Published Set: Grote15's 1981 Topps Baseball Set
1981 was a landmark year for baseball trading cards. The monopoly Topps had enjoyed for a quarter century ended with the entry of both Fleer and Donruss sets that year. Topps in turn began a marketing campaign by billing itself as "The Real One," and I can recall as a kid growing up in Queens, New York, fully agreeing with that sentiment, as my friends and I both viewed Donruss and Fleer as second-rate issues with horrible collation and card design (Fleer was at least a little bit better than Donruss in that regard). I remember delivering the New York Post that summer, and spending my tip money on packs of baseball cards, both wax and cello. The cello packs were tougher to find in stores, but were always a big hit as you could cherrypick the packs in search of those with Mets or stars on top as long as the guy behind the counter was busy doing something else. Every now and then, you'd also visit a toy or department store like McCrory's where rack packs were sold~a pricier option with no gum, but still cool items that could be searched through for favorable cards on top, in any case. This set is not an expensive one to put together, with admittedly low returns on self-submitted cards, but I have found that one of the more enjoyable methods of putting a set together is by cracking open packs and self-submitting to PSA the best cards for grading. There's just something more aesthetically pleasing to me personally about receiving a self-submitted PSA 10 vs purchasing one already graded, even though the latter way is usually the less expensive method once the cost of tearing through unopened product is fully factored into the overall expense.
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