Category Archives: John Olerud

John Olerud Game-Used #1

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about old Johnny O; I’m still in the process of scanning his 1993 cards, so I thought in the meantime I’d show some of the game-used Olerud that I already have.

2005 Prime Patches

One of my absolute favorite Olerud cards. I believe it’s numbered to 50. These sets looked horrid when you got the base version, but something like this just looks great, and I got it for insanely cheap. I felt like I ripped someone off, honestly.

2002 Topps Ten

This card is a lot cooler than it looks. It’s made of an almost translucent material, and you can touch the jersey from both the front and the back. Another favorite.

2003 Stadium Club Born in the USA

Kind of an interesting concept; make the swatch cut-out the shape of the state in which the player was born. Doesn’t exactly blow me away, but it is kind of an interesting little piece.

I have a LOT more of these, I just don’t have them scanned. Look for more soon.

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John Olerud 1992 Cards #3

1992 Topps Stadium Club

1992 Stadium Club was a huge letdown for me. Bright, colorful photos had been replaced by photos that had a more drab, dark palette, and while the logo was even less intrusive than the 1991 version, the black square made for an even darker card. I’ve considered going through and scanning every card I have from this set and color-correcting them to be brighter, but it seems like a lot of work for not a lot of reward. Besides, I color-corrected this version, and it’s still dark as hell.

1992 Studio

On the other hand, 1992 Studio was a vast improvement. I’ve already expressed my displeasure with the 1991 issue, and it was nice to see a card that had a posed, color photo to go with a black-and-white action shot. Studio would eventually go on to be even better, but I give 1992 a thumbs-up for taking the idea and improving upon it.

1992 Topps

1992 Topps Gold

1992 Topps Gold Winner

I’ll admit, I’m still not clear on the difference between the standard gold and the “winner” gold; all I know is I’ve had all three variations of this card from way back when. Like Studio, 1992 Topps was a huge improvement on the way to better things, but this card bored the hell out of me for obvious reasons. The gold was an interesting touch, but didn’t bowl me over.

1992 Triple Play

Triple Play was the first attempt at a “kid’s” set in a hobby that was rapidly growing out of the reach of kids. I was 16 when the set was released, and my budget was probably more the set’s target, but I considered it ugly and not really worth my consideration past the Olerud and Orioles cards. And this…yeah, ugh. Why use a photo where he’s called out? I guess it is a change from all the fielding and batting pictures, though.

1992 Upper Deck

And we finish up 1992 with another fielding shot, but at least this one is different. I appreciate the photo a lot, even if I generally don’t like 1992 Upper Deck (way too much white space on the border). Alex Cole still carried some weight in the hobby at the time, and it was good to see an action shot like this, even if it has the infamous 92 Upper Deck effect. Check out Cole’s face if you’re wondering what I mean by this.

And that gets us through 1992. On to 1993 very soon!

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John Olerud 1992 Cards #2

1992 Leaf

1992 Leaf Black

Okay, on we go. Do you know how badly I wished that Black Gold design would be the real Leaf design? I think the history of Leaf might have gone very differently if they had gone with that design as the base. Or a world where they jump from the 1990 design straight to the black border design. I know lots of people either don’t like gold leaf or are sick to death of it, but I like it when it’s used correctly, and I feel this is the correct application. Now, as for the card itself, I would’ve preferred a better shot than his back, but I guess it’s interesting, especially in the context of the numerous fielding cards we’ve seen so far.

1992 Pinnacle

I’m so torn on this set. I really like the design, the black borders, the coloring…but there’s something that always made the set feel “cheap” to me, and I can’t put my finger on it. I suspect it’s because it’s a throwback to a little different school of design, where the design is the centerpiece and the photograph plays second fiddle. I just can’t help but wonder what that picture would look like if it was allowed to fill that entire black space to the upper right-hand corner. Although it is another average picture. Ho-hum.

1992 Pinnacle Team 2000

Now THAT is what I’m talking about. Why couldn’t they have made the Pinnacle design look like that? I love it; the design elements are neatly placed on the left-hand side, with a full-bleed to the top and right of the card. The photograph becomes of far more importance, and you get the nice black borders with gold leaf. It’s a win-win decision. I like this card so much I’ve purposefully bought multiple copies with an eye toward filling a page with them. I may try to put the set together one day; watch this space.

1992 Score

You know, I had never made the connection between the 92 Score and Pinnacle designs, but they have a lot in common. You have the design elements taking up 3/4″ of the card, to the point where they become the main focus rather than the photo. The lines are similar, from the lines at the bottom to the top. Hell, the photo on this card is even similar. Obviously, the colors are different, but it does make me wonder if the same guy who designed this designed Pinnacle that year.

1992 Score Impact Player

And here we have an example of what I like about the Team 2000 card all over again. Design elements are relegated to the lower left corner (though lifted a bit off of the picture, allowing for the photo to bleed to that edge), leaving the rest of the card for the photo. And it’s actually a well-constructed photo. This card is a darkhorse favorite of the early 90s for me, and I’d never put together why until I saw it side-by-side with the Team 2000 card. Again, same designer? We may never know.

