1987 Topps Baseball Cards

1987 Topps Baseball -Part 2- The Wood Grain Debate

You can’t help but immediately notice the prominent wood grain border of the 1987 Topps Baseball cards.  In fact, it’s been the topic of several debates over the years as to if it is a positive or a negative in terms of the set.  The border is pretty much the of the style where it makes up the background of the card, with the player picture, team logo, and name tile sitting on top of it as separate entities.

It’s not easy to get a true understanding of exactly what color the wood grain is.  The ’87 Topps set has huge color shifts from lot to lot.  Sometimes the wood is dark, sometimes it’s light, and sometimes it’s anywhere in between.

1987 Topps George Brett

1987 Topps George Brett

It’s also important to take a look at the wood itself.  It could have been any type of wood grain pattern.  A deep stained mahogany, or a nice antiqued oak, or any other fine wood pattern.  Nope.  Not with the 1987 Topps.  The wood grain used here is straight out of your friends basement.  You know, the friend with the Nintendo and the cool parents, where everyone would hang out.  Yeah, that’s the wood grain.

One might think about Topps Motives in all this.  Was it a deliberate use of a cheesy pattern?  Was it just a well intended design that failed?  Was it an attempt to have a look similar to cards of the past?

I’m going to assume here that it was a well intended design that just really didn’t do well with the masses.  Now I know Topps, and other card companies as well, have issued wood grained cards before.  Was it an attempt to bring back that classic style of card? Very possibly.  But if it was, I don’t think it had the desired effect with the public.

1962 Topps Mickey Mantle

1962 Topps Mickey Mantle

My personal opinion on the topic is this…  I was 10 years old when this set hit the market, and I was a huge card collector at the time.  Being 10, and very into getting my hands on the latest cards, the wood grain border itself never really left an impression on me.  That is until years later.  Almost 30 years later I can look back every time I see an ’87 Topps card.  First thing I notice is that wood grain.

One of the things in life that hasn’t changed over the last 30 years.  And I can remember right where the key wood grain cards were in my star cards binder that hasn’t been seen in 22 years.  And I remember all the conversations about nothing more than the wood grain… as we sat in a room with the same wood grain walls, flipping through the little Beckett book of the year and entering the codes to Mike Tyson’s Punch Out.

1987 Topps Roger Clemens RB

1987 Topps Roger Clemens RB

So I would have to say that I like the wood grain.  I probably wouldn’t have picked it, but I didn’t pick it.  Topps did.  So thanks Topps for giving me a pleasant flashback to my child hood whenever I see that wood grain border.

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