Wednesday, December 30, 2009

1989 Upper Deck, #260

Finally, the good stuff!  Short lived as the "good stuff" may be, 1989 Upper Deck caused quite a stir in the industry.  It brought us tamper proof foil packs, counterfeit deterrent hologram stickers, and one of the most iconic cards of the past 30 years.  Even the card stock was a massive improvement over what Topps, Fleer, and Donruss had been using.  Upper Deck was legit.

Not as iconic was card #260, Darryl Strawberry.



It's a nice enough picture, clearly taken during batting practice as you can tell by the BP blue jersey and flapless helmet.  But wait - there's a full color picture on the back, too!



Two non-action shots on a Darryl Strawberry card?  That's gotta be some sort of record.  How is this NOT worth at least as much as the Griffey rookie!?!! Check out all those bats in the background...

This card is the real deal, too.  How do I know this?  Hologram, baby!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

1988 Donruss (Orange border) #182

I told ya we were done with the blue, but I bet you weren't anticipating the exact same thing except orange!



Again, no real clue what set this card comes from, but I'm guessing... Opening Day.  I base this on the oddball Donruss look-a-like card from 1986 that happened to be from the Opening Day set.  I could be wrong, and probably am.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

1988 Donruss MVP, #BC-20

This is the last, hideous blue bordered Darryl Strawberry card that I have, and of course it's from a set that I'm unable to identify.  The front looks like a normal issue '88 Donruss:



This picture was clearly taken just after the gates opened because you can count the people in the stands.  Well, almost - I counted approximately 22, but it's too blurry to be very accurate.  But the real question (for me) is where did this card come from? The back also looks like a normal '88 Donruss card, except for the numbering:



At first, I was getting a bit down on myself for not knowing where half of my late '80s Strawberry cards come from.  Not that I base my self-worth on junk wax knowledge (or lack thereof), but it'd be nice to know.  But I got to thinking that perhaps this is why we refer to the late '80s and early to mid '90s as the junk wax era:  cards came from everywhere.

They were in cereal boxes.  They were in cookies.  They were at the bottom of slurpees.  They were made by K-Mart.  Seriously, baseball cards were everywhere you looked, and not in a good way.

Any knowledge you might have about this particular card would be greatly appreciated.  As for me, I'm just ready to put the blue Donruss borders behind us.

Friday, October 23, 2009

1988 Donruss All-Star #34

Sticking with 1988 Donruss/Leaf is a card from what appears to be a separate "All-Star" set. Hmmm...


You'd think I'd know a little more about my Darryl Strawberry cards, but the truth is that I obtained so many of these when I was younger that I just can't recall where they came from. I thought this particular card was a part of the regular '88 Donruss set when I first came across it, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

OK, so the front appears to be normal ol' Donruss card, but the back has a different shape around the number: a star instead of a baseball.


Nothing else is unusual about the card. You've got the typical paragraph explaining the early start to what coulda-shoulda been the best career ever, and as usual the card maker makes an awkward attempt to keep the sentences as concise as possible, grammar and punctuation be damned. I say awkward because they never shorten things as much as possible, even if their oversight would've been a better way of wording things. Take the very last line, for example: "...leading all first-year NL players in HR...". They could've simply said "all NL rookies." Boom! 10 characters, gone.

The "1987 Oakland All-Star Game" logo on the bottom right of the card is what makes me think this may have been a limited release set.

Of course, limited by 1988 standards means a hundred thousand sets.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

1988 Leaf #220

Quick and easy post today of Strawberry's 1988 Leaf card. No sense in going much in to detail since the card is largely unchanged from the American version, save for the French translations on the back and the "LEAF" logo on the front:


I did stumble in to one curious omission on the back. See where there's just one sentence in English, at the bottom? Well, there are two French sentences!!


Literally translated (at www.freetranslation.com), it says, "one among 8 players of the baseball has to do to mark and has to mark more than 100 points the last annee".

Errrrr... what? A little help from any French speakers out there, please!

And also, it's "runs", not "points." A translation error, I'm sure. Looking at the actual stats on the card, the only two significant numbers in the hundreds are Strawberry's RBI (104) and Runs (108) totals from the 1987 season, so I'm going out on a limb and guessing it has something to do with those two categories. I wonder why the French speakers got this added bit of info???

Who knows.

Friday, September 25, 2009

1988 Donruss #439

Close your eyes, kids, this post is gonna get ugly.

For some reason, when I think of overproduced cards of the late '80s and early '90s, I think of 1988 Donruss. Maybe it's because I have a billion of them laying around even though I don't remember ever opening them when I was a kid, or maybe it's because they're made of the cheapest card stock possible and are nearly impossible to keep in reasonable condition. I don't know. But a Strawberry card is a Strawberry card, so his '88 Donruss #439 must be posted.


Typical shot of Straw waiting to turn on a fastball. Half of Straw's cards from the '80s show this same pose, so I'm not knocking Donruss for doing what everyone else was doing. What I don't like is the border. Could it be any more uninspired? Black... blue... red... repeat.

