Monday, August 1, 2011

A binder is a beautiful thing: five years later

Last week, I picked up those final pages for the 1972 Topps binder, like I said I would, and filled in the rest of the cards I have from the set. As I suspected, those few high numbers I have are hanging out all by themselves. Jack Aker is very lonely.

But I was so inspired by finally putting together a '72 binder that I did some major consolidation over the weekend, banishing the '87 Topps cards to a box as I should have done years ago, and -- viola! -- created another binder for the remaining vintage set I am "actively" pursuing, 1977 Topps.

This is very exciting. I finally have a binder devoted to every set I'm chasing. It involved some significant page rationing as you'll see, but even digging up enough pages is exciting. We poor collectors who can't afford to jet halfway across the country and spend even more money at the National must celebrate our small victories.

The best part of my '77 set in a binder is that it's just as pathetic as my scraping and scrimping to create said binder.

As an example, here is Chapter 1:

First, you can see that I save pages by loading 18 cards instead of nine. It's the only way to go for me.

Second, don't get excited about the "hair" in the top right corner. It's actually an indentation in the plastic. I run a clean establishment.

Third, it's quite obvious I have a lot of work to do.

After entering all my '77 cards in the binder, I noticed that unlike the '72 set, there is not one completed page. That surprised me. I mean, I knew I was a long way off from a full set -- I was 11 when the set came out and I've added maybe only 50 cards to it since that year -- but I figured there might be maybe one full page I could show off.

This page came the closest to completion. The uncooperative bastard is Freddie Patek.

The other "misfit" element to this binder is, like I said, almost all of the cards were collected in 1977 when I was 11 and plenty of damage has resulted. I've already written about the set and that time. It was fantastic. But, as you might have guessed, we didn't exactly treat our cards as if we were sending them off to be graded.

Apparently, I didn't like my Padres cards. At. All.

So, as I was placing the cards in the pages, I could see little bits of cardboard flaking off the rounded corners and disappearing into thin air. It was actually freeing, being able to throw them in there without worrying about dinging a corner.

The binder that they're in is a small little item -- brown with "Baseball Card Album" imprinted in gold in the lower right corner -- that was probably purchased back in the early '90s. It's perfect for the relatively small 660-card sets of the mid-to-late 1970s.

I just wanted to show this page because it gives a great view of the ridiculous uniforms everyone was wearing then. Except for a select few teams like the Yankees, Dodgers and Reds, almost every team lost their minds when it came to uniforms. But, then, I was wearing purple plaid pants and orange pterodactyl collars in the '70s. It was kind of the thing to do.

I'm rambling here, so why don't I show a few more random cards from the set that I didn't show on that last '77 post?

Gary Lewis Templeton. When men were men, and rookie cards were rookie cards. This is Templeton's first card AND rookie card AND he has the rookie cup logo. No confusion. No dilution. It was a very popular card. And, you can see I took very good care of it, unlike some of its '77 buddies.

Here's an example. I distinctly remember writing the tiny "o" in the top right corner, and I remember there was a good reason for it. I also remember thinking it was OK because it's not like Rosello was any good. But I have no idea why I did it.

A beat-up Jerry Terrell card. Forever in my memory because I circled the games played category for some unknown reason.

If your major league career was 30 games long and you had just one card, wouldn't you want it to look like this?

The 1977 set was the first to deal with full-fledged free agency (along with the addition of two expansion teams), so there are airbrushed caps all over. The Angels, in particular, were hit hard, because they had a big ol' free agent party in '76.

In 1977, I still hadn't outgrown ostracizing certain cards because the player "looked weird." I probably didn't mature in this particular area until around the dawn of the '80s. I didn't like that I had this Jack Kucek card. It's in pretty good shape compared to my other '77s, probably because I kept it stashed away, hidden from my other cards.

Last one. This has always been a favorite from the set. I've never tried to determine who the other player is in the photo. Larry Milbourne? Wilbur Howard? Whatever. It's just a great card.

Of course, the ultimate purpose to creating a binder for a set is completing the set, which does involve upgrading it.

Many of the cards I have from this set will exit the binder and enter a box as I upgrade. It's kind of sad, but my brain won't let me have a binder half-filled with beaters and half-filled with nicer cards. And, as fun as it might be to just find the rest of the '77 set in knocked-up shape, I think I'll go the more traditional fancy pants route. This isn't '57 Topps we're talking about. It's '77 Topps.

I don't have a want list up, because even though I own maybe 350 cards in the set, almost all of them need replacing. But that will be the fun of completing this set -- starting from scratch while also reliving all the memories of the greatest collecting year of my childhood.


  1. Night owl, you don't have to grow out of laughing at cards because a guy looks weird. I still do it. Just look at Aaron Harang on 2011 Topps heritage... Freak! Night of the living dead Freak!

  2. Dear Harang family members who may happen upon this blog:

    I didn't write the above comment. :)

  3. It looks like Randy Jones is trying to avoid being decapitated by that crease. Might we see a '77 Blog someday?

  4. I love the Randy Jones card... it's a classic in my book. For years, I had my copy displayed in my office.