Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dennis Martinez, 1983 Fleer #64

It's been a while since I've actually focused on a card, rather than just talking about the player featured. In this case, I want to give credit where it's due. A little bit ago I mocked the primitive design and blurry, nondescript photography of Fleer's 1982 set. The improvement from that year to their next product was pretty remarkable. As you see above, the cards feature a ho-hum gray border, but it works for this set. The player names are in a nice clean font, and you can never go wrong with team logos. The card back is the first in over a decade to feature a second picture (a small headshot), and the vertical orientation allowed Fleer to squeeze in a lot of great stuff: full major AND minor league stats, and several biographical facts of interest.

But the biggest difference between 1982 and 1983 for fleer was the photography. In this set, it's much crisper, and the composition is fantastic. Many of the cards feature off-field shots of the players, but they are more candid than the stiff poses that Topps was known for. The result is really charming; the players seem more human and there's a lot of fun and playfulness to be found. I'd have to say that the compelling nature of the pictures is what makes the low-tech borders work. All of the collector's attention is focused on the featured player.

Of course it helps when the subject is as photogenic and exuberant as "El Presidente", Dennis Martinez. This card is classic Dennis, with his thick mop of jet-black hair, his ever-present mustache, and a big toothy grin. Even in many of his action shots, Dennis seems to be laughing. This card is augmented by the card that follows it in the set, #65. Tippy Martinez is pictured in front of the same backdrop as Dennis, the blue wall and the netting and all. He is also hatless, smiling, and tossing a ball. I can't help but imagine that Baltimore's two Martinezes were engaged in a light-hearted pregame catch, and the Fleer photographer was lucky enough to snap them in action.


deal said...

Photography is pretty key - for all the issues w/ 08 Topps to me the biggest thing that distinquishes UD this year is the photography on the Upper Deck is significantly better then on the Topps counterparts.

Is there going to be a posting commemoranting Camden Yards 50 Millionth Fan and the O's 100 M fan?

Kevin said...

Agreed. I was kind of disappointed when I actually got my box of 2008 Topps and saw how lackluster the photography was. UD blows it out of the water, and has been keeping the B.S. gimmicks to a relative minimum. The crap like the Santana no-hitter card, the ultra-rare Fukudome rookie...that's what's really turning me off to Topps lately.

I may write something about the 50M and 100M fans, maybe after the 100M is chosen. I was happy to see that the 50 millionth was a reader and commenter on Camden Chat, so they made a wise choice of a true O's fan.