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John Olerud 1992 Cards #1

1992 Bowman

Ah, here we go. Bowman finally comes into its own. The design is still kinda just “eh”, but they went with a higher-quality card stock and a glossy finish, which did a lot to upgrade the experience. And, of course, it was also short-printed thanks to Topps only printing enough for the orders placed. Unfortunately, given some of the iconic cards in this set, it’s a damn shame Olerud’s card falls so far short. Yeah, a shot up the nostrils, that’s what we need.

Olerud improved at the plate in 1992, posting a .284 BA and .825 OPS, clearing an .800 OPS for the first time in his career. His OPS+ jumped to 125 after hovering around the 115-118 range previously, and his strikeouts dropped by 20 to 61 after 84 the year before. His eye was developing.

1992 Donruss

1992 Donruss represents a much-needed improvement. While the design certainly has its problems and gets wearisome when you look at too many of them, gone is the bizarre paint splotch designs and random lines, replaced with a more utilitarian, straightforward design. Yeah, it’s boring, but at least it’s not hideous. This shot is okay, I guess. Like 1992 Donruss, it’s competent, but boring. I could imagine some better things to do with a first-base shot.

John was showing his competence with the glove in 1992, as well. Having taken over for Fred McGriff, he was tied for fourth in the AL in 1992 with three total zone runs at first base, putting him behind Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire (surprise), and Rafael Palmeiro.

1992 Blue Jays Fire Safety

This is another latter-day find, and it’s an interesting design for a 1992 card. Not sure that I like the whole “fanatic” logo in the upper-right, but I kind of like the torn paper at the bottom, and the large number is interesting. Not sure why they identify him as an infielder when he only ever played first base, though. I was happy with it as an addition to the collection, however.

Olerud showed up to Spring Training, 1992, having bulked up. He said:

“”I think I got to make adjustments. I got to figure out how they are gonna pitch me to get me out. The pitchers are always changing. If you hit a particular pitch, then they’ll try something else. And if somebody gets you out with a certain pitch, pretty soon everybody is throwing it.”

1992 Fleer

Everything’s Gone Green. That’s all I can think of when I see this set. I mean, it’s all right design-wise, I guess. Would team-coded colors have killed them? And what’s with losing so much space to design elements? The photo itself is all right, but good lord, are there enough shots of Olerud at first base? It’s like the companies decided now that he was out from being a DH it was time to compensate completely.

Olerud missed some games in the middle of 1992 with a strained hamstring. His time out of the lineup coincided with an offensive slump throughout the Jays lineup. Of course, they would end up rallying down the stretch, but his absence hurt the team.

1992 Fleer Ultra

With 1992, Ultra started finding its legs. 1993 is probably my favorite Ultra set ever, but 92 was pretty damn good, and a much-needed improvement. My only quibble is the green marble border along the bottom – it gets awfully boring after awhile. And, of course, it’s yet another shot of John playing first base. Like I said…the card creators must have been overjoyed. OVERJOYED. Heh.

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John Olerud 1991 Cards #5

Okay, kids, let’s finish up the 1991 Olerud quest with a few final cards.

1991 Topps Rookies

This is another one of those latter-day discoveries for me, but when I saw it on checkoutmycards.com, I just had to have it. I had always associated this set with the late 80s and had no idea it had lasted until at least 1991, so in an odd way it was like seeing a modern throwback card: a player I’d never associated with the design. It was a bonus that it was Olerud. I also think the 40 year logo, which was so distracting on the prime 1991 set, looks really nice here. I think this also may be one of the few Olerud batting practice shots I have, so all in all I give this one high marks.

1991 Topps Toys R Us

This one…not so much. Dog-standard Spring Training shot (albeit with a hat, so that gets a rarity mark). Distracting elements on the borders. It’s all just…eh. It never was my favorite and hasn’t improved with age.

1991 Upper Deck

On the surface I feel like I should really like this card. It’s a pretty good shot, and I think it would work well on a full-bleed card, but the 1991 Upper Deck design is iffy at best. There’s just too much real estate taken up by the border design, and the picture seems a little too squished for me. Oh, and I’m amused by the old-school stirrups. Man I hated wearing those things, but of course we couldn’t lower our pants to cover them. Anyway, in the context of 1991, this is a pretty good card, but I just can’t bring myself to say I like it.

And that’s it for 1991. Soon we’re onward and upward to better things and the creep of better quality into baseball cards.

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John Olerud 1991 Cards #4

Today, we continue to delve into the John Olerud collection with the penultimate 1991 entry.

1991 Sports Cards

FOIL! I’m not sure about the legitimacy of this card. I had never seen or heard of it before, then it was suddenly all over eBay. So of course I ordered it. Also, is it just me or is Olerud’s head concave on the left-hand side, near the temple? My first thought was it was from his aneurysm surgery, but that would have been on the back, given that it was subarachnoid, right? But…I went and reviewed his other early cards, and the dent is in those, too! How have I collected this guy for 20 years and never noticed this? MIND = BLOWN. And yes, that was also a way of avoiding saying that this is a dull card. Sue me.

