Something you don’t see very often, even in older sets, are baseball cards dedicated to NLCS MVP winners.

Sure, Topps would give us a glimpse of one here or there with their postseason subsets from the 1960s through the 1980s, but they hardly ever singled out the guys who took home the hardware.

We’re here to change that, though, with a run through the best baseball card of each NLCS MVP winner from 1977 (when the award started) through 1993 (the year before The Strike).

Play ball!

1977 NLCS MVP – Dusty Baker (1977 Topps #146)

1977 Topps Dusty Baker

These Dodgers were loaded with big stars, but Baker won the team Triple Crown with a .357, 2 HR, 8 RBI line against the Phillies in the NLCS.

And, after inventing the high five with teammate Glenn Burke on the last day of the regular season, who better to lead LA into the World Series?

Baker looks pretty happy about it all on his 1977 Topps card.

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1978 NLCS MVP – Steve Garvey (1978 Topps #350)

1978 Topps Steve Garvey

Baker put up another solid NLCS performance in 1978, but Garvey stole the show with four home runs, seven RBI, and a .389 batting average.

Garvey looks all red, white, and blue … and cheesy … on his 1978 Topps card.

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1979 NLCS MVP – Willie Stargell (1979 Topps #55)

1979 Topps Willie Stargell

Stargell hit .455 with two dingers and six RBI as the Pirates swept the Reds in the NLCS.

Within a month or so, Pops had a sweep of his own — NLCS MVP, World Series MVP, NL MVP (shared with Keith Hernandez).

He was already stepping toward glory on this 1979 Topps card.

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1980 NLCS MVP – Manny Trillo (1980 Topps #90)

1980 Topps Manny Trillo

This series went the full five games, with each of the last four going to extra innings.

In Game 4, the Phils were down 2-1 and facing elimination when Greg Luzinski and Trillo doubled back-to-back in the top of the tenth.

Pete Rose and The Bull scored, and the Phillies won, 5-3.

For the series, Trillo matched Luzinski’s four RBI, and his .381 was enough to cop the hardward.

On his 1980 Topps card, Trillo is just getting warmed up.

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1981 NLCS MVP – Burt Hooton (1981 Topps #565)

1981 Topps Burt Hooton

Hooton won Games 1 and 4 as the Expos pushed the Dodgers to the full five games.

Amazingly, Hooton turned in a perfect 0.00 ERA, though he did give up a single unearned run over 14 2/3 innings.

“Happy” is set to deal on his sun-dappled 1981 Topps card.

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1982 NLCS MVP – Darrell Porter (1982 Topps In Action #448)

1982 Topps In Action Darrell Porter

As the Cardinals rolled over the Braves in three games, Porter turned in a Sabermetric showcase …

On the series, the backstop turned in a ridiculous .556/.714/.889 slash line and scored three times.

Porter also helped the St. Louis pitching staff turn in a 1.33 ERA, and his 1982 Topps In Action card has him all geared up and exercising his own throwing arm.

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1983 NLCS MVP – Gary Matthews (1983 Topps #780)

1983 Topps Gary Matthews

Matthews managed just ten home runs during the 1983 regular season, but he feasted on Dodgers pitching for three long balls.

Not to mention a .429 average and four runs scored.

Sarge is locked in and ready to groove another one on his 1983 Topps card.

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1984 NLCS MVP – Steve Garvey (1984 Fleer #300)

1984 Fleer Steve Garvey

Garvey hit an even .400 and drove in seven as the Padres took out the media darling Cubs in five games.

That was enough to beat out strong performances by Tony Gwynn, Kevin McReynolds, Craig Lefferts, and other Padres to take the hardware.

Mr. Clean’s 1984 Fleer card captures his love affair (stop!) with the fans that defined much of his career.

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1985 NLCS MVP – Ozzie Smith (1985 Donruss #59)

1985 Donruss Ozzie Smith

Ozzie was the Cards’ top offensive force in this series, posting an OPS of 1.196 and even smacking a home run.

He was also a, um, wizard in the field. As usual.

And that’s where we find him on his 1985 Donruss card — on the dirt in Wrigley Field with the ivy as his background.

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1986 NLCS MVP – Mike Scott (1986 Topps #268)

1986 Topps Mike Scott

Both of these teams hit like their bats were made of avocado toast in this series, and Scott did his part to keep the Mets on the bench.

Scott went the distance in both of his starts, striking out 19 in 18 innings and allowing just nine hits and a single run.

It was such a dominant performance that Scott copped MVP honors even though his Astros lost the shooting match.

The 1986 NL Cy Young Award winner is about to unleash split-fingered hell on his Topps card from that summer.

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1987 NLCS MVP – Jeffrey Leonard (1987 Donruss Opening Day #103)

1987 Donruss Opening Day Jeffrey Leonard

This was a long seven-game series featuring some close contests but also a couple of blowouts — including Game 7.

Seven different men won games in this week-plus tilt, and both teams had trouble getting their bats off their shoulders.

Except for Jeffrey Leonard, who smashed four home runs off the Cards, drove in five, scored five, and batted a cool .417.