The back:


Like the front, nothing to get excited about, but I always get a kick out of arbitrary abbreviations. If I didn't know any better, I'd think the writers texted in their blurbs for publication. "No. 1 choice in 6/80 am. draft." First off, to be less confusing, it should at least say 06/80, especially since they're referring to an event eight years prior to the printing of this card. It's not exactly fresh in everyone's mind. Sure, I figured out what they meant fairly quickly, but they could've squeezed in another character. Although for some reason my mind still processes the line as 6/80 morning draft because of the "am". Six o'clock in the morning?! That's awfully early for a draft that isn't televised, anyway!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

1988 Fleer #637

First off, I want to give a truly sincere apology for not keeping up with posting to Darryl Strawberry Fields. I've been busy (as has everybody else in the world), and planned ahead with my other site, The Priceless Pursuit, but not so much this one. I'm sure nobody out there even cares all that much, but I just wanted to let you all know that DSF is back!

And what better card to get things started again than 1988 Fleer #637, Crunch Time: Darryl Strawberry and Eric Davis!


'88 Fleer is still one of my favorite designs from the late '80s. That's not saying a whole lot since most cards in that time period were absolutely hideous, but white backgrounds are timeless. And could there be two hotter '80s prospects to feature on one card?? I've always liked cards with more than one player on them - it's a nice little bonus, some added bang for the buck. Straw and Davis were absolute studs, so pulling this card in 1988 was truly a thrill.

Of course, I've pulled the card about 30 times since then, but that's just a testament to the absurd overproduction of cards two decades ago. Can't blame Straw for that.

If digital cameras had been around in 1988, the photographer surely would've taken at least one more picture of the two. Davis looks serious enough, but Darryl's moth is hanging open as if he's telling the cameraman to hold on a second, he's not ready. Both players are wearing road gray pants, so it must've been during Spring Training.

This card reminds me of a t-shirt I once had, featuring the two players as teammates on the Dodgers. On the front was Darry Strawberry, on the back was Davis. Through the middle of the shirt (essentially connecting the front pic to the back) it read, "Bat 2 Bat". Like back to back, like in the batting order. Get it?

As for the back of the card (see what I did there?), the card highlights how both players went from mere prospects to superstars and mentions the crazy 1987 seasons both players had, even by today's standards: Davis hit .293 with 37 homers and 50 stolen bases, Strawberry hit 39 homers and stole 36 bases. Remember, this was 1987! Those numbers were prodigious back then and would be MVP caliber in 2009.


It's good to be back! Darryl Strawberry fields is much more niche than my broader site, but I enjoy it just as much, and I hope you do, too. I've scanned enough cards ahead of time to ensure I don't fall too far behind again, even if I do post a bit less frequently than I do over at The Priceless Pursuit..

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Moving


The site's not going anywhere, but I am. The wife and I just purchased our new home and have been absolutely slammed with packing, cleaning, painting, moving, and now unpacking. I've been a bit negligent when it comes to keeping this site updated, but rest assured that I'm aware of that and will be back to posting Darryl Strawberry cards with some semblance of regularity very soon!

I planned well enough with my other site, The Priceless Pursuit, and wrote lots of entries in advance, so visit it for more regular updates!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Duo-tang-ks a lot!

OK, if you found your way here from the link I posted at The Priceless Pursuit, you can see that I'm double dipping on the posts today. Perhaps the two sites have different readers, and I'd hate for a gift like the one I recently received to go unrecognized.



Duo-tang-ks... thanks... get it? No?? I think it's fairly creative, and I'm nothing if not a sucker for horrible plays on words, so I'm gonna force this one down your throat. You may be wondering why I'm showing you a 1989 Topps card of Darryl Strawberry. Couple reasons: Darryl is my absolute favorite player (obviously) and also because Dave at Tribe Cards sent me a different "version" of this card, except much better.

Stay with me.

I want to give a big "duo-tang-ks" (now it's growing on you, right?!) to Dave, the king of crazy giveaways and easily one of the most generous bloggers out there. Check out his site and make it part of your regular reading if you're unfamiliar with it. Introduce yourself to him and sign up for a giveaway or two - you won't regret it!

If you're not in the know, you're no doubt wondering, "Why does he keep saying 'duo-tang-ks'?" (one more shot... is it funny yet?) Well, 20 years ago or so, a company by the name of Duo-Tang released a series of pocket folders that were actually blown-up versions of Topps cards, accurately depicting both the front and backs. Dave actually sent me two of them:



I have no idea how these were distributed, but I can only assume it was a regional deal. Pocket folders were always on my school supply list, and my mom always let me pick out my own folders, but I never had any Darryls. I distinctly remember an Eddie Murray from his days with the Orioles, and at the time our family was living in northern Virginia. I don't know why I'd pick out an Orioles folder for a reason other than this.

Thanks again, Dave! The wife and I are in the final stages of the home buying process, so we now have a safe place to keep all of our documents. After that's over with (IF it's ever over with - it sometimes feels like a never ending process), little Joseph III will some day have the coolest pocket folders in his class.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

1988 Fleer #151

I swear, the older I get the faster time seems to slip away.

