I’ve mentioned a few times in this series that my collecting “juice” pretty much ran out in the early 1990s and didn’t really return until a couple years ago.
While that means I haven’t collected many base cards over the last quarter century, the area of my collection that really took a hit were the oddballs.
I mean, so many of the funky cards I loved as a kid came with food products — 1987 Kraft, 1984 Nestle, 1970-1983 Kellogg’s.
The upside to that gap is that I got to peruse the oddball offerings of the last 25 years when I set out to tackle this assignment, Day 27 of the 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge, which invited me to write about “a favorite oddball card from 1990 or later.”
Given my previous penchant for food issues, it’s little wonder that I landed on the 1995 Stouffer’s Legends of Baseball Gary Carter card.
Here are just a few of the things that lights me up about this issue which, like all good baseball cards, makes me feel like a kid again.
Stouffer’s cards came with pizza. For kids of the 1970s, baseball cards and food products go together like Sonny and Cher, like “Love” and “American Style.” And for kids of the 1980s, baseball cards and food products go together like Joanne and Chachi, like legs and warmers. I consider myself a product of both decades, and I’m a sucker for nostalgia. That makes the Stouffer’s set a winner.
The cards pop up. So, not only did these card come with pizza, but there is also a perforated line tracing the player himself, which allows you to pop him up for a 3-D effect. This scores on all sorts of levels. First, perforated cards and cardboard remind me of the old kid-focused TV dinners — and also the awesome Burger Chef discs from 1977. Second, they pop up, so you have Gary Carter standing on your tabletop like a cardboard R2-D2 hologram.
It’s Gary Carter … The Kid! Can you ever remember Gary Carter on the baseball diamond without a smile on his face? I’m sure he had his down moments just like every other human, but Carter sure did seem to enjoy playing the game. He was never my favorite player and always played for teams I just didn’t like very much — Expos, Mets, Giants — but, gosh darn it, I was always happy to pull a Gary Carter card from a wax pack.
Full-bleed color photos … on the card backs! It’s like someone blew up the 1957 Topps cards, enhanced the color, and shoved them in pizza boxes. Woot!
Pull tabs. How many cards do you own with pull tabs? Not many, I’d wager, but Stouffer’s has you covered on this one, too. Stand up Mr. Carter, pull the tab, and you can take in his powerful swing, full career stats, and biographical sketch all in one fell swoop. Genius!
Maybe best of all is that you can occasionally find these cards on eBay for about a buck each.
Not a bad deal at all for a cool card of the guy who — sorry, Ken Griffey, Jr. — will always be “The Kid” to me.