Monday, April 4, 2016

Great Pages in the Annals of Topps #4: 1987 Topps (253-261)

As we begin a new baseball season, we know of at least one player (David Ortiz) and one iconic announcer (Vin Scully) who have announced that the 2016 season will be their final one. Braves fans begin their final goodbye to the house of horrors (as I call 'The Ted'). And there very well may be other goodbyes that we're not even aware of this Opening Day (or, shall I say, Opening Day II).

But there will also be many players who will be making their MLB debuts- many of whom will then not only be eligible for Rookie Cards in upcoming card products, but will actually be featured on cardboard. And for a lot of collectors, that is one of the highlights of each baseball season. I mean, who doesn't love a good Rookie Card?

Sometimes these two worlds- those of beginnings and endings- collide, as we see in today's featured page from the annals of Topps.

I wasn't collecting in 1987 but if I were, I'm sure two of the cards I'd have been chasing would have been Mike Greenwell and Ruben Sierra. Now, if we're to be correct in the eyes of Beckett, we must consider these Topps cards of two of the tops prospects in the game (at that time) as their official 'Rookie Cards'- even though they appeared in 1986 issues (Greenwell's was an afterthought, being included on a Sportflics card with multiple players). The same is to be said of a third "Rookie Card" on this page: Bob Tewksbury, who appeared in and had 'XRC's' in 1986 Donruss Rookies, Fleer Update and Topps Traded.

We can't look to the future without considering the past, and this page offers up two veterans on their sunset cards.

Steve Yeager spent the 1986 season in Seattle after spending 14 seasons behind the plate for the Dodgers and was granted free-agency following the '86 season. He would not sign with another team before retiring.

Vida Blue, on the other hand, had spent the '85 and '86 season with the Giants (a team he had spent four seasons with before going to KC in '82). Like Yeager, Blue was granted free-agency on the same day (November 12, 1986) but was later signed by the other Bay-area team, the Oakland A's, on January 20, 1987. Blue, whose best seasons came in Oakland (including a CY Young and MVP at the age of 21), would abruptly retire from the game on February 20th. Blue had still been an effective pitcher up to that point and had just signed a $300,000 deal, leading to speculation about drugs factoring into his decision. You might remember Blue spent 81 days in a federal prison and was suspended for the 1984 season after pleading guilty to attempting to buy cocaine.

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