More ’81 Topps Scans

29 08 2010

Here are some of the more prominent cards and rookie cards, including the ’81 League MVPs:

As mentioned in an earlier post – here’s the main card I’m missing:

The next few scans are some of the other cards I liked the best, be it because of the picture, the player or historical significance. One thing I noticed in the ’81 set – I think it has significantly better than photography than the previous year’s set. The Dawson picture below is just, at least to me, a really good picture. I thought his ’80 Topps photo was one of the better ones, but like most of that set, it was a standard posed shot. The other cards are all great action shots. Now maybe they aren’t nearly as good as the pictures got in the 90’s and beyond, but seeing both Sutter as he releases the ball, and Tekulve with his unique follow-through is pretty cool. The Pacella card below was the first card I saw when opening the first pack of the wax box – he threw so hard his cap fell off!

Yet again – here’s 3 guys I think should be in the HOF. Definitely Murphy and Trammell. I could buy no Whitaker, but it’s a tough sell. And he should at least have been able to garner the 5% to stay on the ballot! Oester is one of my favorite players from when I was younger – a staple at second base for the Reds in the 80’s. The other cards are neat subsets – the McGraw pic is an iconic image from the Phillies championship, the Bench HR record was a really big deal, the Ozzie assist record is something I didn’t know about, and the Average leaders commemorates Brett’s .390 season.

The next scan is the all facial-hair team from this set, and the following are some other funny pictures from the set.

Buck Showalter would not have approved of these guys. I guess people did wear their hats backward before Griffey Jr.

I didn’t realize this guy was a player in the 80’s – I thought the term came from a much earlier time period.

"The Mendoza Line"

According to Wikipedia (which means it must be correct, right?), the Mendoza Line is an informal term used in baseball for the threshold of incompetent hitting. Even though Mario Mendoza’s lifetime batting average is .215, the Mendoza Line is said to occur at .200, and when a position player’s batting average falls below that level, the player is said to be below the Mendoza Line. It is often thought of as the offensive threshold below which a player’s presence in MLB cannot be justified despite his defensive abilities.

The “Mendoza Line” was created as a harmless clubhouse joke amongst friends. “My teammates Tom Paciorek and Bruce Bochte used it to make fun of me,” Mendoza said in 2010. “Then they were giving George Brett a hard time because he had a slow start that year, so they told him, ‘Hey, man, you’re going to sink down below the Mendoza Line if you’re not careful.’ And then Brett mentioned it to Chris Berman from ESPN, and eventually it spread and became a part of the game.”

They also had a reference to this in an early “How I Met Your Mother” episode – the baseball and Star Wars references in that show make it pretty much “Legen” … wait for it … “dary”!!!

Collecting Topps Traded?

25 08 2010

I’ve sent out my blogs to a couple of other sports card bloggers, so maybe I’ll actually get some readers (woo-hoo!). Thanks to bdj610 for putting me on the sports card blogroll!

One thing I forgot to mention – at the National a couple of weekends back I picked up a set of ’81 Topps Traded. I hadn’t really thought about collecting these sets, but there’s a couple of things I’m thinking:

1) If I really had been collecting in 1981 as a 1-year old kid, I would probably have bought that set when I got sick of opening packs. Maybe not if I had decided I wanted to buy the newcomers Donruss and Fleer, but my premise here is that I’m only collecting Topps for now.

2) In 1981 they numbered the cards as an extension of the set – #726-858. I’m a sucker for this trick, though after 1981, they stopped doing this. What’s interesting is that Beckett and other “card cataloguers” doesn’t count this as an addition to the base set for Topps, but when Upper Deck had some similar update type series they do. I’d imagine the difference is that this didn’t come in packs like the base set, or wasn’t tied to a send away promotion involving packs from an earlier series (which I think 1995 Upper Deck did). Either way, I almost view this as an extension of the set, so I’m going to collect these sets. I’m adding some $$$ to this project, as the ’82 set with Ripken XRC for the next year is going to likely run me over $100, but this ’81 set cost me $15 at the National.

