Thursday, January 17, 2013

C.A.: 1978 Topps St. Louis Cardinals team checklist

(Greetings. Today is "Ditch New Years Resolutions Day." I'm not lying. Look it up. So remember all those collecting goals you made? DITCH 'EM! You're not going to do them anyway. And on that uplifting note, it's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 170th in a series):

I grew up during a time when the thing to do in baseball was play on a rug.

The 1970s and 1980s, my prime baseball awareness years, were glorious days for carpeting your baseball fields. I don't know what overcame us, but I think when they put together time capsules for this period, they should save some room for artificial turf. We were obviously fascinated with it.

During this time, the following teams played on fake grass: the Royals, Twins, Mariners, Blue Jays, Astros, Phillies, Cardinals, Reds, Pirates and Expos. Balls sailed over the heads of outfielders on a bounce. Players bounced throws to first. I once walked on the artificial turf at Montreal's Olympic Stadium and wondered how anyone could possibly play on it. "You could get hurt on this stuff," I thought.

But back then, I didn't think much about it. I know I sort of didn't like it. And I was glad my team had real grass. But otherwise, it was just the way things were. I mean everyone had a basement rec room at the time and there was carpeting everywhere in those, even the walls. And those were cool. So who was I to say?

However, today I know better. The other day I was looking at some video from the 1976 World Series. The Yankees were playing the Reds at Riverfront Stadium. The fake grass -- in all of its neon glory -- overwhelmed everything else on the screen. It looked so foreign. I wanted to adjust the color tint. It didn't look like baseball at all. It looked like they were playing inside one of those indoor, all-purpose sports facilities that high school and college teams use for workouts.

And I thought, "what were we thinking? We played the World Series on THIS?"

It's kind of like baseball cards today. For the last two decades, the majority of base cards have been printed on some super, slick, compressed paper stock. It's sort of like the artificial turf of collecting. It's not real cardboard. We collect cards on THIS?

So in this area, Major League Baseball gives me hope. Back in the 1990s, teams began to build retro stadiums, featuring real grass. They came to their senses. They realized that fake -- that all-purpose, that cookie-cutter -- wasn't as efficient as they thought it was.

Perhaps someday, we'll go back to real cardboard in the base set. Perhaps one day a card company will realize printing pictures on index cards isn't as efficient as they thought it was.

Here's hoping for progress.

Real cardboard and real grass.

Think of the children.


  1. I can just imagine some 1970's baseball executive in a powder blue leisure suit pitching this: "Artificial turf... colorful, double-knit uniforms with elastic waistbands... designated pinch hitters... This is the future of the sport, my boy!"

    I was once on the turf at Skydome, and all I could think was "Man, I scrub my pots with this stuff!"

    I sometimes wonder what would happen if they did the regular set on real cardboard... I mean, I always see throwback t-shirts in Target, ones that have old-school brands and "1977 Led Zeppelin World Tour" on them, and I know they're not aimed at people like me who are old enough to remember that stuff first hand. Maybe there would be an appreciation for real cardboard. Hell, I'd be happy if they'd just ditch the foil.

  2. The Astrodome playing surface (at least the football surface) was the absolutely most horrible, painful and dangerous field I've ever been associated with. When we played our playoff games on it the kids were thrilled to be out there but as coaches we worried about blown out knees and compound fractures.

  3. In the early 1970s Comiskey Park decided to put Astroturf in the infield. It didn't make sense or look good since the outfield was still grass.