If you were a young player in the early 1980s who wanted to break into the fabled Kellogg’s baseball card set, well, you had your work cut out for you.

I mean, the writing was on the wall.

After 11 issues distributed directly in their cereal boxes, Kellogg’s changed the game in 1981 by making their cards available ONLY through a mail-in offer — send $3.50 along two proofs of purchase, and you got the whole 66-card set.

You don’t make that sort of land-trembling change without catching some attention, even in a year that saw so much change in the hobby.

Maybe that dwindling opportunity stoked some fires for young guys who wanted their own cereal card? (Would’ve worked for me!)

Of course, you can never know for sure what motivates folks, either.

The rookies plying their trade in the strike-shortened mess of 1981 may have been just like rookies in any other year, doing their level best to stick in the bigs, and to make as much of an impact as they could.

Find Hubie Brooks baseball cards on eBay (affiliate link)

Find Hubie Brooks baseball cards on Amazon (affiliate link)

Young Hubie Brooks was pretty much always expected to make an impact in the Majors, as evidenced by being drafted six(!) different times from 1974 through 1978.

When the New York Mets took him with the third overall pick in the 1978 June Draft, though, Brooks finally left his amateur days behind him and started the relatively short minor league climb that would deposit him in the big leagues for good late in 1980.

Those were some bad Mets teams that welcomed young Brooks to the fold, but they were on the verge of big things thanks to other rising talents like Mookie Wilson, Darryl Strawberry, Jeff Reardon, and others, even if nobody realized how complete the coming turnaround would be within a few years.

For 1981, it was up to Brooks to stoke hope among the Mets faithful, and the young third baseman did his best by hitting .304 with four home runs and nine steals. It was enough to lead the Gothams in WAR at 2.6, and to finish third in National League Rookie of the Year balloting behind Fernando Valenzuela and Tim Raines.

And THAT showing was just enough for Brooks to snag a spot in the 1982 Kellogg’s set, again available only by mail and paired down to 64 pieces.

For comparison, fourth-place NL ROY finisher Bruce Berenyi missed the cut, and none of the rookie vote-getters in the AL made the Kellogg’s team.

So … did Hubie know exactly what he needed to do to make the Kellogg’s checklist? Did he even care?

Likely not … but he made it, regardless.

And just in time, too, because his performance slid into negative-WAR territory in 1982, erasing any chance that he’d be included in the 1983 Kellogg’s set, which also happened to be the cereal-maker’s last in their long run.

Hubie Brooks, of course, rebounded to fashion an All-Star-type career, and Kellogg’s eventually returned to the hobby with some special sets in the 1990s.

But all the twinkles above had to align for a Hubie Brooks Kellogg’s card to ever exist at all.

Lucky for collectors, the young Mets star shone at just the right time.


Wow! Wax of the Day

Yep, you can still find the complete mail-in set of 1982 Kellogg’s today without too much problem. Like this lot currently available on eBay …

There were a lot of these cards produced, but that means you can own the whole thing without breaking the bank and, besides, where else you gonna find a Hubie Brooks 3D card??

Check out the full listing on eBay (affiliate link).