The only bright spot on the 1981 Cubs, Bill Buckner
I really don't know where to start. Do I begin with the lousy team or the lousy cards?
The Team: 1981 was not a very good year for the Cubs or for baseball. The bad news is that there was a strike mid season and the Cubs only played 103 games. The good news is that there was a strike and that the Cubs only played 103 games! They were bad, real bad, finishing with an overall record of 38-65, which is a .368 winning percentage. They finished last in the first half but rose to fifth (out of six) in the second half.
1981 also brought a change of ownership as the Wrigley family sold the Cubs to Tribune Corporation for $20 million. The team was sold mid season and the Tribune made no changes during the season. It was lousy baseball as usual.
The only real star the team had was Bill Buckner. He led the team in hitting (.310), home runs (10!) and RBI's (75). The leading pitcher was Mike Krukow, who could only manage a .500 record , 9-9. Bruce Sutter had been traded, so Dick Tidrow took over the closer role and led the team with a whopping 9 saves! Then again, you're not going to get many save opportunities when the team only wins 37% of its games.
The Cards: The set features cards of 22 Cubs, although there are several other players featured in Cubs uniforms (I'll have more on that tomorrow). Many of the cards have fuzzy photos (more on that tomorrow, too).
About the only good thing I can say is that all but one of the pictures on the cards was taken at Wrigley Field. The only non-Wrigley card was that of Mick Kelleher. His card has a picture taken at Veterans Stadium. The photo is also old, taken in 1977 or earlier since the Cubs road uniform in 1978 - 1981 had pinstripes. Another photo oddity is the Rick Reuschel card. It had a picture from 1977. You can tell its 1977 because Reuschel had a black armband on him left sleeve, which the Cubs wore after owner PK Wrigley died in April of 1977. He also had the old Cubbie bear on his shoulder, not the newer one you see on all of the other cards.
Mick Kelleher, at the Vet
Rick Reuschel, photo taken in 1977 - black armband, old Cubbie bear logo
This set could also be called the Mustache Set. Of the 22 players featured, 16 have mustaches.
But mostly, its a crappy set of cards of a crappy team. Here are the rest of the craptastic Donruss Cubs from 1981
Manager Joey Amalfitano, Larry Biittner - wearing Billy WIllams' number 26, mustache
Back up catcher Tim Blackwell, huge mustache, Doug Capilla, mustache
Bill Caudill and Ivan DeJesus, (who hit under .200) mustache
Steve Dillard, mustache; Barry Foote, mustache
Willie Hernandez and Dave Kingman, mustaches on each
Another double mustache, Dennis Lamp and Carlos Lezcano
Steve Macko, Lynn McGlothen, mustache
Lenny Randle, ready for action, mustache, and George (Heat) Riley, mustache
Scot Thompson and Dick Tidrow, Two Fu Manchus
Future Dodger and Pirate manager Jim Tracy