17 September 2011

1983 Fleer & Topps Dave Henderson...what no Donruss?

Not Hendu's 1983 Donruss card

     In 1982, Dave Henderson spent his first full season on a Major League roster, platooning in the outfield for the Seattle Mariners.  Yet despite playing in 104 games in 1982 (but a reasonably productive 104 games, hitting 14 home runs), he was somehow snubbed for a spot in the 1983 Donruss checklist.  Rick Sweet got a card and he only played in 88 games in 1982.  As did Gary Gray who played in 80 games.  Even Jim Essian, who only played in 48 games, got a card!  Al Chambers, who was a rookie in 1983, playing all of 1982 in AAA Salt Lake, actually got a card while the checklist architects at Donruss missed out on the greatness that was Dave Henderson's moustache.  

     There must have been one heck of a backlash from collectors for Donruss to so drastically cut production for the 1984 set.  I'm sure it had absolutely nothing to do with Donruss almost completely repeating their set design from 1982, or having printed far more cards than anyone was going to buy.  Yes, it had to have been fan reaction to the exclusion of Hendu.  So Dave Henderson's 1983 Donruss card is officially Missing In Action.

     Fleer, while not exactly taking the world by storm with their set design, saw fit to recognize Dave with a card.  And the inclusion of Hendu actually seems to have improved the photographic quality of the entire set, as gone were the blurry photos that plagued the 1982 set, to be replaced by the razor-sharp (by 1983 standards) photography of 1983 that gave us major league players in all their stubblacious glory.

     While not exactly blazing any trails, they were the first set of the 1980s to revive the player mugshots on the backs of their cards, something not seen since Topps last employed the feature in their 1971 set.

     Topps, having already made Dave the centerpiece to the Seattle Mariners Future Stars card in the 1982 set, not only made the obvious decision to include him in the 1983 set, they even included him in a photo using their newly discovered Sunlight Photographic TechnologyTM, that allowed them to present players in something other than a cloudy, hazy, murky posed photo from spring training. (Just a slight digression here, but why, when 90% of photos from the 70s & 80s that were obviously taken before the season, in spring training camps in Florida....The Sunshine State, were they always apparently taken on overcast days or at dusk?  Players spent upwards of 8 hours in the sunshine!  Were the photographers all vampires?)

     Much like Fleer, Topps also resurrected the close-up portrait shot of every player, including it on the front of the card. In many cases this resulted in very redundant double close-up cards (see #46, Richard Dotson), but it resulted in one of the more popular sets of the 1980s.  Despite landing solidly in the checklists for Fleer and Topps, Dave didn't make it into either company's 1983 sticker sets, so these are the only two documented cards he had that year.

     Dave had a decent 1983 season, usually hitting in the #3 or #5 spot in the heart of the batting order.  He led Seattle in hits with 130 (hitting .269 on the season).  Much like this season, there were rarely any Mariners on base to be driven in, so his 24 doubles, 5 triples and 17 home runs only amounted to 55 runs batted in (good for 2nd on the team).  Dave held his own on a last place team lacking any real stars.

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