1985 Big League Collectibles National Pastime 1930-39
Big League Collectibles returned for fourth and final time in 1985 with a boxed set focused on the 1930s.
BLC focused on former star players for its previous three sets in 1982 and 1983 as well but restricted all 90 cards in this set to players from the '30s.
The cards are the same size as the 1951 and 1952 Bowman cards and feature portrait paintings on the front and career summaries and stats on the back. The cards are featured on thick, white card stock.
Only 5,000 sets were issued, which each containing a serially numbered "header" card.
I honestly had no idea these cards existed until today (there are six Dodgers, including a Babe Ruth card).
1985 Thom McAn discs
The 1985 Thom McAn discs set was issued by the shoe company as a promotion for its Jox sneakers/tennis shoes.
The set is 47 discs, although a number of checklists list only 46. The George Brett card apparently wasn't issued in the original checklist.
The discs, like many produced by MSA at the time, display the player's mug in black-and-white with a variety of color accents on the ends. The cards measure 2 3/4 inches in diameter and are smaller than similar discs issued in the 1970s.
The discs feature top players of the time, and some of the discs of Latin-born players are somewhat scarce and believed to be released in limited quantities in Hispanic communities.
I had no knowledge of this set at the time or really until writing this right now. I need those Pedro Guerrero and Fernando Valenzuela discs.
There is not a lot of information available about TCMA sets so I'll condense the known 1985 TCMA sets into this one update.
TCMA had been issuing sets through mail-order catalogs for more than a decade by 1985 and was still going strong. In 1985, TCMA issued a handful of tributes to late 1940s Playball sets and, of course, its usual minor league sets. But it also focused attention on "award-winner" sets.
TCMA issued five different sets with award themes, all of them 10 cards large. AL MVP, NL MVP, Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year Award and Home Run champions were the sets.
The cards, with the exception of the full-color photos, are rather simplistic in design and the same design is used in each set, with only the background color changing.
The cards are slightly smaller than the average card, and although I don't think they were issued as part of a sheet, they almost look and feel like they were cut off a page.
These award sets distress me only because I love TCMA sets, yet somehow have overlooked these and am still missing some of the Dodgers.
This set was not on my radar in 1985 and I only became familiar with it after starting my main blog.
The 1985 Woolworth set was produced by Topps and issued as a boxed set at Woolworth's department stores.
It's a 44-card set featuring all-time baseball greats, but also including some current players like Dwight Gooden, Steve Carlton, Rickey Henderson and Dan Quisenberry. Some of the photos are in black & white.
The name Woolworth's doesn't appear anywhere on the set so for awhile I simply called this "Topps Collectors Series".
This was Woolworth's first entry into boxed sets and they would continue with a set each year through 1991.
That is a look at the very bright, very orange back.
I had no knowledge of this set in 1985.
1985 Decathlon Ultimate
The Decathlon Ultimate Baseball Card set was a 15-card set that originally had been intended to be a six-series, 90-card set. The cards were 4-by-6-inches, featured greats of the past (including Negro League players), and displayed the painting of artist Gerry Dvorak, who illustrated a number of the cards in the 1953 Topps set.
The cards, which feature a white back with black printing that includes a biography of the player, sold originally for $11 as a set. The players in the set are:
Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Frank Baker, Casey Stengel, Moses Walker, Cy Young, Joe DiMaggio, John McGraw, Josh Gibson, Johnny Mize, Walter Johnson, Walter Alston and Enos Slaughter.
Decathlon also produced the 1984 Negro League set that Larry Fritsch Cards duplicated after purchasing the rights in 1986.
I had never heard of the 1985 Decathlon Ultimate set before doing this research.
1985 Topps Tiffany
For the second straight year, Topps issued a full parallel version of its base set with glossy card fronts and slightly sturdier card stock. Although the name for this parallel set wouldn't come along until a few years later, it became known as Topps "Tiffany".
The Tiffany set, issued as a complete set in a gold-sealed box, was a reflection of the greater importance placed on card collecting in the 1980s. More people were collecting, they began to see cards as an investment, and that prompted card companies to produce cards that were conceivably "worth" the investment.
Topps Tiffany sets were issued in limited quantities and usually available only through hobby shops or via mail order from sports publications.
The Tiffany cards can be differentiated from the base cards by the glossy fronts and the brighter backs.
Topps issued Tiffany sets from 1984-91. The early sets feature print runs of 5,000, but by 1987, the print run had ballooned to 30,000. That probably explans why I own several Tiffany cards from 1987 and 1988, but none from 1984-86.
1985 Topps Super
Donruss (see earlier entry) wasn't the only card company to issue giant-sized parallels of its regular-card product in 1985.
