Quite the Sox Oddball

Hello all, been a while since I blogged but I felt todays pick up required some background info and it would be harder to do so through my usual Twitter feed. The newest addition to my Red Sox collection, is a card I remember reading about while looking for test issues to add to my 80’s Oddball Collection but didn’t know a Sox existed.

1985 Topps/OPC Mini #65 Bill Buckner

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Wait—what? 1985 Topps mini? Yup your heard me right. Topps DID produce … err O-Pee-Chee did produce … whoa, whoa, whoa. A Topps/O-Pee-Chee mini???

These cards were never actually released for public sale, but somehow managed to sneak out into the collecting world. Allegedly a result of O-Pee-Chee’s testing of new printing equipment, an undersized “set” of 132 cards (the number of cards traditionally found on a single sheet) were printed. These minis are about 10% smaller than the typical Topps card and on brighter paper than the typical cards. The result is a smaller card, more vibrant and reminiscent of some of the “premium” cards that would become the standard in the hobby half a dozen years later.

The 132 cards with completed backs are identical in format to their 1985 regular counterparts. I have read that only about 100 of each of these cards are thought to exist with blank backs thought to be numbered less than 20 per card.

There is speculation that all the 1985 Topps Minis were discarded in uncut sheet form, and subsequently professionally cut. One school of thought suggests that the cards were indeed factory cut. Another suggests a small amount of cards were actually issued in packs. A former O Pee Chee employee, suggests that the cards were never cut at the factory at all, meaning all the cards in the hobby were cut after the fact. As if this mystery doesn’t get any deeper, you can also find these minis in blank backs (tan and white) AND “Red” backs in which only the red ink is printed (no green ink).

In my research of trying to figure out these minis, I can across the following posts from Net54Baseball.com:

“I have a handful of these cards. I’m almost positive I bought them at a local Tom Thumb in Maple Grove, MN”

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“If they were sold at retail in the US that would be worth knowing and new info. By all accounts they were produced in Canada and never retailed here. In putting my two sets together I had to buy most of mine through Canadian sellers … My info about the 100 or less comes from SCD and several other hobby sources. I do know the blank backs are much tougher than the regular backs, and the red only backs toughest of all.”

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One of the sellers promoting 1985 mini’s indicates that he has correspondence from Topps which, in part confirms that more than 130 sets were issued. By his accounting Topps hired O-Pee-Chee to make the mini-test set. OPC then sold among other things, 210 sheets to a scrapper, which then sold 110 of the 132-card “sets” to a Long Island dealer. The dealer then cut the sheets in to cards.

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By the dealers account, the sheets may have included 3 color progressive proofs, later shown to exist—which presumably may be where your red backs came from.

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He also indicates that the cards were printed on normal OPC “white” stock or regular Topps cardboard stock—possibly explaining the 2 types of blank backs (tan AND gray cardboard). Other accounts in a previous thread indicate some of the sheets were thrown away and retrieved from dumpsters due to smeared ink, etc.

And yet MORE info from the auction I won:

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Comparing the two

I happened to have a regular 1985 Topps Buckner in my collection, so it makes for a perfect side-by-side comparison. As you can clearly see, the mini is slightly smaller than it’s flagship counterpart and the back is lighter as you would find on O-Pee-Chee stock from the time period. Notice more paper fibers in the regular Topps card (bottom card), where as the mini appears smooth. One thing I noticed right away is how deep the solid colors are—the red and blue team band just pops on the mini.

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Here is another image I found on the Net54Baseball.com board showing three different backs to these minis; blank (tan), red ink, mini test.

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I’d love to land a blank back or red ink version, but those are pretty pricey. There are a couple Jim Rice PSA graded blank backs on eBay right now, but those are close to $600. But of course, in the meantime, I need to grab another mini and a blank back for that 80’s Oddball Collection because the 1985 Topps/OPC Mini truly is, an oddball with many tales.

Thank you for reading and let me know if you have any of these minis and/or you have come across them in your collecting travels.

