Sunday, November 7, 2010

1981 ... you son of a gun

I am on the verge of completing the 1981 Topps set. Normally, this would be a good thing. Heck, it still is a good thing. Just not as good as it could be.

That's because I thought I had already completed my '81 Topps set.

Generous reader Denis sent me the two cards that I thought had killed off the set. You'll see them in a minute, but first some other cards that he sent in yet another set quest.

Yes, he sent me some glorious 1971s, including this wildly off-center photo of the former Dodger great.

Those are the other ones. Aren't those tremendous? It really is a tragedy that Bill Hands was traded away from the Cubs seven years before catcher Barry Foote arrived in Chicago. I would pay good money to see a Hands-Foote battery in action.

The addition of these 1971 needs means I'm 44 cards away from finishing off the set. It is now 94.1% complete. I get all tingly thinking about it.

But back to the more serious matter of the '81s. Denis sent the last two Dodgers I needed to complete the team set. So that's officially finished. I've checked and everything.

He also sent the two cards that I figured wrapped up the entire base set for me.

I was quite pleased to get these cards. You see, the 1981 set was never a labor of love. I just don't find it to be that interesting. Besides, it was a pain in the ass to collect back in '81, because it was the first time in almost 30 years that collectors were forced to choose from multiple manufacturers.

As I said before, as kids, we couldn't afford to collect Topps, Fleer and Donruss. So we failed miserably at all three. I came up pathetically short of finishing the Topps set, and gave up on it for years and years.

The only reason I went back to it is I came across another collector who seemed to have endless 1981 Topps. He threw them in practically for free in each transaction. He did it so often that I found myself very close to completing the set.

And, of course, that means only one thing. I have to complete the set now.

So, finally, FINALLY, the 1981 set was finished. I could look at all the brightly colored borders (which just don't fascinate me like the '75 borders) and all of the caps in the bottom left-hand corner and say, "There. I'm done with you. Forever."

It would mean I had completed eight of the 10 Topps sets from the 1980s. And I could get started on finishing off 1982.

I could thank Denis for helping me complete it, and let blog readers know that he's looking for three solitary cards to finish off his 1979 Topps football set. If you have cards #63, #71 or #400, contact me and I can put you in touch with Denis. I'm sure he could send something your way.

Then I would officially close the binder on that set.

But first I had to do what I always do when I complete a set -- make sure I actually DID complete the set.

I leafed through all of the pages of my '81 binder and grew happier as I saw nothing but packed nine-pocket pages. I was almost to the end, when I stopped short ...

It couldn't be. But it was. There was a blank pocket.

Card #664 was missing.


I was devastated.

I don't know how I could have overlooked it. But it's true. I am definitely missing the White Sox team card from the '81 set.


If you have the card, I'll be happy to take it off your hands. Just don't expect anything fantastic in return.

I just want to be done with the thing.


  1. if you want to e-mail me your address I think I could help.

  2. I don't care what anybody says --- those late 70s/early 80s White Sox uniforms were great!

  3. If it doesn't work out otherwise, I definitely can help you. Have the card in my hand (OK on the desk) right now, and it would be yours gratis.

    Email to

  4. One of the hobby groups I belong to has a term for finding a hole in a set you thought you'd completed.

    We say the Gremlins have attacked.

    that happened to me when I thought I finished off my 1980 Topps set. I slid Reggie into his space, flipped through the binder and found that Frank White was missing. I remembered the times I'd passed over a 1980 Frank White card because I thought I had him...but there was still that hole in the binder.

    Fortunately, I found a White card fairly soon after that.

  5. I know it was a minor point in this point, but nice Frank Howard. I met him at the National this year. One HELL of a nice guy...