Thursday, January 6, 2011

Card back countdown: #18 - 1974 Topps

Staying with the card backs of my youth, here is the 1974 Topps set. These are the first cards that I ever laid eyes on, so it follows that these were the first card backs that I ever witnessed, too.

The card backs were everything that a card back should have been at that time -- horizontal, green, statistics and a cartoon. At this young age -- I was 8 years old at the time -- the card back didn't register with me as it did with the 1977 set. But I did notice a few things that have stayed with me to this day.

I particularly like the compartmentalization of the various categories, with bold lines sectioning off the various features of the card back. I also like that the signature is on the back of the card, rather than the front.

But, without a doubt, the best feature of the back is again the cartoon. And the best thing about it is something I would have never noticed back then, and that is how many of the players held down second jobs in the '70s.

I wrote about this once before, so I'll keep it brief here. But the thought of having a major league baseball player participate in a game, and then turn around and sell tickets in the offseason amuses me to no end.

There are a few more examples of players trying to make ends meet when they weren't playing ball. These cartoons actually make me a bit sad, because I think I would have liked players more when they weren't so obscenely rich. There is something much more attractive about rooting for a real Regular Joe.

There are many, many other examples of cartoons that list players' odd jobs. But I came across a couple others that interested me.

You couldn't go through any set in the 1970s without coming across a cartoon that mentioned some player being one of the majors' "most eligible bachelors." Johnny Bench and Luis Melendez both featured similar cartoons in other '70s sets.

It's nice when you can turn one of the worst parts of your job into a topic for a paper in school. If I went back to school maybe I could write my paper on "Doing the Job of Two People" or "How Not to Punch (Unnamed Person) Even Though He Really Deserves It."

Rick Monday DID become a sportscaster. Is that the secret to getting what you want out of life? Put your wishes in a cartoon on a baseball card?

The cartoons in the 1974 set are among the most entertaining in Topps history. If you have some of the cards from the set, I recommend you take an hour or two and go through the cartoons. You won't regret it.

Best of the set:

I featured this card on that earlier post, too. This is my favorite cartoon in the set. If I was a ballplayer, I would aspire to have a cartoon like this on my card.

(previous card back countdown selections):

50. 1978 SSPC Yankee Yearbook
49. 1993 Score
48. 1999 Skybox Thunder
47. 2000 Upper Deck
46. 1999 Skybox Premium
45. 1953 Johnston Cookies Braves
44. 1995 Topps
43. 1997 Fleer
42. 1992 Pinnacle
41. 1989 Bowman
40. 1977 Kellogg's
39. 2004 Topps
38. 2004 Topps Total
37. 1992 Topps
36. 1992 Donruss
35. 2008 Upper Deck Documentary
34. 1963 Fleer
33. 1955 Bowman
32. 2006 Topps
31. 1961 Topps
30. 1955 Topps
29. 1967 Topps
28. 1970 Topps

27. 1969 Topps
26. 1966 Topps
25. 1963 Topps
24. 1911 T205
23. 1962 Topps
22. 1981 Topps

21. 1981 Donruss
20. 1958 Topps
19. 1977 Topps

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