1980’s “Desert Island” Binder: Part 1, The Beginning

A new year brings a new blogging project.

The latest – I think it’s the latest, anyway – issue of Beckett Baseball has a 1980’s theme to it and includes a somewhat controversial (but from what I understand, very Beckett-y) article about “The Top 80 Cards Of The 1980’s”.  Night Owl is said to be working on his own “Best cards of the 1980’s” series.  Others I know of have made “I should do that too” comments.

I am very aware that I don’t spend enough “quality time” with my 1980’s cards, so I figured a fun project along these lines would help me reconnect with a decade that started with me in high school and ended with me being an adult who had been laid off just the one time.  Ah, those days of sweet innocence…

So here’s the premise: I’m fleeing to an uncharted desert island to evade the reach of The Powers That Be, those who wish to silence me because I know THE TRUTH about how Cookie Monster is not the lovable Muppet everyone thinks he is, but is indeed the Machiavellian head of a global shadow government. Because I’m fleeing in the dark of night, all I’m able to bring with me are the bare essentials plus one binder full of 1980’s baseball cards.  I can’t fit entire sets in the binder, but the binder is big enough that I can fit a good representation of the 1980’s in there.

…and I’ll start with this 1988 Score Tony Armas card, just because it perfectly epitomizes a number of cards I’ll be featuring here.

This isn’t Armas’ rookie card, not by a long shot.  It’s not a card from his best season;  that would be 1984 when he lead the Majors in home runs and RBI.  It’s just a nice-looking card that I’ve really liked since I pulled it out of a pack in 1988… So it goes in the Desert Island Binder.

…And at this point I want to make it clear that this is a make-believe binder.  I’m not actually making a binder like this, but I *am* limiting the cards to the ones I own… So while there may be a Griffey rookie at some point, it won’t be the 1989 Upper Deck Griffey rookie because I don’t own it and don’t feel the need to own it.

Rookie cards aren’t ignored in my binder, they’re just not as much of a priority as they would be in other lists.  The Rickey Henderson rookie card from 1980 Topps does make the grade for my own personal reasons.

There was a whole lot of patience involved in tracking down a budget-friendly copy of this card.  That allowed me to finally, *finally* finish off the 1980 set, a mere 35 years after I’d started it. Obviously, the Rickey rookie is valuable because he’s one of the all-time greats of the game, but I was getting the card not because of Rickey so much as because I was trying to complete 1980 Topps… and I’ll be honest with you, when the objective is mainly “complete 1980 Topps”, that kind of makes you reign in the impulses to spend a lot.  At the end of the day, it’s just 1980 Topps.

A few weeks ago I pulled this 1981 Donruss Cesar Cedeno card from a repack, and was surprised at how decent of a card it is… especially by 1981 Donruss standards.

Few, if any, collectors would have 1981 Donruss on their “Top Sets of the 1980’s” list, and while I bought a bunch in 1981, it was more out of “HOLY CRAP, I CAN BUY CARDS THAT AREN’T MADE BY TOPPS!” than any great love for the set. I do have a certain fondness for the set, and for all of it’s slapped-together faults, it has its charms. I always smile when I stumble across additions to my set, and I could see myself trying to complete it someday (I’m currently at about 57%). (Side note to anyone with monster boxes full of 1981 Donruss that they’re looking to get rid of: I cannot emphasize “SOMEDAY” enough. I am not doing this anytime soon, I’ve got too many irons in the fire as it is).

…Besides, there’s a certain simple pleasure which comes from pulling a needed 1981 Donruss out of a repack.

Another rookie card, but not one that’s in anybody’s investment portfolio.

This 1987 Donruss Jamie Moyer card didn’t mean anything special to me in 1987 or for many years after that. It gained significance for me about 8-10 years ago when I realized that Jamie Moyer was, at the time, the one remaining Major Leaguer who was older than I was. At that moment I started… well not truly a Player Collection, more of a Player Accumulation. It also resulted in cards I already had achieving a place of greater prominence in my collection.

If nothing else, this card serves as a reminder that Moyer, who was 49 when he retired, was once a rookie (even if he wasn’t a “Rated Rookie”).

Something you need to know about the Desert Island Binder… it has more than just 9-pocket sheets in it.

I love the 5×7 sets of the early 1980’s – this Dave Winfield card is from the 1980 Topps Super set – so any 1980’s binder I compile, whether theoretical or actual, is going to have cards from oversized sets. You have been warned.

I was a huge fan of Fleer in the 1980’s… less so towards the end of the decade, but in general I enjoyed what they brought to the hobby. People tend to think of the Super Star Special combo cards or the goofy shots with umbrella hats and giant snakes, but I always appreciated the fact that they would use photos that showed that there’s more to the game then pitching a ball or swinging a bat (or standing in foul territory before a game, pretending to pitch a ball or swing a bat).

So much to like about this 1984 Fleer Al Oliver card…The dugout shot, the Expos logo and uniform… but mostly it’s about Al Oliver sitting in the dugout, waiting for his opportunity to do some damage.

This is very much a project that’s still in the early phases.  I’m still in the process of going through my 1980’s cards and pulling out cards which catch my eye.  As it turns out, there’s some organizational goodness coming out of this as well.  Not only has it got me thinking of reorganizing my 1980’s cards in general, but when I scanned this 1985 Drake’s Gary Carter card – and yes, oddballs are guaranteed to be in this 1980’s Desert Island binder – I realized that I had misfiled this card.

Somewhere along the line I focused too much on the Expos uniform and didn’t notice that the card says “METS” in two different places on the front. Yes, this card needs to be with my other 1985 Mets cards.

I think that makes a pretty good kickoff to this series. I don’t have an “end game” in mind for this, but I do know that have had a number of 1980’s-themed ideas that never seem to make it to the blog, so this might give me the push (and the structure) to finally commit things to the blog.

Happy New Year, everybody!

2 thoughts on “1980’s “Desert Island” Binder: Part 1, The Beginning

  1. While I was in Portland last week, I made my best friend take me to Barnes & Noble so I could finally read the Beckett 80’s issue. Although my choices and their choices don’t match up perfectly, it was cool to see someone else’s picks. That’s why this post is so awesome! Loved reading about why you chose each card. The Rickey rookie would definitely be on my list as well.

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