It hardly mattered for Clemens’ accolades or baseball card prices that the Sox fell short in that dramatic seven-game tilt against the New York Mets — The Rocket swept the American League Cy Young voting and easily won the AL MVP over hobby darling Don Mattingly.
And, of course, the comparisons started right away for the big righthander — the next Walter Johnson, maybe. The next Tom Seaver, for sure.
That sort of talk always feels overdone for young phenoms, but the timing was spot-on when it came to the Clemens-Seaver comparisons.
Not only was Tom Terrific wrapping up his otherworldly career in 1986, he spent the last half of his final Big League season right there in the Red Sox rotation alongside his fellow (budding) legend.
By the next spring, though, Seaver was out of baseball, at least until an ill-fated June run with the Tidewater Tides (New York Mets).
Clemens was busy preparing for his 1987 season, which would yield another 20 wins and another Cy Young Award.
And both guys were popping out of wax packs across the land as the new crop of baseball cards made their way into collectors’ hands.
Seaver’s case was something of a rarity, as recently-retired players seldom got career-cappers in those days, at least from Topps. But then, no one was really sure Seaver had hung up his spikes for good, and plenty of us hoped he hadn’t.
So there, in Topps and Fleer and Donruss cardboard, you had Clemens and Seaver together again, at least loosely, both immortalized in cardboard as members of the Boston Red Sox.
And then, you had O-Pee-Chee.
O-Pee-Chee, of course, was the Canadian counterpart to Topps, and they typically issued sets with the same design as the Brooklyn giant, sometimes with all the same cards, sometimes with only some of them.
In 1987, the OPC issue sat at 396 cards, half of Topps’ bulging 792-card set.
Both Clemens and Seaver made the OPC cut, both as Red Sox.
But the Canadian confectioner went one better by producing several eight-card promotional panels showing a mixture of stars and commons.
Find 1987 O-Pee-Chee promo panels on eBay (affiliate link)
Find 1987 O-Pee-Chee promo panels on Amazon (affiliate link)
One of those panels featured Tim Hulett and Mookie Wilson on the top row, with Joe Carter, Rick Burleson, Dave Stieb, and Oddibe McDowell filling out the bottom half of the roster.
And right, there front and center on the top row, between Hulett and Wilson?
Yeah, it was Tom Seaver and Roger Clemens, together, side-by-side one more time.
For all time.
Hobby Holiday Hots
Since we’re already talking about Tom Seaver, and since the holiday season tends to inspire collecting dreams, we might as well look at some really juicy Seaver relics here … don’t you think? This eBay listing fits the bill …
It’s a lot of six PSA/DNA certified Seaver autographs on some pretty sweet vintage cardboard from the early 1970s.
Check out the full eBay listing right here (affiliate link).