Friday, December 27, 2013

1989 Cleveland Indians Team Issue


The Indians issued a 28-card team set during the 1989 season. A bit larger than the standard card size, these measure approx. 2 3/4 by 4 1/2 inches. Fronts feature color photos, with the player's uniform number, name and position across the bottom. A large "Tribe" logo is found at the top left of each card. Backs have the Cleveland Indians name printed in red, with the player's minor/major league statistics and facsimile autograph printed in blue. The cards are not numbered. We are guessing that the cards were given away at a home game sometime during the 1989 season.

The most interesting thing (in my opinion) about the set is the large number of players playing their first year with the Indians. After a mediocre 1988 season where the club won 78 games and lost 84, a major overhaul was undertaken to make the '89 team more competitive. The new roster was unsuccessful, however, as the Indians took a step backwards and finished the 1989 season with just 73 wins versus 89 losses. 

The "big five" card companies would not picture these new players with Cleveland until the release of their update sets later in the year (if at all). We counted a whopping ten players in this team-issued set that were playing their first season with the Tribe.

This obscure issue isn't for everyone. There are no superstars to be found, with outfielder Joe Carter being the biggest star in the bunch, and the larger card size isn't a plus for some collectors. On the positive side, most of the photos are quite nice and the look of the set is simple and appealing. Sets of this nature tend to include at least a couple of obscure players, and this is no exception. Serious collectors will be happy to add a card of unknown infielder Pat Keedy, who played just nine games with the Indians in 1989. Young pitcher Joe Skalski tossed just 6.2 innings in 1989, enduring two losses in the process, and never pitched in the Majors again.

A bit of searching will uncover a set, which usually sells in the $4 to $6 range.

Click here to find Indians Team Issues on eBay

(6) Andy Allanson, C
(9) Pete O'Brien, 1B (from the Rangers)
(11) Doug Jones, RHP 
(13) Joel Skinner, C (from the Yankees)
(14) Jerry Browne, 2B (from the Rangers)
(16) Felix Fermin, SS (from the Pirates)
(20) Oddibe McDowell, OF (from the Rangers)
(21) Greg Swindell, LHP 
(22) Brad Havens, LHP
(23) Luis Aguayo, IF (from the Yankees)
(25) Dave Clark, OF
(26) Brook Jacoby, 3B
(27) Joe Skalski, RHP
(28) Cory Snyder, OF
(29) Luis Medina, OF
(30) Joe Carter, OF
(32) Doc Edwards, MGR
(33) Pat Keedy, IF (from the Astros)
(38) Keith Atherton, RHP (from the Twins)
(40) Bud Black, LHP 
(42) Rich Yett, RHP 
(43) Scott Bailes, LHP
(45) Brad Komminsk, OF (from the Brewers)
(47) Jesse Orosco, LHP (from the Dodgers)
(49) Tom Candiotti, RHP
(52) John Farrell, RHP
(54) Rod Nichols, RHP 
1989 Tribe Coaches

Thursday, December 26, 2013

1981 Drake's Big Hitters

Click here to find Big Hitters Sets on eBay

The card collecting "snowball" slowly began rolling downhill in the late 1970s, gradually increasing in size until running out of steam in the early 1990s. It was during this time, in the late 70s to early 80s, that speculators -- in numbers previously unseen by the collecting hobby -- began buying cards with the intention of holding and selling them for a future profit. One of the card issues purchased heavily by speculators of the day was the 1981 Drake's Big Hitters set.

Produced by the Topps Company for Drake's, there was much to like about these cards. They were packaged with Drake's cake products that were only sold in certain areas of the country. Putting a complete set together required purchasing numerous Drake's products, as the buyer never knew which cards would be included inside the packages. The player lineup was nothing short of fantastic, with 33 bona fide Major League stars being represented in the set (ten Hall of Famers, plus Pete Rose for good measure). Three players were
featured with their new teams, even before the 1981 Topps Traded Series was released -- Carlton Fisk of the White Sox, Fred Lynn of the Angels and Dave Kingman of the Mets.