Topps also issued a "super" product, but since it didn't have any Diamond Kings, it simply issued large-sized repeats of 60 of its cards. Each of the cards, which measure 4 7/8-by-6 7/8, are identical to their regular-sized counterpart on the front, and almost identical on the back. The only back differences are the card number, and the reason for each player appearing in the Super set: a blurb on the back of each denotes that player leading the league or a team in some statistical category.
Each pack featured three GIANT picture cards. And the wrapper offered additional ways you could gain more Super Baseball cards. You could send your name and address along with six checklists from wrappers of Super Baseball, and $5 plus $1 for postage and handling, and order 12 Super Baseball cards of your choice. Or you could just send the 6 bucks and get six Super Baseball Cards of your choice. Allow six weeks for shipment. And, sorry, the offer expired 12/31/85.
I did not notice any Topps Super Baseball sold around me, although this is exactly the type of thing I would find in the Greek supermarket near my home, so it's possible I'm simply forgetting.
Although I don't know how I could forget something so super.
1985 Topps Baseball Stickers
OK, they're not cards. But stickers were highly collectible in the 1980s, and the 1985 Topps sticker set was the fifth straight year that Topps issued a sticker set.
This set was 376 stickers large with the usual All-Star players subset as well as some stickers that recognized the previous year's World Series.
For the first time in the '80s run of stickers, the individual player stickers featured "peel here" instructions, because unlike past years, the stickers would peel off as "cut-outs" of the player. Previous Topps sticker sets peeled off as full-frame photo. The switch was kinda neat.
The back featured a poster offer or a signed baseball offer. All you had to do was buy a bunch of stickers. I don't know what "a baseball autographed by your favorite team" means. Was it a real baseball? Was it autographed by every member of the team? All of that sounds way too cool for 3 bucks and 100 sticker backs.
I don't have the answers for this because I was far beyond sticker purchasing in 1985. But I guarantee you if they threw this at me in 1981 I'd have been all over it.
1985 Topps Glossy Send-In baseball
The early 1980s was a glorious time for baseball card glossies. In a bid to stave of competition from Donruss and Fleer, Topps issued plenty of oddball sets. In the early '80s it was 5x7 glossy cards that collectors could purchase one at a time.
In 1983, Topps enticed collectors with a 40-card set of glossy cards that were now regulation size but could only be purchased through the mail. Collectors could order five cards at a time and wait the standard 4 to 6 weeks (or was it 6 to 8 weeks?) for the cards to arrive.
In 1985, Topps was offering these cards via the send-in format for the third straight year. Once again, it was a 40-card set. The design was the same as the previous two years, a large photo with a simple colored border. In 1985, the border was blue (the borders in the '83 set are yellow and in the '84 set red).
Players in the set range from Schmidt and Reggie all the way down to Charlie Lea and Bob Brenly.
The card backs are also very simple:
I think that's the way Topps wanted it: simple and classy.
These sets must have been popular because Topps continued to issue them through 1990. As for me, I loved the glossies in '83 but stopped paying attention after that. It was years before I figured out that collectors were mailing in for glossy cards for seven more years.
1985 Topps 3-D
A number of years after Kellogg's boasted of cards with three-dimensional images, Topps tried its hand with
a 3-D set.
This, however, looked nothing like Kellogg's cards. The "cards" were oversized 4 1/2-by-6-inch monsters. The image is raised, much like a relief map, making for a rather odd-looking picture. It's almost like an old-style Halloween mask.
The cards were sold one to a pack, and there are 30 in the set. The biggest stars of the game are featured.
The backs feature no printing at all, just an indentation of the image on front (this is actually the reverse of the Tom Seaver card). There are also sticky strips so you can plaster this on your bedroom wall and freak yourself out when you wake up half asleep in the middle of the night and find it staring at you.
I never saw these in 1985, as I paid only brief attention to even the primary sets that year.
1985 Leaf baseball
In a move somewhat similar to the marriage between Topps and O-Pee-Chee, Donruss tried to attract the Canadian market in 1985 by issuing an abbreviated version of its 1985 Donruss set in Canada under the Leaf name.
The 264-card set was also available in the U.S. through hobby dealerships. Leaf pulled most of the stars from the '85 Donruss set, as well as players from the Blue Jays and Expos to compile its set.
The card fronts look almost exactly like the Donruss set except for a floating green leaf in the upper left corner next to the Donruss logo.
The backs also look like the '85 Donruss backs except they were rewritten to include French text with the English text, like O-Pee-Chee cards. The card numbers were different from the Donruss set. For example, Valenzuela is card #184 in the Leaf set but card #52 in the Donruss set.
The Leaf practice of mimicking the Donruss set continued through 1988. In 1989, Leaf issued a small (and rare) set called "Blue Chip Cards" that resembled 1989 Donruss. In 1990, Leaf became its own separate set -- because who wants to imitate 1990 Donruss?
