I'm in the mood for a Four Topps, and it's been since late April, so let's fire up Random.org and get a random card number from 1 to 792, shall we?
The object of this exercise (in case you're a new visitor) is to check out what card occupies a given number in the four sets that ruled my childhood; that is 1987 through 1990 Topps. We look at the four cards, present a fact or two and then decide which year has the best card.
Got it? Good, let's do it!
Today's card number is 685. Sooo... Batter up!
Kicking things off is a man who would spawn two future big leaguers (Jerry Jr. and Scott, FYI). Hairston is listed as a "DH/OF" on the rear of the card. It's his next-to-last regular Topps card, as his cardboard swan song would come in the 1988 flagship set. Big-time bonus points for the aviator shades plus the quarter-zip BP shirt. Hey, Stat Man: Matched a career-high with five homers and established a new best with 26 RBIs for the ChiSox in 1986.
Oh baby, my vicious Mets bias is gonna make it hard for any of the other cards to unseat this one for the No. 685 champion. Plus the turtleneck, the mullet and the stirrups. This is a damn nice card. Hey, Stat Man: Ronnie logged at least 205 innings with at least 12 victories and single-digit losses for the fourth straight season in 1987.
This is yet another subtle example of why '89 Topps is one of the greatest sets in the history of civilization (or at least the '80s). Great photo choice, nicely centered and perfectly accented by the colorful design elements of the inner border and name banner. Bonus points for eye black and weighted bat. Hey, Stat Man: Put together a scorching-hot May in 1988, batting .342 (26-for-76) with 8 RBIs for Cincy.
Apologies to Ron Darling who won a respectable 136 games during his career, but this card represents the best player of the lot. Tony Fernandez rapped over 2,200 hits for his career and compiled a .288 lifetime average--not too shabby! I could be wrong, but it looks like he's batting at Yankee Stadium in this photo. Hey, Stat Man: Captured his fourth consecutive (and final) Gold Glove award in 1989.
And the Winner Is: It's been slim pickins the last few times I've run this feature, but this one is actually toughie, as each of the four cards has its genuine merits. So, when in doubt, go with the Met! Thus, the '88 Darling gets top billing with the '87 Hairston getting the runner-up spot.