Tuesday, July 31, 2007
1987 Topps Archive
For me, the value of any trading card lies not in its supposed intrinsic value, but in its sentimental value. While I must have had a few packs of 1986 Topps purchased for me by my parents, it wasn't until the following year when the hobby became a passion. 1987 Topps will forever be my favorite baseball card set of all time. My collection of the complete set came about in many stages. As a youngster I was semi-thrilled to get a John Henry Johnson, a home-town not-quite-hero sporting a meticulously coiffed Afro. Trips to the corner drugstore netted me a few more cards. I was also concurrently collecting the 1987 Topps Yearbook Stickers with Mike Schmidt on the cover, but it was the green packs with red, yellow, and blue writing that got me to part with whatever small amount of money I had saved or was given.
This post will be the first of hopefully many containing musings on this greatest of all baseball card sets. It took me approximately nineteen years to complete (with about twelve years of downtime in the middle of those years). Its corners are sometimes dinged, its manager cards often have their team checklists written on, and Dave Lopes, who, at age 40, looking older than most people's great-grandfathers, somehow stole 25 bases, is still scowling at me.
I would like to start with what I have come to recognize as the Holy Grail of the set, #332, pitcher for the Chicago Cubs...Ed Lynch. This may be the greatest baseball card of all time. I give this card as gifts to loved ones...birthdays, bar mitzvahs, baby showers, there exists no occasion for which this card will not be appreciated
Let's look at what makes this card so great and powerful.
Front: The obvious eye-catching feature on this card is the proliferation of chins that Ed is sporting. When I take this card out to show to guests in my home, everyone automatically makes a deep guttural sound in an attempt to mimic any speaking that Ed would have foolishly tried to do in such an awkward pose. Picture the scene in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" when Cameron is pretending to be Sloane Peterson's father on the phone while talking to Principal Rooney. In this scene, Big Ed Rooney thinks he has just committed a faux pas regarding the treatment of Sloane. Scrambling to make sense of it all, he hands the phone off to his secretary (the woman who played Mrs. Poole on "The Hogan Family," for those of you out there keeping score), who tries to impersonate the principal without using any actual words. The "guuuugggh...bbllluuuuuurrgggh" sounds she makes is the closest thing I can think of to the anthropomorphic folds of Ed Lynch's neck and chin.
Back: "Ed lists reading and sailing among his hobbies." I can picture Ed on an early November Miami day, out on his sloop, passed out, with a hardcover copy of "It" shielding his face from the sun.
Also notable is Lynch's stat line from the 1986 season. Apparently he pitched to five batters while with the Mets, giving up no runs, walking none and striking out one batter. This not being good enough, he was traded to the Cubs, thereby missing the miracle of the World Series and Game 6. Yet, on wikipedia it states that when Ed later attended the University of Miami Law School after retirement that he "was known to let other students try on his 1986 World Series ring, which he proudly wore every day." Why was he given a ring? Did he threaten someone with his folds? I realize that it's customary for a team to award championship rings to players who made an impact on the team's season but were for some reason inactive for the playoffs, but 1.2 innings?
Well, I'll choose not to dwell in this inconsistency. I'll close this post by filling all of you readers in on my lifelong dream. One day I would like to have enough Ed Lynch cards to paper an entire wall with. While the accumulation of that many folds might produce some sort of paralysis and/or epileptic seizure Magic Eye-type phenomenon, I still think it would be cool. If you have any spare 1987 Lynch cards that you would care to donate to this admirable cause, contact me a firstname.lastname@example.org Make a dream come true!