Collectors and speculators far and wide purchased Drake's cakes by the case, and the cards were popular sellers in the hobby newspapers of the day. It was common to pay $20 or more for a set in 1981, if the dealer in question even had a set in stock.

The bubble burst on these card values near the end of the 1981 season, when the New York marketing firm handling the promotion found out about a major "leak" within the distribution process. Apparently, complete sets of the cards had made their way directly into the hobby and were selling for high prices. Of course, the cards purchased directly from this unknown source had never been packaged with baked goods and were in mint condition. Though the original plan had been to not release complete sets, Drake's decided to do so in light of the high prices collectors were paying for these leaked cards. The sudden availability of complete sets drove the value down, as planned by Drake's, in order to make sets affordable for collectors.

Drakes and Topps once again released a very similar set in 1982 (and others in 1983, 1984 and 1985), but speculators had learned their lessons. These future sets never gained the acclaim or hype initially given to the inaugural 1981 set.

Today, the 1981 Drake's issue suffers the same fate as the other sets that were overproduced during the 1980s. Over thirty years later a complete, mint set of the cards usually costs less than the $5 to $8 range it was selling for in 1982. How's that for a great investment?

Click here to find Big Hitters Sets on eBay

1. Carl Yastrzemski, Red Sox
2. Rod Carew, Angels
3. Pete Rose, Phillies
4.  Dave Parker, Pirates
5. George Brett, Royals
6. Eddie Murray, Orioles
7. Mike Schmidt, Phillies
8. Jim Rice, Red Sox
9. Fred Lynn, Angels
10. Reggie Jackson, Yankees
11. Steve Garvey, Dodgers
12. Ken Singleton, Orioles
13. Bill Buckner, Cubs
14. Dave Winfield, Yankees
15. Jack Clark, Giants
16. Cecil Cooper, Brewers
17. Bob Horner, Braves
18. George Foster, Reds
19. Dave Kingman, Mets
20. Cesar Cedeno, Astros
21. Joe Charboneau, Indians
22. George Hendrick, Cardinals
23. Gary Carter, Expos
24. Al Oliver, Rangers
25. Bruce Bochte, Mariners
26. Jerry Mumphrey, Padres
27. Steve Kemp, Tigers
28. Bob Watson, Yankees
29. John Castino, Twins
30. Tony Armas, Athletics
31. John Mayberry, Blue Jays
32. Carlton Fisk, White Sox
33. Lee Mazzilli, Mets

1987 San Diego Chargers Police

The San Diego Chargers were the subjects of two classic (and somewhat scarce) police sets released in 1981 and 1982. After a five year hiatus, they were back in 1987 with the release of their third police set, sponsored by the Chargers and Oscar Meyer. Though numbered on the card backs to number 22, there are only 21 cards in the set as card number 13 was pulled before distribution. 

Card fronts feature a large color photo with tri-colored borders. A Chargers helmet sits at the lower left, while the players' names, positions, uniform numbers and physical info are found across the remainder of the bottom. Backs are printed in black and feature short player bios, a "Chargers Tip," and the Oscar Meyer logo. Surprisingly, no police department is mentioned on the cards.

In addition to the phantom number 13 card, two others were pulled shortly after distribution began, making both shortprints the two most valuable cards in the set. The shortprinted cards feature kicker Rolf Benirschke, who retired before the season began, and cornerback Danny Walters, who was arrested on September 14 of that year for possession of cocaine and driving under the influence. These cards are considered a part of a complete set.

The set is loaded with star and superstar players, including Hall of Famers Dan Fouts and Kellen Winslow. We would love to get a hold of an uncut sheet and take a peek at who was pictured on the unreleased card number 13... Our guess would be Hall of Fame wide receiver Charlie Joiner, who retired well before the 1987 season began. Regarding value, the current price range for a complete 21-card set is $15 to $20. 

