Every now and again, something will pop up at a card show that will surprise me.
But before I get into that, I have to go into Abe Simpson-mode and talk about the way things used to be. For those who can remember, card shows are not what they were. At least not how I remember them.
Last weekend, I went to a card show at Gibraltar Trade Center in Mount Clemens, Michigan. 25 years ago, it was one of the largest in the area and very well attended regardless of the time of year. Hundreds of dealers and top-notch autograph guests. In the past, Pete Rose, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Hank Aaron, Joe Namath, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Gordie Howe, and scores of other Hall of Famers and legends would visit the show bringing huge crowds and dealers with them. Trying to explain this to my 14-year old son was akin to explaining rotary phones, the VCR or a card catalog.
The internet killed most of the business off, similar to the card shops that used to dot the landscape. There were barely two dozen dealers and for a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I could understand why.
However, today I found something that I had never seen before and scooped up for a dollar.
The 1980 Street and Smith Baseball Preview. Show on the cover is the Orioles Mike Flanagan, the 1979 AL Cy Young Award Winner. I presume that because I lived in an American League town, my area had Flanagan on the cover. A quick Google search showed that alternate covers included Joe Niekro of the Houston Astros or Brian Downing of the California Angels.
Later on, as my baseball obsession grew, I would get one of these every year and devour the information inside. I had never seen a 1980 one before and will add this to my collection.
On of the sections that they included every year was called "Player Targets" that listed active players totals with the All-Time Greats. You could see, for example, how far away Pete Rose was from Ty Cobb or Gaylord Perry was to Walter Johnson. It was often an argument-ender. I found the list of names on the active player list curious, so I thought I would include them here:
Top 10 Active Hit Leaders (starting 1980)
Pete Rose - Phillies - 3,372
Carl Yastrzemski - Red Sox - 3,009
Rusty Staub - Expos - 2,445
Tony Perez - Red Sox - 2,238
Rod Carew - Angels - 2,215
Willie McCovey - Giants - 2,188
Willie Stargell - Pirates - 2,145
Bert Campaneris - Angels - 2,129
Joe Morgan - Free Agent at press time - 2,015
Lee May - Orioles - 1,933
McCovey - Giants - 520
Stargell - Pirates - 461
Yaz - Red Sox - 404
Reggie Jackson - Yankees - 369
May - Orioles - 344
Johnny Bench - Reds - 332
Perez - Red Sox - 323
Bobby Bonds - Cardinals - 321
Willie Horton - Mariners - 317
Reggie Smith - Dodgers - 280
Gaylord Perry - Padres - 279
Jim Kaat - Free Agent at press time - 264
Fergie Jenkins - Rangers - 247
Tom Seaver - Reds - 235
Jim Palmer - Orioles - 225
Steve Carlton - Phillies - 225
Phil Niekro - Braves - 218
Don Sutton - Dodgers - 217
Luis Tiant - Yankees - 217
Tommy John - Yankees - 192
This blog is inspired by several influences; first, the other blogs dedicated to a single season of Topps sets and the folks at http://www.deanscards.com/, who provide a great resource of all years of cards (and from whom I stole the awesome header).
Mainly though, this blog is inspired by my Dad who during the summer of 1980, fully introduced me to the great game of baseball through these cards. Every one of these cards is somehow connected to a memory of that time.