Tuesday, August 28, 2007

1981 Topps Tournament -- Round of 16, Match 1

The purpose of this blog over the next couple of weeks or so will be to allow my readers to determine the single greatest card of the 1981 Topps set. Not too long ago I acquired a huge lot of 1981 Topps baseball cards. The lot in question was about 50 cards or so shy of the full set, so I've been spending part of this summer trying to complete it. While not new to the set, I must say that I had no idea of its spectacularness. When I was very young, I "owned" several of these cards. In the mid-'70s and early-'80s my mom would buy a couple of packs of cards a year to "get Brewers." While there were a few gems in the bunch (Winfield rookie, Mike Schmidt 2nd year, George Brett 1984 Nestle/Topps) most were junk. However, this was junk that had etched itself upon my young memory. While assembling this set, I recognized the faces of California Angel Joe Rudi, 1980 A.L. Rookie of the Year Joe Charboneau, and N.L. All Star Johnny Bench. Then, of course, new faces of beloved and unfamiliar players alike started to emerge, poses and expressions, glasses and haircuts, uniforms and moustaches that became icons of their time.

Enough of the backstory, let's get started. Each day (hopefully) I will post a matchup between two cards that you, the readers, will vote on. I'm asking you to choose the superior card, based not on worth, rookie status, or Hall of Fame membership. No, I'm asking you to let the reptilian part of your brain take over as you judge each card based on the visual image alone. You will not find, for example, any Rickey Henderson cards in this 16-card showdown. Nor will there be a matchup between the rookie cards of Mookie Wilson and Harold Baines. These cards are not worthy of this competition. Based on looks alone, leave a comment with the name of your preferred victor. Votes will be accepted and tabulated until the end of the current round. All 16 participants have already been selected through the use of a painstaking process of elimination, so don't bother making any suggestions. All cards are seeded from #1 to #16, and matchups will take place according to a process similar to each of the four regionals in the NCAA basketball tournament. Upsets, should they occur, will not alter the matchup schedule. For example, should #1 defeat #16 and #15 defeats #2, #1 will still play the winner of the #8/9 matchup. I'd like as many people as possible to vote on this, so tell your friends and relatives!

Alright, let's get started:
Seed #1 Jack Clark (#30)

Holy Living Fuck! I had no idea Jack Clark let his eyebrows get this much out of hand. Based on his late-1980s cards, I suppose a group of teammates must have taken Clark aside and let him know that he was ruining their game when it came time to hit the clubs. Although, there are Cardinals cards of Clark that show similar thistle, though not to this extreme.


Seed #16 Mike Norris (#55)

Crane your neck at a slight angle to the left to get the full effect of this card. The foreshortening of his leg makes it look like Norris used the fabled "splitz" pitching delivery. Spectacular photo.


--David said...

Ironically (coincidentally), I recently discussed the "hat kind" set on my tribecards.blogspot.com site. I, too, remember going through piles and piles of the 1981 cards. I am looking forward to seeing who else made the brackets! :-)

For me, though, based on sheer animal instinct, I choose Jack Clark. C'Mon, what says 80's more than the UNIBROW!?

steve said...


dayf said...

Wow, I forgot how spectacular that unibrow was. Clark.

Jesse said...

Clark by a lash!