Friday, November 30, 2018

The sun always shines on baseball cards


I have a couple unspoken rules when it comes to collecting sets:

1. Don't attempt to collect a set older than you.

2. Don't attempt to collect a set that was issued before you knew what baseball was.

There are both emotional and practical reasons for these rules. On the practical side, I need to feel like I actually can complete the thing -- meaning I won't run out of cash, or have to go on a three-year hunting expedition for certain cards.

On the emotional side, I need to feel a connection to the set. The easiest way to find that connection is to complete sets from when I was around, watching baseball. I know the teams, I know the players, I know the times. Connection made. This is the reason I've completed every Topps flagship set between 1974-91. I know these guys. I saw them on TV, sometimes even at the park.

But more recently I've been venturing outside of my familiar zone. The 1971 and 1972 Topps sets are complete. The 1973 Topps set is less than 60 cards from completion. There wasn't a baseball thought in my head during any of those years.

I'm also starting on the 1970 Topps set. And also on the horizon, really not that far away, is the 1967 Topps set, which while not older than me, pretty much shoots the above rules -- and the reasons for those rules -- about two thousand feet out of the water.

In short:

a) I was likely sporting diapers when the '67 set came out.

b). It is one of the most direct routes to the poorhouse.

But here comes several more 1967 Topps from Bo of Baseball Cards Come To Life!


Got To Get Them Into My Life? You know it. That's four Orioles from the just-crowned World Series Champion team of 1966.

I'm impressed even though they swept my Dodgers. And I'm hopelessly hooked and have broken all of the above rules for a set that I either can't complete or will rob me of all my money. I don't even know half the guys in this set!




The '67 set is just one of those that causes me to throw all the rules out the window. Its wide-open view of baseball in the 1960s draws me in. They really played baseball in the '60s! They really enjoyed the game! Fans actually came out and watched! The sun shone and the bat cracked and the organ played! All of that did happen even if I don't remember one second of the 1960s.

So, yeah, here I am nearly 200 cards into the 1967 Topps set. Who knows what happens from here.


I have more practical and emotional reasons for collecting the 1970 Topps set.

Although it's a '60s set at heart, it was issued in the 1970s and I must complete the entire run of '70s set. That is my childhood we are talking about.

The 1970 set will not hold me up with insanely priced high numbers either.

The package that Bo sent contained a healthy chunk of 1970 Topps, most from the first series.


The 1970 set, even with those gray borders that bored me to tears when I saw them as a kid, still contains much of what I remember about baseball in the '70s. There are familiar players on those cards, even if they aren't on familiar teams.


Bill Robinson should be a Phillie or Pirate. Fred Patek, first, is "Freddie," and secondly, is a Royal.

The best thing about that Patek card, though, are the players warming up in the background. This is what I know from collecting baseball cards as a kid. There were always guys in the background doing basebally things.


There you go. Right down the line. Bullpen work. Guys headed back to the dugout. People doing baseball before I knew what baseball was.



More backgrounds. More people doing. Players standing. Players head-scratching. Security guards watching. The sun shining all the while. This is all stuff that was happening when I started collecting cards in the mid-70s!



So, yeah, even though all I knew in 1970 was kindergarten and Sesame Street, I'll collect the 1970 set. I'll collect the catchers and the grumpy unfamiliar managers, the All-Stars I never knew, and the guy performing a Bo Jackson pose long before it was a Bo Jackson pose.

Overall, it's still baseball.

And I'll form that connection by collecting it, just as I have the 1956 Topps set (which, to be fair, is already connected to my childhood because of one of the single greatest collecting days of my life).


The sun always shines on baseball cards. No matter what year.

(P.S: Except on night cards).

21 comments:

  1. I think I was much like you on your set collecting rules. Then I heard the About the Cards guys mentioning birth year sets, something that has never really been in my wheelhouse. Other than the year itself, I don't feel any connection to the set. By the time I was eight (when I started collecting), most of those guys were no longer playing. I posted a twitter poll and was surprised that so many were interested in a birth year set. It makes me wonder if I'm missing out...

    -kin
    beansballcardblog.com

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  2. Glorious palm tree baseball cards!

    Though I like Spring Training photos on my baseball cards, I wish Topps would move their photographer around at least a little bit from year to year, or try and put a little thought in what they are doing down there in Florida every February. Most teams have the exact same background for player after player, year after year after year, on the cards using "Photo Day" shots (Heritage & Archives). The Tigers stand in the jungle, the Red Sox stand by the shrubbery, the Yankees stand under the menacing glare of the Press Box (fitting, actually), the Braves stand in the same spot by a certain fence, the White Sox (sometimes shrubbery, with the Rockies) and Diamondbacks stand in front of some sort of mausoleum / Borg cube, the A's and Angels stand in front of hill of some sort (I like those), the Dodgers stand in front of more shrubbery, and the Orioles and Indians often stand in front of some sort of fence covered by a black canvas tarp - awesome!