My wife and I have had a lot going on in our lives lately, most importantly learning that our first child is going to be a boy - and no doubt a Darryl Strawberry fan, too! He'll be our first, so we're excited. I'm currently tricking myself in to thinking that I'll have lots of late nights to write about baseball cards while baby Joseph (the 3rd!) sleeps, though I've got a funny feeling that won't happen.

I'll still write, of course, but I'm told that we'll sleep when the baby sleeps. Which means I can write about baseball cards in the 20 hours a day he'll be awake. Yippee!

But enough about me - let's (finally) get back to the Darryl Strawberry cards. Next up is 1988 Fleer, #151.


It's an all too familiar pose of Strawberry crushing a fastball, this particular shot apparently taken in Wrigley Field. All of Darryl's accessories are the same, except this time he's wearing a gray undershirt. Must've been laundry day - to this point, he's usually rocking a blue or orange shirt underneath his jersey.

Unlike other Fleer issues a couple years before and after this card, I like the design of this card; I think we've all got a soft spot for white cards (Allen & Ginter, anyone??).

I enjoy the back, too:


I could do without the excessive empty space between the stats and the bottom of the cards, and I've never understood the uneven colored columns. But I've never paid attention to the very bottom, where Fleer breaks down Strawberry's day, night, home, and road statistics. How progressive! Strawberry seems to have been best in home night games.

He must not have been a morning person.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Now on twitter!

Well, sort of.

The Priceless Pursuit - my other site - is on twitter. If you like Darryl Strawberry, you probably grew up in the same era of baseball as I did, so you'll like the broader card entries over there. Seriously, check it out.

Keep updated on my "priceless pursuit" of the junk wax era of card collecting, along with cheaper purchases of newer products, in short 140 character snippets at twitter!

Follow Priceless_Cards, and you'll never miss an entry!

In the mean time, thanks for reading Darryl Strawberry Fields! More great entries coming soon...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

1988 Score #360 of 660

We're going from one of the most visually appealing Strawberry cards in my collection to something definitely not so visually appealing: 1988 Score.


I'm sorry, but the green just doesn't work for me. Why couldn't Score have color coded this set with colors more appropriate for the player pictured? Topps did, so it couldn't have been that difficult. They captured a nice enough action shot of Straw, taken just a fraction of a second before the ball was launched in to the grand stands, but the green is soooo ugly. It completely ruins the card.

Things aren't any better on the back:

Red, green, blue... I don't get it. But if there was ever a writer who knew how to talk up a player, it was the guy who wrote the copy on the back of Darryl's card.

"Darryl has so much natural talent that it would not be surprising if he someday won the Triple Crown, stole over 50 bases and gained a Gold Glove, all in one season."

Woah, easy there. Wouldn't be surprising? I think that sort of year would turn a few heads, don't you? Continuing to get carried away, the writer describes Strawberry as "the first player picked in the entire nation in 1980." Technically, yes, Strawberry was the first player picked in the entire nation in the 1980 draft, but that's a flowery way to put it. The sentence describing Darryl has having "prodigeous power, terrific speed and a cannon for an arm" is yet another reminder of how great Strawberry could've been.

The way Score chose to display each card's number was a little strange. Notice that it's displayed as 360 of 660 as if it was serial numbered. That'd be an absurdly small print run for a card of the '80s! 360 of 660 thousand, maybe.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

1988 Topps #710

I think we'll all be thankful that Strawberry's hideous '87 Donruss Diamond Kings painting won't be the first thing visible at this site any more!

Next up, 1988 Topps #710:



Topps hit a grand slam with the aesthetics on the front of this card. I'm not a Mets fan, but even I can acknowledge that this is a perfect blend of blue and orange. It just seems so... evenly distributed.

You've got the orange "METS" at the top, the light blue border, the darker blue background behind Strawberry's name, and a whole mish-mash of blue and orange on Darryl's uniform. He's even wearing what appear to be "real" stirrups - as opposed to the fake stripe version. No wonder Strawberry was such an unstoppable force on the diamond: If you look good, you play good.

This was the first year I remember really liking the back of a card, or at least noticing it:


The orange just continues with the overall color scheme of the card. Even though all of the card backs in '88 were orange, it's especially appropriate on Darryl's card. We've got the game winning RBI stat (he had five in 1987, 47 in his career to that point), a blurb about his Texas League dominance (34 HR, 100 walks and a .602 slugging percantage in '82), and a shout out to the scout who signed him, Roger Jongewaard. Nice find, Roger!

The light, white baseballs across the top behind the player's name are a nice, albeit subtle, touch.

The only thing odd is the absurdly high card number assigned to a superstar of Strawberry's caliber, #710. Topps is notorious for assigning round numbers to the game's elite, but 710 seems like they almost forgot about Straw.

