Monday, March 16, 2009

1989 Topps Major League Debut #1: Jim Abbott

Well just like with the 1988 Topps traded set, the first card is Jim Abbott. This is a bit of a coincidence, as Abbott had a card in the earlier set only because he was on the Olympic team. Then, he skipped the minors and debuted in the big leagues right away in 1989, earning himself a card in this set. On the back, you can see that he had no minor league numbers.

A few things to notice about this set. The cards are numbered without the letter "T" or any other letter, which makes sense since this is a standalone set. Both the 1988 Topps Traded and 1988 Score Updates & Rookies set had a "T" after the card number.

You'll also notice that each card back makes specific mention of the major league debut for each player. I think that's a nice touch and makes perfect sense given that this is the central idea for the set. I don't exactly know what is meant by the "from The Register" bit and this takes up a lot of space on the card.

Finally, the card design is very similar to the base 1990 Topps release, which if I'm not mistaken actually came out a little bit later. The base 1990 release had several color schemes for the cards, and I do not believe the color scheme used here was among them. The backs have the same color scheme as the base release.

For folks who have been reading my blogs for a long time, we have a nice treat with this set, in that almost all of the players have not been featured on any of my blogs before. Abbott is a rare exception. Since these players are new, I'm going to go back to my "cool stat" format and present a Play Index stat for each guy. I will also be commenting on the photographs as well as the career of each player.

PHOTO: Card photos of Jim Abbott are always special cases due to the absence of a right hand. At least for me, I'm always curious to see what photo the card companies chose to use and whether they chose to obviate or "hide" Abbott's particular body shape. In the case of this photo, you can see that his glove is resting up on his right arm rather than being worn on a hand. Frankly, I think it's a great action photo of Abbott that shows what he really looked like when he pitched.

I also note the guy in the background wearing teal. If this were a few years later, I'd think it was a Marlins spring training game.

STAT: Abbott pitched a no-hitter in 1993 with the Yankees and that game yielded the highest game score of his career, but just barely. By giving up 5 walks while striking out only 3, Abbott earned just an 85 in that game. He had a complete-game loss that earned an 84, thanks to pitching 10 innings while striking out 13.

Since 1956, there have been only 8 complete-game no-hitters with game scores of 85 or lower. The only one more recent than Abbott's was A. J. Burnett's in 2001. Something about names ending in a double "T" I guess.

CAREER: 6/10

See my previous comments about Abbott's career here.


  1. Do all the cards say "From the Register" on the back?

    My first thought is they were referring to the Orange County Register, which would cover the Angels. If they featured the hometown paper with every player, that would be cool. But I doubt that's so. (I've never seen this set, so that's why I ask).

  2. Yeah, every single card says that, which is why it's sort of dumb. I guess they figured that they'd be putting that one paragraph of text on there about the debut (in large font, I might add) so they needed other stuff to take up the space, and that's what won.

    I thought also that perhaps "The Register" was some Topps product that this was essentially advertising for, but no such luck. It would be neat to have a little book filled with every player's MLB debut.

  3. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of this set, as I've only got one or two of the Orioles from it (Juan Bell definitely, and maybe someone else who's not coming to mind). This is a little more off the beaten path, compared to the straight-up traded sets.

    I distinctly remember Jim's cameo on one of the early episodes of Boy Meets World. He's one of the coolest guest stars they've had, though I also loved the episodes with WWF's Vader as Frankie's dad.

  4. I thought Kevin was kidding but Abbott really was on Boy Meets World:

  5. My favorite card of Abbott was the Upper Deck card that had him swinging a bat in a Spring Training game. I remember hearing he tripled against the Giants one year.

    Remarkable guy.