I recently re-entered the baseball card collecting game, after an absence of over 15 years. I have discovered some outstanding websites dedicated to the hobby, most notably the wonderful Cardboard Gods (featuring the mind-blowing prose of Josh Wilker). However, the purpose of this blog is to relive the joy of my youth.
Inspired by the card-by-card review of both the 1988 Topps and 1978 Topps blogs, I decided that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. However, I could not decide which set to review. That is, until I was going through some old photos and discovered a photo of Christmas 1986.
There I am, all of 11 years old, wearing some classic 1980s-style short shorts, opening what was without a doubt my most prized holiday gift, a box of 1987 Donruss cards. That, folks, is what we call a sign.
I do plan to review every single card of this set, all 660 of them. However, I don't want to fall into the formulaic trap of going in numerical order. Sometimes I will pick cards at random, sometimes I will pick cards based on newsworthy items or whatever happens to be spinning inside my head at the time.
For the initial card review, I had to choose my all-time favorite player: Eddie Clarence Murray, card #48. Back in 1987, Eddie wasn't yet my favorite player. It was probably Fernando Valenzuela or Pedro Guerrero, maybe even Orel Hershiser. Because, you see, I am a Dodger fan. I always appreciated Murray from afar, but didn't fully embrace his greatness until 1989 when he donned an LA cap.
The design of the 1987 Donruss card is a classic design, kind of a grown-up version of their previous six sets. There is simple design with an understated trim/background of baseballs. The front of this card is great, too, as it captures Murray in a smile. Murray wasn't exactly known, at least by reporters, as a joyous fellow, so it's always nice to see a smile, or at least a grin.
One thing I love about the back of the 1987 Donruss cards is that each player's contract status was displayed. Salary wasn't disclosed of course, but this was a wonderful piece of information anyway. Thanks to Sports Illustrated in April 1987, I learned that Murray was the highest paid player in MLB in 1987, at $2.46m. That April 20, 1987 issue was amazing, as the salary of every major leaguer was displayed. In the pre-internet era (we didn't have access to the outstanding Cot's Baseball Contracts for almost two decades).
Another staple of Donruss cards of the 1980s was only displaying the previous 5 years of stats, instead of the entire careers shown on Topps and Fleer. I'll talk about this in future posts, but I kind of liked this because the stats were more readable. I have never had vision problems, but some Topps cards required a magnifying glass. Anyway, in the 1982-1986 period covered on the back of this card, Murray had the 4th best OPS+ (151) in baseball, and was also 4th in HR (142) and 3rd in RBI (539).
Let's get a count going, that will appear on each post going forward:
The Set: 1 of 660 (0.2%)
HOF Count: 1
Former Dodgers: 0
Future Dodgers: 1
The darkest of my dark periods
11 hours ago