I've read multiple blog posts and watched several YouTubers reminisce about the first cards they ever pulled out of a pack... like it was remembering their first kiss. I'm so pissed that I wasn't blessed with that kind of memory... or didn't take the time to remember such a cool event in my collecting history.
I can't even tell you the very first baseball card packs I ripped, but I will say I'm pretty confident it was 1981 Topps or 1981 Donruss. I remember having stacks of both of these products and trading them with my neighbors.
I'm even more confident that 1982 was the first year I owned a Topps Baseball Sticker Album and attempted to fill it in. No idea if I ever came close (not likely), but I remember having this album as a kid. Over the years, I've debated purchasing a new album with a box of stickers and reliving my childhood. It just never happened and after checking how much people want for their boxes... I've accepted that it won't happen anytime soon.
Then in December, I read a post over at cards as i see them and it rekindled my interest in owning an album. I headed over to eBay, found this for sale, and clicked the BIN button:
A week or two later, the album arrived in my mailbox. It took a few weeks, but eventually I opened it up... and was taken back to 1982.
Let's start off by taking a peek at the nice looking cover which features Gary Carter and a random umpire that I don't recognize:
I'm also jealous of those baseball aficionados who are able to recognize umpires like they were picking out family members in a police lineup. Yeah, I might be lazy. But I did attempt to identify the top two stickers under the 25¢ price tag... only to come up empty-handed.
I actually don't think either of those stickers exist, since the 2nd sticker is obviously an Oakland Athletic... but the American League teams were all issued red borders.
Moving along, here's the back cover:
It's always nice to see team logos from my childhood like the Swingin' A's, the Mariner's trident, and the cursive San Francisco Giants logo.
When you open up the album, the first two pages of stickers are reserved for the NL & AL Batting and Pitching Leaders:
These stickers feature the red, white, and blue borders... although the order of these colors are different for each league.
The next twelve pages are the National League team pages... with each team receiving their own dedicated page like this:
Back in 1982, Topps made sure lack of parity wasn't an issue between larger and smaller market teams. Every team was allotted eight stickers. While the American League teams have red borders, the National League teams were given blue borders to match the blue backgrounds.
The teams are in alphabetical order and after the San Francisco Giants page, collectors are treated to a 1981 Highlights page:
I definitely remember Len Barker's perfect game and Fernandomania... but it took me forty-one years to learn that Bill Stein set an American League record with his 7th consecutive pinch-hit on May 25th, 1981. The record still stands after all these years, although he now shares it with Randy Bush and Ross Gload. And for those who are super curious, the MLB record is held by two National League hitters (Dave Philley and Rusty Staub) who each had eight consecutive hits.
The highlights page is followed the NL & AL All-Stars:
I remember treasuring these foil stickers as a kid... although there are a few questionable selections by Topps. Jerry Remy received a sticker, but he wasn't even on the 1981 American League All-Star roster. Willie Randolph got screwed out of a foil sticker. Actually, two other Yankees who were voted in by fans to start the game were also replaced: Bucky Dent (by Rick Burleson) & Reggie Jackson (by Dwight Evans). Over on the National League side, Manny Trillo received the foil treatment over the actual starter: Davey Lopes.
Don't feel too bad for Yankees and Dodgers fans though, because they shared their own special page later in the album.
After the all-stars pages, there are the fourteen American League teams which are similar to the National League pages except the background is red, instead of blue:
Each team page has the team logo, a pennant with the team name in it, and some team statistics from the 1981 season. I was especially excited to see the Oakland A's page, because I grew up watching them at the Coliseum.
Topps hit a home run by including that memorable outfield trio featuring Rickey in left, Murphy in center, and Armas in right. In hindsight, they could have swapped out Spencer for Mike Heath or Wayne Gross... but overall I was happy with the guys they picked.
The big head-scratcher is the background photo. I'm pretty sure it features Rob Picciolo with those flip-up sunglasses, yet he wasn't given a sticker in the album. I could be wrong about the player, but I can confidently say it's not Tony Armas, Jim Spencer, Matt Keough, or Steve McCatty.
The final sticker page is dedicated to the MLB Playoffs with the highlight being the 1981 World Series Champions... the Los Angeles Dodgers:
There aren't a ton of well-cropped action shots in the album... but you wouldn't know it from this page. Topps hooked the Dodgers up with some of the best looking stickers in the set. In fact my favorite is this one:
1982 Topps Stickers #258
Gotta love Steve Garvey and his floating bat! Any Dodgers fans remember this at bat? Did he get a hit?
From front to back, this purchase allowed me to take a nice trip down memory lane back to my childhood. Unfortunately, there was one hiccup... actually four:
1982 Topps Stickers #34 Ron Oester
1982 Topps Stickers #53 Burt Hooton
1982 Topps Stickers #105 Enos Cabell
1982 Topps Stickers #144 Ken Singleton
When I clicked the BIN button, I assumed the set was complete. Unfortunately I put myself into a sticky situation and still need four stickers. To the seller's credit, he/she did state there were three missing stickers in the listing. I just dropped the ball. As for the fourth missing sticker, I'm guessing it was an honest mistake.
On Valentine's Day, I showed my collection some love by being the only bidder on this complete set of 1982 Topps Stickers:
Wanna guess what the winning bid was? If you guessed one shiny penny then you're right. Shipping was $6.65... so overall I paid $6.66 for the set. At least I didn't have to pay any sales tax.
You might be wondering if I'm going to pull the four stickers I need for my album from this set. I'm not. The goal is to pair up this set with a brand new album and add it to the collection. Yup... I'm one of those guys who is weird like that.
As for the missing stickers, I'll eventually track them down on Sportlots or something.
Thank you to all of you who stuck around and took this little journey back in time with me. These are my favorite posts to write. And my favorite thing about blogging is reading your comments, so here is today's question of the day:
Did you buy these albums and packs of stickers back in the 80's? Did you ever complete an album the same year it was released?
I think I owned the 1982, 1983, and 1984 baseball albums, but I never completed any of them. That being said... back then I never completed any of the baseball card sets either. Part of the issue is that I didn't dedicate all of my money to one or the other and even if I did... I probably still wouldn't complete one or the other.
But that's the beauty of being a collector as an adult. I can now go back and either complete them or buy them already completed.
Happy Tuesday and sayonara!