Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Baltimore Colts' Card History Pt. 9...1980 & 1981

This was originally to be a post covering the final four years of cards for the Colts franchise in Baltimore. But given the amount of scans that would cram into one entry I'm going to break it in half.

1980 Topps

Topps gave the '80 set a sort of pop art-ish look. The name/team/position element reminds me of the Yellow Submarine. I dunno, maybe it's just me.

In any case the photos are heavily weighted towards sideline game shots. They were vertical and the Colts got the green/yellow combo. The border around the name, etc. matched the border around the front picture.

I'm not a fan of the deep red of the backs. I think it makes the text difficult to read. The cartoon relates to the team, not necessarily the particular player on the card. Stats for the skills guys, block text for the grunts. No surprises or innovations as to what the backs contained.

The team leader card had the team checklist on the reverse. I'll give Topps credit for using two different Joe Washington pics on this one.

Joe Washington's photo is the same on the Receiving Leaders card as it is on the Colts leaders card. And the same as it was on the 1978 team leaders card...and his base card. Never let it be said that Topps didn't ring every last possible use out of a photo.

1980 Fleer

Fleer again has the same four cards for the Colts, two showing 'Team Action' and one for each of the Colts' two Super Bowl appearances. Nothing new here except the idea that the 1981 Topps cards bear a passable resemblance to these '80 Fleer cards. 

I like this one because you get that Memorial Stadium infield dirt and the  wooden temporary stands of stadium in the background. 

Topps issued some over-sized cards they called Topps Super in '80 but there were no Colts included. A company called Marketcom had poster-like cards that began in 1980 and whose lifespan carried over several seasons. I don't have any but they are easy to find and generally pretty cheap. I'll grab the Bert Jones versions soon enough. He's the only Colt that I'm aware of in the sets.

1981 Topps

With the flag/banner waving thing on the front along with the red/yellow/blue color combo on the Colts cards the 1981 set has become one of my favorites of the era. 

Most of the Colts appear in sideline shots. And for the final time Topps airbrushes team logos out of them.

A sort of orange-brown made the backs not all that easy to read. But a lot of that depended on the text size.

Man, those stats on the back of Greg Landry's card are tiny!

The Team Leader card once again had the team checklist on the reverse.

This was the first year for 'Super Action cards. As the name implies they were game action shots.

Curtis Dickey rep'd the Colts and got the write-up on the back. 

1981 Fleer 

Fleer was back as always with the Team Action and Super Bowl cards. They mixed things up a bit in '81. The Super Bowl cards had stat dominated backs.

The Team action cards were issued for each team's offense and defense. The backs had that units numbers from the prior season.

They threw a curve, though. They extended the set from 70 to 88 cards with the last being game shots without a team mentioned or having either team's helmet there either.

The backs had a rather generic sentence pertaining to the picture on the front as well as a rules quiz. Note the card has a Colts helmet on the back yet they point of the picture is the Steelers' qb getting the ball off to avoid a sack.

1981 Coke and Coke Premiums

Produced by Topps these Coke cards came in team specific packs, three to a cello pack along with a header card. Seven teams were involved with the promotion. The 11 Colts were all cards also found in the Topps regular issue for '81. A Coca-Cola logo was added to the fronts and it also replaced the Topps logo on the back. The numbering of the cards was different and the shade of red used on the backs was as well.  

The back of the header card had an ad for purchasing an uncut sheet of 132 cards.

The Curtis Dickey card is below.

Side by side it's easy to see the logos on the two Bert Jones cards.

Coke also issued a group of 'Premium' photos. They are 5x7 and have nice posed player portraits. I haven't been able to dig up much on these although they may have been some sort of mail-in promo. Any help on this is appreciated. The checklist includes 24 different cards. I've been looking for these for years and have only seen evidence of a half dozen or so. I have four different ones so my quest continues. I especially want the Randy Burke photo as it's the only known 'card' of him and it would fill a slot in my fantasy football binder that's been open for years and years.

1981 TCMA Football Greats

TCMA put out a Football Greats set in 1981 that included 50's and 60's era players. There were seven Colts among the 78 card set including these three. The others included guys like Gino Marchetti and L.G. Dupre. They are typical TCMA cards, clean fronts and text filled backs. 

1981 Topps Stickers

The little sticker era was starting for Topps. This is the first football edition they produced. Pretty standard stuff, about the same as the baseball sets. But there is one or two interesting things going on here. Check out these three of the eight stickers:

Did you notice anything? Yup, the second one shows Ed Simonini wearing his helmet adorned with the Colts' horseshoe! That's the first time since 1969 that the Colts iconic logo has appeared. For a dozen years Topps has either used pictures of helmet-less players or airbrushed out the logos on helmets, jackets, etc. Since no other Topps product shows a team logo in 1981 I wonder if the Simonini shot slipped past the production crew. Or possibly word leaked that the licensing agreement between Topps and the NFL which took effect in 1982 had been signed. So suddenly, in the middle of the sticker set planning, someone said "OK, we're good with the league...fire the airbrush guy!!"

Topps also produced what I've seen called a 'test' issue, red bordered stickers distributed in vending machines in those familiar plastic containers. I'm dubious of the supposed rarity of these because I got this Bert Jones sticker, the only Colt in the 28 piece set, for about a buck.

The regular and red bordered stickers had similar backs. The regular one had a 'complete your collection' ad while the red border one urged you to "Collect All 28!"

The final installment of the Colts' card history will include cards from the '82 and '83 seasons.