Friday, December 5, 2014

By the page: 1987 O-Pee-Chee (x2)

Unlike the player pages that I've posted over the past handful of months, I decided not to break the set pages down row by row.   Instead, with the '87 OPC set being featured in this post, I'm just going to present the whole page all at once and give a quick breakdown on how I put the page together.

The '87 OPC set was only 396 cards in size, but the two Canadian teams were featured prominently in the set, with the Expos having 26 cards, and the Jays having 25.  I actually had 20 of the 25 together when putting together this post, declining to use the Jimy Williams and Jeff Hearron cards.  

This page was kind of easy to put together.   Many people say that the catcher is the heart of the team, the player that is central to the success of the pitching staff.   If I had 8 pitcher cards to show, I would have put Ernie Whitt in the center of those.   Since I only had 6 pitchers, I decided to put him in the middle of the offense.  I surrounded him in the top two rows with the infielders, including an up and coming Kelly Gruber.   The bottom row was the heart of the '86 Jays offense, Upshaw hitting clean up, Bell and Barfield in the 5 and 6 spots behind him.   As Upshaw's offensive struggles continued through the season, the order was switched.  Bell and Barfield were moved up one spot apiece, and Upshaw batted 6th.

Interesting airbrush job on the Duane Ward cap.   Ward was obtained by the Jays in July of '86 from the Braves for Doyle Alexander.  Doyle didn't fare well in Atlanta, and was traded back to the AL in the '87 season for some up and coming pitcher....John Smoltz.  How's that for throwing around 3 big name pitchers!  Doyle would go on later in 1987 to go 9-0 for the Tigers, and he even received Cy Young votes even though he only started 11 times in the American League.  

Ward and Henke would become a great 1-2 punch out of the pen for the Jays for the next few seasons.  Jim Clancy is one of my all time favorite Blue Jays, so in the center he goes.   Clancy was Toronto's 6th pick in the expansion draft, and became a starter in the inaugural '77 season, winning 4 times in 13 games. 

Keeping the pitchers together on this page just seemed like the right thing to do, and I'm sure that the page would have looked a lot better with the Stieb and Key cards. 

I also decided to put the guys who hit for the pitcher on this page.   Cliff Johnson just looks like a man who you shouldn't mess with on his cards.  '87 would be the best season the Cecil Fielder had in a Jays uniform, hitting 14 HRs in 175 ABs.  Fielder wound up leaving the Jays, playing 1989 in Japan, and then coming back to N. America and promptly hitting 160 HRs in his first 4 seasons.  

I would say that only the Clancy and Fernandez cards feature photos from regular season game action, with the remainder of the photos likely being taken at the Jays spring training complex in Dunedin. 

These cards, and anything from the 80's that I feature on the blog, will always take me back in time.  Back to a team that lost 100+ games its first 3 seasons, started to blossom in 1982 and finally won the AL East in 1985.  Those were the days....

thanks for reading, Robert

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