1980 Topps Overview

21 03 2010

So, I’m ready to start this project off with the first set – 1980 Topps. I did a little research on this set, and here’s some of the stuff I came up with, already knew, or some combination of both.

  • 726 cards in the set.
  • Subsets: Season Highlights (1-6), Team Checklists (26 cards throughout, manager on front), League Leaders (201-207), Future Stars (661-686). The Future Stars were 3-player cards, 1 for each team.  66 cards in the set are double printed.
  • Set design: The card front features a white border, a small flag featuring the player’s un-abbreviated position in the top left corner, player name across the top, another flag with the team name on the bottom right, and a facsimile autograph somewhere on top of the player picture. The blue card back features season stats and career totals and a highlighted moment from the player’s career along with a comic-type depiction of the moment.
  • Packs: Cards were issued in 15 card wax packs (25¢ SRP) that came 36 packs per box and 20 per case.  Also available in 42 card rack packs (69¢ SRP), 25 card cello packs (39¢ SRP) 28 card super cello packs with 3 sticks of gum (59¢ SRP), and 3-card cello packs (I’d guess a nickel?).
  • Rookies: Key rookie is Rickey Henderson.  Other rookies include Rick Sutcliffe, Dan Quisenberry, Jesse Orosco and Dave Stieb.
  • Hall of Fame: Henderson, Lou Brock (on a subset only), Carl Yastrzemski, Bruce Sutter, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, Johnny Bench (go reds), Tony Perez (go reds again), Jim Rice, Eddie Murray, Goose Gossage, Andre Dawson (our newest inductee), Steve Carlton, Phil Niekro, Robin Yount, Mike Schmidt, Gaylord Perry, Dennis Eckersley, Willie McCovey, Fergie Jenkins, Ozzie Smith, Paul Molitor, George Brett, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson, Jim Palmer, Willie Stargell, Joe Morgan (Big Red Machine= BRM), Rod Carew, Don Sutton, Rollie Fingers, and Dave Winfield; managers include Earl Weaver, Tommy LaSorda, Dick Williams (as Expos manager), Sparky Anderson (another Big Red Machine rep), {and add Bert Blyleven for 2011, add Torre, Cox and LaRussa manager cards for the 2014 induction}.  Wow, that’s 37 38 41 HOF-ers, I’m betting that’s the most of any set I’ll do.  Interesting tidbit: Whitey Herzog was fired from the Royals after the 1979 season and hired by the Cardinals in 1980, thus has no manager checklist card this year.  This set featured the last Topps cards (LTC) for both McCovey and Brock.
  • Guys who will or should be in the Hall could be in the HOF in the future include Pete Rose (BRM), Dave Concepcion (BRM – ok, this guys a stretch, but Marty Brennaman thinks he should be in), Jack Morris, Bert Blyleven, Tommy John, Tony LaRussa (as White Sox manager – the steroid enabler and my least favorite person in all of baseball), Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, Alan Trammel/Dale Murphy (travesty these two aren’t getting more consideration), Dwight Evans, Lou Piniella, Bill Buckner (just wait, he’ll be a vet committee guy someday), Tim McCarver (could make it as an announcer? – eesh, I hope not).
  • Variation: Originally, Yankees manager Billy Martin was intended to be included on the Yankees team checklist card.  Early proof sheets have Martin’s inset picture and name on card #424.  However, Martin was fired in October 1979, and the actual set contains Dick Howser.
  • Last Active Player: Jesse Orosco and Rickey Henderson were both active through the end of 2003.  Henderson’s last game was 9/17/03, while Orosco’s was 9/27/03.  Henderson, of course, tried to stay on and played after 2003 with a couple minor league teams.

The box has a picture of an Astros hitter on the front, stepping into a swing at the plate. There is a baseball pictured with notation that there are “Now 15 cards in every pack”. The word “Topps” is in a pennant in the top left, while the words “Major League BASEBALL picture cards bubble gum” is in a pennant below the Astros player (kind of built like the card design). I’m not sure who this player is? Something to research.

A couple other things that are relevant for this set.  First, this is the last year that Topps didn’t issue an “update” set (Topps Traded), so there are only RC’s this year of players who debuted in 1979, not the XRC’s you’d get for guys like Ripken, Gwynn, etc. in future years.  Second, more importantly, this was the last year Topps had a complete monopoly, basically since 1963 Fleer. Even 2010 is going to still have a 600-card upper deck issue, so I would say that is still true until 2011 (and who knows what will happen between now and then). So since Topps only issued one set – if you discount the 60-card Topps Super foray – there was only one set released this year. This means only one Pete Rose card, only one 2nd year Ozzie Smith, only one Rickey Henderson rookie.

