Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Joy of a team set, chapter 3

I've written this in advance and by the time you read it, the Dodgers might be done and it will be another year of waiting for a repeat of 1988.

So to help me cope (OR celebrate, I'm not that gloomy) I thought I'd go back to the first World Series champion Dodgers team I ever knew.

The 1981 Dodgers were showcased in three different sets, from Donruss, Fleer and Topps. For this Joy of a Team Set exercise, I settled on Fleer, because that set featured more players in the team set than Topps or Donruss. It also gave cards to players like Gary Weiss and Pepe Frias, which Topps and Donruss did not. Topps didn't even have a Manny Mota card.

Here is a look at the complete Dodgers team set from 1981 Fleer:

Fleer had no clue with names in 1981. They either went formal (Welch was never "Robert" in his grown life and likely neither Castillo) or nonexistent ("Davy"). And there was never a "Fernand".

Time for the rundown:

Favorite card runners-up:

5. Terry Forster; 4. Robert Welch; 3. Manny Mota; 2. Fernand Valenzuela

Favorite element of the back:

In a decade of boring backs, 1981 Fleer is one of the dullest. Highlighting the career average or ERA in the top right corner was certainly different, although perplexing. The thing that stood out, as someone who had only known Topps up to that point, was putting the vital stats at the bottom. Topps always placed them near the top in the '70s. Fleer's positioning looked very different to me.

Famous error card: There is "Fernand" Valenzuela, which was not corrected. There is "Davy", also not corrected. There is the "finger" variation on the backs of the Lopes and Cey cards in which a printing error made it look like there was a small pointing "finger" on the back. These are variation cards (which I don't have and won't collect because they're STUPID). The Welch card has a variation where he is listed as "Bob" instead of "Robert" on the back.

Team's claim to fame: The Dodgers beat the Astros in the "first" NLDS, then eliminated the Expos on Rick Monday's home run, then rallied back from an 0-2 deficit in the World Series to beat the Yankees for their first Series championship since 1965.

Players I've talked to: Sadly, none for this East Coaster. Successful TTMs with Cey and Valenzuela. Oh, and Jerry Reuss did comment on my blog.

Most interesting card:

Castillo appears to be balancing a baseball on his finger ... with a warm-up jacket in his pocket ... while owning the most magnificent mustache not on Dav(e)y Lopes' face.

Favorite card in the team set:

#117 - Bill Russell

Thanks for joining me for "joy of a team set".

Oh, and let's see that Dodgers checklist card again.

This set was issued in late winter of 1981.

Here is the flipside:



  1. I loved that 1981 Dodgers team for beating the Yankees in the World Series. That '81 Fleer set was great. On Jerry Augustine's card, they had a picture of Bill Travers. So, they corrected it by issuing it not with a photo of Augustine but by renaming it as Travers. So, Travers ended up with *two* cards as a Brewer in that set.

    Even better? Travers had signed with the Angels as a free agent that January.

  2. Every time I see that Lopes card, it appears he is checking out which girl in the stands he is about to steal away from some poor schlub.

  3. Throwback Tuesday???

  4. Pulled more than half of those from packs and remember most of them well. But have never seen the Pepe Freias card before….not many cards show players from another team who aren't actually playing in a live game.

    The Fernand card has always been one of my favorites. Looks like a Night Dugout Card.

    Looking at the team set together it's neat to see that quite probably most of the non-Spring Training photos were all taken on the same day. If Welch was on the mound at home against the Padres, perhaps it was September 18, 1980. Dodgers won 7-3.

  5. 1981 Fleer is like that girl from the Philippines who transferred into your high school... You look back and realize that a large percentage of the attraction could be attributed to being exotic within the context of your world at the time, but hey, nothing wrong with that. And there will always be a place in your heart for 81F and that girl...

  6. I love both '81 and '83 sets. Can't decide between the two.