Roger Jongewaard never would've overlooked him. Multiple pages in my Strawberry binder are filled with this '88 Topps card.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

1987 Donruss Diamond Kings #4

It's the end of a decade at Darryl Strawberry Fields. I suppose there may be a few oddball issues from '87 left, but they're at the back of album and I don't feel like taking them out to check.

Let's say goodbye to 1987 with a bang. I can't think of any better way to go out than with 1987 Donruss Diamond Kings, perhaps Donruss's most recognizable subset ever. What set them apart was that they were paintings (this one done by Perez-Steele Galleries) instead of the usual blurry action or candid shots. I'm not sure what they're exact criteria was for dubbing someone a Diamond King, but they were all damn good ball players, so I'm assuming it was more or less an "All-Star" type distinction.

Darryl was rightly named a King.


This painting, though better than anything I could ever draw, was a disaster. Straw's cap looks like it was run through the washer a few too many times. His right ear (card left) looks like an elf's ear while his left ear is non-existent. His upper lift is swollen. There are four different shades of blue on his jersey.

Gotta give them credit for the "action" painting in the lower right corner, though - they thought of all the details right down to the stirrups.

The back:

It's strange that Donruss referred to the 1986 home run "race" as a home run derby. I looked up the actual home run derby from '86, the one before the All-Star game, just to make sure that's not what they were talking about. Turns out that Strawberry finished the All-Star derby tied for with the most home runs with Wally Joyner... with four home runs!!

Ha! Four. Oh how times have changed.

It's also neat to see a number higher than a million on a card. Strawberry's 1,619,511 All-Star votes led all of the major leagues.

Donruss ending things with prediction - that Strawberry would emerge as a dominating presence for years to come. How right they were.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Like what you've seen so far? Check out my new site!


I'm only at the beginning of my Strawberry collection, and I've had a blast sharing the memories I have of all of these cards. Judging by the comments and emails I've received along the way, I can tell that Strawberry was a wildly popular player in his heyday.

Given that I was so young when I began collecting his cards, it's been fun interacting with other fans of his.

While sorting through the boxes of cards I've got stashed and stacked all over my home I've come across literally thousands of other cards I've got stories and memories of. I thought briefly of sharing them here, but convinced myself that the blog should remain Strawberry exclusive.

But if you like what you've seen, please check out the other site I've started, "Priceless Pursuit" - it features everything else I've acquired over the past 20 plus years of collecting. The cards are priceless to me, worthless to most anyone else!

Check it out, tell your friends, bookmark it, and visit it regularly! And don't worry - Darryl Strawberry Fields will continue to be updated regularly as well.

Join me in my Priceless Pursuit.

1987 Donruss #118

Time for the "serious" 1987 Donruss issue, and to demonstrate that this set was no "Opening Day" they went with one of Strawberry's more serious pictures featured so far.



No cheesy grin. No look of admiration at a ball blasted in to the bleachers. Straw is warming up, and he's not messing around.

I don't know how I've kept this card in such good condition through the years. Older black borders tend to show wear and tear more than any other border type. The black border is the only thing differentiating this card from it's Opening Day cousin. The baseball "stripes" are the same and it still has that hideous purple behind the player's name.

The back:



Hardly anything we haven't read before. We knew he was a number one pick and we knew he led the Mets at some point in homers. Not sure how Donruss thought Strawberry's torn thumb ligaments in in '85 were a career highlight, especially considering he was out for six weeks because of the injury, but at least it's a new piece of information.

Only one '87 main stream issue left... what could it be? Hint: it's Donruss's most important contribution to the industry. Well, maybe it'll bring the memories rushing back! Stay tuned.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Chat with Straw


Well, I didn't chat with him personally, but ESPN.com let users submit questions to Darryl on Friday morning. See the transcript here.

It wasn't for lack of effort - I submitted multiple compliments, but couldn't think of anything relevant or hard hitting enough to ask. ESPN has these chats almost daily, though they're usually only with their reporters and analysts. When they do give us a player, the only questions answered tend to be soft balls that we can easily predict the answers to.

Oh well - still a useful way to pass the remaining hours until the weekend.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

1987 Donruss Opening Day #128

Moving right along, 1987 Donruss Opening Day #128:



To be perfectly honest, I wasn't aware that Donruss Opening Day even existed until I looked up the exact set this particular card came from. It's a different color than the "regular" Donruss issue (which you'll see soon enough), so I automatically assumed it was from the Leaf set. Except there's no Leaf logo and no French writing on the back. A quick internet search revealed that Donruss released a 272 card set under the name "Opening Day" in 1987. So there ya go.

I really like the brick red border around the card; it's very clean. The baseball "stripes", if you will, look nice on the sides, just above the card's center. The crisp action shot depicts Strawberry taking off down the first base line just moments after putting the ball in play. You get a good closeup of his helmet, batting glove, jersey, dual undershirts (one orange, the other long sleeve blue), his belt, and even a little bit of striping on the pants. This card has it all!

Quick side note: The Mets blue and orange uniforms are sharp. The five striped sleeves are a bit much, but the colors go together nicely. The blue and orange caps have held up well through the years.

