Category Archives: 1983 Topps Super Veterans Subset

Let The Battle Rage On: 1983 Topps Super Veterans VS 2014 Topps Super Veterans. Who Will Win???

Let The Battle Rage On:  1983 Topps Super Veterans VS 2014 Topps Super Veterans.  Who Will Win???

As a kid collecting baseball cards, I used the 1983 Topps Super Veterans subset as a tool to learn about the ‘older’ players in the game.  The set was large and it featured images from the beginning of each player’s career and then images that were current (1982-83).

When I got back into collecting in 2008, this same subset was the first one I went after.  I had built it 20+ years prior, but I wanted to re-live my youth by doing it again.  So, I did.  And it re-kindled my enjoyment for vintage baseball cards and the players that helped shape the history of the game.

Upon completion of that subset, and learning that Topps had begun recycling older designs in their modern releases, I kept my fingers crossed that ‘Super Veterans’ would eventually be re-done.

And when 2014 Topps, Series 1 hit the shelves, a 15-card subset of ‘Super Veterans’ was included.  I was ecstatic.  And I quickly made this a target for my collection.  And after a few days of shopping around, I scored the complete 15-card set and began showing it off on this blog as I did with the 1983 set back in 2009.

So, here they are.  First the 1983 version:


And now, the 2014 set:

SUP VET 2014 A SUP VET 2014 B SUP VET 2014 C SUP VET 2014 D SUP VET 2014 E

And now for my review and comparison.

  • The edge goes to ’83 as it relates to size – 35 to 15
  • The edge goes to ’14 as it relates to % of future Hall of Fame inclusions:  14/35 players versus a likely 7/15 ( I did not count Peter Rose, though I want to)
  • There is a tie in regards to how the images of yore are shown – Sepia tones in both ’83 and ’14
  • The edge goes to ’83 as it relates to ‘Star Power’

Overall, I of course like both sets. I wish that the 2014 version included more players on the checklist or at least was continued into the Series 2 release.  I don’t find that the 2014 version has the same star power that the set from ’83 offers even though it features Jeter, Rivera, and Cabrera – I just don’t think that Topps truly dug in deep enough to really get behind this set.  It feels like it was put together as a way to add Pettitte and Rivera cards into yet another subset.  If they had truly shown us the longest tenured players in the majors, we would have had a more apples-to-apples comparison.  The set is called ‘Super Veterans’ for a reason; it is not called ‘Best Older Players In The Game’.  At the very least, and to be more consistent with the original subset, this one should have included Jason Giambi, Ichiro, Paul Konerko, Raul Ibanez, LaTroy Hawkins, and Bartolo Colon.  If Topps had taken this step, it would definitely be more true to what ‘Super Veterans’ offered in 1983.

Still, no complaints from my side.  I’m thrilled to have both sets in my collection.  I’m just thirsty for more!

My 1983 Topps ‘Super Veterans’ Set Is Complete!!!!

YES!!!!  I have completed my 1983 Topps Super Veteran set!!!

This set was so much fun to collect.  It was great to learn about some of these guys that I knew very little about.  It was nice to re-visit with some older legends of the game.  And of course it was great to remember what made many of these gentlemen ‘Super Veterans’.

My first card from this set was a gift that I received in late 2008.  And now, 35 cards later, I can check this set off as being complete.  I had no idea how hard it would be to find some of these cards, and am still amazed that I was able to purchase many of these cards for less than a quarter a piece.

Chock full of Hall of Famers, MVP’s, Cy Young Award Winners, All-Stars, and Gold Glove Winners, this set is a perfect fit for a collector that enjoys taking long strolls down memory lane.

A few notes:

  • The concept of the before/after picture really works well as you can see the player go literally from the 1960’s to the 1980’s.
  • Guys grow hair, and quite a bit of it as they age.  Maybe everyone except for Lee May, that is…
  • Some guys look the same from their early years until their latter ones.  Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, and Rod Carew have all aged very well.
  • Some guys look nothing like what they did during their youth.  Rollie Fingers, Joe Morgan, and Ted Simmons in their 40’s look nothing like they did in their 20’s. 


vets 2

vets 3

vets 4

vets 5

Man, that was FUN!!!!

1983 Topps Super Veteran – Nolan Ryan

1983 Topps Super Veteran – Nolan Ryan

What do you say about one of the greatest pitchers of all-time?  A guy that defined what the term ‘dominant pitcher’ means. 

Simply stated, Nolan Ryan is a baseball legend.  A member of the 300 wins club.  The all-time leader with 5,714 career strikeouts.  7 no-hitters to his credit.  A World Series champion member of the 1969 New York Mets.  An 8-time all-star.  A Top-10 finisher for the Cy Young Award 8 times.

Nolan Ryan defines power pitching.  With perfect mechanics and a fastball that has been clocked at over 100 miles per hour, Ryan was awesome.  The funny thing is that as he aged, he got better.  His full-body strength and conditioning were so perfect that it allowed him to play until the age of 46.  And even at 46 he was good.  During his last season with the Rangers in 1993, Ryan was 5-5 in 13 games started while hurling 46 strikeouts.

The King of Kings – ‘Super Veteran Nolan Ryan’!!! 


1983 Topps Super Veteran – Tony Perez

1983 Topps Super Veteran – Tony Perez

 2,732 hits.  379 home runs.  1,652 RBI.  1,272 runs scored.  7-time All-star.  Member of ‘The Big Red Machine’.  2-time World Series Champion.  I would say without question that Tony Perez is a ‘Super Veteran’.

