Card of the Day: 1981 Fleer Enrique Romo

Today’s Pittsburgh Pirates Card of the Day features relief pitcher Enrique Romo, a key pitcher during the 1979 World Series winning season. He was acquired by the Pirates on this date in 1978 in a large trade made with the Seattle Mariners. I picked the 1981 Fleer set just because it has been a very long time since I featured that set. It definitely doesn’t give us the best looking card for Romo. He looks more like someone who just sat down in a barber chair, rather than someone who pitched 158 games over the 1979-80 seasons.

As a side note, I had no idea what those things are called that barbers put on you before cutting your hair. I had to look it up to find out that it’s mostly commonly referred to as a chair cloth. Apparently I was not alone in wondering the name of it, because numerous Google questions came up for various ways to ask the question. My favorite was “What do you call the sheet that a barber covers you with?”.

Back to Romo’s first appearance here. Let’s take a look at card #385 from the 1981 Fleer set.

Here’s the front of the card:

I’m guessing you see what I was talking about now in the intro section. There is nothing that gives away that he played baseball in the photo, but that certainly looks like one of those sheets that a barber covers you with (I hate ending a sentence with the word with, but I had to commit to the joke). I recently did an article on a 1987 Fleer card and mentioned that it was my favorite design from the 1980s Fleer sets. This one is somewhere in the middle, as a nice first effort from Fleer. There were previous cards from Fleer, but this is their first large baseball card set. They used the Pirates black & gold colors for the border design, but the team name in the baseball is very generic looking.

Fleer reused this design in their 2001 Platinum set and I was a really big fan of that set. For some reason I really liked the look of the Adrian Brown card. There was just one problem with the remake. They used red and orange for the border design colors on the Pirates cards. One of those rare instances where I liked other cards in the set more than the Pirates (I’m looking at you 1965 Topps).

Here’s the back:

The back of this card is great because it has stats that are missing from Baseball-Reference. They don’t have his 1966-67 stats. Romo was getting very good at losing 8-9 games every year until he messed that up in 1976 with a 20-4 record, which got him pushed out of the league to the majors with the expansion Seattle Mariners. After two years there, he moved on to the Pirates, where he spent his final four seasons in the majors. Interesting note that I saw just as I was typing that last sentence. His 1979 ERA is credited as being 2.99 now, but he gets a 3.00 mark there. The second interesting thing, which I saw after typing up that last sentence is that his innings are rounded off. Literally none of those inning totals during the 1977-80 seasons are correct, yet the total for all four years is only off by one out. One final note is that this back is a much better design idea than the one they picked up in 1983 and repeated over and over.

This is a common card, much cheaper than getting a haircut, unless you want one with Romo’s signature on the card. There are five examples that are autographed at the cheapest one is $24 delivered. A graded/authenticated one is over $60. The rest of the auctions are mostly in the $2-$3 range, with some that have shipping charges that make them cost a little more.