Card of the Day: 1985 Fleer Update Al Holland

The Pittsburgh Pirates and California Angels hooked up on a six-player trade on this date in 1985. The Pirates were sending the Angels three veterans to help with their playoff push, while the last place Pirates were getting back three young players. One of those players being sent to California was relief pitcher Al Holland, who spent very little time with the 1985 Pirates. That’s because he was acquired after the season started in an even up trade for Kent Tekulve. So Holland neither started nor ended the year in Pittsburgh, but the timing of the second trade led to him ending up on two cards for the Pirates.

Holland made it into the Topps Traded set and the Fleer Update set. Both sets came out at the end of the year, so he was already on the Angels before these cards hit the shelves as part of a box set. Holland actually had a Pirates connection in the 1985 Fleer set, which is why I chose to feature that set today. He was on a card with Pirates pitcher Lee Tunnell that was somewhat cleverly titled Holland Tunnell. I say “somewhat” because how many people actually know the Holland Tunnel, who also collect cards? I highly doubt a bunch of teenagers in the midwest know about a tunnel in New York, nor would most people make the connection of two pitchers for Pennsylvania teams to that tunnel.

Anyway, let’s look at the first solo appearance for Al Holland in this series. He actually pitched two games for the 1977 Pirates, plus he was part of the big trade that brought Bill Madlock to Pittsburgh during the 1979 season. So while his time/contributions to the Pirates were minimal, he does have some historical significance.

Here’s the front of the card:

I really like the looks of the 1985 Topps cards for two reasons. They got some great Pirates photos, plus they used team colors in the set designs. The 1985 Fleer set also used team colors, but not to the extent of the Topps set. The Fleer cards all had gray borders, so the team part was the gold middle layer around the photo, between the gray and small white border. Some of the cards in this set had white writing for the name up top, while others had black. That part wasn’t specifically matched up to the Pirates colors, but it works here. Both sets utilized that great Pirates logo. That might be my favorite Pirates logo, though the 1987-96 team logo makes a great case.

Here’s the back of the card:

The fronts and backs of 1985 Fleer Update cards are the same as the regular base set from that year. The way you tell them apart by sight (without just knowing Holland wasn’t in the base set on the Pirates) is the card number. This is U-55, for card #55 of the Update set, which went in alphabetical order. The regular set just has numbers, no letters.

Fleer put all of the lifetime pro stats, which is always something I appreciate. Those first seven lines of stats you see there are all from the Pirates. The next line is partially from his Pirates time, as they combined Portland (Pirates) and Phoenix (Giants) into one line. That “Penx” abbreviation for Phoenix is not what I would have used. In fact, not realizing it was a combo line at first, I said to myself “Wasn’t the Giants Triple-A affiliate in Phoenix then? What the heckfire is Port Penx?”.

The back gives you a second photo of Holland, with him giving a completely different look than the front.

If you are interested in this card, there are currently 18 on Ebay and nothing special among the group. Pay under $2 delivered for it from multiple sellers who have it at that price. Two have sold in the last three months and the combined price (two separate auctions) was just under $2.

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