First of all, this process reaffirmed that vintage cards still take precedence over modern releases as far as my tastes go. For example, 14 of the top 25 cards were released prior to 1980. By comparison, 23 of the bottom 25 cards are more recent than 1980. Secondly, I found that when it comes to choosing iconic cards I'm much more likely to go for a plain old base card than a game used, autograph, or super short print card. There are exceptions of course, but the majority of what you'll see here are good old fashioned base.
I'll provide some commentary along the way, sometimes very little, sometimes quite a bit. I've broken the list up into four posts, let's start right in with cards 100 through 76...
#100 - 1988 Topps Traded Brady Anderson RC
I've always been fond of this one. It's a classic case of a player who you don't associate with the team. There will be a few of these throughout the countdown. The other players enjoyed much better careers than Brady here, which is why he barely cracks the list at #100.
#99 - 2010 Topps Pesky's Pole Tales of the Game Insert
One of my favorite things about the Red Sox is their beautiful ballpark. Admittedly, I've been to very few Major League stadiums, but I have a hard time imagining anything better than Fenway. There will be a few cards on the list that pay tribute to Fenway Park, with this one dedicated to the right field foul pole just making the cut.
#98 - 2008 Upper Deck Curt Schilling
I really love the 2008 Upper Deck flagship set. It's my favorite set from that year, period. The amazing photography is well complimented by the minimal design and there are countless fantastic cards in the set. To make matters even better, the Red Sox were coming off of a World Series Championship in 2007 so there are many Sox cards in the set. Curt Schilling's card is the perfect final tribute, as we would never throw another pitch after the 2007 season. In retrospect I maybe should have ranked this one even higher.
#97 - 1998 Fleer Ultra Pedro Martinez Gold Medallion
This one's a little out of the ordinary, but in his heyday Pedro was the most dominant pitcher I've ever seen pitch in a Red Sox uniform. Interesting shot of Martinez using some stretch bands, presumably during pre-game warm-up.
#96 - 1993 Pinnacle Cooperstown Andre Dawson Dufex Parallel
Fellow blogger Fuji turned me on to this set, and I really like the cards. I associate the dufex finish more with the Pinnacle Rink Collection hockey parallels from the mid-'90s but a cool card nonetheless.
#95 - 2005 Topps Update John Olerud
Here's the card that you could most easily argue should be eliminated from this list, but I was always a fan of John Olerud so I'm including it. This is another of those "not the team you remember him from" cards. I most readily associate Olerud with the Jays, or even the Mariners, but I remember being excited when the Red Sox picked him up off the scrap heap in 2005. Even at age 36/37, and coming off of injury, John had a productive year. In 87 games, he hit .289 with 7 HR and 37 RBI. His OPS of .795 was his best since 2002. It would end up being his final Major League season.
#94 - 1992 Score Wade Boggs All-Star
I loved these caricature-type All Star subset cards from the early '90s Score sets. They always cracked me up as a kid, enough so that this card made the list.
#93 - 2007 Upper Deck Goudey Daisuke Matsuzaka Heads Up Short Print
Daisuke may have ended up being more of a bust than anything, but he was a member of the 2007 World Series team. The real reason I selected this one is that 2007 Goudey was the set that got me back into collecting after more than ten years away.
#92 - 2007 Bowman Hideki Okajima RC
I always had a soft spot for Hideki Okajima. His unusual delivery and reliable arm won me over as a fan. He appeared in over 250 games in his first four seasons with the club. Maybe he exhausted his arm, as he's appeared in just 12 games since, including 5 this season for the Athletics.
#91 - 1982 Fleer Carl Yastrzemski 3,000th Game
Although Yaz would be featured in sets for another year or two after, this one seems like a fitting tribute card. Making an appearance in the background is the Pesky Pole from earlier in the countdown. Look how sparse those right field stands are.
#90 - 2013 Topps Will Middlebrooks Target Red Parallel
There are a variety of reasons why I've selected certain cards for this countdown, and this selection was based almost entirely on the photo. Just an amazing shot of Middlebrooks making a diving play at third. The red-bordered Target parallel gets this one even more points.
#89 - 1986 Topps Traded Tom Seaver
Another amazing player who ended his career in Boston. Although Tom's featured in some 1987 sets, he never threw another pitch after '86, so I sort of think of this as his final proper card I guess. Plus, awful airbrushing!