Click here to find Chargers Police Cards on eBay

1. Alex G. Spanos, Owner
2. Gary Anderson, Running Back
3. Rolf Benirschke, Kicker (Short Print)
4. Gill Byrd, Cornerback/Safety
5. Wes Chandler, Wide Receiver
6. Sam Claphan, Tackle
7. Jeff Dale, Safety
8. Pete Holohan, Tight End
9. Lionel James, Running Back/Wide Receiver
10. Jim Lachey, Tackle
11. Woodrow Lowe, Linebacker
12. Don Macek, Center
13. Unissued
14. Dan Fouts, Quarterback
15. Eric Sievers, Tight End
16. Billy Ray Smith, Linebacker
17. Danny Walters, Cornerback (Short Print)
18. Lee Williams, Defensive End
19. Kellen Winslow, Tight End
20. Al Saunders, Head Coach
21. Dennis McKnight, Guard
22. Chip Banks, Linebacker

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

1987 and 1988 New York Giants Police Sets

Click here to find Giants Police Cards on eBay

With a variety of NFL teams releasing local "police sets" as early as 1979, the New York Giants finally decided to release a few sets of their own, with the first two being in 1987 and 1988. Both sets feature twelve cards and measure approx. 4 1/8 by 2 3/4 inches in size. The year of issue is NOT mentioned on either set. We are mentioning both together due to their similarities, but when pictured side by side they are easy to differentiate.

The inaugural 1987 Giants Police set features color action photos on the fronts, with nothing above them but white border. All subject matter is found below the photos, to include the player's name, height, weight, position, college and a small Giants helmet near the middle. Head Coach Bill Parcells is featured on his first-ever card, pictured in a closeup studio portrait, with his name, title and small Giants helmet printed below the photo. Cards are not numbered. For reasons unknown, the photo used on running back Joe Morris' card is considerably smaller than those used on the other cards.

Here's a look at the front and back of Maurice Carthon's 1987 Giants Police card:

It is estimated that 10,000 of the 1987 sets were printed and distributed by the New Jersey State Police. The twelve-card roster features the majority of the stars found on those mid-1980's Giants powerhouse teams, with the exception of linebacker Lawrence Taylor. Here's the lineup, listed in order of uniform number:

(5) Sean Landeta, Punter
(11) Phil Simms, Quarterback
(20) Joe Morris, Running Back
(44) Maurice Carthon, Running Back
(53) Harry Carson, Linebacker
(58) Carl Banks, Linebacker
(60) Brad Benson, Tackle
(64) Jim Burt, Nose Tackle
(70) Leonard Marshall, Defensive End
(75) George Martin, Defensive End
(89) Mark Bavaro, Tight End
Bill Parcells, Head Coach

 The 1988 cards can be quickly identified on the fronts by locating two small Giants helmets and the "NEW YORK GIANTS" team name across the tops of the cards. The color photos are more centered towards the middle of the cards, and the player names, uniform numbers, height, position and weight are found on the bottoms. Coach Parcells and seven of his star players make another appearance in 1988, meaning only four "new" players are featured in the second set (center Bart Oates and wide receiver Phil McConkey being the most notable).

Here's a look at the front and back of Leonard Marshall's 1988 Giants Police card:

It is estimated once again that approx. 10,000 sets were printed and distributed by the New Jersey State Police. Lawrence Taylor is nowhere to be found, but the lineup is impressive nonetheless. The cards are listed by uniform number:

(11) Phil Simms, Quarterback
(20) Joe Morris, Running Back
(44) Maurice Carthon, Running Back
(53) Harry Carson, Linebacker
(63) Karl Nelson, Tackle
(64) Jim Burt, Nose Tackle
(65) Bart Oates, Center
(67) Bill Ard, Guard
(70) Leonard Marshall, Defensive End
(75) George Martin, Defensive End
(80) Phil McConkey, Wide Receiver
Bill Parcells, Head Coach

Both of these sets are somewhat difficult to find today, but I have noticed over the years that the 1987 set sells for more than the 1988 issue. The Bill Parcells "rookie card" in the '87 set is doubtlessly the main reason for this, with perhaps a bit of support from fan-favorites Sean Landeta and Mark Bavaro. We'd estimate the value of a complete 1987 set in the $40 to $50 range, and the value of the 1988 follow-up set closer to the $25 to $40 range.

Click here to find Giants Police Cards on eBay