Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Looking at '81 through others' eyes

I don't know the average age of a card blogger. But if I had to guess, I'd say it's in the early 30s somewhere. That's based mostly on what I gather from the blogs, the love for the junk wax of their childhood, the appreciation for '90s cards I never knew, and the consideration that any card prior to 1983 is practically ancient.

In fact, there have been countless posts pointing out the strange appearance of players on cards from the '70s and early '80s. The facial hair, the awkward poses, the general cheesiness (a word, by the way, that we never used growing up in the '70s).

But it's difficult for me to see what they see sometimes. I grew up in the '70s and early '80s. I have those cards committed to memory. None of these cards are cards that I've seen for "the first time." And the poses and looks of the players were just what went on at the time. It didn't seem strange to me at all. I know the cards so well that I'm not shocked by anything I see on them. Just a dude in a beard who could play ball really well.

I realize that I have mentioned the odd looks or poses on cards of my childhood in the past, but it's only after examining the card for awhile, stepping outside of my childhood self, and trying to see what others see. It's a process.

You may have noticed in the last post that I was a bit struck by Darrell Porter's glasses on his '81 Topps Traded card. That actually didn't take any effort, any stepping outside of myself, at all. And that's because it's a card I have never seen before.

These '81 Traded cards are the exception. They are from my childhood era of collecting, yet I had never seen most of them until Max sent the set my way.

So as I'm pulling out these cards and sorting them, I am seeing what others younger than I am see when they witness cards like this for the first time. It was very visceral feeling. Instantaneous. "Wow, look at that mustache!" "I can't believe they wore their hair like that!"

It's odd. I mean these are my boys I'm talking about here. But I can't help my reaction.

I've been so fascinated by this set the last few days that I'm probably going to devote a few more posts to it. Because while this set for many people is about Tim Raines' first solo Topps card ...

... we go a little deeper at Night Owl Cards.

For example:

It's not as apparent on the scan, but on each of these cards, not only is the player airbrushed into his new team's uniform, but there is what appears to be a major bright light shining on their faces, as if the photo is overexposed or something. It's not a good look at all. It makes each of them look as if they're sweating profusely.

Then there is the plague of up-tilted caps:

I'm half-convinced that this particular card of Danny Ainge is what drove him into a career in basketball. And I can't believe that anyone connected to Saucier approved of him displaying his sweat-soaked hair in such a manner.

That is a tiny bat.

THAT is a tiny bat.

That is a tiny TWO bats.

One more card and then I'll save the rest for another day:

Dear baseball bat,

Thank you for being you.

You are my best friend. You never let me down. You never come home late at night. You never make me stay up and wonder where you are. You don't make me call the police or wander the neighborhood looking for you in the street gutters. You never argue. You never tell me my underwear is nasty.

You are my best friend.




  1. The first thing that popped into my head when I read "that's a tiny bat" is "that's what she said." Wow, I'm immature.

    The plague of up-tilted caps came back around in the form of my high school baseball team. It seemed to be the thing to do then, much like flat-brimmed hats now.

    '81 definitely is before my time, so I have enjoyed looking at these trends you've mentioned. Keep 'em coming!

  2. Didn't Donruss have a Raines card in their initial issue?

    I'm looking forward to the next couple of posts about this traded set. Like you, this one is new to me.

  3. Yeah, I meant Raines' first Topps solo card. I'll add that. I'll be mixing these posts with other ones over the next few days.

  4. I was born in '81, so anything from that year seems young and vibrant, with its whole life ahead of it. Cards made in 2011 make me feel older than cards made in 1981.

    Cards made in the '70, though? How did they avoid the dinosaurs in the background?! Wakka wakka wakka! -Andy

  5. Great post! I am one of those youngsters that comments on players facial hair from the 70s/early 80s.

  6. Those 1981 & 1982 Traded sets really blew me away as a kid, especially with Tim Raines and Cal Ripken driving the demand. Hard to beat them for early 80s star power and even the little set boxes seemed special. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  7. wait.... Ellis Valentine played for the mets????

  8. 1981 was the first cards I started buying in packs so they were my start. And I don't remember the traded set. Of course, back then I didn't go to a LCS, all my packs came from Hooks drugs.

    I never noticed any details to a card then (or now) either because I was just pumped to have a card with a baseball player and I wanted them all.

    So while I may be younger than you, I'm not quite as young as most of the other bloggers. 80's were my time for collecting.

  9. I didn't see the '81 Traded set either, but '81 was my first year to buy cards. My first pack was Fleer, but I bought what seemed like a lot of packs of '81 Topps.