1991 Stadium Club

Man, I love this card. I have a special place in my heart for 1991 Stadium Club. It was expensive at the time, yes, but it was a noble experiment and just hits such a warm spot in my photo-loving heart. I really should try to complete the set one day. Full-bleed photos, non-intrusive design elements, mmm mmm. They missed the mark with the following sets somehow, but this will always be a classic to me.

1991 Studio

And then there’s this abomination. I mean, black-and-white studio photos could have been an awesome set. Imagine this kind of photography on a Stadium Club design and you see what I’m getting at. Instead they frame these photos in the worst puce disaster possible, and your eyes just kind of slide right off. Not to mention the information on the back is kind of interesting, but…eh…not what I want. And good lord, has he got chicken neck going on here or what?

1991 Topps/Topps Tiffany

1991 Topps Desert Storm

Putting these three together. Okay, the 1991 is a regular scan, but I also have the Tiffany.

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John Olerud 1991 Cards #3

1991 Panini Sticker

These were produced for the 1991 Panini Sticker album (albums that my mother collected in the mid-80s, acquainting me with baseball players). The album looked something like this:

Panini Album

I don’t remember seeing these back in 1991, and I’m not actively pursuing these as much as cards, but they’re a pretty cool find, and actually pretty informative for what they are.

Did you know?

John had no intention of signing when the Blue Jays drafted him in the third round. I was able to track down a newspaper from the time via Google News Archive that shows:

An interesting read. I’ll detail some more items along this line as we go on…

1991 Post

I always hated this card. That airbrushed helmet makes it look like he’s wearing an egg on his head, and I’m pretty sure “Toronto Blue Jays de Toronto” is not proper French, but who am I to argue? There’s just not much to say about this card outside of “came with cereal”. Kellogg’s did it much better.

1991 Score

I also used to despise 1991 Score, but now I just think of it as kind of workmanlike. The design works okay; I think it was the color choices that were throwing me off. I mean, look at this monstrosity. The shot is a bit washed-out (I color-corrected it), and the border choices…teal, yellow, and purple for a Blue Jay? Really, Score?

1991 Score Boxtop

This is the same thing, but was a pop-out on the 1991 Score wax box. I *had* to buy a box of Score back then just to get this. Funny thing, this box actually came with one of the rare Mantle inserts, so I guess it was worth it.

1991 Score The Franchise

That’s better. The shot is more humanizing, the design is a lot more sedate, and the black-and-white works well on the black borders. I’m not sure how I feel about the blue background, but it kind of works here. It’s funny, when this set came out I never really liked this card, but these days I think I appreciate it a lot more than the base score card. Odd how that goes.

1991 Score Rising Stars

Finally, we have the Score Rising Stars card. While not the best issue from that year (far from it, in fact), I would have been a lot happier with this being the design of the base Score set. There’s a lot more real estate for the picture, and the colors aren’t as garish. Not to mention there’s some matching blue in the border! All in all, not a bad way to wrap up this entry.

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John Olerud 1991 Cards #2

One end-of-the week post to go, and I figured I’d tackle some more 91 Olerud cards. Just as a note, this is definitely not meant to be a definitive overview, but rather what I have in my albums so far…

1991 Fleer

Dear lord, I abhor the 1991 Fleer set. There’s just nothing appealing to it for me. The yellow borders are god-awful, the line design looks more fitting for a textbook, the photography ranges from blah to downright awful, and the card stock renders the photos themselves even muddier. I hope whoever came up with this was not in the baseball card business long. That said, this isn’t a completely terrible card; the shot is kind of nice (if blurry).

1991 Fleer Ultra

That’s more like it. While it may not have the flash or grace of later Fleer Ultra issues, I have a soft spot for the first issue. It’s like an awkward baby who shows promise, and I think this card itself is just pretty, even if you can’t see John’s face. The blues just balance so nicely, and I even like the placement of the Ultra logo. Definitely one of the better 1991 issues.

1991 Leaf

Or, how to take a good concept and smother it in its sleep. I LOVE 1990 Fleer to this day, and even have this pie-in-the-sky idea of collecting the entire set one day, as expensive as that might be. But 1991 Fleer? Ugh. I guess I get what they were going for, but this seems like a far more drab, oppressive border, and it takes a significant portion of real estate that was dedicated to the photo  in the 1990 issue.  Throw all those issues on top of a boring photo, and I just don’t care for this card at all.

1991 O-Pee-Chee Premier

This is not my beautiful O-Pee-Chee. I still plan to acquire his regular-issue OPC from that year, but ugh. What a busy, ugly border. The photo is even darker than this scan shows, and I don’t like the back of the card, either. I’ve come to the conclusion that 1991 was just not a good year for baseball cards at all. Thankfully, there are still a few decent issues to come.

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We have an answer!

Thanks to Carlos from Olerudfan’s blog (always good to meet a fellow collector), a scan of the 91 Classic red single John Olerud. Thanks for filling in that gap, and check out his blog, as he’s new to the community and the first post is excellent.

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John Olerud: It Will Be Mine.

oh yes.

I’ve found a source for the set. I get paid Friday, and it is mine.

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