(This is the 27th in our series of posts about the best baseball cards from the 1980s. Check out the rest of those posts here.)

In the summer of 1985, Oil Can Boyd was something of a baseball phenomenon.

He wasn’t a rookie since he had pitched too many innings in both 1983 and 1984 to still meet those first-year qualifications.

And he wasn’t the best pitcher in the American League — that was Bret Saberhagen or Ron Guidry or Dave Stieb or maybe even Charlie Leibrandt.

Heck, Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd hadn’t even been the best pitcher on his own team in 1984 thanks to the presence of Bruce Hurst, Bob Ojeda, and (yes) Al Nipper in the Boston Red Sox rotation

1989 Fleer Oil Can Boyd

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link).

But even with all that going against him, and even though the Sox weren’t the mighty SAWX they are today, Oil Can stood out.

It was the big, dark prescription glasses on his baseball cards.

It was the little eyes behind those specs and the high cheekbones and gaunt cheeks that all made him look 30 years older than he was.

It was the high leg kick and launchpad angle of his delivery … how did he ever keep the ball from sailing into space?

It was the bristling energy and fist-pumping excitement he brought the mound every time he took the bump.

And, of course, it was his presence in those 1985 baseball card sets, the ones that flooded the market with rookie cards and frothed collectors with visions of the greatness that might lie around the corner. For Boyd, sure, but also for Buddy Biancalana and Eric Davis and Cory Snyder and all the rest of the guys who made their national cardboard debuts that summer.

For a while there, Boyd was great.

He went 15-13, 3.70 with 6.1 WAR in 1985, which should have put him in the running for the American League Cy Young Award but left him with no votes.

In 1986, when Roger Clemens set the world on fire to help the Red Sox get to the World Series, Oil Can improved to 16-10, though his ERA edged up to 3.78. Still, that was good for 3.5 WAR.

We knew even then that our limelight time with this character was limited, though. By the time the New York Mets crushed Beantown hearts that October, Boyd had turned 27. Even though he was still considered to have “potential,” he was a late bloomer in baseball terms.

So, alas …

Injuries (blood clots) and maybe other factors conspired to limit Oil Can to just 30 starts combined in 1987 and 1988, and collectors had largely forgotten his cards by the spring of 1989.

We certainly had no reason to chase his new cardboard as the season dawned in that last year of the decade.

After all, we had Ken Griffey, Jr., and Gary Sheffield rookie cards to look forward to,

And it didn’t take long for the Billy Ripken bat-knob vulgarity to steal every hobby headline and catapult 1989 Fleer to the top of the “phenomenon” list.

But it turns out that old Oil Can Boyd wasn’t quite done with us, the fans and the hobby. Because, just when we’d put him out of our minds, he winked at us from inside a Fleer wax pack.

1989 Fleer Oil Can Boyd (back)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link).

There, on card #82 of the 1989 Fleer set, Oil Can bursts from the staid gray and white striped borders to remind us just how exciting baseball can be.

How exciting baseball cards can be.

How exciting Oil Can Boyd once was.

He may never have regained his early form, and it certainly didn’t seem right to see him wind down his career with the Montreal Expos and Texas Rangers, but Boyd did manage to go 13-8 with a 3.28 ERA in 1989 and 1990 combined.

In case you didn’t notice, he kicked off that mini-revival by scoring the best baseball card in the 1989 Fleer set.

You can look it up.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

(This is the 27th in our series of posts about the best baseball cards from the 1980s. Check out the rest of those posts here.)

 

 

 

RARE 🔥 1991 TOPPS DENNIS "OIL CAN" BOYD "MISSING BLACK BORDER" ERROR CARD #49C

$15.00
End Date: Wednesday Dec-11-2019 21:51:58 PST
Buy It Now for only: $15.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

*****Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd***** Lot of 50 cards.....41 DIFFERENT / Baseball

$13.94
End Date: Monday Dec-16-2019 16:03:46 PST
Buy It Now for only: $13.94
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

OIL CAN BOYD 1991 DONRUSS AUTOGRAPHED SIGNED AUTO BASEBALL CARD 194 RED SOX EXPO

$13.97
End Date: Saturday Dec-14-2019 8:14:15 PST
Buy It Now for only: $13.97
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

1989 Fleer Baseball Card #82 Oil Can Boyd

$0.99
End Date: Friday Dec-13-2019 22:05:58 PST
Buy It Now for only: $0.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list