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In the spring of 1985, Darryl Strawberry was already an established superstar, having won the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year award and followed up with a nearly identical season in 1984. Along with pitching phenom Dwight Gooden and several other strong supporting pieces, Strawberry had the New York Mets on the verge of big things.

In the middle of the country, Eric Davis was a relative unknown speedster hoping to make his mark for the Cincinnati Reds, though manager Pete Rose already had big plans for the youngster.

Also that spring, the two young men appeared on Major League Baseball cards at the same time for the first time. Strawberry was a must-have for just about every fan, and Davis was among the mountain of prospects who made their cardboard debuts in those 1985 sets. The scouting reports were solid, though, and the man who would become Eric the Red was high on most prospecting lists.

1985 Fleer Darryl Strawberry

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What most fans and collectors didn’t know at the time was that Strawberry and Davis had grown up together in Los Angeles, playing on the same Babe Ruth baseball team until they were picked in the 1st and 8th rounds of the 1980 draft, respectively.

Can you imagine what a lineup with these two titans must have looked like to opposing pitchers?

Well …

If you couldn’t quite pull off that bit of internal imagery 30+ years, ago, 1985 Fleer baseball cards could help you out.

That Fleer set was notable for its muted gray-brown borders, team-colored inner borders, and the continued use of black-and-white head shots on card backs. Oh … and posed shots.

I mean, take a look at the Google Images results when you search for “1985 Fleer baseball cards.” Go ahead, they’re right here.

See, lots and lots of head-and-shoulders shots, kneeling-with-bat shots, go-to-your-dugout-and-think-about-what-you-did shots. They’re fine for the most part, but not generally the most inspiring baseball photos you can find.

Strawberry and Davis got this treatment, too.

More specifically, each one got to pose with his bat resting on his batting-handedness shoulder, squared to the camera, from roughly the letters up.

When placed next to each other, the cards of these boyhood teammates were almost like mirror images (Strawberry smile v. Davis glare notwithstanding).

Greatness from the left, greatness from the right.

1985 Fleer Eric Davis

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And, though, we didn’t really know that Davis would be great at the time, Straw was already great.

The next few years helped to cement Darryl as one of the top players in the game, thanks to a World Series victory with the Mets in 1986 and nearly a National League MVP award in 1988.

We found out what Davis was all about, too.

What he was all about was blazing speed, lightning-quick power, and general all-around excitement.

And, yes, injuries.

Still, Davis may have been even greater on moment-to-moment basis than Strawberry.

Is it any wonder, then, that the Los Angeles Dodgers made a strong play for the hometown good guys, first when Strawberry became a free agent in 1990, and then when Davis became available via trade in 1991?

The reunion of these boyhood buddies and future Hall of Famers in Chavez Ravine was the biggest story of the the 1991-92 offseason, and it seemed like the Dodgers were set to dominate — offensively, at least — through the middle 1990s.

Looking back, we can see that going home didn’t work out so well for either of these gents.

Serious health problems, diminished performance, and overblown expectations took their toll on both Strawberry and Davis, and the homecoming ended in 1993 when the Dodgers traded Davis to the Detroit Tigers. Strawberry was released the next spring

For a few brief, shining moments, though, the Dodgers brought together one of sports’ first Dream Teams and thrilled fans — and collectors — from coast to coast.

So, did the inspiration for GM Fred Claire’s moves really come from the 1985 Fleer baseball cards of the two superstars? There were undoubtedly other factors involved, but you can’t discount the cardboard possibilities outright.

After all, this dynamic duo still inspires all these years later — don’t you think?

1985 Fleer Baseball Cards

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1985 Fleer #155 Roger Clemens Rookie Boston Red Sox

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1985 Fleer Star Stickers Kirby Puckett RC #122 Twins!!!

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George Brett 1985 Fleer Baseball #199 set break

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1985 Fleer Nolan Ryan #359 Houston Astros

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