That was good enough for MVP honors even though his Giants lost the series.

Leonard is swinging hard on his 1987 Donruss Opening Day card, too — part of a neat concept for a set back when collectors were clamoring for everything we could get our hands on.

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1988 NLCS MVP – Orel Hershiser (1988 Topps #40)

1988 Topps Orel Hershiser

Hershiser ended this seven-game series with a 1-0 record and a save, but dude started three games and relieved in another.

Things were going swimmingly for Bulldog in Game 1 through one out in the ninth, but that’s when his shutout imploded in a series of hits (and a walk) by Gregg Jefferies, Darryl Strawberry, Kevin McReynolds, and Gary Carter.

Jay Howell came on in relief but couldn’t stop the bleeding.

Had Hershiser’s Cy Young season that included a run of scoreless innings to top Don Drysdale‘s record taken a toll on the ace’s arm?

Nah, he was back on the bump in Game 3 and gave up just one run in another LA loss. He saved Game 4, though, and then was lights-out in shutting out the Mets in Game 7.

It was an up-and-down NLCS, but Hershiser just kept taking the ball — just like on his elegant 1988 Topps baseball card.

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1989 NLCS MVP – Will Clark (1989 Topps #660)

1989 Topps Will Clark

The Giants brought their big sticks to the 1989 NLCS against the Cubs, and none boomed louder than Clark’s

The Thrill hit .650 with two bombs, three doubles, and a triple, and he drove in eight and scored eight times himelf.

On his 1989 Topps card, Clark is ready to get out there one more time and make a little more noise.

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1990 NLCS MVP – Rob Dibble (1990 Fleer #418)

1990 Fleer Rob Dibble

The Reds led the NL West wire-to-wire in 1990 and swept the A’s in the World Series. In between, they ran into their only real obstacle on the way to a title — the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Four of the six games were decided by one run, and the Reds needed every bit of relief help they could muster.

Fortunately for Cincy, manager Lou Piniella had the Nasty Boys bullpen at his disposal.

For his part, Dibble tossed five hitless innings and struck out ten while walking just one.

All of that nastiness is coming your way, too, on Dibble’s 1990 Fleer card.

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1990 NLCS MVP – Randy Myers (1990 Upper Deck #797)

1990 Upper Deck Randy Myers

Myers was almost as nasty as Dibble in this NLCS, striking out seven in 5 2/3 innings and posting an identical 0.00 ERA.

And … Myers saved three of the four Reds victories, with Dibble (who else?) slamming the door in Game 4.

Interestingly, the Mets had traded Myers for John Franco the previous off-season, so Randy had to wait until late in the new season to get his first Reds card.

He’s dealing clean-shaven nastiness on this high-number Upper Deck card, though.

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1991 NLCS MVP – Steve Avery (1991 Fleer #681)

1991 Fleer Steve Avery

Of all the vaunted pitchers on the Braves’ staff in the early 1990s, Avery was probably the one who excited collectors the most.

In 1991, he was young but already had three solid minor league seasons behind him, and he made the Atlanta rotation right out of the gate.

It’s no coincidence that the Braves went worst-to-first the same season Avery went 18-8, 3.38 as a 21-year-old.

In this thrilling seven-game tilt against the Pirates for all the National League marbles, Avery was even better — 16 1/3 innings over two starts, 17 strikeouts, and two victories.

As much as the yellow-borders of 1991 Fleer give me the fake-banana-flavoring-toxic-poisoning heebie-jeebies, I love the wide shot of Avery on his card. It reminds me of classic old sets like Turkey Run and 1953 Bowman, somehow.

All he needs is a USO (unidentified sliding object) crashing around his feet, and Avery is Pee Wee Reese.

1953 Bowman Pee Wee Reese

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1992 NLCS MVP – John Smoltz (1992 Donruss #442)

1992 Donruss John Smoltz

If Avery was the golden boy of the Braves rotation, Smoltz was the horsepower.

And, in an even more tense NLCS rematch, Smoltz won Games 1 and 4 before getting chased (although with just two runs allowed) in the sixth inning of Game 7.

After some late, late heroics by Terry Pendleton, David Justice, Ron Grant, Francisco Cabrera, and … wait for it … Sid Bream, Smoltz was a hero.

And an MVP.

Smoltz had at least a handful of good-looking cardboard in 1992, but this Donruss base issue gives a chilling glimpse of what Barry Bonds and the rest of the Bucs were up against that October.

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1993 NLCS MVP – Curt Schilling (1993 Score #52)

1993 Score Curt Schilling

Before the bloody sock and the churlish old manhood and the questionable business practices, Schilling was a young stud for a rising Phillies team.

It all came to a head here in the 1993 NLCS, where Schilling tossed 16 innings of 1.69 ERA ball and struck out 19 reeling Braves.

That he did it all without recording a victory did little to diminish his impact, as evidenced by his MVP hardware.

By 1993, most of the cards on the market had lost their character, but this simple Score issue works well thanks to a solid action shot, minimal design elements, and Phillies branding from top to bottom.

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