There is surprisingly little information found on the web today regarding the numerous "oddball" card sets released over the past 40 or so years. Thousands of different sets have been printed during this time, featuring every imaginable sport from bowling to jai alai. We will shine our spotlight on random sets we pull from our shoebox... Who knows which cards will be next? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments!
Monday, August 10, 2015
1980 Los Angeles Dodgers Police Set
After a couple years of writing this blog, it finally occurred to me that an L.A. Dodgers set has not been the subject of a post... An oversight that will change today.
What better way to kick off some Dodger love than to feature their first police set, which was issued back in 1980 -- an era of blue Lasorda baseball that ranks among L.A.'s best and most exciting. The club would win 92 games that season behind the efforts of a talented blend of veterans and youngsters. Seasoned pros Steve Garvey, Don Sutton, Ron Cey, Charlie Hough, Bill Russell, Jerry Reuss and Dusty Baker shared the field with up-and-comers Pedro Guerrero, Mike Scioscia and Bob Welch. Unfortunately, Steve Howe (the 1980 NL Rookie of the Year) was not included in the set; nor was fellow pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, who managed to sneak into ten games during the 1980 campaign.
As for the '80 police set, it is complete at 30 cards (29 players and a team photo). Printed on soft, white card stock, the fronts have a semi-gloss coating that give the large action photos a nifty look. Basic player info is printed along the bottoms of the fronts. Backs are printed in blue and feature a large LAPD badge in the background, but the cards are not numbered except for uniform numbers. Each card back also features a baseball term and a helpful tip for California's youth ("Boost your grades at school and hit .300 with your chores at home." In other words, kids were only expected to do 30% of their schoolwork
and chores correctly...) The cards are larger than the typical Topps
size, measuring 2 13/16" by 4 1/8".
Speaking of Topps, their nationally-distributed baseball cards were still the only game in town back in 1980. Hungry collectors were eager to snap up anything they could find in those simpler times, especially with stacked clubs like the Dodgers. Like all true police sets these cards were a regionally-distributed issue, so hobby publications and sports magazines of the day featured advertisements that offered to sell a set to anyone willing to part with a ten dollar bill.
The Dodgers would be featured on yearly police issues through the end of the century, with the one exception being the 1985 season (and we're not sure why). Regarding scarcity, none of the Dodgers police issues from the 1980s or early 1990s are difficult to find; sets from the mid to late 1990s are a bit harder to track down, but they're out there too.
These days, a complete set in NRMT or better condition is valued at the same ten dollar bill that folks paid 35 years ago... Not the best investment a collector will ever make, but definitely one of the coolest sets a collector can own!
Uninteresting Fact: Light-hitting infielder Teddy Martinez was demoted to AAA ball before the 1980 season began, never again to make it back to the Majors. His inclusion in the set, and the omission of Steve Howe, leads us to believe that these cards were created very early in the season.