Picking Up My Sox

Soccer season is about to take up both Saturdays and Sundays and so it was good to able to steal a couple minutes at the LCS in between soccer games on Saturday. The quick trip yielded a pick up another Sox oddball piece along with a couple of ’17 Heritage commons.

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1977 Pepsi-Cola Baseball Stars Carl Yastrzemski

The above Yaz disc card/glove tag is from the 1977 Pepsi-Cola Baseball Stars set that consisted of 72 discs that measure 3-3/8” in diameter, and  approximately 9 1/8” x 4 3/4” still intact with the checklist, T-Shirt offer insert card. There are five color variation of each the Reggie Jackson, and the Mike Schmidt discs bring the total to 80 cards.

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The disc, to be removed, was attached to the baseball glove portion of a checklist, and T-Shirt offer, which was inserted into cartons of Pepsi-Cola. The card (disc) has a higher collectors value attached to the original insert. The back has a send away offer, for a Personalized T-shirt with your name on it. Pete rose is used as an example, and you can also send away for Rico Carty, Joe Morgan, and Rick Manning.

Hmm I bet those Rico Carty shirts were the sh#t!! I’d like to know who was the marketing brains behind this offer. In any case, was happy with this $5 pick up that’ll look nice in the Red Sox oddball album. Believe it or not, this disc is my first from those ’70s MLBPA issues so if anyone has some, I’ll gladly trade for ’em. Thank you for reading!

Flashback Friday: Rubbing one out

Wait?! Dude what did you just say? Man, that kind of week where it’s been go-go-go. Thankfully I did not add the stress of doing March Madness Brackets — for the second year in a row. It’s refreshing and I still find the games entertaining.

So I originally had another post ready for this Flashback Friday, but I spent half the afternoon on Twitter reminiscing with @DubMentality, @basecardhero, @CardJunk, @waxtopia, and @robbyt86 on all the cool 1980’s oddball box sets that years ago couldn’t be given away, but now are popular with us 40 year olds. All that talk about Topps KMart, Revco, Circle K, Fleer Walgreens, Fleer Baseball’s Best … got me to change my post to this set from the 80’s.

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About a month ago, while I was rounding up all my 80’s cards to make an 80’s album, I picked up these two packs of 1984 Topps Rub-Downs. I currently only had a 1984 Jim Rice and a 1985 Don Mattingly in my possession and was eager to add more. It was a modern spin off from the 1966 Topps Rub Offs Set that I highlighted a couple of days ago (see Bill Monboquette).

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Here’s a look at the first pack, including the remnants of the 33 stick of gum — and no I did not eat it as well as the instructions card. While it was great to land Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, this was the Jim Rice I had, but I’ll just put this into my Red Sox Oddball album. This pack also shows that while one sheet had three players, the second sheet carried four.

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Here’s the two sheets from pack number two — both sheets contain four players. Ex-Sox players Carney Lansford and Jack Clark mark some interest for me on these.

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And lastly, the set checklist which could be found on the flip side of the instruction card. The 1984 Topps Rub-Downs was a 32-sheet set featuring 112 different players. The images on each sheet could be transferred (permanently) onto another surface by rubbing the opposite side with a coin. Measuring 2 3/8″ x 3 15/16″, each pack contains two sheets of rub-downs, featuring three to four players along with images of baseball equipment on each sheet, and one glorious piece of pink heaven. Topps would also produce a similar set the following year.

Thank you to guys on Twitter this afternoon, it was a great to share thoughts on those 80’s sets. Good luck to all in your card searching this weekend whether it’s for trade packages, supporting LCSs, or taking in a card show or two. Thank you for reading and happy collecting!

The Trade — That Finally Happened

Serious, I think this trade started three plus years ago when I was at my old Blogger Off the Wall site. Scott over at I need new hobbies and I rekindled this deal this winter as I got back to blogging here on the WordPress site and thank God he did. You can see what I sent him here on his site.

