My collecting days began in 1981 and I still have some of those original '81 cards. They aren't in mint condition, but considering how long they've been floating around in my collection, not to mention all the times they've moved from one place to another, they're just fine with me.
Here are a few of those cards that my 11 year old hands first revealed back in 1981.
Card #1 of the 1981 Topps set was the 1980 Batting Leaders card. It features George Brett, who had just hit a scorching .390 and Bill Buckner who topped the NL with a lowly, at least by comparison, .324 average. I always thought the "A.L." and "N.L." looked like they were added as an afterthought.
Here is the back. Notice that the top 7 A.L. hitters all could have led the N.L. in batting in 1980. The Royals led all of baseball in team batting in 1980 with a .286 average. Thanks George. My Rangers did have three guys in the top 10. Unfortunately, Mickey Rivers, Buddy Bell and Al Oliver couldn't help the Rangers to any more than a 4th place finish at 76-85.
The Cardinals had 4 hitters in the top 10 in 1980. They lead the N.L. in average, hits, OBP, runs and slugging. Like the Rangers, it didn't help much as they finished 74-88.
In 1981, the Pirates 1979 World Series win was still fresh in my mind. It was the first World Series I ever paid attention too and Willie Stargell's performance left an indelible mark on me. He hit all 3 of the Pirates' homers, drove in 7 of the Pirates' 32 runs and hit .400 to lead the Pirates to a 4-3 Series win. This nice card features the classice hat logo and is #380.
Last, but not least on this trip down memory lane, is card #400, Reggie Jackson. I wasn't a Yankee hater in 1981 and all of us knew who Reggie was, so we liked pulling Reggie's from any pack. Reggie finished 1980 with 41 homers, 111 RBIs and a nice .597 slugging percentage. At this point, his career numbers showed over 400 homers, over 200 steals and over 1200 RBIs. Is it any shock he earned the A.L. All-Star designation atop his card?