Sometimes, you just miss.

It happens to the best of us, and some of us even become sort of known for it.

Take Mark McGwire, for example.

From the time he burst onto the Major League scene in the summer of 1987, Big Mac made his mark (ha!) in two areas — he hit tons of monster home runs, and he generated enough breeze with his swing to power a Bay Area wind farm for a year.

And, actually, McGwire’s reputation in those categories preceded him to the bigs, as he’d hit 23 home runs with 112 RBI and a matching 112 strikeouts in two minor league stops in 1986.

That got him a call up to the Oakland A’s in August of ‘86, and he continued to look like the free-swinging slugger he was — three homers, nine RBI … 18 strikeouts.

The Athletics had seen enough of the hulking first baseman, though, and he broke camp with the Major League team in 1987.

The major card companies had seen enough, too, and McGwire rookie cards started popping out of wax packs in the spring of 1987, just as McGwire started popping big league pitchers in the chin, metaphorically.

As Big Mac’s bat heated up, his 1987 Donruss Rated Rookies card scorched right along with him, becoming the hottest new card of the year.

The 1987 Topps woody wasn’t far behind, either, and that 1985 Topps Olympic card of his threatened to become the next 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly. It also made Topps look pretty smart, what with issuing a Big Mac card a full two years before everyone else.

Conspicuously absent from this homer party, though, where the fade-to-white, blue-sky-and-cloud borders of the 1987 Fleer set.

Both Donruss and Fleer proved pretty tough to come by for collectors that spring and summer, with some regions of the country having packs of one but not the other, and other areas limited to the Topps beauties.

But as McGwire stormed American League fields the summer, eventually setting the rookie record for home runs (49) and copping the AL Rookie of the Year Award, no one had a 1987 Fleer McGwire RC … because it didn’t exist.

So, how did Fleer whiff on the biggest new name of 1987?

Hard to say.

Maybe they were too focused on getting their fade just right, or maybe they wanted to save more room for Jose Canseco — McGwire’s ballyhooed teammate appeared on four cards in the set, after all.

Or … maybe Fleer was clever like a fox, ensuring they’d have a big name to headline their 1987 Fleer Update set:

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That smiling, hacking Big Mac may not be a true rookie card, but it is his first Fleer card (or FFC, as the kids say … nah).

And it did highlight the 1987 Fleer Update card, making #U-76 the most coveted bit of cardboard real estate in the box.

Or … maybe Fleer just whiffed.

Today, the 1987 Fleer Update Mark McGwire sells for $85+ in perfect PSA 10 condition, dropping to around $15 in “9” … downward from there.

Those prices are tick below the base Donruss and Topps McGwire, but that’s to be expected given that it was a latecomer.

No matter what, though, the 1987 Fleer Update Mark McGwire is a reminder that we all strikeout sometimes, but that we can still look good doing it.

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