Kellogg’s continued its run of baseball card sets for a 12th consecutive year in 1981. The 1981 Kellogg’s set wasn’t only bigger but also much more limited in distribution. Here’s a closer look at the set.
In 1980, Kellogg’s went with an ultra slim design. The cards had already been narrow but Kellogg’s went with an incredibly skinny card that year that measured only 1 5/8″ wide. That likely was not a hit with collectors since the 1981 set was much larger.
For the first time ever, Kellogg’s cards were the same size as other traditional 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ baseball issues. Perhaps that was to be on par with other sets produced that year (Topps, Fleer, and Donruss) or perhaps it was merely to change things up. Whatever the reason, the Kellogg’s cards were now the same size as others that were available to collectors.
Kellogg’s also increased the amount of cards in the set. In fact, at 66 cards, it was the third largest set the company ever produced (and also the biggest in a decade). Finally, one other significant change was the way Kellogg’s distributed the cards. Instead of placing them inside packages of their products, collectors could only get them through a mail-in offer. That offer was only for complete sets as well, so collectors are more likely to find full sets of these than in other years.
One thing that didn’t change was the three dimensional aspect of the card. Kellogg’s kept that, again ensuring they produced one of the most unique collectibles around.
1981 Kellogg’s Stars
A number of stars were featured in the 1981 Kellogg’s set. Nolan Ryan and Pete Rose helped lead the way, but there are plenty more big names here, such as George Brett, Mike Schmidt, Reggie Jackson, Johnny Bench, Willie Stargell, Rod Carew, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Steve Carlton, Robin Yount, Tom Seaver, Carl Yastrzemski, and many others.
A couple of new names joined the Kellogg’s landscape for the first time as well. First, there was Rickey Henderson. Henderson was left out of the 1980 set, but made the 1981 issue, giving him a key second-year card in the release.
And while there isn’t much in terms of rookies but Cleveland Indians star Joe Charboneau is there. Charboneau was the 1980 American League Rookie of the Year but was not included in Topps’ set that year. And because the company did not have a Traded issue that season, that meant collectors had to wait until 1981 for his cards. For that reason, Charboneau’s rookie cards are his 1981 issues and that includes the Kellogg’s edition.
Key rookies that played in 1981 such as Fernando Valenzuela (National League Rookie of the Year), Dave Righetti (American League Rookie of the Year), and Tim Raines (National League Rookie of the Year runner up) are not included in the set.
1981 Kellogg’s Prices
The 1981 Kellogg’s set is plentiful and cheap. There aren’t any high-dollar cards here and $15-$20 will usually be enough to pick up an entire set. At the most, stars such as Ryan and Rose may set you back $3-$5, but that’s about as expensive as it gets for ungraded copies.
If you’re putting the set together card-by-card in high-grade, you might have a little trouble landing a mint or gem mint copy of #2 Al Oliver, #21 Dave Winfield and #25 Steve Henderson as they seem to be a little challenging for those who have submitted to grading companies.
One other thing to watch for is the original set box issued by Kellogg’s. Because the cards were issued solely in complete sets mailed by Kellogg’s, the original packaging and box will accommodate a set at times. There isn’t any significant financial premium associated with having the original box but it does add a little to the set in terms of collectability.
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