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.