Wednesday, November 1, 2017

G.O.A.T., the '70s, 50-41

Good evening and happy Game 7.

I will be glued to my television tonight, a hot mess of emotion and quite unapproachable.

I thought that before I settled into the abyss -- c'mon Dodgers just one more win! -- I'd leave a parting gift with another edition of the Greatest 100 Cards of the 1970s.

We are crossing the midway point with this segment. I think you should be familiar with at least some of these cards by now. And they will get more and more familiar as we progress.

There isn't a lot of time for babbling tonight though so I'll make this intro quick.

To prepare for the big game (or a big countdown), I recommend humming a few bars of Sweet's Little Willie and then sitting down to a typical '70s childhood feast, Chef Boyardee ravioli, Hostess yodels and Pop Shoppe orange pop.

It's the greatest cards of the '70s, numbers 50-41:


1972 World Series, A's Make It Two Straight, 1973 Topps, #204

Hey, look! A World Series card to start things off.

There are so many familiar action baseball shots: A shortstop leaping over a sliding runner at second base. A batter watching the flight of his hit. A pitcher delivering to the plate. I've seen them over and over and over again.

But this is new, something I can't remember seeing before, especially not on a baseball card. It's an attempted double play by Oakland and the angle is ideal. You can see the entire play unfold on the bases. Johnny Bench has just upended A's second baseman Dick Green, who has thrown to first baseman Mike Hegan in an attempt to get Tony Perez for the double play.

Based on the proximity of the ball to Hegan's glove and Perez one step away from the base, Perez appears like he's going to be safe. And after going to baseball-reference's account of Game 2, I can see that he was. Perez grounded to third in the bottom of the sixth inning after Bench had walked.

The play is all there for you, the dust, the shadows, the excitement of the World Series.


Tony Perez, 1977 Topps, #655

The batter posed in mid-swing is a tried-and-true baseball card photo from the 1970s. It's an easy way to make the batter look powerful.

I don't know much about photography, but there is something about the angle or Perez's bat placement -- or maybe it's the photo crop -- that is striking. Perhaps it's Perez gritting his teeth or the bright red uniform against the pale blue and green background.

It is one of my favorite mid-swing card poses. But it's not my favorite. That's coming later.


Rich Gossage, 1978 Kellogg's, #8

Three cards earlier in the countdown, I featured Gossage's 1978 Topps card. It shows Gossage airbrushed into a Yankees cap and uniform.

Kellogg's wasn't as daring. Gossage was kept in the Pirates uniform he wore during the 1977 season. And because of that, this is one of the few -- if not the only -- card showing Gossage as a Pirate, in the glorious golden Pirates uniform and black pillbox cap.

This card is significant because Gossage's one season of the Pirates was one of the best of his career, solidified his reputation, and made him very attractive to the big-spending Yankees, who scooped him up during the '77 offseason.

Kellogg's did make sure to keep the record straight on the back of the card, mentioning the Yankees in three different places. It makes for a schizophrenic card -- Pirates on the front and Yankees on the back -- but I wouldn't have it any other way.

This is one of the cards that I acquired specifically for this countdown. Unfortunately, in the couple of months I've owned it, the card fell victim to cracking, a disease common among Kellogg's cards.

All it was doing was hanging out at the bottom of a stack of 40 other cards. So delicate.

Still love it though.


Bill Freehan, 1973 Topps, #460

In the back-and-forth love triangle that involves me, 1973 Topps and every other set I collect, '73 Topps cards have moved in and out of my collection constantly.

It's in such a state of flux that a card like the Bill Freehan here is a card I think I own, but I actually don't.

I had this card once. In fact I posted about it before. On that post, I said:

The thing I like about this card is not the sliding Yankee -- Celerino Sanchez -- or Bill Freehan, it's the crowd. I could spend a good 10 minutes studying the crowd. Look at the guys in the ties, the two security guards/policemen in rapt attention, and the '60s-style shades. And I wish I could read what was written on that guy's shirt.

Good enough for the countdown.


Ken McMullen, 1971 Topps, #485

As someone who came to baseball viewing around 1977, it's difficult to picture how baseball was played in the early 1970s. The dimensions of the park were so big that stadiums actually put monuments and foul poles in the field of play!

At least that's what happened in the old cavernous Yankee Stadium. You get the best illustration possible on this Ken McMullen card. The monuments lurk behind a classic shot of McMullen crouching at third in his old-style California Angels uniform. The anticipation on his face is unmistakable.


Steve Garvey, 1975 Topps, #140

How many cards do you own in which you have the card number memorized? I'm sure you have a few.

When it comes to the 1975 Topps set, I have memorized several dozen. And there are a few that I could recite as confidently as my birth date. The Steve Garvey card is one of them. I have special appreciation for the mini-card of Garvey, one of the first mini Dodgers from that set I ever owned.

But beyond my own interests, this card makes the countdown because it represents Garvey's stardom beginnings. Garvey wasn't much of a thought before the 1974 season. But in that season Popeye performed so well that he won the starting first baseman's job in the All-Star Game as a write-in candidate. He then led the Dodgers to the World Series that year. This card sums up that coming-out party for someone who would become one of the steadiest forces in Dodger history.


Reggie Jackson, 1978 Topps, #200

Like the Garvey card, Reggie Jackson's card is here because of the previous season.

