Baseball cards, like most ephemera, are excellent vehicles for conveying the flavor of moments in time into the future.
That’s the whole idea behind Record Breaker and Highlights cards, after all — to stamp an exact moment or date on an event, show you what it looked like, and invite you to never forget.
Same goes for All-Star cards and cards designated a “rookie” or “prospect” or “future” star.
But it’s not just special occasion cards that help you bring back, or teach you about, special associations between players and teams and events and seasons and moments.
I mean, as funky as they look now, how cool are the 1984 Traded/Update and select 1985 cards that show Pete Rose during the Hit King’s half season (or so) run with the Montreal Expos?
And, speaking of those Expos, they jettisoned another great hitter the same off-season they signed Rose.
Find 1982 Hygrade Expos cards on eBay (affiliate link)
Find 1982 Hygrade Expos cards on Amazon (affiliate link)
In fact, Al Oliver and Charlie Hustle were teammates, on paper at least, from January 20, 1984 — when Rose signed as a free agent — until February 27, 1984, when Montreal traded Oliver to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Fred Breining, Max Venable, and Andy McGaffigan.
That deal came down less than two years after the Expos traded Dave Hostetler and Larry Parrish to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Scoop.
It also came on the heels of a 1983 season when Oliver had led the National League in doubles (38) for the second straight season, and after his eighth consecutive .300 effort.
But that first summer in Montreal, 1982, had been even better … magical, even.
At the age of 35, Oliver apparently decided he wasn’t anywhere close to starting a decline and proved it by leading the NL not only in doubles (43) but also in hits (204), RBI (109), batting average (.331), and total bases (317).
If the Expos had won the NL East, Oliver might have copped the MVP award that Dale Murphy took home. As it ended up, Scoop finished tied for third with Pedro Guerrero.
Of course, Oliver got his cardboard due in 1983, with all three companies showing him with his new team, and Topps also rolling out their league leader cards to feature the Expos star a couple of times.
But collectors in Montreal didn’t have to wait until 1983 to get some uniform-appropriate cardboard of their new diamond hero. No siree!
That’s because Hygrade Meats issued a set of 24 Expos in their smoked sausage packages all through that summer of 1982, and Oliver checked in at #15, right between Dan Norman and future Hall of Famer Tim Raines.
It was a snapshot of a grizzled old man of the game making good with yet another new team, at pretty much the moment he was building an entire new legion of fans.
And, if that wasn’t moment-in-time enough for you, the 1982 Hygrade Al Oliver card captures his unusual uniform number — that would be 0 — in photo form and printed on the card itself.
It’s an unusual and eye-catching complement to an already historic baseball card.
Wow! Wax of the Day
If you’re hoping to pull an Al Oliver card from a 1982 wax pack, you should be aware that 1) it’ll show him with the Rangers and 2) it’ll be kinda expensive, thanks to being Cal Ripken, Jr.’s, rookie card year. Still, you can find packs and boxes if you’re up for the challenge, like this unopened 1982 Donruss box on eBay:
The card quality pales in comparison to today’s space-age stuff, but it’s pure hobby nostalgia and would be a blast to tear into — if you had the guts to do that instead of leaving them untouched for another 38 years. Check out the full listing on eBay right here (affiliate link).
1982 Topps Baseball Cards Complete Your Set U-Pick (#'s 201-400) Nm-Mint
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1982 Topps Baseball Cards Complete Your Set U-Pick (#'s 401-600) Nm-Mint
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