Tag Archives: 1988 Topps

Manly, Magical Moustaches – Jack Morris

1 Nov

1988 Topps – Jack Morris

With November 1 comes the start of Movember, when men everywhere grow mustaches in order to raise funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer.  As an appreciator of fine mustaches, I thought I’d start November off right and join in on the fun by celebrating one of the all-time great mustaches in baseball.  This one was grown by Mr. Jack Morris.

Morris was known as a fierce competitor with a dirty forkball, and had the most wins of any pitcher in the 1980’s.  However, he also gave up the most hits, earned runs and home runs of any pitcher in the same decade, leading to some pretty heated debates (a good summary can be found at Getting Blanked) about whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame or not, Morris will always have Game 7 to hang his hat on, and a mustache to hang his four World Series rings on.

Badass Beards – Jeff Reardon

7 Aug

1988 Topps - Jeff Reardon

Here at Sorting by Teams I pay a lot of attention to the mustache… and for good reason.  The mustache is an incredible thing, even though some people who have them shouldn’t be allowed near schools.

However, the beard is an often overlooked feature that deserves recognition of its own.  Hence, today’s new category, Badass Beards.

One of the best Badass Beards in history was Jeff Reardon.  I remember him during the 1992 World Series while playing for the Braves, talking about giving up the game winning hit to Candy Maldonado: “People say why’d you throw him another curveball?  Well, I threw him another curveball because he looked sick on the first two.”  I thought he might rip the reporter’s head off.

He looked that day like he did on 1988 Topps.  Angry.  Bearded.  Badass.

WTF – Jose Nunez at the Bat

22 Jun

1988 Topps - Jose Nunez

Someone told me about this today, and I had to share it – this was published by Sports Illustrated, and you can read it in their online archives.  Good timing considering some of the questionable hitting we are seeing from AL pitchers in NL parks.


Jose Nunez, a righthanded pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays who had never batted in the pros before, stepped in against the Phillies’ Kevin Gross in an exhibition game in Clearwater, Fla. Before Gross could throw a pitch, the third base ump motioned for Nunez to take off his warmup jacket. Then Nunez returned to the lefthanded-batter’s box and was told by plate ump Dave Pallone that he was wearing a righty’s helmet—the earflap covered his left ear rather than his right, which faced the pitcher. So Nunez turned the helmet around on his head and wore it catcher-style. No, no, said Pallone, get a lefty’s helmet. No, no, said Nunez, who moved across the plate to bat righthanded.

When Gross began his delivery he saw Nunez bent over the plate, looking back into catcher Lance Parrish’s glove.

“What are you doing?” asked Parrish.

“I want to see the signs,” said Nunez.

“O.K., what pitch do you want?”


A fastball it was, and Nunez lined it foul. He turned to Parrish and said, “Could you make that a changeup instead?”

At that, Pallone doubled over in laughter, and Gross needed a few minutes to compose himself. Finally, on a 2-2 count, Nunez grounded out to short.

Jose Nunez actually played in the NL for one season – with the Cubs in 1990 – and went 0 for 11 with a walk and one RBI.  I’ll bet he knew how to stand at the plate by then.

Things I Read on the Back of Cards – 1988 Topps – Dickie Noles

15 Feb

1988 Topps - Dickie Noles

Here is the delightful tidbit that Topps provided us with on the back of Dickie Noles’ 1988 card: “Was traded by Cubs to Tigers for player to be named later, 9-21-87, as this card was going to press.”  The fact that the transaction had taken place is indicated on the card FRONT as well – crazy.

1988 Topps - Dickie Noles (back)

I learned a lot from this little piece of card back splendor.  First of all, 1988 Topps was actually going to press DURING the 1987 season.  That genuinely surprised me.  I figured they waited at least until after the season ended.  Or maybe that’s only for sets that have World Series subsets.  Or maybe in the late 80’s they needed a few months to print the billions of extra cards they needed.