Perez enjoyed a long, 23-year career in the big leagues.  A solid player that put up impressive numbers annually, Perez was a strong contributor and was one of the reasons that his teams played in 5 World Series match-ups.  Perez is a winner – and the teams he played for benefited from his talents.  From 1970-76, Tony’s team played for the World Series title 4 times.  And although they only captured 2 titles in those 4 chances, Tony Perez and ‘The Big Red Machine’ are still talked about today as one of the greatest dynasties in baseball history. 


1983 Topps Super Veteran – Tug McGraw

1983 Topps Super Veteran – Tug McGraw

Although he may ultimately be best known as country music superstar Tim McGraw’s dad, Tug McGraw enjoyed a successful 19-year baseball career.

In 19 seasons, McGraw appeared in 824 games primarily as a relief pitcher.  As a member of the New York Mets for the first 9 years of his career and then spending the next 10 seasons with the Phillies, McGraw established himself as a dependable role player.  With a career record of 96-92 along with 180 saves, McGraw did not figure into too many decisions, but he did help his teams wins games and reach the playoffs quite often. 

McGraw’s team made it to the playoffs 7 times which included 2 trips to the World Series.  In 1973 his Mets team lost their opportunity to win the championship, but 7 seasons later while with the Phillies, McGraw won his lone World Series title.  In that series, Tug appeared in 4 games and collected 2 saves while working 7 2/3 innings.  His sold efforts helped solidify the Phillies bullpen which ultimately landed the team with the World Series title.

Tug McGraw was a 2-time All-star.  And although he was never considered to be an elite pitcher, he did finish in 5th place for the Cy Young award during the 1980 season.  In that season Tug went 5-4 with 20 saves.  He had a 1.46 ERA and struck out 75 batters while walking just 9.

Tug McGraw quietly put together an impressive career.  And the term ‘Super Veteran’ is a fitting one!!!


1983 Topps Super Veteran – Kent Tekulve

1983 Topps Super Veteran – Kent Tekulve

Super isn’t a word I would use to summarize Kent Tekulve’s 16-year career.  ‘Tek’ was a nice pitcher and he put up some very solid numbers, but not enough to garner the label of super. 

As a relief pitcher, ‘Tek’ had some every successful seasons as he collected 14 or more saves 7 different times.  He also helped dig his team out of losing games as he had 4 seasons with double digit wins(all in relief appearances).  Still, with a lifetime record of 94-90 with 184 career saves he doesn’t really make the cut in the ‘Super’ group. 

Kent Tekulve was a serviceable pitcher, and part of the Pittsburg Pirates 1979 World Series championship team.  He was a 1-time All-star and finished in 5th place for the Cy Young award two time in his career.

Kent Tekulve is the kind of pitcher that every team needs.  He is that guy that bales you out when your starter can’t get out of trouble.  He is that guy that gets no credit.  He is that guy who works hard to get his team back into position to win games.  Every team needs a Kent Tekulve!!!


1983 Topps Super Veteran – Sparky Lyle

 1983 Topps Super Veteran – Sparky Lyle

 Man-o-Man.  I am ashamed to admit that I knew nothing about Sparky Lyle before getting this card.  Well, actually I knew that he had a cool nickname – but that was it.

I’ve come to find out that Sparky Lyle is a former Cy Young Award winner.  Back in 1977, Lyle won the award while posting 26 saves for the Yankees after appearing in 72 games.  His 2.17 ERA and 13-5 record rounded out his solid 1977 campaign. 

I also did not know that Sparky Lyle went from playing his first 5 seasons with the Boston Red Sox to playing his next 7 for their biggest nemesis, the New York Yankees.  I’ve always wondered how other players that went through the ‘Johnny Damon Experience’ had been treated by the cities, teams, media, and fans as they swapped uniforms for rival teams in one of sport’s greatest rivalries.  I’m sure that ‘Sparky’ has some pretty good stories to share as a result.


1983 Topps Super Veteran Set Update

30 down and just 5 to go. 

This set has been a blast to collect and I have learned quite a bit about these guys as I have shown them off to you.  I am eager to obtain the last 5 cards of this set so I can mark off another piece to my collection as being complete.  And I am sure that I will learn more about Tug McGraw, Nolan Ryan, Tony Perez, Kent Tekulve, and Sparky Lyle in the process.

Stay tuned – the final 5 cards should be all mine in the coming weeks!!!





1983 Topps Super Veteran – Reggie Smith

1983 Topps Super Veteran – Reggie Smith

I’m thinking more like ‘Really, Really Good Veteran’ when I look at Reggie Smith’s career.  A lifetime batting average of .287 along with 2,020 hits and 314 home runs are very impressive numbers for this 17-season veteran.  4 appearances in the World Series is very strong, and the 1 win with the Dodgers in 1981 gives him a title that many players never achieve.  7 All-star selections and 1 Gold Glove add to his resume too.

Super?  Really, really good?  Now that’s more like it!!


1983 Topps Super Veteran – Lee May

1983 Topps Super , Veteran – Lee May

A solid ballplayer that never really got his due, Lee May played the game for 18 seasons.  Never quite a superstar, most likely due to playing in cities like Cincinnati, Houston, Baltimore, and Kansas City, May did finish his career with a nice resume.

2,000+ hits – Yes.  350+ home runs – Yes.  900+ runs scored – Yes.  1,200+ RBI – Yes.  4 Top-20 finishes for MVP – Yes.  3-time All-star – Yes.