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1985 Oddball Baseball Cards

By Patrick Mondout

Here's our look at the the unusual (or "oddball") sets of baseball cards for 1985. Regular sets can be found here.

1985 Oddballs at a Glance
Circle K issued a set of the top 33 "All-Time Home Run Kings" in their convenience stores in the southwest in 1985. The boxed set was produced by Topps and features an unusual quirk. The checklist on the back of the box shows the top 33 home run hitters, ending with #33 Joe DiMaggio (he is now 62nd). They did not receive permission to use his image so card #33 is actually the 34th man on the list, Lee May. They could have made this a 32 card set, but that would have wasted one slot of the 132 card sheets they were printed on (four sets per).

This is an attractive set of color and black and white cards in the same format as as the Topps send-in glossies.

Coca-Cola and Wendy's sponsored a Detroit Tigers regional set produced by Topps. The red backs of cards are very similar to the '85 Topps cards, but do mention the sponsors.
Drake's 5th annual set of Big Hitters was produced by Topps a featured backs that were very similar to '85 Topps except red ink was used instead of green. In addition to the 33 "Big Hitters" available in a box set, 11 "Super Pitchers" were made available via a mail-in offer. They are more scarce than the hitters.
The third straight Donruss Action All-Stars set of 3 by 5 cards were produced in 1985. While Donruss was clearly enamored with dark borders, the cards were not quite as attractive as in the previous years and the set was not as popular.

Donruss issued their first Highlights set in 1985, which you can read about here.

Fleer released it's first "Limited Edition" set of 44 cards in 1985. Distribution -  as with all of their LE sets - was apparently limited to any store that wanted to carry them, though they are most often connected with McCrory's. This seemingly innocent issue was the first of Fleer's small (33 or 44 card) boxed sets that would absolutely infest the hobby by 1987.
Fleer produced yet another set of stickers for 1985. This year's Star Stickers were small and could be inserted into a Fleer album - much like the 1981 Topps stickers that really started this genre.
Hostess produced their first set since 1979. Unfortunately for fans of the earlier sets, it was a regional 22-card set of the Atlanta Braves. The set was actually produced by Topps and was distributed in three-card cello packs inside specially market Hostess products in Georgia. The backs of the cards are very similar to '85 Topps, with the exception of color and the Hostess logo.
Leaf produced their first set since 1960, which you can read about here.
Mother's Cookies once again released partials sets in ballparks, forcing collectors to trade to complete sets. This year it was the San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Oakland A's and Houston Astros who received 28 card treatments.
O-Pee-Chee's annual set is covered here
Police sets for 1985 included the annual Brewers set (sponsored by the Milwaukee Journal), a Chicago White Sox set (sponsored by Coke), and the Philadelphia Phillies (sponsored by Cigna). Related safety sets include the Minnesota Twins fire (sponsored by 7-Eleven), the Toronto Blue Jays fire safety, and the Smokey the Bear California Angels.
7-Eleven produced six regional sets of Slurpee discs/coins in 1985. You can read more about the history of Slurpee coins here.
While minor league cards from the likes of TCMA and Cramer had been becoming more popular as the Awesome80s wore on, the first signs of overproduction appeared in 1985. Most sets from this year onwards are available for quite reasonable prices and, in many cases, far less than they were going for in the late Awesome80s. Perhaps the most interesting card is the Chong Modesto A's Mark McGwire.

Other popular sets included the Syracuse Chiefs (Fred McGriff), Huntsville Stars (Jose Canseco), Midland Angels (Devon White), Albany (Doug Drabek), Cedar Rapids Reds (Rob Dibble), Oklahoma City 89ers (Oddibe McDowell and Juan Guzman), Tacoma (Jose Rijo), Utica Blue Sox (Larry Walker) and the Louisville Redbirds (Vince Coleman).

Topps once again produced a set of 22 Glossy All-Stars as a premium in rack packs (1 per) in 1985. The cards featured the starting lineups and the managers and honorary captains (Hank Greenburg Yaz) of the previous All-Star Game. Collectors are often confused as to which year the cards are from. For example, this card says right on the front it is a 1984 All Star. But it was commemorating that game and was distributed with 1985 cards.
The third annual set of 40 Topps Glossy Send-ins looked almost exactly like 1984's set, which is a plus if you enjoy great looking cards and a minus if you enjoy variety.
A lack of interest from collectors did not stop Topps from producing its largest set of stickers (386) of the decade.
Topps produced a second straight set of 60 nearly 5x7 replicas of their regular set of cards. They were known as Topps Supers.
Topps produced a boxed 44 card set of all-time record holders for Woolworth's stores in 1985. The set has never been popular.


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Image courtesy of Minnesota Twins

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