Speaking of holding up through the years, this card looks and feels exceptionally high quality given when it was released. The color hasn't faded at all, and the glossy coating is nowhere near as cheap feeling as the Topps All-Star sets featured earlier in this blog's life. In fact, the only thing I don't care for on the front of the card is the purple coloring behind Strawberry's name on the bottom. It doesn't fit with the rest of the card at all.

On to the back:



You sure that font is big enough, Donruss? Geez...

The typical biographical information is there at the top: name, birth date, etc. The career averages at the bottom are a little strange, as is the overall grammar on the card. Why are some stats plural (Games, Hits, Runs) while others are left singular (At Bat, Steal, Walk)? Makes no sense - the room is clearly there for an extra "S" or two. The blurb about Darryl's opening day heroics go from complete sentence form in the beginning to choppy and incomplete in the end. Sloppy.

And can Donruss use any smaller of a sample size to declare that Strawberry has answered ALL of his critics who doubted his determination? His first inning home run in the first game of the season silenced ALL of his doubters? That was easy.

It's unfortunate that Donruss didn't put half the effort in to the back of the card as it did on the front.

This is the only Donruss Opening Day card I own.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

1987 Fleer #629

For as little as I like the blue borders, I'll admit that Fleer outdid Topps' "Team Leaders" subset with their "SuperStar Specials" cards.

Take a look at #629:



Pictured left to right are Gary Carter, Sid Fernandez, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, and of course, Darryl Strawberry.

THAT is a stacked team.

I wonder if everyone is looking to his left on purpose or if more than one photographer was trying to get a picture at the same time? Is there a baseball card out there with these same five guys looking directly at the camera?

I'll let you read most of the back of the card yourself, but the last paragraph is my favorite "nugget" of info from any card in my entire collection:


"Manager Davey Johnson made extensive use of the computer to chart the offensive and defensive tendencies of the opposition, as well as his own team. He made all the right moves with this information to pull off such a great season for his team."

Bombshell!!! Scandal!!! The Mets were cheaters!!!!!!! Davey Johnson used a computer?!?!

What tendencies, exactly, did he chart? Computers were so primitive in '86 that using one couldn't possibly have been advantageous over good ol' pen and paper. And how did Johnson track tendencies and make "all the right moves" on the road? Actual, reasonably portable computers were 10 years away from existing and almost 20 years away from being commonplace.

Other oddities on the card: Bob Ojeda is mentioned on the back but not pictured on the front, and Darryl Strawberry's cap looks to be poorly cropped. This was long before the days when a cap fit snugly on a player's head, so I'm 99% sure this was a rush job. Notice also that Gooden, Hernandez, and Strawberry line up in numerical order: 16, 17, 18. Coincidence? We'll never know.

"Magic Mets", as Fleer dubbed them, is corny, but who am I to make fun of that team? Their 108 wins in '86 almost seems like an under-achievement.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

1987 Fleer #23

For a second, I was thinking about skipping to the end of my Darryl Strawberry card binder where I store all the odd ball cards, simply because I knew what was next - and there was no way it could live up to the wood grained goodness of '87 Topps. But I figured it was best to treat this card like a removing a band-aid: pull it off as quick as possible so as not to prolong the inevitable pain.

With that, I present to you Darryl's 1987 Fleer, #23.




Yuck.

This is easily one of the blandest card fronts of my whole collection. It's a boring shot of Strawberry, framed by a boring border, topped off with a boring font. And like the '86 Donruss I posted earlier, there's simply far too much blue.

Let's quickly move to the back:



At first glance, it seems almost as bad as the front. You've got the generic font for Strawberry's background info, and only half the card is filled with stats. The rest is open space filled with nothing but a strange candy-cane striped back ground - made even more strange by the fact that the thickness of the stripes is uneven.

Something I love, though, is the "How's He Hitting 'Em" feature at the bottom. It's overly simplistic, but it seems appropriate for the era. Hitters were classified in to one of four categories: dead pull hitter, power hitter, spray hitter, and singles hitter.

I'm guess spray hitter must be for those with "gap power", the 15 homers a year types?

Clearly, Darryl is labeled correctly as a power hitter.

The "pro scouts report" shows Strawberry's hot spots for the three types of pitches: fastball, breaking ball, and off-speed. The analysis? Fast ball low and away: In the cheap seats. Breaking ball over the plate: Darryl's trotting to first. Off-speed anywhere close to the plate? See ya! According to scouts, Strawberry could hit absolutely anything.

That's exactly how I remember him.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

1987 Topps #601, All-Star

Today's a sad day for Darryl Strawberry Fields. I've had a lot of fun revisiting my Strawberry card collection, but today's entry marks the end of an era.

With the posting of 1987 Topps #601, Darryl's All-Star card, I've reached the end of my cards with a faux wood border - but this one is the best of the best.

The front:



Lots to like here. It's nice to see the player name in a different location, written at the top of the card in yellow font over a red background. I always considered the league logos in the upper left corner a "bonus". I mean, I have 700+ '87 Topps cards (and that's NOT counting duplicates, of which I have thousands) with standard team logos. But a National or American League logo?? That's pretty cool... even if only to a five year old.