1981 baseball season in review

24 08 2010

On to my next part – a quick run down of the 1981 season. I’d now be a 1-year-old, somewhere between learning to crawl and walk. This was a tough year for my rooting interests – this was the strike-shortened year:

Highlights and Events:

Before the season, two teams changed ownership.  Charlie Finley finally sold the A’s – this time his sale was allowed as Walter A. Haas Jr. of Levi Strauss & Co. planned to keep the team in Oakland.  Bill Veeck, Jr. ended his 2nd tenure as White Sox owner, selling the team to real estate magnate Jerry Reinsdorf.  During the season, the Wrigley family sold its interest in the Cubs to the Tribune Company, ending 55 years of majority ownership by the family.

On opening day, Fernando Valenzuela was given a spot start to replace injured Jerry Reuss.  “Fernandomania” began that day as Valenzuela threw a 5-hit shutout.  Fernando would start the season 8-0 with 4 shutouts in his first 5 games and created a media sensation every time he pitched.  The strike shortened season cut some of his momentum, but he still managed to start the All-Star game, win the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards, and lead the Dodgers to the first half division lead.

Similar to the year before, this season also had a number of pitching milestones before the strike.  In April, Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton struck out their 3,000th batter, becoming the 5th and 6th players to do so.  In May, Charlie Lea of Montreal no-hit the Giants; 5 days later Len Barker pitched a perfect game, blanking the Toronto Blue Jays.  Additionally, Nolan Ryan set the ML record for career walks, passing Early Wynn, while Pete Rose passed Stan Musial for the most hits by a National League player.

On June 12th, MLB and players’ union negotiations halted when the two sides were unable to agree on team compensation for lost free agents.  The players’ strike began, and baseball wouldn’t resume until August 9th. During that time, future HOF-ers Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken Jr. played in a minor league game that went over 8 hours and 33 innings, the longest professional game ever.

The strike ended with the All-Star game with the National League winning its 10th straight game 5-4 behind MVP Gary Carter’s 2 home runs.  After the strike, Ryan threw his fifth career no-hitter, breaking the record he previously held with Sandy Koufax.

Mike Schmidt’s MVP season only solidified his title as “best player in baseball” – his only competition, fellow third-bagger George Brett, had a moderate year.

The best pitcher in baseball was still Steve Carlton – he had another phenomenal year, finishing 3rd behind Fernandomania and Tom Seaver in Cy Young voting.


Reds season

Team MVP: George Foster (.295/22/90)

Best Pitcher: Tom Seaver (14-2/2.54/87)

Award Winners:

Foster, Silver Slugger

Dave Concepcion, Silver Slugger


Foster (starter)

Concepcion (starter)


The Reds ended the season 66-42, the best record in baseball. But they finished 2nd to different teams in both halves, falling 1/2 game behind the Dodgers at the time of the strike, and falling 1.5 games back of the Astros in the 2nd half.  One more Big Red Machiner was gone; Cesar Geronimo was traded to the Royals before the 1981 season. Johnny Bench switched to first base and played only 52 games.  Meanwhile, “Charlie Hustle” Rose was busy for the Phillies becoming the only 40-year old player to lead the league in hits.

Tom “Terrific” led the NL in wins, going 14-3 with a 2.54 ERA, and finished second to “Fernandomania” in the Cy Young voting.  George Foster was again the team’s best player. Foster (3rd in MVP voting) smashed 22 homers and knocked in an astounding 90 batters, while Dave Concepcion (4th) drove in 67 and had his best year statistically.  Seaver, Foster and Concepcion were all-stars.  Ken Griffey had another solid year, batting .311. Ron Oester followed up an excellent rookie campaign to team at second with Concepcion to establish a solid tandem up the middle. Young Mario Soto won 12 games and struck out 151 batters.

Read on for the postseason summary…

Read the rest of this entry »

1981 Topps vending box break

23 08 2010

I opened a 1981 vending box, which I bought along with another ’82 vending box in an eBay auction. The “500 card box” had 513 cards. Numbers below don’t include the ’81 wax box, this gives a feel for how close the vending box got to completing a set:

24 doubles (no triples / quads)

489 of the 726 card set. (67.4% set completion)

I was again pretty shocked at how good the collation was for a vending box. Between the wax and vending boxes, I think the only key card I didn’t get for this set was the Tim Raines rookie card.

