Here is the first of the two 1977 expansion teams to be shown in 1982, with a Topps color theme that features the main colors of the next two expansion teams in 1993, the Rockies and the Marlins. At 6 games under .500, this would be the last losing season for the Blue Jays until 1994, as they put together what could be argued as the team of the late '80s/early '90s.
Gene Upshaw had a long Hall-of-Fame career as guard for the Oakland Raiders. As a player, he is the only player to play in a Super Bowl with the same team in three different decades (1960's-1980's). He may be more well known for his work as the head of the NFL players association.
His cousin Willie Upshaw had a decent career that spanned from 1978-1988 playing for the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians. In 1982, he led the Blue Jays in home runs, RBIs, walks, and was second in runs scored. Gets my vote for MVP of this team over Damaso Garcia.
The best player on this team may have actually been on the pitching staff. Dave Steib, Jim Clancy, and Luis Leal formed a solid starting 3. Stieb led the team in ERA (not counting relievers, not sure of what the innings pitched requirements were in 1982), victories and strikeouts. He was a true definition of a staff ace.
Rookie Card of the Year
George Bell's rookie card was in the 1982 Topps set, although he didn't play in the majors during the 1982 season. I really hate to rag on the Phillies as much as I do, as they are one of the more enjoyable teams of recent vintage, but whoever was running them in the early '80s was doing a Randy Smithesque job. I didn't realize until researching Bell's career that he actually started out in the Phillies organization. The reason he didn't play in 1982 is that he was a rule V draftee for the 1981 season, and therefore was required to stay on the major league roster all year long. He actually received rookie of the year votes in 1981. He went back down to the minors in 1982, and proceeded to come back up in 1983 receiving MVP votes in 5 of the next 7 seasons, including the MVP award in 1987. Of course during the McGwire-Sosa home run chase, you heard constantly how Sosa was acquired by the Cubs by trading away George Bell and this was one of the worst trades in major league history.
Also, why was his name on Topps cards up until about 1987 always spelled Jorge? Just noticed on this card that his autograph even spells his name out as George.
Most Interesting Non-Topps card
I only had one to choose from, and it isn't even a Blue Jay card. Dave Geisel was a relief pitcher for the Blue Jays in 1982, but his Donruss card shows him as a Cub. Geisel pitched in the majors for 7 seasons with the Cubs, Blue Jays, and Mariners mostly as a reliever.
One other note: Leon Roberts played for both the Rangers and Blue Jays in 1982. He only has a card in the regular set showing him with the Rangers. I am listing him on the Blue Jays checklist because he received more playing time with the Blue Jays in 1982.
One more note: Wayne Nordhagen may have been involved in the strangest chain of trades ever in the major leagues in 1982. He was traded at the end of spring training by the White Sox to the Blue Jays for the original ARod, Aurelio Rodriguez. On June 15, the Jays traded him to the Phillies for Dick Davis. Then the Phillies traded him the same day to the Pirates for Bill Robinson. 10 days later, on June 25, Nordhagen and Dick Davis were again traded for each other, with Nordhagen coming back to the Jays. So in the end, the trade essentially was Bill Robinson for Dick Davis between the Pirates and Phillies and for whatever reason the Blue Jays and Nordhagen were involved. Nordhagen did get into one game while with the Pirates, but his only card in 1982 shows him with the White Sox. I am putting that card in this Blue Jays checklist, as he played all but 1 game with the Blue Jays in 1982.
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