03 July 2011

Dave Winfield - Travelling Man (Part 1)

       While Dave Winfield is probably most recognized as a San Diego Padre or a New York Yankee, he was no stranger to the late-season traded set. He first saw action in 1981, when Topps first set forth to formalize the "traded" set they had dabbled in over the course of the 1970s. His first mainstream card as a Yankee was in that inaugural Topps Traded set. Even at this point, Topps should have just called it an update set since a good chunk of the set were rookies who had shared cards with other rookies in the base set or free agents who were signing with new teams. Probably less than half of the set were players who were involved in actual trades. That would actually be the most common reason for Winfield's appearances in these sets, free agency. For this first official Traded set, Topps simply continued the card numbering where the base set left off. As a result, Winfield's card is #855, near the end of the set.

       In 1980, Dave Winfield was the most high profile free agent in baseball history. He signed with the Yankees for the highest salary in baseball history to that point, reported to be around $16 million for 10 years. Thanks to a cost of living clause, the contract would turn out to be worth closer to $23 million. Dave had an impressive decade for the Yankees, picking up a 8 consecutive All-Star appearances, 5 Gold Gloves and 5 Silver Slugger awards. However the 1980s would also be bittersweet for Winfield, as his post-season performaces were less than stellar and he would spend most of the decade feuding with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner over money and contract stipulations. He would also end the decade on the disabled list, missing all of 1989 to a back injury.

       20 years later, as Topps was completely running out of ideas for new sets, they were reprinting almost every card of every star player in their past inventory. As a result, this 1981 Topps Traded card resurfaced in no less than 4 new versions in the 2001 Topps Traded retread set:

     The first was a nice, clean reprint, on modern white card stock, with the "Topps 50 Years" logo in the upper left corner.  The white stock provided a medium that allowed for a slightly sharper photo than the original card.   The backs of all of these are nearly identical to the original, only much easier to read and having the 2001 copyright notice at the bottom, along with the new card numbering for the 2001 Topps Traded set.

     Next, Topps gave the same card the gold foil treatment around the border, and "limited" the production to 2001 pieces, as indicated by a gold stamped serial number on the back.

      Then, Topps went the next of their favorite gimmicks and issued the same card in Chrome, which was the style they pioneered with the Topps Finest set in 1993.  Chrome cards don't show up very well on LiDE (LED indirect Exposure) scanners, which don't actually shine light directly on the surface of the card, so most of the time, it just shows up as very dark, instead of demonstrating the silver, mirror finish of the background and border.

     Topps also issued the set in their other favorite gimmick, the chrome refractor, which bounces the reflected light back at different angles, resulting in the rainbow effect when looking at it.  Interestingly, refractors show up much better in scans on LiDE scanners but, alas, I have yet to find a copy of the refractor version of this card for my collection.

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