Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I was debating with myself the other day, trying to figure out which player to feature next on a "Best of the '70s" post.

I eventually decided to make it difficult. I'm going with Jim Palmer.

I was never a fan of Palmer. Part of that is because the Orioles are my little brother's team, and when you're growing up it is never cool to like the team your little brother likes. The other part is the reason that I think a lot of people -- even Orioles fans -- couldn't get past:

He seemed too perfect.

First there was Palmer's incredible pitching talent. Also, from what I understand, he was quite good-looking, judging by all the women who followed him around. I can't tell you how annoying it was to be leafing through my Sports Illustrated only to come across a Jockey ad of a hairy-chested Palmer in his underwear. I couldn't turn the page fast enough.

Palmer carried around a "perfect vibe," which apparently didn't thrill his teammates or some fans. He didn't drink. He watched his health. He took vitamins.

Some would say he was neurotic or narcissitic in his habits. He would regularly take a dugout seat where he could work on his tan. He was well-spoken, even outspoken, and had high standards, which all can get you in trouble in a team environment.

That reputation for perfection carried over to his baseball cards. Palmer was blessed with some very nice cards in the 1970s. Choosing the best may be a difficult task.

So here are the 1970s Topps cards of "Cakes," a nickname as awful as one of those Jockey ads (yes, I know his nickname referred to his love of pancakes, and, no, I'm not sorry for linking to that. You link to some pretty awful stuff, too):

1970 Topps: I think this is the best example of a player's eyes matching the sky behind him. No wonder the ladies liked him.

1971 Topps: One of the few '71 cards that I still need. A typical spring training pose. Nothing too special.

1972 Topps: This looks similar to Palmer's 1970 pose, except he seems to have worked up quite the sweat. Maybe Weaver said something that ticked him off.

1973 Topps: Finally! Some action! This card provides a great example of Palmer's high-kicking wind-up. By the way, the rest of the Palmer cards are from my collection. None of the first four were.

1974 Topps: More action, which is great. But the background is so blurred out, I have no idea what's going on in the top right corner.

1975 Topps: This is a classic card. During the 1970s, a face in the shadows automatically meant a cool card. Today, it's not so cool. But that's a classic shot of a baseball matinee idol in the 1970s, right down to the goofy bird logo on his cap.

1976 Topps: This card seems to have it all. There's action, you can see Palmer's face, and he's wearing the great orange jersey that the O's wore in the '70s. Compared to the name bar at the bottom, the jersey looks almost red.

1977 Topps: We loved this card as kids. Palmer is frozen in mid-windup at a strange angle. It almost looks like he's trying to launch the ball out of the stadium. But he's still got that orange jersey. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it was from the same game as the 1976 card.

1978 Topps: This card means business. No, it doesn't have any action. But it does have the All-Star shield. And there is the Yankee Stadium "Brut" ad over Palmer's right shoulder, which seems too appropriate. That is classic Palmer right there.

1979 Topps: This might be my favorite. It's tough to decide, but it's simply a cool in-game photo. And the all-star banner really adds to the card.

Tough decision, huh? I told you he was perfect. After all, he might've been the best pitcher in the 1970s. And he sure had some great cards.

Poll is up on the sidebar. Vote away.


  1. I like the '73. It has the look of a television shot from behind home plate and the O's were on TV a lot (W.S., Game of the Week, etc) when I was growing up.

  2. Hands down, "zombie Palmer" from '70 is THE best!!

  3. went with the '73. The high leg kick is a favourite of mine.... or is it the Captain Kirk Flying Leg Kick that is my favourite? Hmmmm... maybe I messed up...

  4. Yeah ... I had to go with '73 as well. Tough choices because there's a lot of cool cards. And a lot of cool memories of pulling some of those cards.

  5. I like the action shots...and went with the '76 because I really don't need to see Palmer's ass in the photo. That's the reason my soft spot for 1979 as the first set I collected doesn't win out, either.

    That '74 picture is kinda cool in the upper-right. It's like abstract art.

  6. Tom Seaver spits on your notion of Palmer being the best pitcher of the 70's.

  7. Seaver used a spitball?

    I said "might," JM. But at least Palmer wasn't traded for Doug Flynn.

  8. Yes! The Orioles! Thank you.

    To me the 1978 shot is too iconic to lose. He was right at the end of his brilliant run. After 1978 he'd never be dominating again.

    There is something perfect about the cards that show players right at the end of their peak. They've lived it, they've earned it, they know it.

    1978 is the memory shot for me.

  9. Such a tough choice among 1977-1979! I went with 1977. Love that orange jersey and the action shot.

    But I pulled the 1979 card from the oldest pack of cards I ever bought - a rack pack that I picked up at a hobby shop in 2003. Palmer and Yaz were the big prizes for me.

  10. Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn are in the back of that 74 card. The 72 card stresses the need for drug testing even back then.

  11. Palmer might have the most 'great' cards in my opinion. I could pick any from 73-77 and be very happy with the choice. If I had to pick one, 76 would be it, because it was the first set I completed.

  12. I would go for the '73 if it was cropped better. I had to go with the Orange...and 1976.

  13. it's tom seaver's fault that m. donald grant is the single dumbest human being not in a fictional novel by winston groom?

    if you want to see my cousin go into a hysterical fit, one that could only be described as homicidal and suicidal at the same time, just mention June 15, 1977 or the name of m. donald grant. before voldemort ever existed, in my family, he is the 'one who should not be named'