|THE FIRST PAGE: LEADING OFF WITH LEADER CARDS IS A GOOD START.|
Topps could've marked its 30th anniversary in 1981 with a nod to the past or even a snazzy new logo reflective of the milestone. Instead, the company ignored the anniversary. The resulting 858-card set is a tip of the cap to the mundane. It's plagued by mis-cut and off-centered cards and muddy photo reproduction, so maybe it is echoing the past, say, '79. The '81 set also has the unfortunate distinction of coming out before a season that would be wrecked by the players' strike that lasted nearly two months. Thirty-eight percent of the season would be wiped out and a ridiculous split-season idea was hatched in which the Cardinals and Reds, who had the best two overall records, didn't even qualify for the playoffs. However, '81 marked the beginning of the popular 132-card boxed Traded set that Topps issued later in the year. It's numbered 727-858 and printed on gray stock, giving the master set a continuity that would be lacking in future issues. Notable rookie cards are #302 Fernando Valenzuela, #347 Harold Baines, #315 Kirk Gibson and #479 Tim Raines.
THUMBING THROUGH THE SET
|I LIKE HOW TOPPS DESIGNED THE PIRATES CAP.|
BILLBOARD'S No. 1 SONG
- Bette Davis Eyes, Kim Carnes.
SONG I MOST IDENTIFY WITH THIS SET
- Watching the Wheels, John Lennon.
|HURDLE'S CARD IS ONE OF THE SET'S BEST, WHICH ISN'T SAYING A LOT.|
- The U.S.-Iran agreement frees 52 hostages held in Teheran on Jan. 20. Ronald Reagan takes oath as the United States' 40th president that same day.
- Pope John Paul II is wounded by a gunman on May 14.
|LeFLORE-SCOTT RECORD-BREAKER SHOULD'VE BEEN HORIZONTAL.|
- Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat is assassinated by Islamic extremists during a military parade in Cairo on Oct. 6.
- President Reagan is wounded by a gunman during an assassination attempt on March 30.
|PERCONTEMANIA! I MEAN, FERNANDOMANIA! THOSE WERE THE DAYS.|
- Sandra Day O'Connor is nominated July 7 as the first woman on the Supreme Court.
- The Supreme Court rules to allow television cameras in courtrooms, which eventually and unfortunately gives birth to the celebrity judge, lawyer and witness.
|VIDA'S CARD RECALLS HIS CLASSIC '75 POSE; GIBSON DEBUTS.|
- Music Television, otherwise known as MTV, is launched on Aug. 1, playing around-the-clock music videos and forever changing the music industry. For the worse.
|THE FRONTWARD CAP, BACKWARD HELMET LOOK NEVER CAUGHT ON.|
- Cristopher Cross sweeps the major Grammy Awards with Sailing winning Best Record and Song of the Year and his self-titled album winning Album of the Year.
|NICE PAGE, HIGHLIGHTED BY THE PLAYOFF CARDS.|
- Ordinary People wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
|LOVE THE VALENTINE CARD.|
- Baseball's fourth work stoppage begins on June 12, and play won't resume until Aug. 9 with the All-Star Game in Cleveland.
|THE SUTTER IS ONE OF THE SET'S BEST PITCHER CARDS.|
- The Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the New York Yankees in six games to win the World Series on Oct. 28.
|THE SPACEMAN, BONDS AND HRABOSKY CARDS ELEVATE THIS SET.|
- The Boston Celtics win their 14th NBA title by defeating the Houston Rockets in six games on May 14.
|THE FINGERS TRADED CARD IS A CLASSIC, AND THE FISK ISN'T BAD EITHER.|
- The New York Islanders defend the Stanley Cup title by defeating the Minnesota North Stars in five games on May 21.
|LUZINSKI AND LYNN LOOK OUT OF PLACE IN THOSE NEW UNIFORMS.|
- The Clemson Tigers are voted national champions after defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers 22-15 in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1982, finishing 12-0.