1981 started out as a pretty good year for a young collector. One had three times the fun with DonRuss and Fleer coming on the scene. Although I was a Topps guy, the idea of having a little variety was a good thing, so I thought at the time. (As a youngster, I could really overlook the flaws, errors, and mis-cuts that I associate with these sets with today).
Fernando Mania had started, plenty of milestones early in the season had been achieved and a perfect game had been thrown.
Then an awful thing happened. Just a few days after school was let out for the summer, there was the player strike. I didn’t understand why or what was going on at the time, but even then I felt like a victim.
I can remember worrying myself into a state of frenzy that there would not be cards available in 1982. This new found love affair I had for baseball and baseball cards and dropped me like a bad habit.
I can recall a few conversations I had with friends and some adults about my concerns. Some shared my frustrations and others seemed not to worried about it. I just knew they didn’t understand the severity of the problem!
But as time went on, baseball came back, the All-Star game was played and the World Series had occurred, my nerves had settled down. In 1982 Topps came through for this young collector and boosted its set size to 792! I was so happy cards were being made and I was so happy to get my piece of Fernando Mania!
Looking back at these cards, if you were not aware of the player strike, one might think that there were lots of injuries or slumps going on with the “low production numbers” from the stats on the back. But that would be taking them out of context.
For instance looking at the Home Run Leaders Card you will see four players tied for the American League Home Run race with 22 round trippers.
I hadn’t really thought of the strike and my concerns until looking at a few 82’s this week. 22 home runs and leading the league may seem pretty odd to today’s collector, it would to me if I didn’t know or understand the why.