Take a look at the card below. It comes from an overproduced baseball card era when card companies left their printers running full time and at full speed with hopes of artificially creating the next ’52 Topps Mantle. In the end, 30 years later, I can’t even say I blame them. No matter what these iconic, pieces of cardboard mean to us … to companies like Fleer, Donruss, and Topps, these cards were nothing more than a way to make as much money as possible. Business as usual. So if collectors were buying up wax at an all-time high, you can bet card companies wanted to benefit. The end result, unfortunately, is worthless “junk wax” that clogs up card shows, garage sales, eBay, and attics all over the United States.
The 1988 Fleer ‘Power Team’ card above isn’t anything special, as far as value is concerned. There are literally millions of copies that wound up in landfills, millions of copies in collections, and still many more millions of unopened boxes waiting to be busted open. However, to me it is special for a couple of reasons. First, it was one of the first baseball cards to feature the “Bash Brothers” and trust me, there would be several dozen more to come. Topps Company likely did it first with their ’88 Flagship but to me, the Fleer version had more style, color, and in my opinion, has aged much better. Dare I say, 1988 Topps was and always will be a bore.
Another reason it remains special to me is because it’s one of the ‘Original 10’, meaning one of the first 10 Canseco cards I owned in a collection that is now sadly is pushing 1,500 different cards. I picked this bad boy up in 1990, two years removed from Jose’s historic MVP season and at a time when ALL of Jose’s cards were extremely overpriced. I remember laying eyes on his 1986 Donruss Rated Rookie for the first time in a card shop that same year and being floored when the price tag read $165 dollars. For a 10 year old, those figures were astronomical. I finally did pick up my first copy of the Rated Rookie but in 1998 and for a whopping $8 dollars.
So even though it’s not a base card or a second year card, in 1990, this card was still worth a few bucks. As a kid, I spent countless hours looking at and organizing my collection and this was one card that got plenty of attention from a kid who idolized a player who would soon begin his descent into worldwide mockery. Sadly, even I couldn’t even begin to imagine what a joke my childhood idol would one day become. Still, I always wondered about the photo, which appears to have been taken at Fenway Park in 1987. Well, thanks to the power of the Internet, I now have a better understanding of one of my ‘Original 10’.
Photo courtesy of Mitchell Layton. Captured on July 19th, 1987 in Massachusetts. It’s not the exact photo used by Fleer but it comes from the same set of photographs, I am 100% certain. Just look at the stadium, Big Mac’s, 80’s-style gold chain and both player’s batting gloves with Jose’s green wristbands. Interesting to see a huge Marlboro billboard in full view of children and TV cameras. The decade of the 80s were a much different time. These days, you’d have protests, online petitions and more to have something like this removed from plain view.
If you ask me, I’d rather go back to 1987.