Skip to main content

C.A.: 1977 Topps Grant Jackson

(Today is "Ask a Stupid Question Day". This day, I've learned, was created by teachers in an effort to get kids to ask more questions in class -- giving teachers more material for the teachers lounge when they share which kids asked the dumbest questions. Time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 232nd in a series):

Today is Grant Jackson's birthday. Jackson is known for pitching for three different World Series teams during the 1970s and for being the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the 1979 World Series.

In the baseball card world, he is known for a couple of different things. One is for his insanely difficult to obtain 1966 Topps rookie card, which he shares with Dodger Bart Shirley.

The other is for this often-cited example of 1970s fashion:

Diamonds are a reliever's best friend.

But I want to go back to Jackson's 1977 Topps card.

Jackson is listed as playing for the Mariners. That's because he was selected by Seattle in the 1976 expansion draft on Nov. 5. But Jackson never played for the Mariners because Seattle traded him to Pittsburgh one month later for infielders Craig Reynolds and Jimmy Sexton. Topps apparently went to press somewhere in early December.

So this is a case of one of those "zero-year" cards -- as Dimebox Nick calls them -- in which the player never played for the team listed. But it's even more than that, to my way of thinking.

Jackson's traveling through the 1976 season must have driven Topps to drink. He started out the 1976 season with the Orioles, the team for which he had played for five years. But in mid-June he was part of the huge trade between the Orioles and Yankees that brought Rick Dempsey, Tippy Martinez, Rudy May and Scott McGregor to Baltimore. Jackson was now a Yankee.

So, Jackson pitched for the Yankees until the end of the year. And, on Nov. 5, he was drafted by the Mariners, and then on Dec. 7 traded to the Pirates.

So, I ask you, which team is Jackson actually with in this photo? Orioles? Yankees? We don't know because Jackson is not wearing a cap, and the background is a nondescript green. It appears Topps attempted to paint a "Mariner blue" color on Jackson's collar. If I had to guess, I'd say Jackson's wearing an Orioles uniform because there is no sign of pinstripes and the Orioles have white home jerseys.

But I don't know that for sure. In this photo, Jackson is actually with NO TEAM. There is nothing in that photo that tells you, "I play for ....".

This is not the only example of this in baseball card annals. The late '60s and early '70s are filled with hatless players in which the jerseys are obscured so they don't reveal their old team. But this card has always struck me as more nebulous, more mysterious than those. There is no field in the background, at least nothing discernible. There is no blue sky, no green grass, no stands, no diamond dirt. If you look at the photo the right way, Jackson doesn't even look like a ballplayer. He's a guy standing on the sidewalk, maybe leaning up against the wall of a storefront. The photo doesn't say baseball at all.

Thank goodness Jackson had an 18-year playing career. We have plenty of other cards to confirm he actually is a ballplayer.


  1. Oh no! Panini just read this post and just messaged all of their photographers to hunt down players who aren't wearing hats. They're offering them bonuses if they zoom in so there's no logos in the background to airbrush.

  2. Jackson pitched for the Orioles against the Pirates in the 1971 World Series, and for the Pirates against the Orioles in the 1979 World Series.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Addressing the elephant in the room

A few people have noticed: I changed the way the blog looked with zero fanfare earlier this week.

I've changed my blog appearance, I think, six times now, although one was just a header swap. Just about all of those came with a bit of a warning or explanation.

I didn't think that was necessary this time, mostly because I've been doing this for over a decade, am pretty established, and don't think I need to justify my decisions here.

But also I thought that people were familiar with the general changes in web sites over the last two, three, four years and wouldn't be that affected by it. For the most part that seems to be true -- or, no one cares and they're all looking at pretty instagram pictures.

I've received a couple of questions though and just because I hate the feeling that some readers are lost, I'll explain what I can.

The changes, like many web site changes, are related to mobile phone use.

I've been irked by the way my blog looks on my p…

Not done with baseball but so done with 2019 baseball cards

I stayed true to my vow to avoid viewing most of the League Championship Series. After the NLDS debacle, my heart wasn't in another round of baseball.

I did sit down for a little bit of Game 4 of the Nats-Cards and, of course, I had to watch the highlights of Game 6 of the Astros-Yankees.

But that was about it, and I placed a "TBD" on the World Series, too. "We'll see how I feel," I said.

Well, the World Series starts tomorrow and I fully plan to watch it -- at least the portions that do not air when I am at work. I've decided that I'm just not done with baseball yet. The Astros-Nationals appeals to me a bit just because of all the fantastic starting pitching matchups. So, baseball, you're off the hook. I'll still watch you.

Your trading card sets, however ...

That's another matter.

I'm finished with buying 2019 cards. I knew that a few weeks ago, probably a few months ago. But it hit home when I was opening the five loose packs of …

Mind explosion: a different way to sort

This may have been one of the most tedious blog posts to put together in the history of this blog, but I think it's for a good cause.

The reason I'm not entirely sure is because I didn't have time to carry it out for a few more attempts, got to shovel that 7 inches of heavy wet snow plopped on my estate on Nov. 12th.

Anyway, a couple of days ago, Colbey from Cardboard Collections was sorting his Topps Holiday set by card number and asked a very common question that I've seen come up many times during my blogging career:

 This is always a satisfying question because this is how I organize my sets when I'm organizing by card number. At the top of the post I showed cards from the 2019 Topps flagship set being sorted in that manner -- stacks separated by hundreds first, then you create separate stacks by 10s within each hundreds stack, then finally order each of the 10s by card number.

I've done this since I was a kid and first knew the card numbers on the back me…