The 1981 Topps and Traded set is my fourth set completed! I’ve also completed my “personal master set” for this year as well – which I’m defining as the base set, the traded set, and any regular inserts. Here’s the “look back” I do for each completed set.
Info about my set:
How I put the set together:
405 cards from the wax box
193 cards from a vending box
10 cards from a rack pack
111 cards from the trades
1 card from the Diamond Giveaway (Phil Niekro)
6 cards purchased from Sportlots
Card that completed my set: #218 – Paul Splittorff (the last of 6 cards I purchased from Sportlots)
Set composition: 726 cards (648 individual player cards*, 26 Manager/TC, 26 Future Stars tri-player, 6 Checklists, 4 Post-season Highlights, 8 Record Breakers, 8 League Leaders)
Representation of ’80 MLB season: There are 726 different players represented in the set – 648 individual player cards, and 78 players from the Future stars subset. Out of those 726 players, 709 played in MLB in 1980. Out of the 17 who didn’t play in the majors in 1980, 3 players were injured (Andre Thornton, Tom Poquette and Doug Rau), 3 players had played in the majors in 1979 but spent the rest of their careers in the minors (Eric Wilkins, Phil Huffman and Mike Colbern) , Gene Nelson was a pitcher who didn’t make the majors until 1981, and 10 were players from the future stars subset that didn’t reach the big leagues in 1980 (Brian Milner, Chris Bando, Dave Engle, Dave Steffern, Ed Miller, Greg Biercevicz, Jim Wright, Pat Dempsey, Tim Ireland, Tom Brennan). The 709 players represent 77.3% out of the ~917 players who played in MLB in 1980.
Last active player from this set: #261 – Rickey Henderson
Rickey played his last major league game on 9/19/03 for the LA Dodgers. He came in as a pinch hitter against the Giants in the 7th inning, was hit by a pitch, and came around to score the 2,295th run of his career (still the MLB standard) on a single by Shawn Green. Henderson kept trying to catch on – he played 2 more seasons of professional baseball in the minors with the Newark Bears in 2004 and with the Independent San Diego Surf Dawgs in 2005.
Player with the most cards in the set: Mike Schmidt*** and Steve Carlton – 4 cards
The NL teammates won the MVP and Cy Young. Both were featured on 2 league leader cards, a “record breaker” card, and, not coincidentally, both guys have the “All-Star” designation on their base card. Schmidt led in HR & RBI while setting the single season HR mark for third basemen, while Carlton led in Wins and ERA while breaking Mikey Lolich’s strikeout record for lefties.
Schmidt – #2-3 (League Leader) #206 (Record Breaker), #540
Carlton – #5-6 (LL), #202 (RB), #630
***It was just pointed out to me after the fact that Schmidt is also featured on the NL Champions card #402. I actually looked at that card and didn’t realize it was him – but it is, he’s there in the very back right. It’s a team card that isn’t really listed as any one player, so it’s certainly a debatable point. I’ll leave it to you to decide if this breaks the tie!
First Card and the Hundreds: #1 – Brett/Buckner LL, #100 – Rod Carew, #200 – George Foster, #300 – Paul Molitor, #400 – Reggie Jackson, #500 – Jim Rice, #600 – Johnny Bench, #700 – George Brett
Highest book value: #261 – Rickey Henderson (see above)
Most notable card: #302 – Perconte/Scioscia/Valenzuela RC
There aren’t any cards from this set (or Topps Traded, either), that made the Topps 60. I think the Valenzuela is the winner here, but his Topps Traded card is probably more notable. I think you’ve got to take his card over the RC for Raines or Gibson, just because of “Fernando-mania”. Plus, Mike Scioscia will probably be in the HOF as a manager someday.
Best card (my opinion): #404 – Tug McGraw HL
I’m not a Phillies fan, and some of picking this card boils down to the fact that this isn’t the greatest set in general. But I can certainly appreciate this moment. For all the talk of the Red Sox and their 86 years, at the beginning of the 1980 season, the Philadelphia Phillies had NEVER won a World Championship of any type in the franchise’s 97-year history. Only the Cubs, Braves, Cardinals, Reds and Pirates are older franchises than the Phillies – so showing the pitcher after his strikeout of Willie Wilson ended the game is really capturing a big moment in baseball history.
Second best card (also my opinion): #110 – Carl Yastrzemski
There isn’t a lot of really good photography in this set. This is a good one, though – Yaz nearing the twilight of his career.
Best subset card: #404 – Tug McGraw HL (see above)
Favorite action photo: #695 – Kent Tekulve
The submariner following through, decked out in Pirate Gold. Plus, they capture the Mets runner in the background checking in on the pitch from 2nd base. There’s also a really picture of Tekulve’s teammate, Willie Stargell, following through on what might be a home run. Ozzie Smith has a good shot as well.
Favorite non-action photo: #636 – Al Hrabosky
Not counting Yaz here; I wanted to go with another photo. I don’t think I need to explain this one. Andre Dawson has a pretty good stare down on his card, as well.
My Favorite Reds card: #201 – Johnny Bench RB
There really aren’t many good Reds cards. It wasn’t the greatest group, and there aren’t any good photos. So I went with the one commemorating Bench for passing Yogi Berra for the most homers as a catcher.
- 1999 Ryan reprints – Nolan Ryan
- 2001 Through the Years – Mike Schmidt
- 2001 Archives – Kirk Gibson, Sal Bando, Mark Fidrych
- 2001 Topps Traded – Carlton Fisk (’81T), Tim Raines (’81T), Dave Winfield (’81T), Joe Morgan (’81T)
- 2002 Archives – Rollie Fingers
- 2005 Rookie Reprints – Lonnie Smith
- 2010 CYMTO – Eddie Murray, Rickey Henderson, Ozzie Smith
- 2011 60YoT – Andre Dawson, Jim Palmer
- 2012 Archives Reprints – Willie Stargell, Tom Seaver
no duplicates yet
Other Notable Cards: #315 – Kirk Gibson RC, #347 – Harold Baines RC, #479 - Tim Raines RC
To call these notable is stretching it a bit…
My “Master” Set Info:
858 cards – 726 “base”, 132 “update”
- Update set: Traded
How I put the other sets together: I purchased the Traded set at the 2010 National convention in Baltimore
Update set composition: 132 cards (131 players, 1 checklist)
In the update set not in the base set: 3 players – Danny Ainge, Gene Nelson and Gary Gray
Total in base and update sets: 729 players, 26 managers
Highest book value in the update set: #850 – Fernando Valenzuela
Most notable card from the Update set: #850 - Fernando Valenzuela
This was easy. Tim Raines had the better career, but Fernando-Mania made this card extremely popular when he was hurling shutouts en route to the Rookie of the Year award.