    Speaking of Heritage, I don't plan to collect it again until 2020, when the sharp looking black cards return. But I will be watching 2019 Heritage closely for some evidence of photos shot in Major League stadiums to start appearing on the historical heritage accuracy idea (an original "theme" of the product line). I think 1970 was largely the beginning of a large up-tick in photos _not_ from Florida in the original sets; Topps had to scramble too much in 1968 and 1969, even using repeats, etc. - perhaps that was what led them to start using so many photographs taken at Shea Stadium?


    Anyhow, I would be pretty interested to see how Topps sourced photos in the 1967 set, along the way in your endeavors with that one. I like it better than 68 or 69, but about the same as 66, and none of them were design-y enough for me to collect the Heritage versions with those endless same same Photo Day shots.

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  3. Looking forward to future posts about packages and purchases you make that contain cards from these two sets.

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  4. Great post!! 67 and 70 are excellent choices. I am older, so I experienced the 60's things you mentioned in 67. As I stated previously on this blog, I think 67 rivals 75 as the best card set ever. Paying substantial amounts for commons and team cards (yuck) in the 7th series will drive you nuts, but good luck.

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  5. I went the exact opposite of you. To me, the older the better, and it worked out perfectly. I learned about the players long retired or even no longer living, so that when I saw clips of them in action, it really mattered to me. Although there isn't the connection I have to the players I did see live in action, I wouldn't trade my experience either. My current oldest completed sports set is 1971-72 Topps basketball, and my oldest overall is an automotive set from 1922 that I truly lucked into, finding a complete set in a binder for sale as a unit.

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  6. Glad you like them! My birth year was the cutoff too. Then suddenly it wasn't. I know I'll never complete most of those older-than-me sets, just going to enjoy the ride . . .

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  7. I never intended to work on the 1970 set but I was offered a really good starter lot than I couldn't turn down. It was much for fun than I figured it would be when I began. When you get your wantlist posted I'm sure I can help you out.

    I don't have a ton of '67s but I bet I can find something you'll need there as well.

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  8. -I have been trying to complete the 1955 Bowman set, part of the fun of it is looking up information on the long retired players. Bowman had some odd ball players in that set, plus it is the last year of the original company. I maybe retired before I finish it, but it still is alot of fun to try and build....oh yeah my dad was 5 years old in 1955....

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  9. Goodluck on collecting both these sets. I’ve got to finish 70 myself. I’m less than 200 for completion.

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  10. The 1972 Topps set scared me away from building vintage sets with their pricey high #'s, but I think it's pretty awesome when other collectors push through and do it. Best of luck on the 1970 set.

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  11. The gray borders bore the bejeezus out of me too. And the blah block letter team names too. I'll take the burlap 68's over these any day. I am not looking forward to the 2019 Heritage.

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    2. Yes, but the 1970 set is better than the 68 or 69 sets in terms of NEW photos of the players (especially those from expansion teams, Oakland, and Houston).

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  12. I love 1970's photography almost more than any other set with a number of almost-awkward candid shots. It's the first year of 35mm film being used in earnest and Topps is still figuring out what direction it wants to go in the action/candid/portrait mix.

    I'm definitely biased toward the "guys I saw play in my youth" side of set collecting but I am doing a birth year set and can see myself getting intrigued by some of the other sets that predate my peak years. Not sure I'd ever do something with high numbers though; just getting Giants for those years is hard enough.

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  13. Props to Bo for sending you a great batch of cards! The condition of the '70's cards look especially great. The gray borders originally did not excite me back in 1970 but they've actually grown on me a bit. I'll still attempt to collect the 2019 Topps Heritage set but I'm really looking forward to the 2021 Heritage set featuring the 1972 design.

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  14. When I win the lotto my first purchase would a 67 set.Good luck on the 67,and the tough trio of Carew,Seaver,and Brooks Robinson.

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    1. After 45 years, I finally got the 1967 Brooks Robinson card. It's essentially the SAME PHOTO as in the 1969 set.

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  15. Bill White, I like your taste in baseball cards! (1967)

    Someone above mentioned 1967 Heritage. That set sucked, IMO - All the photos were very grainy. For years I looked forward to collecting 1967 Heritage, but in the end, I didn't buy any. After seeing them in the blogosphere, I'm glad I didn't.

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    1. Thanks Jim. Congrats on getting the Brooks Robinson card. Agree with you on the 70 photos over the 68 and 69 sets. Enjoy your blogs as well.

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  16. If I ever hit the lottery, I will try to put together the sets from 1967 & 1972, since they are my favorite designs from those two decades. But short of that, no... I appreciate them on an artistic level and yes, baseball is baseball -- but I don't have the emotional connection to players that were active & mostly retired before I was old enough to follow the game.

    Good luck in your pursuit of the 1970 & 1967 sets

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