I have been going through some of my older sets and putting them into binders. It's been a fun trip down memory lane. I'm going to take some time over the next week to put up several different posts on the Donruss set from 1981. Today, I'll look at what's good about it.
1981 was a landmark year for baseball cards because the Topps monopoly was gone. Both Fleer and Donruss issued their initial sets. At the time I was buying a complete set of Topps each year, giving me the chance to brag that I had all the baseball cards for the year. In order to be able to say that in 1981 I had to purchase all three sets, which, reluctantly, I did. I figured that because the Donruss and Fleer were the initial issues, they would be worth a ton of money some day, kinda like '51 or '52 Topps. Unfortunately, a lot of other people thought the same thing. The price today of an '81 Donruss isn't much higher than what I first bought it for. So much for my great investment idea!
It had been a long time since I last looked at the 1981 Donruss set. When I first bought the cards, I wasn't very impressed with it. 28 years later, I am still very unimpressed. But since the title of this post is "The Good" I need to come up with a few things. Here's what I got:
The set is very Chicago friendly. Being a Chicago boy, I do enjoy the fact that nearly every card was shot in Chicago, either at Wrigley Field or Old Comiskey Park. Of the pictures taken elsewhere, many were taken in nearby Milwaukee (or if you want to tick off Brewers fans, call it Wrigley North). Donruss' photographers were obviously based in Chicago. Wrigley and Comiskey were the only parks I had been too, so I was glad to see these familiar places so prominently featured. Topps seemed to be New York or San Francisco / Oakland based. Donruss gets points for using Chicago.
Milwaukee County Stadium
White card backs: Topps had a history of many hard to read card backs. The Donruss set was printed on white cardstock, so the backs were very easy to read. I like that.
Sharp photography: Occassionally, they were able to get some really sharp pictures on the cards, much richer than the sharpness and color Topps came up with.
The color on these cards seems to "pop" out more than a typical Topps card.
Dual cards of Superstars: Donruss issued multiple cards for seven players: Johnny Bench, Steve Garvey, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Palmer, and Willie Stargell had two cards while Pete Rose and Reggie Jackson got three each. They did a nice job of picking the players, because most ended up in the Hall of Fame. This could be seen as the start of getting collectors to be player collectors instead of set builders.
For Night Owl - a night card! (or maybe it's dusk)
And lastly, Yogi Berra: He was just a coach for the Yankees at the time, but you got to love it that Donruss decided to give Yogi a card!
Tomorrow I will give you my take on the Cubs cards from Donruss 1981.