I especially like the "All Star" in the bottom right corner in nice thick font over sweet red, white, and blue stars. A nice, all-American tribute to what was once the country's undisputed pastime.

On to the back:



Makes sense to have a list of league RBI leaders, especially since Darryl was one of them. Having Mike Schmidt's name on the card seems like it should automatically increase its value. Strawberry came in at a solid seventh place for RBIs in '86 - certainly not shabby. Some other stats that Strawberry nearly led the league in that year (1986): Slugging percentage (.507, 2nd); On-base plus slugging (.865, 4th); Home runs (27, T-5th); Hit by Pitch (6, T-6th); Sac flies (9, T-4th).

Of course, I should also mention that he was tied for second in strike outs with 141.

And with that, I'm done with my "wood bordered" cards, and I ended with my favorite of the bunch. Upon closer inspection, this card suspiciously appears to be air brushed (as was common on jerseys and hats back in the day), but I can't think of any legitimate reason why Topps would have to do it. Could just be the lousy print quality.

I own over 20 of these cards.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

1987 Topps #331, Mets Leaders

With another opening day having come and gone, I can't help but think about how much the game has changed over the years. And what better way to take a glimpse at that change than a 1987 Topps Mets Leaders card?


OK, not a Darryl Strawberry card per se, but Darryl is on the card, so I count it as part of my official collection. Gotta love the bonus shots of Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez, too. Not too sure what to think of the double high five, fingers-interlocking hand slap that Carter and Strawberry are engaged in, but I'll look past that for now. They're not looking at each other, and I'm not sure if that makes the picture more or less awkward.

Looking at the stats of the leaders is what shows how much things have changed in the past 20 years. Strawberry led the team with 27 home runs. That's not bad for the 2008 San Fransisco Giants, but by most teams' standards that's a paltry amount. The rest of the offensive stats seem reasonable, but it's the pitching categories that get crazy.

Dwight Gooden's 250 innings is high, but not completely absurd. Bob Ojeda's 18 wins are fine. Two guys (Sid Fernandez and Dwight Gooden) with 200 strike outs is a luxury. Now for the crazy: Dwight Gooden led the '86 Mets with 12 complete games! That's insane. And not only that, but the Mets had three guys with two complete game shut outs... a team would be lucky to get just one complete game shut out from one guy this season, let alone two.

The save clearly wasn't highly regarded as a stat by the Mets (and still shouldn't be, in my opinion), as Roger McDowell led the '86 Mets with just 22 of them - though perhaps that was just a case of not many save opportunities being available on this stacked team.

I always liked the team leaders cards, probably because it was like getting two (or three, or sometimes four) cards for the price of one. So many superstars on just one "wood" bordered card! Who doesn't love that?

Monday, March 30, 2009

1987 O-Pee-Chee #379



Got a short (but sweet?) entry for you tonight: the 1987 O-Pee-Chee "version" of the '87 Strawberry Topps card. The fronts of the two versions are identical. My only question: What does Darryl have in his back pocket?? Is it a THIRD batting glove? Did he keep the third glove in the packaging? It looks uncomfortable...

The back, in typical O-Pee-Chee fashion, features French translations of the English facts:



The only discernable difference, other than the O-Pee-Chee logos replacing the Topps logos, are the whiter card backs. Make no mistake - the card is not a glossy replica - it appears to just be slighty higher grade card stock.

I own three of these cards, no doubt acquired via ebay since I don't think I've ever lived in an area where O-Pee-Chee cards were sold.

Friday, March 20, 2009

1987 Topps #460


Woah.

It's been a while since I last posted an entry on the site. Usually when that happens it's because I'm writing on my other site, Bad Baseball. Just some extra time killing material, if you're interested.

So back to Darryl...

Next up is 1987 Topps, number 460. If you've been reading this blog for a while, I've already written about the back of the card in the entry for the Topps Archive Reserve version of it. One thing that stands out now - that couldn't be found on the Topps Archive copy - is the game winning RBI stat. Darryl had 15 of them in 1986, and 42 in his career up to that point.

Quick aside about the "GWRBI": An official statistic from 1980 - 1988, it's the only statistic to ever have been officially abolished by Major League Baseball.

Back to the card.

I LOVE 1987 Topps. It certainly isn't heralded as the greatest set of all time, and it carries very little actual value. But this was the first set of cards I actually collected, the first packs I vividly remember opening.

This set has sentimental value to me, too. I knew that every time my dad picked me up from pre-school in Maine we were stopping at Grand City and picking up a couple packs. I probably didn't know a single player I was pulling at the time, because this would've been before I even started playing baseball.

I've always liked the "wood" borders, similar to 1962 Topps. I liked the team logo in the corner, the team colored box around the player's name, and even the font for the names themselves. The card backs were loaded with info: stats, a tidbit about the player, and an "ON THIS DATE" feature that gave you an obscure bit of useless trivia.

