The title of this post is actually kind of redundant, since Donruss 1981 and "Bad" mean the same thing.
Lousy pictures: Let's start with the most obvious, the faded and fuzzy pictures. I would imagine some at Donruss must have looked at these and said, "They look fine, lets print them." Then he said, "I need another beer, the first twelve I drank this afternoon just aren't enough." He would have to have been absolutely loaded to think these look like something anyone would want to buy.
Do not adjust your screen - this is what they really look like. Here are some of the most faded and fuzzy
Bonus Cubs: Donruss didn't believe in airbrushing. If a player got traded or changed teams via free agency, they just changed the team name on the card and were good to go.
The Cardinals signed free agent catcher Darrell Porter. His card show him in a Royals uniform but the team name list is the Cardinals
The Cubs must have been busy during the off-season because there are six cards with players in Cubs uniforms but listed on a different team. The oddest card is the Ray Burris, because he was traded by the Cubs in midseason, 1979. It had been a season and a half since he played with the Cubs, but Donruss has him wearing a Cubs uniform. The picture is also from 1977 (see black armband and old Cubbie bear logo on shoulder).
Inconsistent Team Names: As mentioned above, Donruss didn't airbrush; they just put the players new team on the card. But oddly, in many instances when players were traded, one had the new team while the other was listed with his old team.
Bruce Sutter was traded by the Cubs for Leon Durham, who is still listed with the Cardinals
Jerry Martin was traded for Joe Strain, both shown with the Giants
Butch Hobson was traded to the Angels for Carney Lansford, who is still shown with the Angels instead of the Red Sox.
Stats on the Back: or lack thereof. The Donruss cards had only stats from 1980 and career numbers. Topps hadn't done that since 1971 and I'm glad. In the pre-internet days, baseball card were the best place to go for player stats. They were my baseball-reference.com. Having only one season of stats is a bad thing in my book. I want the whole career, plus minors when possible. Donruss fixed this with their 1982 set, list all of a players stats through the years.
Errors: I have found different lists of errors on the 1981 Donruss set. Here is a list of 31 different errors, most of which were corrected in later printings.
72 Rennie Stennett Breaking broke leg
82 Joe Charboneau
87 Larry Hisle '77 highlights& lineends with %
97 Tom Burgmeier Error Throws: Right
164 Del Unser No
240 Bob Lacey (sic) Lacy
261 Vern Ruhle Error Photo on front actually Ken Forsch
306 Gary Mathews (sic) Matthews
319 Dwane (sic) Duane Kuiper Error
326 Gorman Thomas 2nd line on back
330 Steve Rodgers (sic) Rogers
342 Paul Spittorff (sic) Splittorf
357 Bob (sic) Rob Picciolo
379 Luis Pujois Error Name misspelled
444 Buck Martinez Error Reverse negative
457 John Tudor Error
483 Ivan De Jesus Error Lifetime hits 702
490 Dave Roberts Career Highlights
516 Willie Norwood Career Highlights
524 Ray Burris Career Highlights: Went on ...~
532 Geoff Zahn Career Highlights: Was 2nd in
554 Mike Vail Career Highlights: After two ...
555 Jerry Martin Career Highlights: Overcame a...
556 Jesus Figueroa Career Highlights: Had an ...
563 Bob Owchinko Career Highlights: Traded to...
566 Glen (sic) Glenn Adams ERRName misspelled
595 Dave Edwards Career Highlights: Sidelined
601 Checklist 1-120 Error Unnumbered 51 Donahue
603 Checklist 241-360 Error Unnumbered 306 Mathews
604 Checklist 361-480 Error Unnumbered 379 Pujois
605 Checklist 481-600 Error Unnumbered 566 Glen
Wow!! I'm thinking that the person in charge of quality control must have had the same last name as Don and Russ.
Tomorrow I will look at Wrigley Field through the eyes of Donruss 1981.