Saturday, August 11, 2012

50 Years in Cards: 1987

Part 26 of our 50-year Rally Cap...
What is it: 1987 Topps #460, Darryl Strawberry

What makes it interesting: Topps brought back the woodgrain borders for the '87s. The result was one of their more iconic and memorable sets, particularly for those of my generation, who grew up with this set being our initial exposure to the world of Baseball Cards. I put this set together by hand as an 8-year old and for many years, I had just about every card in the set memorized (for example, I could always tell you that Keith Hernandez was card #350 or Dwight Gooden was card #130). The design holds up, Topps keeps reviving it in throwback inserts and archive issues.

Darryl Strawberry's card was one such card that you always wanted to pull out of a pack, because he was great and the card was important. In '87, and for the several surrounding years, Darryl was pretty important himself. A mercurial player with undeniable talent, Strawberry was viewed as a savior from the moment he joined the Mets on May 6th, 1983. Rarely did he disappoint. Though he missed a month of the season, Strawberry became the 3rd Met to win Rookie of the Year honors, and he followed that up by being voted an All Star starter every year he remained a Met, until 1990.

Strawberry had the kind of power that comes along only so often. A perfect example of a Stawberry Home Run would be his iconic 8th inning blast in Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. A skyrocket that hung in the air forever, Strawberry knew it was gone the moment he hit it, and his 2-minute trot around the bases was evidence. Strawberry's incredible strength produced awe-inducing, tape measure Home Runs on a regular basis and posited him as the kind of player who could carry the entire team on his back when he had to. In 1987, he broke Dave Kingman's single-season club record for Home Runs with 39 (one of which was hit in the first Mets game I ever attended on August 23rd), and he equaled that mark in 1988, surpassing Kingman's career club mark for HRs in the process.

By time he left for the Dodgers following the 1990 season (a move Strawberry regrets as one of his worst decisions), Strawberry's place in Mets history was secure. He remains the Mets all-time leader in Home Runs with 252, and formerly was the all time leader in RBIs, Slugging percentage, Runs scored, Bases on Balls and Extra Base hits. He also ranks 4th with 191 steals, another facet of his game often overlooked, although he did become the first of 3 Mets to make the 30-30 club in '87. Though illness and personal problems curtailed the latter half of his career, Strawberry remains a beloved and iconic figure in team history. In 2010, alongside his dear friend and teammate Dwight Gooden, and his Manager and General Manager from the '86 World Series Champions, Dave Johnson and Frank Cashen, Strawberry was elected to the Mets Hall of Fame.

Card back:

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