Some of you need some cheering up.
I think I have the perfect thing.
I rarely wish that I was capable of video on this blog. But this is the one time that I do.
I received a gift in the mail a couple of weeks ago from Andy of the Baseball-Reference.com blog. It was a thank you for my blog work and contributions to the B-R blog. The gift was one of the coolest items that I have received since blogging, and probably years before that.
You're looking at the gift right now.
The scan that you see is a scan of an unopened wax package of 1975 Topps MINIS. A 36-year-old wax pack dating back to the very first year that I opened packs of cards.
And we're going to open it.
I expect it to be something like this:
Except, you know, more manly, with beer and babes and bazookas.
But first we're going to take a look at the back of the wrapper, all nerdy-like.
What a wonderful sight. Sealed just for me, and packaged with just the right amount of dextrose and BHT (to maintain freshness!)
I have no memory of the Topps Sports Club or wanting to be in it. I never remember seeing Topps Sports Club News, and I'm wondering if the TSC ever got off the ground. The blurb promises "preseason card samples," and autographed pictures. I suppose these could be floating around somewhere, but I don't remember seeing them.
Most of the mini cards that I purchased in 1975 came from a single corner store in Binghamton, N.Y. It was painted an aqua green color, and I never knew if the store had a name. But the minis I bought there weren't wrapped in wax. They came in cellophane packages and there were more than 10 cards to a pack. I don't remember exactly how many. 18, maybe?
Anyway, this wax pack has 10 cards, just like the regular-sized wax packs from '75.
Before I open it, I must ponder what I might get out of this pack. Yes, I'm stringing you along. But you have a "scroll-down" option on your mouse just like me. You can jump to the pretty pictures if you're so weak that you can't keep your pants on for a few sentences.
Best cards I could pull from the pack: A Yount or Brett rookie, Nolan Ryan, Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt. These are all cards I need in mini form. Also, any All-Star card in mini form was beyond cool in 1975, so I'd love one of those. It'd also be interesting to see a league leaders card in mini form. I've never seen one of those.
Worst cards I could pull from the pack: "Worst" is a relative term, since I'm not exactly opening a pack of Upper Deck Spectrum here. But I could potentially pull a drastically miscut card or a checklist (which would be mildly interesting, since I've never seen a mini checklist either). Pulling a mini that I already have is no big deal because many of my minis date to when I was a kid and need upgrading.
OK, it's about time I start opening. This is the part that should be on video. But you'll have to suffer with words:
There's the opened pack, and I imagine some Orioles fans instantly know the first card in the pack. But I'll get to that in a minute.
First, I forgot something:
My that's appetizing.
Who wouldn't want to eat something that browns on the edges without the use of fire?
But I had to pass on ingesting it. The gum was tossed because I could barely stand the sight of it. Yet, I scanned it for all of eternity on the blog. So there you are.
And, yes, I still haven't gotten to the cards.
One more thing.
With scans, you can't get a good idea of the "mininess" of the mini (another area where video would work better). So I ended up scanning the minis that I pulled out of the pack next to their corresponding regular-sized card.
OK, now I'm ready.
For the first time since 1975, I am opening a pack of 1975 Topps mini cards!!!! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
#491 - Doyle Alexander
The man who became known as the player traded for a young John Smoltz. But I knew him as a kid as that guy who ... "Hey! He played for the Dodgers for a season!"
Ron Reed played two seasons for the Pistons in 1965-66 and 1966-67. I've known he used to play pro basketball because of cartoons like these on the backs of Topps cards. But I never bothered to look it up until now.
#114 - Dick Lange
This is a very nice, scenic photo of a player whose name sounds like he should have been a talk-show host. Maybe he was. His baseball-playing career was over before he hit 30.
Otto is a cool middle name.
#448 - Frank Duffy
One of the things that disappeared from ballplayers during the 1990s, was the delightful nerdiness of some of them. Of course, they actually weren't nerdy, because they were BALLPLAYERS. But the glasses and slight builds of some of the players from the '60s, '70s and '80s made them see somehow as dorky as the rest of us.
Look, even the cartoon player on the back is wearing glasses.
#138 - Del Unser
Unser is one of those players that was used a lot as a pinch-hitter/role player when I was growing up. Even as a kid, I rooted for many of those players to find a regular starting role and thought they were being left on the bench unfairly. I was actually preparing myself for an adulthood filled with disappointment.
When was the last time you heard an outfielder referred to as a "flychaser"?
#222 - Dan Spillner
The scanner cut off the bottom of the mini card.
As you know, I'm starting to peck away at my '75 mini want list and am starting with the cards that have the most memories of that first year of collecting cards. The Spillner card is one of those cards, so I'm all set there! I saved a few pennies with that pull.
The Padres had a hoard of pitching prospects in the mid-1970s? What happened to them all? Besides Randy Jones, I mean.
#41 - Cesar Geronimo
The famed No. 8 guy in the batting order of the Big Red Machine.
This card actually came out of the pack like this:
The second half of the pack was turned 180 degrees from the first half of the pack. I don't remember seeing that opening packs in '75. But I missed a lot of stuff when I was a kid. Too juiced up on sucrose.
Ah, that 1970s cartoon slapstick humor. The umpire got hit in the head with a baseball! Funny!
#438 - Don Carrithers
One of only four players in the 1975 set displaying a tobacco chaw in his cheek. I know this because I just finished off the 1975 Topps (it's far out, man) blog. In fact, I am opening this pack on that blog, too. I'm a lot less wordy over there.
This is also a mini-upgrade, as I had this mini card already. Love getting mini dupes!!
Dean Look played three games for the Chicago White Sox in 1961. That's it.
#92 - Cecil Upshaw
Cecil got scanned a little crooked. Sorry. Here's another player that isn't afraid to look a little bookish.
And by "hurled," Topps means "pitched." Not ... uh ... "vomited." At least not that I've heard.
#256 - Billy Champion
Champion has one of the best names in all of professional sports. I mentioned that once before. And he dots his "I' with a circle.
This is also the third straight "green-light green" bordered card. Probably my least favorite border combination in the set.
"Buford Champion" is not as great as "Billy Champion." Nice choice, mom or dad or whichever Champion was nicknaming Billy.
#166 - Woodie Fryman
I will forever associate Woodie Fryman with Howard Cosell and the 1981 N.L. Division Series with the Dodgers. L.A. defeated Woodman and Cosell's precious Expos. HA!
And that's the last card in the pack!
If I have to be honest, that was kind of a dud pack. No stars to speak of. No Dodgers. No subsets. A pack chock full of commons.
However, they are commons of MINIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!
And that beats any old pack of stars or, especially, rookies, by a million miles. You can have your Triple Threads. I just opened the best pack I'll open all year.
In my pursuit of the 1975 Topps mini set, I added six more cards with this pack. Four of them were dupes, but all are significant upgrades.
A major, major thanks to Andy for allowing me to indulge in the greatest year of my childhood one more time.
It just confirmed for me what I always knew.
The '75 Topps mini set is the greatest set of all-time.
Right now the minis are safely enclosed in the pack. I may never remove them.