Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Another blasted regular feature from night owl

As you can see by the poll on the sidebar, the 1976 Johnny Bench Topps card rules as the greatest Bench card of the 1970s. The 1973 card gave it a run for a little while, but sanity finally prevailed. I mean what a terrific card this is. As I said before, Bench looks super badass in this photo.

And that brings me to another regular feature that I am starting. I know what you're saying. I already have "awesome night card," and "cardboard appreciation" and "brush with greatness" and "define the design" and "worst card of '09." How many more of these can we take, Night Owl?

I know. And I'm sorry. It's just how my brain works. And, besides, this time I couldn't help it. I was inspired ---inspired by Earth, Wind and Fire.

Yes, you read that right, Earth, Wind and Fire. All of my great card post ideas occur while listening to E, W & F. Or Foghat. Or Grand Funk Railroad. Don't look at me askance. It's a 70s thing. Deal with it.

Anyway, I was listening to Earth, Wind and Fire last night and somewhere between the third "Yooooowwwww" and fourth "Yooooowwww" on "That's the Way of the World," I thought of how badass the '76 Bench card looks. And then I thought how much I liked '70s cards in which the players looked tough and ornery.

And it occurred to me: how about regular feature that featured my favorite badass 1970s players?! And just to tie it into the 1970s even more, with an homage to Chevy Chase, I'm going to call it, "I'm Badass and You're Not."

So, that's the plan, '70s fans. The first card of the "I'm Badass and You're Not" feature is the '76 Johnny Bench card. He's grandfathered in. Because he's badass and you're not.

Almost immediately after thinking up the feature, I thought of who the next "I'm Badass and You're Not" club member would be. And it was an easy choice. The second member is one of Johnny Bench's teammates, George Foster.

Now, I hate to shatter the badass myth right off and sabotage my post here, but Foster was badass in athletic ability only. And even that was only with the Reds. Foster actually was a quiet individual. Polite. He didn't drink. But, heck, part of card collecting is myth making, isn't it? Those were our superheroes on those cards, right? So, let's continue on with the fantasy.

Here you see an early card of George Foster. He's already got "the badass look" down. If I didn't know better, I'd say he merely was pissed because he was with the Giants. And that may be so. But as you'll see, the look remained throughout the '70s.

Here Foster sports his "what did you just call me?" look.

The bright '75 Topps colors kind of diminish Foster's intensity. But it's there. You just have to look closer. But not too close. Foster doesn't like that.

Foster had started to grow into the "badass" role by his 1976 card. Look at that bat. It looks like a little kid's model. Yet he still hit over 20 home runs in 1975.

I don't have this card, but I wanted to post an image of it to show the first card appearance of Foster's black bat, which so many fans remember. It added to the whole mystique.

By 1978, Foster was a sensation, after becoming just the fifth player to hit more than 50 home runs in a season. We would check the paper every day to see if he hit another home run. I liked this photo of Foster so much more than his actual card from 1978 (which I'm not showing since he looks more reflective than badass). I couldn't understand why they didn't use it.

And while I'm showing the league leaders cards from the 1978 set, I'll show this, just because I just realized it's the same shot as the 1976 card. It took me only 31 years to figure that out.

Foster really was the most feared batter in baseball even if it was for a very short period of time. He had it all, the black bat, the menacing stare, the square jaw, the sheer power. Here, he doesn't even need a logo on his helmet (take a good look, Upper Deck fans). He's too badass for girly logos.

So, welcome Mr. Foster to the "I'm Badass and You're Not" club. Maybe you really were a nice, quiet guy. But as kids, you scared the crap out of us. That's good enough for me.


  1. haha love it.

    And love the earth, wind, and fire reference.

    Makes me think of Earthwind Moreland.

  2. Very nice. Bench deserves to be on any list of this type. I'm glad the 1976 card won the poll.

  3. More classic Topps laziness: the '75 and '76 pics were taken at the same time and place. Same field, same sky, the photographer just moved a little. See how the color of the dirt on the two basepaths contrast with each other in the same way on both cards? Heck, you can even see the same cloud on both cards.
    Anyway, it's one thing if Topps uses the same Spring Training photo shoot for cards in consecutive years, but check out '78 RBI leaders. That's the same shoot.

    Anyway, I love the cards. If they ever make a baseball movie about the Big Red Machine, there's only one man that can play Foster: Samuel L Jackson

  4. Chevy Chase reference! Love it!

    the best part was when you said "we used to check the paper every day..."

    the paper!!! Wow. That is old school....

    (sorry Greg, had to....)

  5. But what's the deal with the airbrushing on the 1979? I'm mean, he IS with the Reds, right?

    Great list.

  6. I love Foster's sideburns as the '70's wore on

  7. Skoormit ~

    Yes, I noted the photos from the '76 Topps and '78 RBI leaders being the same in the post.

    Captain ~

    Yeah, I'm old school. It has its advantages: with a newspaper you never have to worry about a fried hard drive.

    CCC ~

    The helmet isn't airbrushed on the '79 card. It's just a helmet without a logo (Junior Kennedy, who was a Reds rookie then, also wears a logo-less helmet on his '79 card -- I don't know why).

  8. Great stuff!! You should have quite a list of players to choose from for this elite group. Even a guy like Ozzie Smith looks menacing on his cards from the 1970's.

  9. Great post. I remember seeing the Foster cards when I was trading with my buddies, we were probably 10 years old, and thinking, "Why is that guy so pissed off?" I think it was because he saw the fuure and knew that cheating players would be paid obscene amounts of money. That's just me.

  10. 3 weeks on the road and this is the first blog post I read.
    Is it coincidence that the first two cards that ring bad ass from the 70's are Reds? No. They were the Bad Ass team of the 70's.


  11. 1978 topps jim tyrone. look no further.