Back in 1980 and 1981, Topps did some experimentation with 5″x7″ cards. As a guy who has long been obsessed with oversized cards, I loved these cards at the time… or so I thought. Perhaps I didn’t love them quite as much as I thought (more on that later).
Today, I’m going to focus on the 1981 “Home Team” set issued in metro New York. There were also regional sets issued in Boston, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Chicago (Cubs & Sox), Texas (Astros and Rangers) and Los Angeles (Dodgers and Angels). In addition, a 15-card National set that was sold in regions that didn’t have a “Home Team” set. 10 of those cards were largely identical to the Home Team equivalents, and there were five cards which were unique to the National set.
The New York set featured 6 Mets and 12 Yankees. Naturally, I was mostly interested in the Mets.
In my neck of the woods, and everywhere, as far as I know, these were sold in one-card packs I bought this pack before I realized that pressing the thin paper wrapper up against the card lets you see the player’s name through the wrapper. This is my lone experience with “pack feeling”. This pack contains an Alex Treviño card that I didn’t need, so it went into “The Vault” (a cardboard box of stuff that was too good to chuck).
Just a quick aside… This artwork would make for a decent “Archives” wrapper in the future.
Here’s the back of the pack.
As you can see, there’s an offer to buy the other team sets, but interestingly not the National set. At the time I took advantage of the offer to buy the Reds and Red Sox sets; I’m not sure why I didn’t get around to buying the other ones in a similar fashion. I’ll be featuring the Reds & Sox in future posts.
Running through the six Mets…
Frank Taveras lead the NL in Stolen Bases in 1977, when he was still with the Pirates. In 1979, he lead the league by playing in 164 games… 11 with the Bucs, 153 with the Mets.
Here’s the back of the Frank Taveras card… Largely uninteresting, but you can see the checklist on the bottom, along with team names that are identical to the front of 1978 Topps cards.
Alex Treviño was a young catcher that the Mets had high hopes for… He didn’t quite become the next Johnny Bench, but he had a nice career, and has been part of the Astros’ Spanish-language broadcast team for 18 years.
Alex posed for this on one of those hillside baseball fields that Topps liked to use for their photo sessions.
Doug Flynn was obtained in the Tom Seaver trade, and was one of the Mets better players for a couple of years.
Lee Mazzilli was the homegrown “star” of the Mets back then. He was an All-Star in 1979, faced Ron Guidry in his sole at-bat and walked on four pitches. (Sniff) It made me so proud to be a Mets fan…
Neil Allen was a reliever for the Mets who also fell into the “Young and has promise” category. He won the N.L. Player of the Week award for the week of 6/6/1980, as well as on two other occasions.
He spent the 2014 season as the pitching coach for the Durham Bulls (Rays AAA).
If you’re a fan of airbrushing, you should check out airbrushing done on a card that’s four times the size of a standard card.
Relatively speaking, they did a nice job on this, as well as some of the other airbrushed 5×7 cards. Maybe they didn’t have to squeeze their artwork into a small space? I get the impression that the airbrushing was done “actual size”.
As I mentioned, there were Yankees that came in these packs.
Here’s Mr. Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction.
…A still quite young Willie Randolph…
Back in the day, the ladies LOOOOOOOOOVED Bucky Dent. I remember buying some packs of these cards in a drug store, and the young lady who worked behind the counter told me that if I got a Bucky Dent, she would like to buy it off of me.
If I hadn’t have been tremendously shy around the opposite sex at the time, I could’ve shared my proven pack-feeling technique, found her a Bucky right then and there and maybe impressed her enough that I got to take her out for a “cuppa cawfee” after she got off of work.
Here’s the reliever commonly know by his avian nickname of Goose.
I left out some of my other Yankees like Bob Watson and Ruppert Jones.
As I was scanning these, I wondered why Topps would leave out guys like Guidry, Reggie or Dave Winfield. After some quick research I came to the realization that Topps did NOT leave those guys out, I just forgot over the past 30 years that I’d never completed this set… I still need 5 Yankees. I guess maybe I stopped buying packs after I had all the Mets. Oh, well, more fun stuff to look for the next time I go to a show.
Obviously, these cards did not sell well enough for Topps to continue making them. I’m sure a number of you have these cards, but more likely than not you bought them at a show well after the fact. Did anyone else buy them in packs like I did?