Tuesday, September 04, 2007

1988 Topps Big Series 1 and 3

At the risk of sounding like a cheesy classic rock station, I thought I'd do a "two for Tuesday" and crack open a couple of 1988 Topps Big packs. I have series 1 and 3 to open, and if I can manage to find a series 2 pack lying around I'll be sure to open it as well in a future post. Thanks to the see-through cello wrappers I can already tell we have Greg Gagne and Dick Schofield in these packs, so maybe the lame '80's hair band comparison is apt.

The Topps Big set was an early attempt at a retro themed set. The card was either an homage or a blatant rip-off of the classic 1956 set depending on your point of view. The cards were the traditional '52-'56 set size of 2 5/8" by 3 3/4". The design is just slightly tweaked from the 1956 set, the main difference being the rainbow sploosh that surrounds the player's name. The reverse has the same type of biographical cartoon taking up half the card as the '56 design, except the cartoons are in bright garish full color. The set was somewhat of a bomb, but Topps put out two more Big sets in '89 and '90 before deciding to retire the concept and put out a different harebrained retro themed set in 1991.

Pack 1 - Series 1
58 Greg Gagne
32 Wade Boggs
48 Kal Daniels
30 Bob Boone
24 Dave Winfield
14 Dale Murphy
82 Darrell Evans
Wow, this was one hell of a pack! Two certified Hall of Famers (with awesome 'what the hell' looks on their faces). One guy who might sneak in on the Veteran's Committee ballot before it's all said and done. Two more players who had long, solid careers. A Twin who went berzerk in the '87 playoffs. And finally a man whose parents willingly named their child Kalvoski. How cool is that? Plus we have a blank backed Topps Company store card offering a High Quality Puffy-lettered T-Shirt for only $9.95 plus shipping and handling. Who wouldn't want a puffy-lettered Topps logo t-shirt? I mean, other than people who don't really want to get their asses kicked every single day in junior high.

Pack 2 - Series 3
204 Dick Schofield
178 Claudell Washington
198 Oddibe McDowell
258 James Clancy
214 Jeff Treadway
255 Darnell Coles
236 Mike Dunne

And here we see the type of late season player selection that made vintage high series cards sell at one tenth the rate of the other series. Ok, so CW was a decent player. Dick Schofield holds the record for "Father and Son baseball combination least likely to be brought up in a conversation about Father and Son baseball combinations". Oddibe McDowell was probably still a pretty desirable card as late as 1988. The rest I'm not even sure Mike Dunne would collect.
The Topps Store card offers an even more ridiculous product in this pack, a velcro covered trucker's cap with a plush baseball that will stick to the bill and back panels. Who in their right mind would pay hard American currency for such a thing? Seriously, it looks like something your insane Aunt Mabel would buy from the Lillian Vernon catalog and give you for a Bar Mitzvah gift. I mean, yeah, sure I want one now... I want it more desperately than I want the life giving oxygen that fills my lungs, just so I can walk into the local card shop wearing that monstrosity with the plush FurrBall™ stuck jauntily at the very end of the bill so everyone in the joint knows that I'm a bad ass old school card collecting motherfscker. But speaking as a 15 year old kid in 1988 that thing was just plain hideous.

Notes on Ephemera:

Original price of the pack: Not sure, I seem to remember they were going for a buck each when they first came out, but the price tag says 50 cents so we'll go with that.

What I paid for the pack:
I got a handful of these along with other assorted oddball packs in a five dollar grab bag from Big Lots a few years back.

Cards per pack:

Odds listed for inserts:

no inserts

Wrapper Weirdness:
None to speak of. The wrapper is amazingly austere for something so gaudy. The only info on the back is the copyright, bar code and a list of the card numbers for each series. The only difference between the wrappers of each series is the color of the pack. 1st series is blue, 2nd series red and 3rd series yellow.

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