#88 - 1992 Topps Jack Clark
Wow, "career sunset cards" are becoming a trend in this post. Here's a great one, of a pensive Jack Clark from the 1992 Topps set. I always assumed Jack was reminiscing over his long career here, sitting in the shadow of the Green Monster. This one might have been higher on the list had Jack played more seasons for Boston.
#87 - 1976 Topps Traded Fergie Jenkins
Yes, Jenkins played for the Red Sox. For two seasons, jammed amongst all those other years with the Rangers and the Cubs. Another instance of Topps airbrushing here.
#86 - 1987 Topps Traded Ellis Burks RC
I've written about Burks before, most recently when I acquired an autographed card, but he's one of the Red Sox players from my early days as a fan that I remember most. He began his long career in Boston, then finished it there in 2004 (not a bad season to hang up the spikes after).
#85 - 2002 Topps Hideo Nomo
This card was picked for two reasons. First, I was a childhood fan absolutely enamored with baseball when the whole Nomo craze hit in the '90s. Secondly, and more importantly, he threw a freakin' no-hitter in his first ever start with the Red Sox. There have only been four Red Sox no-hitters thrown during my lifetime, and all four of those pitchers are in this countdown.
#84 - 2012 Topps Kevin Youkilis Wal-Mart Blue Parallel
In case you can't tell, I'm pretty biased as a fan towards those 2004 and 2007 teams. Youkilis was a member of both (he didn't play in the '04 World Series, although he was on the roster), and this was one of my favorite card photos from last year.
#83 - 2008 Upper Deck Mike Lowell Season Highlights
Here's the second 2008 Upper Deck card to make the countdown. Like I said, just can't get enough representation from those two World Series winning teams on this list. Knowing that people waited 86 years, and that many fans were born, lived their entire lives, and died without ever seeing their team win it, I have to be thankful that I've gotten to enjoy it twice already in my 30 years. This particular card has a great photo of your 2007 World Series MVP.
#82 - 1974 Topps Traded Juan Marichal
Another random one. One of the greatest pitchers of his era, and arguably the greatest pitcher of the '60s (at least I've heard some compelling ones), Juan threw some of his final games in a Red Sox uniform. A player this good had to be included.
#81 - 2008 Topps Clay Buchholz RC
Buchholz hasn't exactly endeared himself to fans this year with his "health issues", but when he has managed to pitch in his career here he's been dynamic. The best example of that is his 2007 no-hitter against Baltimore. Aside from being his rookie card, this one gets extra points due to the photo being from that no-hitter (and even featuring the scoreboard displaying the no-hitter in the background, brilliant).
#80 - 2003 Topps Stadium Club Johnny Damon
I still attend at least one or two games at Fenway every season to keep my streak alive, but from around 2003 to 2010 or so I would go as often as I could. I'd say at least 10 games a season on average. I have many memories during the earlier part of that stretch of Damon making fantastic catches in the outfield, just like this one.
#79 - 1987 Fleer World Series One Strike from Boston Victory
Painful. So painful. Significant in the team's history for sure though, and part of what made 2004 so sweet for so many long-suffering fans. Painful though. Ugh.
#78 - 2003 Topps Finest Nomar Garciaparra Bat Relic
I mentioned that autos and relics aren't big on my list (and you'll notice this is the first at #78), but there are exceptions. You couldn't be a baseball fan in Boston and not be a Nomar fan when he was in his prime. When I traded for this card way back when I was ecstatic. This is actually a tough pull as well, it's from a time when relics were a little more significant. On top of that, this particular bat relic was from the toughest tier of bat relics in the 2003 Finest set (one per 104 mini-boxes). It still books at $25 even now, and is one of my favorite Garciaparra cards.
#77 - 1993 Upper Deck Frank Viola/Roger Clemens Boston Cy Sox
Really interesting card from the 1993 Upper Deck set. Let's count the reasons to include this one...3X All-Star, World Series Winner & MVP, and Cy Young Award winner Frank Viola, the 1993 Upper Deck set, which is just great, and an awesome Fenway backdrop. Plus, Roger Clemens! Wait, let's move on...
#76 - 1983 Donruss Wade Boggs RC
Finally, sliding in at #76 is an iconic rookie of one of the best pure hitters ever to wear the Red Sox uniform. I guess you could argue that this one should be higher, but Boggs has some really outstanding cards, quite a few of them actually, and of the ones that made the cut I like this one least.
There's your first 25, the next set should be up sometime this weekend. Hope you enjoyed and found at least a few of them interesting.