The packs these cards came in were also my first exposure to gum (if you could call it that). These days, a card grader would freak at the stains the gum usually left on the cards, but I loved it. A card that smelled like bubble gum?? Yes, please!

They should still make them like that today. A year or so ago I gave my nephew a pack of Topps Opening Day, and I was appalled to see a plastic wrapped piece of gum on top. It was (gasp) fresh! You could bend it without it snapping! You could chew it without shattering your teeth. Gross.

I own too many '87 Topps Strawberry cards to count.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

1986 Donruss #197


From the back of the card: Had 2 HR and 7 RBI in 1 game 7/20 last year vs. Braves... Missed 6 weeks of last season with torn thumb ligaments... NL Rookie of Year in '83... Led Mets in HR and RBI in '84, ranking 4th in NL in HR, 4th in RBI and 8th in slugging (.467)... MVP of Texas League in '82 when he hit 34 HR and had 97 RBI for Jackson.

Next up in my collection is the card from 1986 Donruss. It's a relatively sharp picture of Strawberry putting a ball in play. Compared to some players of today (Manny Ramirez comes to mind), Darryl's uniform is incredibly tight. Not "tight" as in "cool", tight as in it's a couple sizes too small. It's always amusing to me, too, that all of Strawberry's accessories - wrist bands, gloves, etc. - are team issued. No corporate branding, no NIKE swooshes, nothing. Just a Mets logo.

As for the card design itself, I'm not a fan. I don't like the dark blue/light blue stripes or the purple/yellow design around the player name. Maybe it seems worse because of Strawberry's blue jersey, but it all seems like a bit too much... blue. Even the card back is blue.

This is the first card of his, I think, that elaborates - albeit slightly - on Strawberry's contract. The back mentions that he's "...signed to a 5-year contract thru 1989 with opt for 1990."

This is the only '86 Donruss Strawberry I own.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another gem from ebay

First days back at work after vacation are rough, and that's exactly where I find myself this Wednesday afternoon. So what have I decided to do to ease my way back? Searched ebay for Darryl Strawberry stuff, of course! Here's what I found:



Very nice: a worthless card officially graded as worthless! I'm guessing the seller of this card is banking on the relative popularity of 1989 Upper Deck, the inaugural release of this brand, to bring in a little bit of money. Unfortunately, this auction takes place in 2009, 20 years after this card's heyday. Nobody really cares much about this set, at least not nearly as much as even 10 years ago.

Now, had it been graded a perfect 10, maybe there'd be a little interest from Strawberry collectors. It'd be a cheap way to own a "perfect" card. But that "PSA NM 7"?

No thanks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1986 Fleer #96


From the back of the card: Did you know? After missing 7 weeks and 49 games of '85 season, came back with 50-game stretch to hit .320, 15 HR, 45 RBI and scored 30 runs... Was 4th Met ever to hit 3 HR in one game, vs. Cubs in '85, and also had 7 RBI vs. Braves in July game... Led NL in homers in August with 9.

First off, I did not know all of that! Useless trivia, to be sure. Actually, I'm not even sure it qualifies as trivia - It's just a bunch of randomly pulled facts and stats.

The front of the card is a shot clearly taken at the Mets spring training facility, as you can see a practice field in the background. Darryl's forearms are bulging, which makes me wonder: When did steroids enter the game? Not saying he did or didn't use them, and I certainly don't feel like talking about the subject any more than this random thought, but I can't help but wonder. One thing about this picture is certain - Strawberry wasn't thrilled with having his photo taken. Usually he's all smiles on his cards, but not here. Must've been the end of practice on a hot Florida day.

I only have one of these cards, so I didn't scan the back, but it's fairly boring. It has the standard minor/major league stats, has a black border on the top and bottom, and is yellow in between. Not visually appealing.

Like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, this is the only '86 Fleer Darryl Strawberry that I own.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Strawberry pens tell-all

Jose Canseco has blown the cover off the steroids era in a couple of books, "Juiced" and the sequel "Vindicated".

Joe Torre has exposed the Yankees and all of the organization's problems in his book, "Yankee Years."

And now, Darryl Strawberry is cashing in on his years with the Mets of the 1980's with his upcoming book, "Straw: Finding My Way".

A couple of excerpts:

We were the boys of summer. The drunk, speed-freak, sneaking-a-smoke boys of summer," Strawberry writes. "(An) infamous rolling frat party . . . drinking, drugs, fights, gambling, groupies.


On beer:
...was the foundation of our alcoholic lifestyle. We hauled around more Bud than the Clydesdales. The beer was just to get the party started and maybe take the edge off the speed and coke.


On the team's mantra:
...tear up your best bars and nightclubs and take your finest women . . . The only hard part for us was choosing which hottie to take back to your hotel room. Lots of times you . . . picked two or three.


My thoughts? Bleh. I can't see this book being any good. Didn't David Wells already write a book on this topic? Half of the stories in these tell-alls seem to be entirely fictional, if not absurdly exaggerated. I find it a bit ironic, too, that he already wrote a book, "Recovering Life", that talks about how he's recovered from this period of his life.