This makes this set somewhat of a watershed set in the hobby. Add the factors above to the fact that there is only 1 Hall-of-Famer with a RC in this set, and the fact that he is truly a best-of-the-best all-time great, and the Henderson card is one of the more iconic cards in history. Take away the ’89 UD Griffey (which has to be at least the 2nd most famous card of all time), I’d struggle to think of a more familiar card in the 80’s. Cards that jump to mind are the ’82 Ripken Topps RC, the Bo Jackson ’88 score fb/bb card. Other famous 80’s cards could be Don Mattingly ’84 Donruss, Bonds ’87 Fleer, or McGwire ’84 Topps Traded Olympic XRC.  I’d put the Hendo card above all but the Bo Jackson in notoriety.

Parallel Set

As it had done since 1965, Canadian-based O-Pee-Chee issued a set that was a partial parallel to the Topps base set.  Each of the cards in the 374-card set had the same design and photographs as the Topps set, with lighter card stock and bi-lingual backs (French and English).  As always, the set leaned toward the Canadian teams; the Manager and Future Stars card for the Expos and Blue Jays were the only subsets included as part of this set.  The Rickey Henderson rookie was not included in the set.


  • You could send in for information on personalized trading cards, “just like cards in this pack”, except supposedly “with your personal data on the back”.
  • For 1 Topps baseball wrapper and 50 ¢, you could send in for an uncut sheet of all the Team Checklist cards.
  • Topps also issued some “test” wrappers with the “Hit to Win” promotion that was available in every wax pack in 1981 – I would presume this was issued later in the release run.
  • You could send in 1 Topps wrapper (any sport), plus $5.25 plus 75 ¢ S&H to receive a Topps Sports Card Locker that held 1300+ cards.

Other releases associated with the Topps flagship

#1 – Topps issued a 23-card team set for the Phillies and distributed it as a promotion in the areas surrounding Philadelphia.  The design and photos are the same as the base Topps set, however there is a Burger King logo on the back where the Topps logo is.  There are 3 players (Keith Moreland, Lonnie Smith, John Vukovich) who aren’t in the base Topps set.  Kevin Saucier is on the Phillies Prospect card, but the Phillies card is a solo picture.  Manager Dallas Green also has a different picture – as he’s featured on the Team Checklist / Team Photo card in the base set.

#2 – Topps issued another set as a Burger King promotion nationally called “Pinch, Hit & Run”.  The 34-set contained, in order, 11 pitchers, 11 “hitters”, 11 “runners” and a checklist card.  Some cards have the same photos as the base set, but some are different.  The design is similar, except the Burger King logo replaces the flag with the position at the top of the cards.  This set has the first cards of Joe Morgan and Nolan Ryan pictured with the Astros.

#3 – Topps planned on a 22-card “Pepsi All-Star” set that was never actually released.  Topps later sold what was printed of these cards on-line in 2005.  They are extremely rare and very expensive.  Like the Burger King set, a Pepsi Logo replaces the top flag.  The flag on the bottom is white with blue letters.  All of the cards have the same picture as the 1980 set, except the Mike Schmidt photo is actually the one from his 1979 Topps card.

Over the next week, I’m going to pretend its spring 1980, I’m a really intelligent newborn wondering why Pete Rose is playing for the Phillies, and I’ll begin breaking my brand new box of 1980 Topps.




8 responses

3 04 2010
Katie (Chuck's Wife)

Interesting….so who do you dis-like more Tony LaRussa or Pete Rose?

4 04 2010

Tony LaRussa, though he’s probably not as bad of a creep as Peter Edward. But Pete played for the home team, so that’s worth something…

21 07 2010
1981 Topps Overview « Lifetime Topps project

[…] are 36 Hall of Famers in this set, one less than the year before; Brock and McCovey had their last card in 1980 and are not in the set, while Whitey Herzog got […]

16 09 2010
1982 Topps Overview « Lifetime Topps project

[…] re-hashing some of this from my 1980 post, but – Guys who could be in the HOF in the future include Pete Rose, Dave Concepcion, Bert […]

27 01 2011

I’m pretty sure that is Terry Puhl on the box.

28 01 2011

Looks like you’re right. Left-handed hitter for the Astros in the 1979-1980 year, and that looks like #21 on his right front pant leg, which was his number. Thanks!

16 06 2012
2012 Topps Archives – cards #101-150 (1980 design) « Lifetime Topps project

[…] forward about 9 years from 1971, we move on to 1980 Topps.  This is the first Topps set featured on my blog – because it’s the Topps set from […]

30 06 2014
2014 Topps Archives – cards #51-100 (1980 design) | Lifetime Topps project

[…] a few years from 1973, the next year for Archives is 1980 Topps.  This was the first Topps set I featured on my blog – because it’s the Topps set […]

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