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Friday, October 7, 2011

1990 Topps: What to Expect

When the Indians picked up Sergio Valdez from the Braves in April 1990, they were looking for a solid reliever. What they got was someone who could also start.

In his first of 13 starts on the season in May, Valdez went seven innings, gave up three runs and picked up the win.

"We didn't know what to expect, really," Indians manager John McNamara told The Associated Press after that 7-3 victory. "It was his first start since winter ball in the Dominican (Republic). We were just hoping he'd get us through the sixth."

Those 13 starts were the most Valdez would get in a career that spanned eight big league seasons. Those starts, where Valdez went 6-6, also came the year of his 1990 Topps card was issued, a card that came in a pack I picked up this past summer.

The set, of course, came out the same year as the CMC set. As such, there is expected to be a number of players that were in both sets, and that's represented in the Topps pack. There were actually three.

And, actually, two out of the three I have yet to feature. Those two are among the one third of the CMC set that is still to come.

The one of the three I've featured is Mike Smith, sometimes better known as Texas Mike Smith. Texas Mike Smith debuted in June 1989. Smith's feature came back in January.

Smith's card back includes his minor league stats back to 1984, at Sarasota. Topps in 1990 also had the helpful "Monthly Scoreboard" on the bottom of the backs. Smith's, though, essentially points out he was up from late June to early August, with one game each in June and August and 11 in July.

Dave Cochrane made the 1990 Topps set as a Mariner, having gotten into 54 games for Seattle in 1989. He made the CMC set as a member of the AAA Calgary squad. He would go on to play in parts of five big league seasons.

Cochrane's card back notes he was signed as a third-round pick in 1981, by scout Roger Jongewaard.

Ed Whited, though, had already played his final major league game by the time his 1990 Topps card came out. He debuted and played in his final big league game in 1989. He got into 36 games total, getting 12 hits in 74 at bats.

Whited was signed as an 18th round pick, according to the card back. The scout signing him was Clary Anderson.

For anyone who might be the faintest bit interested, the rest of the pack: Tom Browning, Marty Pevey, Scott Fletcher, Rick Dempsey, Damon Berryhill, Henry Cotto, John Dopson, Lance Blankenship, Jesse Orosco, Jeff Juden, and Pat Perry.

By the way, a quick scan of the other card backs results in Jeff Juden's offering the most interesting piece of information. Turns out Juden, who went on to pitch in parts of eight big league seasons, was selected by the Astros out of Salem High School.

Yes, *that* Salem. The school jersey is kind of obscured by Juden's glove in the photo.

Topps also helpfully drops in the Salem team nickname, the Witches, noting they won their first-ever state title with Juden in 1989.

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