Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cardboard appreciation: 1975 Topps Bobby Murcer

(Children: we are currently in the midst of the best week of the entire year. I totally intend to enjoy it in every way possible. Now, before I have me some more enjoyment, it's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 72nd in a series. You are excused):

I want the National League to win tonight's game very badly.

I don't like it when people dismiss the All-Star Game as a worthless exhibition. It wasn't a worthless exhibition in the 1970s when the N.L. was pulverizing the A.L. The National League players truly wanted to win the game.

I know things are different now, and a lot of players don't seem to care and act like it's an exhibition. There are deserving pitchers who won't attend basically because they're perfectly healthy. Tell me if that makes sense.

But I still care and I still like National League baseball better than American League baseball. I know that makes me old-fashioned and backward and whatever phrase you use to slander the elderly, but I don't care. The National League needs to win the damn game.

So, in a feeble attempt to send some luck across the continent, I'm posting one of my favorite All-Star cards of all-time, from a period when the N.L. won All-Star Games frequently. In fact, if it wasn't for the Ron Cey card of the same year, it would be my favorite All-Star card ever.

This card is well-known for what Topps did to it. But in case you haven't heard, I'll fill in the blanks.

In 1974, Bobby Murcer was a star player for the Yankees. Another Bobby -- Bobby Bonds -- was a star player for the Giants. Both were vaunted prospects from the time they entered the league.

But at the end of the season, on Oct. 22, 1974, they were traded for each other.

Unlike today's later deadlines, Topps had all of the photos ready for their 1975 set by the end of October. Murcer was ready to go as a Yankee and Bonds was ready to go as a Giant.

So, Topps did what it did back in 1974. It went to the local grade school, plucked a sixth-grader out of class, and told him/her to paint Bonds and Murcer into their new uniforms.

The Bonds was bad enough. But the Murcer is one of the worst ever.

The cap on Murcer's head is not great -- the accurate, yet obviously painted, interlocking S and F. But the worst part is that Topps forgot two important details.

1. Yankee Stadium is probably the most recognizable stadium in the world and it is in plain view in the photo on this card. In the days before interleague, there is no way a San Francisco Giant would be in Yankee Stadium.

2. The star on the card says Murcer is an American League All-Star. So, the front of the card states that Murcer made the A.L. All-Star team as a GIANT.

Wow. It's a good thing I didn't see this card as a kid because my brain would have exploded on the spot.

Unlike the back of the Bonds card, there is no mention of the trade on the back of the Murcer card. In fact, it mentions Murcer's American League participation in the all-star game again. So, just in case you didn't believe the front, Topps is telling you: DAMMIT, Murcer played for the American League as a Giant!

There have been a lot of lies on cardboard, but this has to be one of the biggest.

Enjoy the game everyone. I'll be watching every second.

If the N.L. wins, I'll be ecstatic. If the N.L. loses, I'll be crushed. Times are different, but the N.L. will always rule here.


  1. Go NL! WW Jr. and I were talking last night; he's ten and has never seen an NL win....time for that to end!

    One other thing about the Murcer card; the picture would have been from 1973 since the Yankees were playing in Shea in 1974. If Topps would have used a photo from '74, with Shea in the background, the card might have been a little more believable.

  2. I remember that trade. You had a Yankee hero from Oklahoma, who started out as a shortstop traded for a flashy, speedy, powerful centerfielder from the Giants. Not quite Mantle for Mays, but as close as we were going to get it in 1975.

  3. Thanks for featuring an SF Giant (I know how you feel about 'em); first time ever? Bobby M didn't enjoy his time there very much. -- MrHaverkamp