|THE FIRST PAGE: RICKEY'S RECORD IS CLEARLY THE HIGHLIGHT.|
Maybe it was the increasing competition from Donruss and Fleer or a 20-year nostalgic itch that had to be scratched, but Topps raised its game with this 792-card 1983 set. An artful design that echoes '63, it was a home run from Day 1 and remains one of the decade's best. Boosting its pedigree are three solo rookie cards of Hall of Famers: No. 83 Ryne Sandberg, No. 482 Tony Gwynn and No. 498 Wade Boggs. In addition, the last cards of No. 60 Johnny Bench and No. 550 Carl Yastrzemski are included. Speaking of veterans, Topps included an excellent 34-card Super Veteran subset that follows each player's base card. And for the third consecutive year, it issued the 132-card Traded set, which contains the first card of a rookie Mets outfielder, Darryl Strawberry (No. 108T). In the '80s, it was the Holy Grail to many. Yes, 1983 Topps leaves an impression as lasting as one of his blasts.
THUMBING THROUGH THE SET
|LOOKS LIKE FISK IS BARKING AT GAMBLE.|
BILLBOARD'S No. 1 SONG
- Every Breath You Take, The Police.
SONG I MOST IDENTIFY WITH THIS SET
- (Keep Feeling) Fascination, Human League.
|THIRD BASEMAN RYNE SANDBERG'S FIRST CARD.|
- A South Korean Boeing 747 is shot down after flying into Soviet Union airspace by a fighter jet on Aug. 30. All 269 aboard are killed.
|LOVE THAT ROSE SV CARD.|
- A terrorist explosion at a U.S. Marine camp base in Beirut on Oct. 23 kills 237 soldiers.
|JUNIOR WON HIS FIRST MVP IN '83.|
- The United States invades Grenada on Oct. 25 after a military coup takes over the government. In a matter of weeks, the United States restores a constitutional government to the Caribbean Island nation.
|WHAT'S MORE BIZARRE: DENNY'S UNI OR LaRUSSA'S CAP?|
- On June 15, the Supreme Court declares many local abortion restrictions unconstitutional.
|PRETTY DECENT ALL-STAR DESIGN.|
- Sally Ride joins the shuttle Challenger's crew and becomes the first U.S. woman astronaut in space on June 18.
|I LIKE THE BACK CONCEPT EVEN BETTER.|
- Gandhi wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
|GWYNN'S ROOKIE RIGHTFULLY IN THE CENTER SQUARE.|
- More than 125 million TVs are tuned in to watch the final episode of M*A*S*H on Feb. 28.
- Scarface, about a criminal Cuban refugee's bloody rise to power in the cocaine business in early-'80s Miami, opens to mostly tepid reviews on Dec. 9. It goes on to become a profane cult classic -- the f-bomb is dropped 226 times, or about once for every corpse -- and spawns this memorable line during the final blood bath: "Say 'ello to my little friend!''
|THE BOGGS' ROOKIE IS WITHIN A COUPLE PAGES OF GWYNN'S.|
- Legendary Alabama football coach Paul "Bear'' Bryant dies from a heart attack on Jan. 26, four weeks after retiring as the sport's all-time wins leader with 323. After his final game, he is asked what he'll do next. "Probably croak in a week.''
|NOTHING SAYS "I'M NEAR RETIREMENT'' LIKE YAZ HITTING FUNGOES.|
- My Baltimore Orioles finally win that elusive third World Series crown by defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in five games, clinching the title on Oct. 16.
|RICKEY-RAINES, QUIZ-SUTTER WERE '80s LEADER CARD REGULARS.|
- The Washington Redskins defeat the Miami Dolphins 27-17 to win Super Bowl XVII on Jan. 30 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
|REALLY LIKE THAT BOONE CARD.|
- After losing to Los Angeles in the 1980 and '82 NBA Finals, the Philadelphia 76ers sweep the Lakers to win the championship on May 31.
|GARVEY, HERNANDEZ DEBUT NEW COLORS IN THE TRADED SET.|
- The New York Islanders sweep the Edmonton Oilers, winning their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup on May 17.
|FRANK HOWARD, BASEBALL'S MOST IMPOSING NICE-GUY MANAGER.|
- The Miami Hurricanes finish 11-1 and are voted national champions for the first time after defeating Nebraska 31-30 in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1984.
|STRAW WAS JUST BEGINNING; SEAVER WAS NEARING THE END.|