1981 Coke & A Smile: Wrapping Things Up

As I’d mentioned in the first, second and third “1981 Coke & A Smile” posts, I recently got a bunch of 1981 Topps/Coca-Cola cards shipped to me from COMC.  I’ve been chasing down those where the photo has some sort of significant (or at least interesting) difference.

The first two players in this post were part of the same trade between the Cardinals and Brewers, but since there wasn’t a Brewers Coke set, we only see the players coming to St. Louis.  On December 12, 1980, The Brewers traded Sixto Lezcano, Lary Sorensen, David Green and Dave LaPoint to the Cardinals for Rollie Fingers, Ted Simmons and Pete Vuckovich.  For those of you wondering “Wait a minute, when did the Cardinals have Rollie Fingers in the first place?”, well the answer is that the Cardinals acquired him in a trade with the Padres four days earlier.

Here’s Lezcano’s 1981 Topps card:

His 1981 Coke card:

And his 1981 Topps Traded card:

Lary Sorensen’s 1981 Topps card (and I’ll just say that I like the way the bright sun washes out the pinstripes that aren’t in shadow):

1981 Coke:

1981 Traded:

I have one more recently acquired Coke card to feature, but since this “Coke & A Smile” series has gotten more popular than I’d expected, I’m going to go back and also feature the 1981 Coke cards which I’d already owned but haven’t already been part of this series.

We’ll start with the February 28, 1981 trade that sent Steve Henderson from the Mets to the Cubs for Dave Kingman.  In this case, both of the players got a Coke card.

Henderson’s 1981 Topps:

Henderson’s 1981 Coke:

Henderson’s 1981 Traded:

And here’s the other side of the deal, starting with Kingman’s Topps card (note the All-Star banner):

1981 Coke (no All-Star Banner… and no mustache):

…and 1981 Traded:

Let’s do a quick run through the remaining cards…

FRANK TANANA
January 23, 1981: Traded by the California Angels with Jim Dorsey and Joe Rudi to the Boston Red Sox for Fred Lynn and Steve Renko

1981 Topps

1981 Topps Coca-Cola

1981 Topps Super (5×7) – included here because it’s the same photo with what looks to me like different airbrushing

1981 Topps Traded

DON SUTTON
Signed as a free agent with the Astros

1981 Topps

1981 Topps Coca-Cola

1981 Topps Traded

RUSTY STAUB
Signed as a free agent with the Mets

1981 Topps

1981 Topps Coca-Cola

1981 Topps Traded

RANDY JONES
December 15, 1980: Traded by the San Diego Padres to the New York Mets for Jose Moreno and John Pacella

1981 Topps

1981 Topps Coca-Cola (same photo with airbrushed cap and jersey)

1981 Topps Traded

I’ll also point out here that there were 1981 Coca-Cola cards for the Reds, Pirates and Royals, but to the best of my knowledge those cards were substantially the same as the Topps cards with only cropping and All-Star banner differences (like with the Dave Kingman cards above)

1981 TOPPS COCA-COLA TEAM HEADER CARD
Just in case anyone wants to see what these look like.


Back in 1981 I took advantage of the “buy an uncut sheet!” offer, and now, nearly 41 years later, I still don’t know what to do with the sheet… But I did write about it a few years ago.

4 thoughts on “1981 Coke & A Smile: Wrapping Things Up

  1. Weird how both Cardinals in the traded set show the underside of their cap brims, which usually indicates that they’re in the wrong uniform, but they aren’t in the wrong uniform because you can see the birds on the uniforms.

    The Coke sets really could have used old photos of Kingman and Staub with the Mets. Would have been better than the airbrushing.

    Don Sutton suttoning on both his flagship and traded cards!

    • I know… especially Kingman, he’d been gone “just” four years… A four year old photo was certainly not out of the question for Topps.

      I noticed that about the Traded photos on the Cardinals as well. Did someone suspect these guys would have to be airbrushed in the near future?

  2. The coke cards are like collecting a different set for each team. The hat on Frank Tanana looks crooked & brighter colors. Also photo for Randy Jones the same for Mets & Padres, I don’t remember the Padres having uniform numbers on there left sleeve unless it was a spring training or pregame uniform. Not too many teams had numbers on there sleeves other than Tigers in the late 60’s & the Phillies with there terrible piping font.

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