Did you know that 1980s boxed sets could see the future?

It’s true.

But first, in case you forgot …

Boxed sets were the little groups of (usually) cheap, low-quality baseball cards Topps and Fleer made for several years, branded for and sold at places like Kmart, Walgreens, Kay-Bee Toys, Dad’s Pump-n-Dump, Carrie’s Discount Nails (“Nine for the price of eight!”), and so forth.

Only some of those locations are outright fabrications.

At any rate, the sets had names like Game Winners and Baseball’s Best and Hottest Stars and Madonna’s Diamond Conquests and Needle Boys.

Again, not all of those are made up.

One of the boxed sets that was definitely real and that definitely had its crystal ball perking was the 1987 Fleer Baseball’s Exciting Stars issue sold at Cumberland Farms convenience stores.


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Among the tantalizing talents who just made your heart jump and your nerves jangle ever time you heard their names were Don Aase, Von Hayes, and, er, Terry Harper.

And … Sid Bream.

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Now, at the time this set came out, Bream had just become a regular for the Pittsburgh Pirates (in 1986) after struggling to stick with the Dodgers through the mid-1980s.

He would turn 27 in 1987 — not young for a prospect — but the 1986 returns were good for the big first baseman … 16 home runs, 77 RBI, 13 stolen bases.

At least a little exciting.

Cumberland saw even more potential for spark, though, and *insisted* he be included in their set (so I like to imagine it).

And they were right, too, because Bream was a solid contributor to that 1990 Pirates team that won a division title.

They let him walk in 1991, though, and the lowly Braves signed him as a free agent.

Less exciting.

Bream only got into 91 games as Atlanta surprisingly won the National League West title, but he was back to full-time(ish) duty at first base in 1992.

The Braves won the West again, then squared off against those same Pirates in the NLCS.

That one came down to the bottom of the ninth in Game 7, where the Braves trailed the Bucs, 2-0, at home.

Bream drew a walk as the third batter, helping set up a one-out run on Ron Gant’s lineout.

A Damon Berryhill walk and a popfly out from Brian Hunter left the Braves with two outs and the bases loaded as Francisco Cabrera came to the plate to try and save the season.

Bream stood on second.

Cabrera slapped a hit to left field.

David Justice scored to tie the game.

Bream fired up his lumbering body and became the most exciting player in the game.

The Run that Sank Pittsburgh | By Sid Bream

Cumberland knew all along.