Card of the Day: 1985 Topps Traded Joe Orsulak

Today’s Card of the Day comes from the 1985 Topps Traded set. Today’s daily history is a slow day, with just two players born on this date, plus no noteworthy transactions. One of those players is Kenny Lofton, who has appeared in our Card of the Day series three times.

I’m a big fan of Lofton, the guy who has 1.4 more career WAR than Miguel Cabrera (whose number keeps dropping), who WILL be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Lofton received 3.2% of the votes in his first year and dropped off the ballot. Find me a person who won’t put Cabrera in first ballot…I’ll wait. If it wasn’t for Bill Dahlen, plus a couple of 19th century pitchers, Lofton would be my biggest HOF snub right now. Actually I’d vote in Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens because the whole steroid issue was broken when Ivan Rodriguez went in first ballot, while also acknowledging that he wasn’t the first, just the most obvious. I’ll never figure out how he just skated in while everyone else either waited or got left behind.

As I said before that mini rant, I’m a big fan of Lofton, but he also played four months for the Pittsburgh Pirates before being traded. Appearing here once a year is a fine rate for him already. That led me to Joe Orsulak, who is right now making his third appearance on his 61st birthday. He played for the 1983-86 Pirates, with those last two seasons being full years. Unlike Lofton, he was also drafted by them, so he has a bit better connection to the team. Not to me personally, as I actually saw Lofton on the Pirates. The first two cards I looked at for Orsulak here were 1986 Fleer cards. One was their regular set, one from the sticker set they put out later that year.

Here’s the front of card #T89 from the 1985 Topps Traded set:

The 1985 Topps set grows on me more every time I see it. I have noted numerous times that I’m a huge fan of the 1981 and 1987 Topps set designs. Nothing from that decade will compete with those two sets. I could do without 1980, 1988-89 for looks, while the rest were one middle ground group for me. I once rated the 1982 Topps set as my third favorite, but if it pleases the judge/jury, I’d like to change my third favorite to the 1985 set.

I’m a big fan of when cards use team colors in their design. Topps went all out with that here, using them for the team name banner, as well going reverse colors for his name and position. Another favorite of mine is the front logos, though the specific logo matters as well. There are very few Pirates logos I don’t like, the current one being one. It was fine as a secondary logo, but it’s a snoozefest. I don’t like the overly cartoonish logo for the 1960 champs. Some of the earlier logos are boring as well, though I respect them for what they were back then. This particular logo is definitely top three for my favorites. It could possibly be number one, but I’d rather not choose.

You have the team colors and the logo checking off two big boxes. That leaves the third thing as the photos themselves. The 1985 Topps set has some great Pirates photos, partially due to the uniforms. Take an Ebay scroll through “1985 Topps Pirates” and see the photos that come up. They can’t all be winners, but they did a strong overall job. Orsulak here is one of the good ones. I like those batting helmets too. I had one as a kid, but it was years after they still wore them, so I’m not sure where I got it.

Here’s the back of the card:

I’m already over my minimum self-imposed word minimum, so I’ll keep the rest short. The fronts of 1985 Topps and Topps Traded look the same. The backs do not. The regular series has a darker green and a darker background for the stats/bio info, making them a big harder to read. Topps made the Traded cards brighter on the back. I’m not sure why, but I like them so much more.

As you can see here, it didn’t take Orsulak long to make the majors, but he wasn’t a regular until his third season. You can’t tell by those stats, but he skipped over Double-A from 1982 going into 1983.

If you are interested in this card, there is an expensive option we usually don’t talk about here. Someone on Ebay has a PSA 10 for $135. According to the seller, eight of them have received that grade. There’s an autographed copy for $23, and Orsulak has a great autograph. I guarantee that the quality is better than anything you will find in a pack in 2023. Other than that, you have a bunch of options in the $2-$3 range, as well as others priced more for no good reason.