As for the 1985 set, I never knew it existed even living about 20 miles from Canada at the time.
In 1985, Drake's broke from the pattern of its previous four sets.
The set was still produced by Topps (in 1986, that would end). It still featured the top hitters of the day in action photos.
But there was one big difference. The set increased in size from the 33 cards that marked the first four years of Drake's Big Hitters to a 44-card set. Also, the 11 additional cards featured pitchers and were labeled "super pitchers" on their cards.
Unlike future Drake's sets, in which you cut two-, three- or four-card panels off of boxes of Drake's cakes, the 1985 cards were issued by themselves, just as the Drake's sets between 1981-84. It made for much less sloppy cards.
In '81, I acquired the entire set of Drake's cards. It is one of my fondest memories of a food-issue set. But after that, I managed to only pick up a stray '82 or '83 Drake's card here and there. By 1985, I didn't even know whether Drake's still featured cards.
The '85 Drake's featured a nice twist on the back. Previous Drake's sets took their backs directly from that year's Topps set, and this year is no exception. But this time, the back is colored red instead of 1985 Topps green. And the borders are in blue instead of red.
Everything else, except for the Drake's logo, is the same.
1985 Donruss Super Diamond Kings baseball
The "super" card wasn't unique to the 1980s, but my first encounter with oversized cards came during the decade.
The glossy Topps 5-by-7s of the early '80s were the first oversized versions I ever bought. I loved them. They were classy and so BIG.
I never saw the 1985 Donruss Diamond Kings Supers, but I imagine for those who liked Diamond Kings cards (I wasn't one of them), seeing them extra-large size had to be mind-blowing. The card was practically a frameable painting!
The supers, which took each of the 28 Diamond Kings cards in the regular 1985 Donruss set and blew them up to 4 15/16-by-6 3/4-inch dimensions, were available through a mail-order offer on Donruss wrappers.
Besides the 28 DK cards, there was also a checklist and card of Diamond Kings artist Dick Perez.
Unfortunately, these days I don't know what to do with my oversized cards. There are pages for some of them but not for others. And I'm so obsessed with finding homes for my regular-sized cards that oversized '85 Donruss Diamond King Mike Marshall sits out unprotected, waiting for proper living quarters.
1985 Donruss Highlights baseball
Donruss wasn't about to fall behind on the whole set-in-a-box craze during the 1980s. For the first time, Donruss issued a postseason update set and packaged them in a cardboard box, much as Fleer did with its "Limited Edition" set that year.
The 56-card set recognized various highlights of the 1985 season and also featured the players and pitchers of the month during that season.
The cards looked almost identical to the 1985 Donruss design, except that instead of red stripes running across the bottom third of the card, the Highlights set used yellow stripes.
The majority of the cards also featured a baseball graphic on the front with the word "Highlights" written in gold across the baseball. This particular card, though, did not feature the ball graphic.
The backs feature the same yellow theme that appears on the 1985 Donruss base set. Each card back gives a description of the feat recognized on the front. Some write-ups are long, like this one, while others are fairly brief.
The set proved popular enough that Donruss released Highlights sets in 1986 and 1987. But I never saw these cards when they came out, mostly because I was in college and cards were pretty much ignored.
1985 Topps Circle K Home Run Kings baseball
Topps continued the trend that it started in 1982 with the Kmart boxed set by issuing in conjunction with Circle K convenience stores, a boxed, 33-card set called Circle K Home Run Kings.
The set contained known home run hitters, mostly from the past, although the set also included a couple of players who were still active at the time, Reggie Jackson and Dave Kingman.
The set was printed on the same glossy stock as the glossy send-in sets of current players that Topps started issuing in 1983. Even the design on the front was the same, although Circle K switched up the borders by making them orange.
The card back features the typical, bright, primary color scheme that many food- and store-issue card sets of the era displayed. The year-by-year stats are split up into two columns, which I can't say I've seen all that much.
It had to be a kick to get new cards of players like Stan Musial, Frank Robinson and Duke Snider at the time. Sadly, Circle K is based mostly in the South, West and Midwest. Living in the Northeast, I had never heard of Circle K, and, consequently, never found their card set.
Until I discovered repacks years later.
O-Pee-Chee kept the basic pattern of riffing on Topps cards in 1985. As in past years, OPC updated a number of cards in the set with a player's new team.
But unlike the '70s, when you could catch entirely different photos in the OPC set from the photos that appeared in Topps, the 1985 set contained the same photos that Topps used, but with updated team graphics. That led to some very colorful fronts with, for example, a player featuring the green-and-gold of the Oakland A's, with a design displaying the blue-and-white of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The OPC set provided on-photo notation of the transaction, as you can see by the Al Oliver card. "Traded to Dodgers 2-4-85." OPC also recorded free agency transactions on the card front, with the date of the signing, and even mentioned announced retirements, with the corresponding date.
