Not only is this my favorite product ever, but 1987 was the year that I totally exploded as a collector (well, for a teen that is) and this was THE product which started it. This will probably be a long post, certainly my longest in a long long time, but theres just so many memories.
Despite only being a year apart, the difference between 1986 and 1987 for me were huge as a collector. I went from stuffing multiple copies of the same card in a single 9 pocket slot (like 5 in one pocket) to filling multiple pages with the same card, just like the dealers did at shows.
The 1986 Topps product did nothing for me except the Pete Rose Specials (in my mind they were going to be worth the same as the Hank Aaron specials from 1974) and the Vince Coleman rc. I never liked the design and the RC selection was horrible.
But when the 1987 Topps set came out, WOW, what a difference (yeah I stole that line from Blockbuster).
I LOVED the design, so similar to 1962 but there was more, much more.
Because of the time, it was possible and accepted that players could basically have two rookie cards over two years as long as they were in a traded type set and listed as an XRC in Beckett.
So that meant that the totally awesome RC class in the update sets from 1986 were ALSO rookies in the 1987 sets added to the brand new RC from that year.
Barry Bonds, Wally Joyner, Will Clark, Bo Jackson, Pete Incaviglia, Bobby Bonilla met the newcomers BJ Surhoff, Devon White, Mike Greenwell, Rafael Palmeiro, Greg Swindell, Dave Magadan etc.
But wait there is more! Cory Snyder, Kal Daniels, Jose Canseco, Danny Tartabull, Todd Worrell and Mark McGwire were also "kind of like" rookie cards.
But it was not only the rookies which drove the product, the stars played a part as well.
Being a kid in the Bronx during this time, guess which three NY stars were the hottest? Mattingly, Gooden and Strawberry were blazing hot, especially the Mattingly which I remember booking in CCP (Current Card Prices) for a whopping $4
I was totally obsessed with the Donnie card and at one point probably had more than 50 of them with most, if not all, coming from packs (more on that later).
I always loved error cards, still do, and boy was I excited when I found out that BOTH Mattingly and Gooden had corrected error cards in the set (missing the TM on their all star cards).
As I mentioned before, there was a huge jump for me as a collector from the previous year. I used to keep multiple years of cards in the same binder totally not sorted. But in 1987, just the Topps cards alone from that year took up two albums (and it was only the best stars and rookies) neatly sorted with 9 pocket pages holding the same player multiplied out by several pages.
In other words, I basically kept Topps in business because I bought everything.....EVERYTHING.
Wax? Oh for sure.
Cello? Sure but not before I searched for stars on the front and back of each.
Raks? Absolutely, ditto looking for stars showing.
Jumbos? When I went shopping at the supermarket Id pick up a couple of those 100 card packs.
And I also bought the occasional full boxes too.
It got to the point where I started to notice that Topps uses a sequence sorting the cards in the packs (and I believe they still do).
So for instance, if you see a Ken Landreux showing on a Rak, odds are theres a Bo RC as the next card.
Tim Leary? Donnie Baseball is next and so on.
I wound up memorizing nearly every important pattern with like 3-5 cards before and after the key card which is how I managed to get so many key cards in quantity. I also used it for my amusement as I would pick out cello and rak paks and tell my friends which key cards were in each BEFORE opening them (I didnt tell them how though).
And then I figured out that I could "finger" (clear your dirty mind people) the cards inside each Rak Pak and literally see every name in the pack without opening it. I would go through every Rak in the store using this method and while most store clerks didnt care, I do remember getting kicked out of a store by the owner who thought I was doing something wrong.
I also remember sitting on the floor at a Caldor's going through all their Raks which were dumped in a big plastic tub buying only the packs I wanted and knew had key cards inside or showing.
But perhaps the best two "stars showing" memory I have both involve Mattingly.
At a pharmacy near my Mom's work, I found a Rak Pak with BOTH Donnie and Joyner showing. That was a big pack thirty years ago.
The second one involves my friend at a local pharmacy we always bought from and were totally cool with us two annoying kids going through their boxes of packs.
As we opened the lid to yet another cello box, we both we both noticed a pack with Mattingly on top and at the same time we both reached for it. It was like slow motion for both of us and even my friend still remembers that moment when he scored it.
To this day, I still dont like making sets and back then it was no different. But I do remember making two sets of 87 Topps, one back then (I recall needing a Jim Leyland) and one while watching the pre game to the 1989 world series, right when the earth quake hit. I disliked making sets so much that I decided to put it together by teams instead of numbers.
Today, like nearly every mid 80s Baseball card issue, this classic set is worth nearly nothing due to the massive print run which coincided with the huge hobby boom.
And while I do have a hand set (sorted by teams of course) and numerous packs with stars showing, I would also like to have something no one else has, a complete set WITH A WAX STAIN on each card. Yeah I know, sounds crazy and honestly, I know Ill never even come close because you cant exactly find people selling wax stained 1987 Topps cards anywhere.
And while wax boxes are cheap, even if you open a case of 20 boxes, you would not be able to make a set even if every wax stained card is different.
So happy birthday 1987 Topps.