Jackson performed a feat never before seen that has yet to be duplicated -- homer on the first pitch in three consecutive bats in the decisive game of the World Series. If there was any doubt that Jackson was a future Hall of Famer before that point, he probably erased it with that single performance.

Even though Jackson's display came against my Dodgers, I wanted this card just as much as anyone else did when the '78 collecting season came around. It shows Jackson on his back swing, with his left knee grazing the ground as it often did on a mighty effort.

I have no idea if Jackson connected or has actually swung and missed here. (It looks like he might have whiffed). But Jackson's effort and the All-Star shield give this card the stature worthy of being ranked at his uniform number -- No. 44.


Hank Aaron, 1976 Topps, #550

For the fourth straight year, Hank Aaron appeared on the #1 card in the 1976 Topps set. He shared it with Ruth and Mays in 1973 Topps, then owned it himself in '74, '75 and '76.

Card No. 1 in the '76 set is Aaron's first appearance in an actual Brewers uniform (nobody was fooled by Topps' airbrushing in the 1975 set). He is shown in action, at a distance. It's definitely a Brewers uniform, but if you were a Braves fan and still not ready to let Aaron go, you needed card #550 here to confirm that, yes, Aaron is indeed a Brewer.

Looks rather strange doesn't it?

And if you still weren't sure that the '70s had arrive yet, there is the little silhouette figure announcing that Aaron, Hammerin' Hank, is a designated hitter.

I remember seeing this card as a kid. I never saw Aaron play except in highlights. But Aaron in blue-and-gold never looked right to me. It sure does draw your interest though.


Dave Roberts, 1973 Topps, #133

For my money, one of the best examples of the '70s on cardboard. If someone who was born too late for the '70s but had heard about some of what went on that decade wanted to know what the '70s were all about, I might hand that person this card.

The '70s -- particularly the early '70s -- was a clash of styles. Tradition still reigned. But new styles and new ways forced their way into the foreground. (One of my favorite examples is Leo Durocher in the 1972 set framed by a psychedelic pink border).

Here, rookie Dave Roberts goes back for a pop fly in traditional Wrigley Field. His uniform is so loud that Roberts looks like he was cut out and placed in the Wrigley Field setting (with '73 Topps, I wouldn't put it past the card artists). This particular Padres uniform makes the later chocolate-and-mustard duds practically appear tame.

The rookie cup logo ties the card together as it tries desperately to keep up with the color that Roberts is wearing.


Lowell Palmer, 1970 Topps, #252

Palmer's 1970 card is a legend among card bloggers. The sunglass-wearing Palmer has been called baseball's international man of mystery.

His legend continues on a 10-year-old blog post in which women eager to reacquaint with Palmer leave comments, one even leaving her phone number!

Palmer didn't pitch for very long in the majors. Time in the military and control issues limited his appearances on cards. But his background outside the game (sports cars, working as a private detective) makes him an unforgettable figure.

His 1970 Topps card reinforces that. On the back, Palmer's hobby is listed as raising pigeons!

OK, that's all for me, I have a game to catch.

See you in the offseason.


  1. The 75 Garvey could be one of the 100 greatest cards PERIOD!

  2. It not widely known, but Aaron was actually offered the Brewers manager job mid way through the 75 season. Imagine the DH-Mgr sillouette in the corner.

    1. Topps probably would have gone the Frank Robinson route like they did 1975 Topps and put Hank Aaron the manager on the Brewers team card front with a small picture next to the team photo.

  3. Once again....a fantastic selection of cards. Really enjoying your appreciation for this list.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sorry it didn't work out today. I was rooting for the Dodgers for your sake. It was a fun Series though.

  5. Another great post. I like the 1972 World Series, A's Make It Two Straight, 1973 Topps, #204. I prefer the 1st base side when I was going to games. I had great seats in 78 and 79 at Three Rivers Stadium with this type of view.

  6. What makes the Freehan card even better is, he's pulling a 1970 World Series Elrod Hendricks! Holding the ball in one hand and swiping with the glove. And Sanchez looks like he's breakdancing.

  7. Freehan is probably one of the more underrated catchers of all-time with at least five gold gloves and 11 All-Star selections. Within that group, he's probably the most under appreciated.

  8. The FSP blog post about Lowell Palmer is still a classic. I've been tempted to call that number just to see who answers but my common sense has thus far prevailed.

  9. I always see Aaron as a Brave. When referring to MIL, I pretend he was just going back to the MIL Braves, makes me feel better.

  10. 98% Sure the 1978 Jackson above is from the Burger King set. The player name in the regular Topps release is much closer to the border.

    1. You have excellent eyes. My regular '78 Reggie Jackson is pretty beat up and since the images are large for these posts I wanted to have all the cards match in condition as much as possible. So I used BK Reggie.

  11. Oh man... I wish I had been around to see outfield maneuver around those Yankees monuments. I wonder how many outfielders ran into them and injured themselves over the years. Speaking of Yankees. I can't stand them. But that 1978 Reggie is one helluva card.

  12. Even the way McMullen is CROUCHING is old school.

  13. I hope that in February of 2018, Topps will remember to shoot a photo of a player wearing shades at their annual photo day just before the Spring Training games start. So that 2019 Heritage will have a card with a guy in shades. But instead we will probably just get a subset of Action Variations and Color Swaps, again, regardless of any idiosyncracies in the 1970 set.

    And I expect every card that has a car on it will be in this countdown. Every single one.