The most notable difference between the Topps and O-Pee-Chee cards in 1985 has to be the OPC logo on the front. A bright-yellow, boxy O-Pee-Chee replaces the Topps logo.
The O-Pee-Chee backs are brighter and more readable than the Topps backs. But the readability suffers in the writeups, as the type is smaller to accommodate the French translation.
As in most U.S. towns, you couldn't find O-Pee-Chee cards anywhere where I lived. My OPC collection didn't grow until I became a regular blogger.
1985 Fleer Limited Edition
In 1985, Fleer tried something that Topps first did in 1982 in conjunction with Kmart. Fleer issued an exclusive set, available for purchase only at McCrory's department stores. The set of 44 cards came in a cardboard box, just as Topps' Kmart set had in '82.
The Limited Edition cards featured different photos from the photos in Fleer's regular 1985 baseball set. And the design differed from the '85 base card design. Instead of a gray border, the Limited Edition featured white borders. The design was not color-coded by team as in the base set. Instead, every player featured a red-ribbon border with a yellow banner at the top.
The Limited Edition featured the stars of the era and upped the number of baseball card sets issued for Fleer from three in 1984 to four in 1985.
The Limited Edition backs were also a departure from the base set. For the first time since the 1982 Fleer set, Fleer went with a horizontal format. The cards featured complete career stats, just like the base set, but went with a sophisticated script for the card number and placed it in the lower right-hand side, which was an uncharacteristic spot for a card number at the time.
Since there were no McCrory's department stores where I lived, I never saw these cards. But the sets must have been popular, because Fleer continued to issue Limited Edition sets, as well as a number of other similar sets, for the rest of the decade. And those sets could be found in any number of department stores.
The 1985 Limited Edition set came with team stickers, a Fleer staple. For a more detailed look at the set, check out The Fleer Sticker Project.
1985 Fleer was the beginning of the "Fleer Dark Years" for me. I barely bought any non-Topps cards between 1985-88 and even my purchasing of Topps was sparse some of those years.
Because of this, I am forever getting 1985 and 1986 Fleer confused. I often think '86 Fleer was actually released in 1985.
But for the record, THIS (^) is what 1985 Fleer looked like.
Fleer returned to the gray border in 1985, something it first utilized in 1983. For the third straight year, it featured the team logo on the front of the card.
As for the photos, they were typical Fleer. Some decent action shots, like this one. Some strange action shots. A number of posed shots, some of them weirdly awkward or off-center.
The cards themselves seemed to be victimized by off-centeredness. And I've come across a few that are almost O-Pee-Chee in nature with a ragged border on one side.
But you have to credit Fleer for framing the photo with team colors, something it did in its 1981 and 1982 sets. It really makes the set.
1985 Fleer is probably known mostly these days for featuring rookie cards of Roger Clemens, Kirby Puckett and Eric Davis, among others.
The backs for '85 Fleer are almost exactly the same as the backs to 1983 and 1984 Fleer. The only thing that changed was the colors used. Fleer went with red and black after using blue in 1984.
I always liked the "Did you know" item at the bottom. Interesting factoids are always fun.
I still have precious few 1985 Fleer, most of what I have obtained has come in repacks or dollar-store buys. I never bought any '85 Fleer in 1985. And, really, I don't think I missed much.
Donruss took a daring approach to baseball cards in '85. For the first time since the 1971 Topps set, a major issue baseball set featured black borders.
Black borders, although exceptionally cool, are reviled among some collectors because it is so difficult to keep the cards in perfect shape. Black borders display chipping much more easily than other borders.
But I welcomed the look. 1985 is my second favorite Donruss set behind 1984. It's sleek and features the team logo for the first time in company history.
The photographs are quite similar to what was featured in '84 Donruss. The blurred-out backgrounds are almost spooky on some cards. Some of the photos are dark and some players' faces are covered in shadow. Some photos are just unfortunate, like this Dennis Eckersley card. He looks like an amputee.
Donruss card backs were noted for four things during the 1980s -- complete name of the featured player, no more than five years of stats, contract status, and a look that didn't change except for the backdrop color.
But 1985 featured at least one change on the back from the previous three years of Donruss. The stats were enclosed in a box, rather than the more open look in 1982, 83 and 84.
There's the 1984 back. Which I like better, by the way. The '85 back just reminds me of the junk wax to come.
In 1985, I bought exactly one pack of cards. It was a pack of 1985 Donruss. The best card I received in that pack was Cal Ripken Jr., which I've since traded away.
I remember admiring the black borders and basking in the simplicity of purchasing a pack of cards -- something I had rarely done over the previous two years. I liked 1985 Donruss. But not enough to buy more than one pack.
Today I wish I had bought more.