Again, though, the crossover between the wax and vending boxes wasn’t bad, in fact it was terrible this time. I’m 128 cards short out of 726 after opening both boxes. Some of this definitely relates to the wax box having two gum stains per box – I think I’d be under 100 if it wasn’t for that. But that’s still some pretty bad luck with almost 400 doubles.

1981 Topps cards of the Big Red Machine

17 08 2010

Three players and the manager already gone (and Perez is on his 2nd team since)

1981 Topps – family ties

17 08 2010

Brothers – I didn’t pull card #623 Sal Bando, so I didn’t scan that or his brother’s RC (Chris), but that’s one more pair.

Name their MLB father and/or son:

Future managers – 81 topps

17 08 2010

Only the first 3 are current managers…

Trivia question – how many of these guys managed the Reds?

1981 Topps wax box break

9 08 2010

I just finished my second Topps box break. I again bought the 1981 box from BBXC. As far as getting the key cards from this set, I did better than the 1980 wax box. I wish I could have switched how I did with this box with the more expensive 1980 set. Anyways, I got 2 Rickey 2nd year cards – which Beckett says is the most valuable card in the set. This seems weird to me – I think the Dodgers future stars – Fernando/Scioscia RC is the most “historic” card. I pulled that one as well. Other key rookies I got include Kirk Gibson, Harold Baines, Mookie Wilson and Jeff Reardon. I pulled a Rose, and 2 Schmidt cards. The only notable RC I didn’t pull was Tim Raines, and I also didn’t pull a Nolan Ryan, a card of Ozzie Smith, or a George Brett.

I pulled many more doubles in this set, as you’ll see below. Also, the gum stain and wax stain was not as “fixable” as the 1980 set. Basically, almost every pack had the front and back card not salvageable – 2 cards per pack (69 total  though 21 were doubles) were too far damaged. Luckily, no really good cards were among these.

“Statistics” listed below:

36 packs per box * 15 cards per pack = 540 cards

81 doubles, 5 triples, 1 quad

453 of the 726 card set (62.4% set completion)

36 “Hit-to-Win” Scratch-offs

After backing out the 48 cards that are ruined, I really only have about 56% of the set after opening this box. From that aspect, I actually did much worse than the 1980 set. Some of that was that my overall 1980 collation was surprisingly good –  I don’t think this is worse than what I’d expected.

My next step is to open a vending box for this set, which I ordered from eBay along with a 1982 vending box in an auction I won. I’ll post that when I open it, then post some pics.

The National

8 08 2010

I made the 3.5 hour drive down from Jersey to the National yesterday in Baltimore. It was really cool, though I didn’t get to walk around quite as much as I really would have liked. I got autographs of Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken, $150 and $90 a pop. Both are HOFers with Baltimore on their cap, and were thus immensely popular. They called you up by ticket #, so I didn’t have to completely wait in line, but I had to keep coming back and checking. You got to take a picture with Ripken, so it took really long. I almost missed Murray because I didn’t check quite enough.

Former Red (and National as the locals will remember) Dmitri Young was also there as a dealer; he collects PSA 10 rookie cards. For 20 bucks that was donated to Livestrong charity, I got his auto on an 8×11 and had a 5 minute chat about the Reds. He seemed like a really great guy, and it’s neat to know that he also collects cards.

Anyways, so I didn’t get as much of an opportunity to walk around as much as I wanted. I did, however, purchase the following:

  • 1981 Topps Traded set – I decided I’m going to collect these as I go
  • a box of 1982 Topps (both the above were from the BBXC, who had a booth there – so I saved on shipping!)
  • a 1986 Topps box
  • a couple of other set fillers from commons boxes (not Topps)

So I’m now have bought all the boxes I need through ’82. Need to get to updating!

Also, I’m going back and making some minor updates to the 1980 season post. Since I use this blog primarily to look back on what I’ve done – I’ve got some things I want to note.