These books inevitably turn into a bunch of barroom stories bragging about how crazy their younger years used to be and usually aren't worth the time required to read them. Though they don't usually take a ton of time to read, because the writers/players often have the intelligence of a ten year old. If you've read either of Canseco's books, or John Daly's "My Life In and Out of the Rough," you know what I'm talking about.

But let's be honest, I'll probably buy it when it hits bookstores in April, if for no other reason than it'll add to my Darryl Strawberry collection. Read more about the book here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

1986 Topps #80

Next up comes from the 1986 Topps set. Nothing too special here: a simple (in a good way, I think) front with the team name across the top, player name on the bottom, and position in the lower left corner. It's a good thing there weren't any truly valuable rookie cards released in this set, because the black upper border on cheap card stock has been nearly impossible to keep pristine through the years.



If I were a professional sports photographer, I'd do the exact same thing the guy who captured this particular shot did, which is take all my pictures during batting practice and warm ups, and then watch the rest of the game from the field. A bit lazy, and I find it hard to believe this was the best Strawberry picture Topps had on file.

On to the back:



While not the prettiest card back I've ever see, the red is definitely better looking than the green backs Topps had been using in previous years. It's got the personal biography, it's got the stats, and best of all... Talkin' Baseball!!!

I'd never, ever heard of Harry Chiti before this card. Traded for himself? Very nice. I find it strange, however, that he was listed as only the first player in Mets history... not all of baseball history, just Mets history. Did this happen all the time before 1986? It certainly doesn't happen now, unless you count a player being traded at the deadline and being resigned by his original team in the off-season.

I own eight of these cards.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

You can grade those?

Every now and then I'll venture in to a 7-11 for a Big Gulp before a day of house hunting, or perhaps to grab a coffee on the way to work when I run out at home (try the Blueberry - very tasty!). And every time I pull out a Big Gulp cup, I think to myself, "Wouldn't it be great if they brought back those little motion discs that used to be on the bottom of Slurpee cups?" You know, these:



I'd definitely buy more Slurpees if they did.

I have a couple of these discs in my collection; not of Strawberry, but of other players. But never in a million years would I think to keep it safe for grading. I'm actually surprised I didn't try to pass them off as pogs during that early '90s craze.

I'm a bit surprised these could even be graded. They must compare everything they grade to other similar items, right? Do people submit these all the time? The back doesn't even look centered properly, at least not centered enough to be considered GEM MT 10. But I suppose the card grading industry is feeling the impact of our crumbling economy as much as anyone else is these days, so they'll probably grade anything you send them. Why not throw a guy a bone and grade his worthless crap as flawless?

This blast from the past can be yours on ebay for "just" $30. The description claims that it's one of two graded as GEM MT 10, but I've got a funny feeling that it was only of two submitted at all.

As for my money, I think I'll stash every last expendable dollar in a savings account for now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

2002 Topps Archives Reserve, #88 of 100

I'm back in business! And to reward your patience: this shiny card from 2002 Topps Archives Reserve. Oooooooooohh...


OK, so it's not so shiny after a scan, but in real life it is - I promise. It's got that refractor technology, which gives it a rainbow-y effect. Most of you know exactly what I'm talking about. If not, well, you'll just have to trust me.

I bought this card off ebay for a buck. Its probably not worth even that, but 1987 Topps is one of my favorite sets of all time (more for sentimental reasons, which I'll explain in a later entry), so this card is a pretty neat tribute.

The front of the Archives card is identical to the '87 version, just with the added shine and the Topps Archives stamp. It's also quite a bit thicker than the '87 is/was. And you gotta love the picture of Darryl waiting to launch a fastball into Shea Stadium's cheap seats.

Things get a little different on the back:


You can see the "original" back is squished a bit to make room for the Archives banner (for lack of a better word) on the bottom. It took me a second to find the actual number of the card since they kept the original number, 460, on the back.

Topps must not have allotted much money to their writers or research department; they dug up that Strawberry and his wife have a son, but they make no mention of his name. Seems a little strange, because I'm assuming the son being mentioned is Darryl Strawberry, Jr., who now plays professional basketball in Italy after a year in the NBA (according to Wikipedia, for the record). You might know him better by D.J., the name he's chosen to go by.

I have to admit: I never knew that on April 16th, 1959 (no clue why that date was chosen), Dave Philley delivered his ninth consecutive pinch hit for the Phillies. His '59 Topps card was number 92, just in case it's the one card you're trying to find to complete the set. I have no idea why this incredibly obscure stat was highlighted.

This is the only 2002 Topps Archive Reserve card that I own.

Monday, January 12, 2009

If it ain't broke...


... Don't fix it. Problem is, my computer IS broke... so it's being fixed. Hopefully the new power supply comes in this week and I can get back to updating the site. Until then, make sure to check out some of the links on the right side of the page for some baseball card goodness to hold you over until Darryl Strawberry Fields returns!