1986 Topps George Foster Was Just Stopping By

You could see the 1986 Topps George Foster card coming way back in the 1970s if you were watching closely.

Not in 1971, when Topps featured him on a Rookie Stars card alongside Giants teammate Mike Davison. That really was Foster’s rookie season, but a late May trade saw him spend most of the campaign with the Cincinnati Reds.

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And not in 1972, either, when there was nothing too remarkable about either Foster’s on-field performance or his Topps baseball card, showing just another fresh-faced youngster hoping to stick.

He didn’t stick, not really, that summer, and not in 1973, either. It wasn’t until 1974, in fact, that Foster played in as many as 100 games again. And it wasn’t until 1975 that he came to the plate 500 times again, as he had done as a rookie in 1975.

By that time, Foster had given us a hint of what was to come on his 1973 Topps card.

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And then, in 1977, Foster teed off on National League pitching for 52 home runs and all the supporting numbers that made him an easy MVP choice even as the Big Red Machine sputtered to a second-place finish.

His base Topps card laid it all out there for us to see, too — a profile shot of Foster showed the massive porkchop sideburns sprawling across his face like a land bridge on some ancient map.

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Why, it looked like the ‘burns might meet in the middle of his face…you know, like a mustache.

Except, the Cincinnati Reds had rules against facial hair — no mustaches, no beards.

Ah, but sideburns were always tricky beasts. Were they an extension of the player’s hair, or were they indeed facial hair?

And, of course, sideburns were part an parcel of 1970s style. Everyone had them to some extent, including Foster’s Reds teammates like Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Joe Morgan.

So the Reds let them side, er, slide.

But a full-on mustache? Even Yahtzee would have to wait until the offseason, or until he retired, to fully embrace his hirsute longings.

Or until, you know, he landed with another team.

And that’s exactly what happened when Cincinnati traded their slugger to the New York Mets in February of 1982.

Predictably, Foster showed up with the full realization of his facial hair masterpiece on his baseball cards the next spring…including on his Donruss Diamond Kings card.

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Foster would spend four full seasons with the Mets before splitting his final summer, 1986, between the Amazin’s and the Chicago White Sox.

And, while we didn’t get any 1987 Foster baseball cards to either a) recap his career numbers or 2) get a glimpse of him in his White Sox duds, Topps did treat us to a farewell pasteboard for the ages in 1986.

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For, there on his 1986 Topps card, Foster is displayed in his full splendor perhaps like never before …

Stepping through the strike zone, following through on a ball he likely hit back to Cincinnati, making it look easy …

The sideburns, trim and neat to befit the more tame 80s facial hair norms, but also likely restrained because he didn’t need them to compensate for the missing middle …

The found middle, where his mustache stands out in bold relief and stretches down below the corners of his mouth …

The Mets pinstripes, which that October would become the toast of baseball during a classic seven-game World Series victor over the Boston Red Sox, even if Foster wasn’t there to share in the champagne …

And the topper — wow! — the shades, the Top Gun sunglasses that let you know, “Hey, I’m just stopping in to this here stadium to launch a few bombs before I get back to the important stuff: flying daredevil missions … MIB follow-ups … important movie star business.”

George Foster was a man who could do anything he wanted to a baseball with a bat in his hand, and who could keep his cool about it the whole time.

His 1986 Topps baseball card, once and for all, made that clear for everyone to see.


Hobby Wow!

If you were a megabucks collector back in 1986, Topps gave you an avenue for expressing your lavish tastes on Christmas wish list — the 12-card Gallery of Champions metal replicas, available in aluminum, bronze, and sterling silver, as in this eBay lot:

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You get all dozen dudes, each of whom had made big news in 1985, in the original swanky, velvet-lined luxury baseball dude box.

Definitely how the other half lived/lives, but still fun to check out.

See the full eBay listing here (affiliate link).

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