Tuesday, October 16, 2012
The Gems of Junk Wax, Pt. 47: 1987 Topps #170 Bo Jackson RC
Looking back, we can say that some cards "defined" an entire era of the game.
For the '50s, it's rookies of future legends like Aaron and Koufax that came to represent the "golden age" of the game. Even Andy Pafko, an otherwise obscure name, comes to mind when dealing with 1950's cardboard.
In terms of the '70s, the first one I think of is the tragic '73 Topps Roberto Clemente issue. Iconic rookies of George Brett and Mark Fidrych are also among the more well-known cards of the decade.
As far as so-called "junk wax" goes, I think it's safe to say that today's subject belongs to that elite group.
Bo Jackson's famous 1987 Topps rookie may be the quintessential piece from the overproduction era.
There may be other "junk wax" cards I like better, but I have a hard time coming up with any others that capture the years in a greater light.
In a way, Bo Jackson's career turned out a lot like the overproduction era itself.
It started out with so much promise. For a few years, Jackson was a nationwide sensation, hitting his peak around 1989 or 1990.
Due to some unfortunate events and missed opportunities, he wound up hobbled and largely forgotten by the time his career came to a close in 1994.
To some, Jackson's '87 Topps rookie will always be a reminder of what could have been.
It's the same with the hobby as well.
In my eyes, 1987 Topps borders close on being the "perfect" Topps set. The wood borders, the well-placed logo, and, of course, the colorful "Future Stars" designation. (Topps can replicate the minis all they want, but they'll never come close to the real thing.)
While there were a couple brief flashes of greatness (like Topps' 1991 offering), the overproduction era left a sour taste in a lot of collector's mouths after the promise of the famous '87 set.
Maybe it's because I didn't grow up during the time period, but I've never been one to simply dismiss the era as an altogether awful time for the hobby.
On the contrary, actually.
Between all the heaps of forgotten names in 1990 Donruss or 1991 Fleer, there's some greatness to be found. Names like Abbott and Ripken come to mind. Even the "Eight Men Out".
I've always looked for things to celebrate about "junk wax".
Hence, this entire theme.