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I’m going to break this into two sections as there were a boatload of cards. I think the USPS transported close to ten pounds of cards between the two of us. The above image captures all the non-Red Sox cards and as you can see, there’s quite a mix going on here.

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Leading off — some vintage sets needs. Another card for my in progress 1955 Bowman set (Shuba), five 1968 Topps and two more cards for my birth year (’73) set.

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As you can see, Scott was able to help my complete this page of All-Star awesomeness thanks to Orlanado Cepeda and Brooks Robinson. Just like the newly released 2017 Topps Heritage, these All-Star cards look sharp.

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Angel Mangual’s 1973 Topps help complete this great page featuring the last card of Denny McLain and the 70’s card classic of Luis Alvarado. We got lamb chops, airbrushed trades, and spring training shots featuring classic muscle cars!

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Moving down the timeline, a bunch of Fleer Star Stickers, top row is from 1981 while the bottom row are from 1986. Gotta think Night Owl has to find that ’81 night shot of Eddie Murray at Yankee Stadium. Often I find the photographs on the star stickers better than the shot they chose for the flagship issue.

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Some more 80’s Fleer magic here in the form of the hard to find All-Stars of Brett and Tudor to the box set craziness that hit the junk wax era like a plague. Scott also found me another Starting Lineup card too.

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Foodies eat your heart out! 70’s Hostess and Kellogg’s, 80’s Drakes and Ralston Purina Cereal, and a Mother’s Cookie card I freed from a cracked PSA case. Love the food issues! It’s about time I updated these lists too.

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Next up, some cool Heritage insert cards. Big fan of the “Then & Now” inserts that have been in this product line.

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And now we reach the second portion of the trade package — the Red Sox haul!! While I can’t show everything, there were a boat load in these stacks that I had never seen before. This is why trades are full of surprises … there is so much out there that no one can possibly buy everything, so it’s great when brands you never buy, show up in trades.

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Highlighting some cards here I found cool. The 1992 Score insert set of Yaz is a great get! I’ve seen many times but never picked one up for myself. Love the 1974 Topps Fisk and those horizontal shot common in the ’73 & ’74 Topps sets. The Rice rookie is trimmed according to Scott — doesn’t matter to me — works fine for my Rice pages.

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Next up where probably the favorites in the entire box as I don’t have either line. The Bill Monbouquette is from the 1966 Topps Rub Offs set. This cool issue measures 2-1/6” by 3”and featured 100 players and 20 team pennants. They were printed in rolls of 20 and are unnumbered. The 1966 Topps Rub-Offs are often mis-cut, resulting in bad centering.

The two black and white cards of Lee Stange and Jose Tartabull come from the 1969 Milton Bradley Set. Very cool cards Scott!!

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Next, some Nomahs … these were some of my favorites. The bottom row are cards I have never come across, especially the Pacific “stamp” die cut and the Topps Metal card.

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And to close, one of my favorite all time Red Sox, Pedro Martinez. Scott culled a great assortment here but I have one question in regards to the two 2000 Pacific card at top left and center. Both llok like they are from the same set, the backs are identical as is the card number … but is it a variation or something?

Thank you again Scott — pretty crazy that this took so long but that was one hellava trade we pulled off. A LOT OF CARDS crossed paths and a lot a needs were crossed off.

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So in between finally writing this post, working from home, and watching the snow fall outside, I’m working on eight trade packages that should go out in the mail before the weekend. Great stuff going all over the place.

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Speaking of trades and want lists, I added some items to Wants/Red Sox including post cards (don’t have to be signed), yearbooks, and programs. Really, anything that is a flat item and would fit in a 8 x 10″ or 8-1/2 x 11″ sheet in an album. Also looking for cards of some Red Sox players that for some reason I liked but maybe weren’t stars. So if you can help, please hit me up and let’s work out a deal. Thank you for reading and stay safe and warm out there fellow readers in the middle of this Winter Storm Stella.