Saturday, April 09, 2011

Complete Set Chronicles: 1982 Topps

1982 Topps:

Like many collectors, I always wanted the complete Topps set for the year of my birth.  However, unlike a lot of collectors, I was born in the 80s which usually means "junk wax" sets!  Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), I happened to be born in 1982 - the year of the Cal Ripken Jr. rookie card!


The 1982 Topps set begins with a subset of six different Highlight cards from the 1981 season.  The players featured are:  Fernando Valenzuela, Nolan Ryan, Pete Rose, Tim Raines, Ron Davis, and card #1 in the set, Steve Carlton.  Carlton's card highlights a September 21, 1981 game in Montreal, Quebec where Carlton became the NL's All-Time strikeout leader.  In that game, he surpassed Bob Gibson for the record!


The last card in the set, #792, belongs to Boston Red Sox pitcher Frank Tanana.  Tanana spent the first eight years with the Angels only to be traded on January 23, 1981 to the Red Sox.  In 1981, Tanana went 4-10 with a 4.02 ERA.  Although many people would have given up on a pitcher with those numbers (and nine years of wear on the pitching arm), Tanana managed to continue playing through the 1993 season!  The 1981 season was the only year that Tanana played for the Red Sox.  As another interesting note, of Tanana's four wins, two of them were complete game shutouts (he pitched a total of five complete games in 1981).

Card design:

The regular base cards feature a pair of colored stripes (specific to each team) running down the left-hand side of the card.  The team name and player name sit at the bottom of the card within a white border that runs around the entire card.  The photos are a mix of action and posed shots throughout the set.  Each card also features a fascimile autograph across the front of the photo.

The back of the base cards features full career statistics in blue ink over a green background.  This set is clearly not designed for color blind collectors!  The card number is in the top left corner below the Topps logo - when sorting through a large pile of 1982 Topps, the card number quickly becomes difficult to distinguish.  Most card backs also feature a small write-up for the pictured player (unless their careers are too long, such as Nolan Ryan above).


There are a few different subsets and cards of interest in the 1982 set.  Most of the stars in the set have two cards (numbered consecutively).  One is a regular base card, the other is an "In action" card that includes a bunch of highlights of the player on the back (things such as All-Star nominations, playoff performances, etc.).

There are also All Star cards for both the NL and AL teams.  The backs of the All Star cards talk about the player, but not specifically about performances in previous All Star games.

Finally, there are future star cards for each team (such as the Cal Ripken Jr. rookie card above) and team leader cards for each team.  The team leader cards feature a full team checklist (with 1982 Topps card numbers) for the given team on the back - a nice touch.

I'll be honest, when I first saw the 1982 set, I didn't really care for it.  However, the set has grown on me since then.  It's definitely not my favorite Topps set, or even my favorite Topps set from the 80s, but it is a set from the year of my birth - and that earns it a few bonus points!  The set is simply a little too much "eighties" heavy in design though to score it overly high on my grading scale.  As such, I give the 1982 Topps set a  7/10.


Anonymous said...

I think Seaver needs some Kayopectate!

deal said...

nice synopsis of the set - couple of cool subsets - ok front design.

Bo said...

Do you trade for complete sets? If so I've got a 1991 Score set I'd be interested in trading.

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