Thursday, December 10, 2009

And The Winner Is.....

Fleer as you're probably aware sued Topps in Federal Court to break their monopoly on producing baseball cards. As a result of the decision, they started producing baseball cards in 1981 (along with Donruss). Ironically, almost 30 years later, Baseball Cards have run full circle and we're back to just one fully licensed MLB manufacturer.

Below are images of all of Steve Garvey's cards from Fleer's base sets released during 1981-1987.

1981 Fleer #110 (front)

I'm a big fan of this card. I like the pose and the colors of the card.

For this being their first baseball card set featuring individual active players since 1963, Fleer did a decent job though they did have a few noticable flaws. Below are the Pros and Cons of the set (as I see them).


- Checklist laid out in order of the results of the 1980 baseball season

- 17 cards per pack

- 2 bonus packs included in each box (38 total packs)

- Gum was included in the packs (though the taste came in third behind Donruss which was the best and Topps)

- Single Player Card of the most popular Rookie in 1981; Fernando Valenzuela


- Too Many Errors Cards (which were probably produced intentionally)

- Card Stock wasn't the best (the backs tended to chip)

- No Tim Raines Rookie Card

1981 Fleer #110 (back)

1981 Fleer "Most Hits NL" #606 (front)

I wasn't a big fan of this card, I think it's because it looks like Steve doesn't have any pigment in his face. Additionally, even though the background is Dodger Blue, it's actually pretty boring. I used to wonder if he was standing in front of a blue screen like they use in Hollywood and that Fleer meant to super-impose a background picture.

1981 Fleer "Most Hits NL" #606 (back)

Fleer probably should have had a different back for this card as it's exactly the same as his other card in the set.

1982 Fleer #5 (front)

I like Fleer's choice of image for this card as well. The same can't be said for much of this set as a lot of the images tended to be out of focus.

1982 Fleer #5 (back)

Fleer's backs were a slight improvement for 1981 with the addition of color.

1983 Fleer #206 (front)

1983 is an underrated set in my opinion. I like Fleer's decision to show Steve's locker though I'm surprised that a first rate organization like the Dodgers didn't afford the players wooden or at the very least plastic hangers.

1983 Fleer #206 (back)

Adding an image and making the backs vertical were major pluses.

1984 Fleer #300 (front)

1984 is arguably Fleer's best set ever. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by Donruss' landmark 1984 base set. To this day, Steve is one of the most accessible autograph signers. What's most impressive is the quality of his signature.

1984 Fleer #300 (back)

1984 backs were just a rehash of 1983 but that wasn't such a bad thing.

1984 Fleer N.L. Iron Man #628 (front)

Fleer made this card in honor of Steve's National League consecutive game streak ending due to a broken thumb. I've always wondered if Cal Ripken started his streak partially because he was a fan of Steve's because his started right around when Steve's ended.

1984 Fleer N.L. Iron Man #628 (back)

Fleer left a lot a space on this card and often did this with their card backs (just the facts).

1985 Fleer #32 (front)

Steve is sporting the self-proclaimed Taco Bell Padres uniforms.

1985 Fleer #32 (back)

You know Fleer came up with a good thing in 1983 when they're using the same design on their card backs two sets later.

1985 Fleer N.L. All-Stars #631 (front)

Fleer was paying homage to the Topps sets from the late 1950's and 1960's when they came up with these multi-player concepts.

1985 Fleer N.L. All-Stars #631 (back)

1985 Fleer N.L. Pennant Clinchers #633 (front)

Fleer missed Graig Nettles in this 1984 Padres "G-Men" card

1985 Fleer N.L. Pennant Clinchers #633 (back)

1986 Fleer #321 (front)

New Uniforms!!! Wahooooo!!!

1986 Fleer #321 (back)

For whatever reason, Fleer ditched the image on the back.

1986 Fleer N.L. West Sluggers #640 (front)

Steve looks really short next to the Murph and the Cobra

1986 Fleer N.L. West Sluggers #640 (back)

No Space Wasted Here!

1987 Fleer #414 (front)

Another photo I like a lot.

An interesting thing in this photo is the donut on the bat. It's something that you don't see anymore in baseball as it's been replaced by weighted bats and a weighted cylinder.

1987 Fleer #414 (back)

I always liked the inclusion of the hitting chart on the backs of 1987 Fleer cards.


night owl said...

What makes you say the '81 error cards were probably produced intentionally?

steelehere said...

Night Owl first off, I wanted to say that I'm a big fan and regular reader of your two blogs.

As for your question, Collectors went crazy for Error Cards back in 1981. I think it's partially because Topps corrected so few errors in the decade prior (all I can think of from the 1970's is Bump Wills from 1979 Topps and the Washington Nationals/San Diego Padres cards and assorted error cards from 1974 Topps).

The other reason I believe is that prices for the error cards were expensive for their time with respect to all other cards in their set (i.e. the "Craig" Nettles cards used to sell for $30.00, the various star cards that had the same number as another card in the set [i.e. Steve Carlton, George Foster, George Brett, Pete Rose] used to sell for $5.00 per yet at the same time the Fernando Valenzuela Rookie Card sold for a couple dollars}.

WIth that said, I don't think all of the errors were intentional but the volume of errors produced and subsequently corrected by Fleer and Donruss was excessive especially when you consider that both companies had produced numerous sets for years prior to 1981 in other categories (i.e. Football Action Sets, Retired Players, Kiss, Elvis) and they weren't inudated with errors.

In 1981, Fleer and Donruss were the new kids on the block (for baseball) and were trying to do whatever they could to gain market share. Once they saw how collectors were reacting to the errors they initially corrected, they proceded to find additional errors to correct as well as "accidentially" produce more error cards (i.e. the Ron Cey "Finger on the back error" wasn't discovered and corrected initially in 1981").