It was fun while it lasted. Topps and Burger King had produced hyper-regional card sets for three years (1977, 1978 and 1979) but just before two other companies joined the bubble gum card fray and changed the hobby forever, they rolled out two final sets. In the final part of our four-part overview, we take a look at the Burger King baseball sets of 1980.
1980 Topps Burger King Cards Overview
After a four-year run, Burger King had Topps shut down the printing presses for them in 1980, issuing the final releases of their sets in that year. Instead of focusing only on specific regions for their final cards, however, the fast food chain made its first national distribution in one of two sets.
The first 1980 Topps Burger King set was a 23-card product given away in only the Philadelphia region as the company honored the World Champion Phillies. For the first time ever, the Yankees were not represented with a set. Cellophane-wrapped packs of three cards plus a checklist were again given away as a premium by the restaurants. Customers received an unopened pack with the purchase of an order of large french fries. One slight, but noteworthy change here, appears to be the cards’ availability to all customers. In 1978 and 1979, the packs were to only have been given to children age 14 and under as denoted on the checklist. However, the 1980 checklist card shows an apparent change as no such age restriction is mentioned.
The restaurant also produced a second, national set as part of Major League Baseball’s Pitch, Hit, Run program. This 34-card set featured stars from around Major League Baseball without the regional focus that was used for past sets. To go along with the intent of the program, cards numbered 1-11 featured pitchers, Nos. 12-22 were hitters, and Nos. 23-33 were base stealers/runners (Card No. 34 was a checklist).
All cards utilized the same design and size (2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″) as the regular 1980 Topps cards but the two sets differed in their design. In addition to different card numbers from the regular Topps cards, both cards now featured the Burger King logo (the Pitch, Hit, Run cards displayed it on the front, while it was on the backs of the Phillies cards). The Pitch, Hit, Run cards were also significantly changed as they added the words “Collector’s Series” printed in green ink.
The Pitch, Hit Run backs also were different with the program logo/graphic in place of where a standard cartoon was placed on the regular Topps cards. Finally, the backs were also in red while the standard Topps issues were in blue. Those numerous changes makes it much easier for collectors to distinguish between regular Topps cards and the Burger King issues.
1980 Burger King Phillies Set
The Philadelphia Phillies were featured in the Burger King sets for the second consecutive year. In hindsight, they had to be a relatively easy choice for Burger King since they were in a big market, had a good team that went on to win the World Series later that year, and featured some of the biggest names in baseball, headlined again by Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, and Steve Carlton.
Five pose variations from the regular Topps sets were utilized for players, including Dallas Green, Keith Moreland, John Vukovich, Lonnie Smith, and Kevin Saucier. Burger King did with Green what they did in the prior year with then manager Danny Ozark, giving him his own card as opposed to including him only on a team issue as was customary for the older Topps sets. Vukovich, Smith, and Moreland were all new additions that did not have standard Topps issues in 1980. Saucier was part of the 1980 Topps set on a rookie card with three other players, but he was also given a new card for the Burger King set that did not feature the other players.
The 1980 Topps Burger King Pitch, Hit, and Run set is an attractive one in that it not only loaded up on star players but also gave many players their first Burger King cards before production ceased.
The Burger King set gave Topps an outlet for getting Ryan into a Houston Astros uniform. Their flagship set was an action pose and showed him as a member of the Angels since his free agent deal happened after Topps had begun the process of printing its 1980 set. The BK Ryan is a nice card to own considering the low prices, even for graded examples.
Other Hall of Famers such as Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, Rollie Fingers, George Brett, Rod Carew, Jim Rice, Dave Winfield, and Joe Morgan, as well as a host of other stars, were all featured in the BK sets for the first time.
Beyond Ryan, players with pose variations from their regular Topps issues included Seaver, Morgan, Winfield, Bobby Bonds, Reggie Jackson, Keith Hernandez, Vida Blue, Ron Guidry, Jerry Koosman, Ron LeFlore, Dave Lopes, and Omar Moreno.
Neither set figures to break the budget of interested collectors. Phillies sets are often available for under $10 while the Pitch, Hit, and Run sets vary a bit. The latter, in particular, is a nice buy at under $20 considering the many Hall of Famers and stars included.
Unopened packs of both sets aren’t too difficult to uncover at under $5 each with unopened packs displaying stars are still usually under $10. Ungraded individual star cards from either set are also available at under $5 each.