Sunday, May 26, 2013

1983 Topps: Part IV



Oddball(s) of the Set
The goofy airbrush jobs weren't confined to the Traded set. One of the best (worst) I've seen is this John Denny (#211) monstrosity. He was a trade deadline pickup in '82 who would come out of nowhere to win the 1983 NL Cy Young Award for the "Wheeze Kids," making this quite the undignified portrayal of the league's top hurler.

Unfortunately for Denny's Cy Young counterpart in the AL, he was not immune to undignified treatment by Topps. On this White Sox Leaders card (#591), the photos are cropped in such a way that LaMarr Hoyt appears to be a moody teenager with premature facial hair when placed next to the giant Greg Luzinski.

Most Aesthetically Pleasing
The Orioles and Royals had been given very complementary color combos in recent Topps designs, and 1983 was no different. In fact, there were a number of really nice O's cards in this set, including Earl Weaver in a jovial moment on a bad hair day, Gary Roenicke tossing the bat aside on the way to first base, Floyd "Honey Bear" Rayford ready to pounce on anything headed his way at third base, and an eyeblacked Ken Singleton taking a lead off of second base. But the perennially photogenic Eddie Murray takes the cake with this high-contrast, geometrically-balanced beauty (#530). That said, the top spot has to go to Frank White (#325), busting out of the box, muscles tensed, dirt flying, powder-blue sky framing his smiling portrait. Nice.

Favorite Dodgers Card
With managers making their first Topps appearance of my collecting lifetime, Tommy Lasorda (#306) has to be my favorite here. With decades of hindsight, it's easy to nitpick about Lasorda's skills as a field general. He probably held the pedal to the metal a bit too much with the arms of his aces, Fernando and the Bulldog. And he had Niedenfuer pitch to Jack Clark for some reason. But there was no greater motivator. They probably don't win in 1988 under another manager. And as a kid I couldn't have asked for a more entertaining skipper to lead my favorite team. He had me believing that I, too, bled Dodger Blue!

Favorite Card(s)
Yaz cards would always be among those that I most looked forward to each year. But these are special, coming in his 23rd and final season. You have gotta love the fungo hitting on the base card (#550). How sweet is that!? And, of course, he's the dean of the Super Vets (#551).

One Final Thought
I love this card design so much that I'm always using the template to make virtual cards of anything that's of interest to me at the moment. For example, when I was all excited about the World Baseball Classic in March I whipped up a bunch of WBC cards, with the added bonus that they came on the 20th anniversary of this set. I wish Topps had made something real like this. I got the Upper Deck set in '06 and the Topps set in '09, but unless I'm missing something there doesn't seem to be a 2013 WBC set, which is a shame. I also couldn't resist making a card of my daughter, Jana, who's a slick-fielding shortstop in ASA Softball.

The Big Picture

The bar is set. Classy, timeless, tight design that shows the players to best advantage. Colorful, yet understated. Great photography. A set that emphasizes veterans. Beautiful. With four sets reviewed, 1983 Topps ranks as the #1 set of my collecting lifetime, ahead of 1981 and 1980.


  1. That John Denny has to be one of the worst airbrushing jobs in cardboard history. If not THE worst.

    I love that '83 Topps Earl Weaver card you mentioned. I've always likened that photo to some sort of "mad scientist".

  2. Wow, the Denny card is just... really creepy.