Reading up on this card led me to the outstanding 1988 Topps Blog where I then also learned that Dickie Noles actually returned to the Cubs in October 1987 – his third go-round with the club.  However, he never played for them again.  Baseball Reference tells me that he only ended up pitching in 3 more games in his career, 2 for Baltimore and 1 for Philadelphia.

Read those card backs.  Enlightenment will surely follow.

Things I Read on the Back of Cards – 1988 Topps, Mark Grant

8 Aug

Not everything on a card back deserves to be on a card back.

1988 Topps – Mark Grant.  Let’s go through this line by line:

1988 Topps - Mark Grant (Back)

“Mark’s uncle, Richard Ramos, pitched in White Sox chain, 1953-1958.” – Ok, fine.  Interesting enough.  I like learning about those kinds of connections.

“A cousin, Rick Ramos, pitched in Expo chain, 1978-1983.” – Still interested.

“Mark is a clothing salesman.” – Really?  Actually, I think he was a Major League Baseball pitcher.  These days, Mark is a broadcaster, and a pretty popular one in San Diego, from what a quick Google search can track down.  No mention of a clothing sales career anywhere.  I think we could have stopped after the family connections.

Either way, I learned something today.  Thanks, 1988 Topps, for making me a better person.

Cool Stuff I Wish I’d Bought in the 80′s – Topps Furrball(tm) Baseball Caps

1 Aug

1988 Topps Company Store Card (Furrball Caps)

In a previous post, I discussed the Topps sweatshirts that you could buy from the Topps Company Store, advertised on cards inserted into packs of 1988 Topps.  General consensus was that yes, I would have purchased any one (or all) of these sweatshirts and worn them with pride.  I was that nerdy of a kid, and the shirts were awesome.

However, it is debatable as to whether my awkwardness as a child would have pushed me to want to purchase the Topps Furrball Baseball Cap, available through the same Company Store and advertised in ’88 Topps.  (Note: it appears that “Furrball” was actually trademarked.  A quick Google search, surprisingly, yields very little… guess it didn’t catch on).

The goal of the product was that not only could you have an awesome trucker-style baseball cap – obviously lined with foam, as everything cool was back then – but also a convenient place to store a furry plush baseball – right on the cap! You could store the ball on any – any! – of the blue panels.

It seems that back in 1988, a lot of random games of catch broke out, using a furry plush baseball.  Imagine your embarrassment, walking down the street, seeing a game of catch going on, but not being able to participate, because you didn’t have your trusty cap and ball.  Peer pressure is a bitch, and your social life probably never would have recovered.  Best just to buy a damn hat.

I want to know how many of these were actually sold, and if photos of kids wearing these caps exist.  Also, who would get mail sent to PO Box 3070, Westbury NY 11592 now?  Do I dare try?

Cool Stuff I Wish I’d Bought in the 80′s – Topps Sweatshirts

4 Jul

1988 Topps Company Store Card

Not only was 1988 Topps one of the best baseball sets ever, they also contained Topps Company Store cards with… prepare yourself… special offers.  The fact is, I probably not only wanted one of these sweatshirts as a kid, I would have worn it constantly.  My mother would have had to wrestle it off of me on laundry day.  I would have been the coolest kid in school.

Now, looking back, I’m torn.  I don’t know which shirt I would have requested when I sent my $19.95 plus $1.50 ($1.50!) shipping to Westbury, NY.

I’d say I’m leaning towards the “All-Star Card Collector” shirt at the bottom right (Style A), because, really, who doesn’t want to be acknowledged for their All-Star status in puffy-lettered sweatshirt printing?  That said, the word trickery shenanigans with Style C are pretty impressive.  That shirt not only has “TOPPS” printed on it five times, it also says TOPPS in diagonal, using letters from the other five words, except IN COLOUR!

If you’re paying attention, you will see that I spelled colour with a “u,” which is one of the key indicators of Canadianness, like an accent that makes me sound slow or the ability to comprehend Fahrenheit and Celsius at the same time.  I feel like I’m reliving the disappointment of my childhood, realizing that this offer is good in the USA only, while I am stuck in cold, Topps sweatshirt-less Canada.  Maybe O-Pee-Chee has something similar but bilingual that I can buy?

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