Happy Labor Day! The 'unofficial' end of summer is upon us, but there's still plenty of baseball left to play. And, of course, there's never an off-season for card collecting, right?
So, in honor of the holiday, hows about we fire up the Four Topps engine?
Today, we'll take a look at card No. 516 from each of the following Topps sets: 1987, '88, '89 and '90. In other words, the four sets that broke me into collecting as a young lad. Which year will bring us the best card? Only one way to find out...
And, away we go!
A good way to begin! In terms of Topps sets, 516 isn't exactly a glamour number. But, the '87 set gave us an eight-time All-Star. This represents Simmons' next-to-last Topps card and his first in an Atlanta uniform. While Fleer, Score and Upper Deck saw fit to include him in their 1989 offerings, Topps said 'so long' to Ted in their '88 release. Hey, Stat Man: Batted just .252 in 76 games for Braves in 1986 following a preseason trade from Milwaukee.
A perennial Gold Glove recipient during his early career in Texas, Sundberg's best days were behind him by the time this card came out. As far as the flagship sets go, this is Sundberg's first time being pictured in a Cubs uni. The backstop was a Royal in the '87 Topps set, but also was included in the '87 Traded set where he donned Cubbie blue for the first time. The following year marked Sundberg's final appearance on a baseball card. Hey, Stat Man: His game-tying pinch-hit grand slam spurred an eight-run 8th inning en route to a 12-8 Cubs victory over San Diego, 7/8/87.
Here's one of those guys who kept changing his name. Well, actually, it all depends on the card manufacturer. On every Topps or Bowman card, he's listed as "Eddie" (his given name) while the other companies (Fleer, Donruss, UD, etc.) have him as plain old "Ed" throughout the years Strange! No matter what you call him, though, the sure is a swell jacket! Hey, Stat Man: Scattered eight hits and fanned five batters in complete-game 5-2 victory at Philadelphia, 9/3/88.
No, not that Tim Leary. His one and only card in a Reds uniform, this Tim Leary later was featured in the 1990 Traded set as a member of the Yankees. Did you know Leary was originally a draft pick of the Mets? And that he was taken second overall in the 1979 draft? In classic Mets form, the club rushed him to the majors following a tremendous debut season on the farm. He hurt his elbow in his first big league start and was never the same thereafter. Hey, Stat Man: Went 2-7 in 14 starts following the July '89 trade that sent him and Mariano Duncan from L.A. to Cincy.
And the Winner Is: Three out of the four players featured in today's exercise made at least one All-Star squad during their careers. Which isn't so bad for a group of guys relegated to card No. 516. Nonetheless, a pretty dreary lot. I'm going to award the 'W' to Ted Simmons and give runner-up honors to Sundberg.