Friday, November 14, 2008

1980 O-Pee-Chee Baseball #5, Ron Jackson

Many consider O-Pee-Chee (aka, OPC) a Topps hanger-on, or simply the Canadian version of an American classic. Surely the relationship's more nuanced, but it's easy to understand the impression. Collectors, focused as we are on cardboard, could assume as much from OPC's re-used designs and very similar checklists. Until the late 1970s, the two companies differed primarily in two things: paper stock and the inclusion of French.

1980's OPC set again mirrors the American design, but the checklist and overall set focus differs notably. Topps led off with 6 “Highlight” cards that celebrated 3000-hit plateaus and a handful of record breakers. (Their #5 is Garry Templeton cracking 100 hits from each side of the plate for the first time.) OPC, on the other hand, went right into “normal” players. Craig Swan received #1 after his excellent 1979 campaign. Twins outfielder Ron Jackson bats fifth, a more glamorous (to me) position than Topps #18.

With 28 active teams, the set should include about 26 players each. Does OPC's Canadian roots mean a greater share for Toronto and Montreal than more geographically distant teams?
  • Montreal Expos: 28 cards
  • San Diego Padres: 26
  • Texas Rangers: 29
  • Toronto Blue Jays: 27
Numbers say the answer is "no." Canadian sets (including OPC and Leaf) would later dedicate a larger share to their countrymen, but that's just not how they rolled in 1980.

Value: Only superstars cost more than a quarter or so for cards from the 1980s.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any OPC reprints in the market.

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