Friday, November 27, 2009

Airbrushed Fridays: 1988 Topps Traded #13T

The 1988 Topps Traded set was the first time in my collecting youth that the whole baseball cards as profit philosophy really came to light for me. Everyone had decided that the 1988 Topps traded set was the must-buy set because of Topps's decision to include cards of the Olympic team, which would provide the first legit cards of a plethora of talented young players. Presently, the entire set can be had on eBay for about $1.50 if you buy in bulk, and the most collectable card probably isn't even an Olympian. (Mark Grace, maybe? I have no idea.)

Buddy Bell was a five-time all-star third baseman who was nearing the end of his career as these young guys like Charles Nagy and Andy Benes were being ushered in. He's been part of a pretty strong MLB lineage, as he is the son of Gus Bell and father to ex-Cardinal David Bell. He's also been a manager on and off for the past 14 years.

Why did Topps airbrush Buddy's photo? Bell joined the Astros a little less than halfway into the 1988 season, so deadlines were a bit tighter than their usual offseason trade subjects. By 1988, I have noticed that the airbrush was starting to be used less often and probably a little more strategically, but that didn't let a few gems keep from sneaking in from time to time.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? The classic Astros stripes aren't bad, actually, but everything else points to art class. The cap is all wrong. The logo isn't awful but is definitely drawn, and you can see the hand-drawn creases in his cap. Also, what's up with the wood paneling behind Buddy? Is he hanging out in front of his neighbor's fence or is he in some creep's living room?


Jeffrey Wolfe said...

I remember pulling this beauty out of a repack cube as a kid. What a wretched airbrush. The wood paneling in from the Mets dugout of old Shea Stadium.

Anonymous said...

This one is pretty awful, but what airbrush job isn't?

Bell was traded because Chris Sabo exploded that year. Bell was on the disabled list, giving Sabo the chance to prove his worth, and I guess Buddy was too expensive to sit on the bench.

As for most collectible, isn't there a Roberto Alomar in the set? His Hall of Fame chances are pretty good, better than Grace's. Although I think Grace is probably more popular among fans.