and there are some young stars (Cal Ripken, Jr., Wade Boggs) and some slightly older (Robin Yount, George Brett, Andre Dawson). But the Reggie Jackson, Pete Rose, and Steve Garvey contingent is strong here as well.