Sunday, September 27, 2009

1991 - A Great Year for Cards.

By the time 1991 rolled around, it had been 7 years since I had collected baseball cards.  By now I was living up in Chico, CA, with a bunch of high school friends, and it would be giving me too much credit to say that I wasn't doing very much with my life.  But gosh darn it, I was collecting the Topps set that year.  Not only did the set have a nice design, and the packs were cheap, but there was that all too enticing "40th Anniversary" design that somehow sucked me in.  Of course it didn't hurt that the local supermarket had them placed where I had to pass by them every time I was ready to check out.

 Topps had started releasing a parallel "Tiffany" set a few years earlier, but in '91 they went a step further with the "Desert Shield" set.  From

"When news hit the hobby that Topps was planning a special parallel set of it's 1991 Topps baseball set for the U.S. troops serving in Desert Shield/Desert Storm, the set was immediately sought after by regular non-military collectors. The only difference in the regular Topps baseball set and the Topps Desert Shield parallel set is that the Desert Shield baseball cards all have a gold foil stamp on the front, featuring a palm tree inside of a shield, and the words "Operation Desert Shield" beside an American Flag."

Although the regular '91 set was easy to find, the Desert Shield?  Not so much.  Considering that there are supposedly only 6800 of each card in existence, and how often cards get lost/destroyed/never opened, this has turned out to be one of the most rare sets in Topps' existence.  Even the commons typically go for around five bucks a pop on teh eBay.

1991 turned out to be another mediocre year for the Halos, as they went 81-81.  Manager Doug Rader was replaced after being two games under .500 in 124 games by former player Buck Rodgers, who went a whopping 2 games over .500 the rest of the way.  Possibly the brightest spot in the season came on June 24, when a 39-year-old Dave Winfield became the oldest player in the history of the game to hit for the cycle.

This last bunch is actually from the '90 "Major League Debut" set.  Topps used the 1991 design for this set, that's why I include them with the '91s in my collection.  These cards highlighted the big time debuts of guys who made their debut in 1990 (complete with quotes from "The Register") - and for many of these guys, that's all they did.  Pete Coachman (whose given name is Bobby Dean, so I have no idea where the "Pete" comes from) had his only 45 ML at bats come in '90 (which seems weird, as he batted .311 - you'd think he'd have gotten another chance).  Scott Lewis had a 2.20 ERA in '90, but was pretty mediocre after that.  Jeff Richardson got one out to finish a game, and never pitched in the bigs again.  With results like this, it's no wonder that Topps only ran this set for three years.

The only Angels insert this year was a "Wax Box" card of Bert Blyleven, highlighting his reaching #4 on the all-time strikeouts list. I seriously do not understand why this man is not yet in the Hall of Fame. He won 287 games, often pitching for teams with losing records. This makes him the winningest pitcher not already in the Hall. He's currently 5th all-time in strikeouts (3,701) and 9th in shutouts (60). And he went 5-1 in the post-season, winning a World Series ring with the Twins in '87. Heck, he could probably still pitch for the Netherlands in the WBC today.

1991 Topps Angels Checklist

36 - Donnie Hill
57 - Jack Howell
84 - Bob McClure
107 - Luis Polonia
129 - Mark Eichhorn
153 - Bryan Harvey
176 - John Orton
195 - Wally Joyner
210 - Lance Parrish
231 - Doug Rader MG
255 - Brian Downing
273 - Johnny Ray
285 - Jim Abbott
355 - Chili Davis
395 - Chuck Finley AS
426 - Joe Grahe RC
452 - Bill Schroeder
477 - Mike Fetters
505 - Chuck Finley
532 - Kirk McCaskill
564 - Dante Bichette
615 - Bert Blyleven
630 -Dave Winfield
648 - Lee Stevens
667 - Kent Anderson
704 - Devon White
736 - Dick Schofield
755 - Mark Langston
784 - Willie Fraser

Wax Box Cards
A - Bert Blyleven

1991 Topps Traded
40T - Junior Felix
44T - Gary Gaetti
50T - Todd Greene Team USA
89T - Dave Parker
99T - Jeff D. Robinson
112T - Luis Sojo

1990 Topps Debut
32 - Pete Coachman
58 - Joe Grahe
88 - Scott Lewis
131 - Jeff Richardson
149 - Lee Stevens
169 - Cliff Young

regular cards: 41
inserts: 1

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