Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Define the design (68T)

I've always been interested in coming up with names to define the look of each of the major sets that Topps, and then later Fleer, Donruss, Score, Upper Deck, etc., issued each year. Some, like 1970 Topps (gray border) and 1971 Topps (black border) are easy.

But some are more difficult, like the 1968 Topps set. I've heard the design of this set described most often one of two ways. The first is the "couch cushion" design. The second is the "old Zenith console TV design."

I always called it the "grandma's kitchen wallpaper" design, because I thought that's what it looked like -- drab, old-style wallpaper that one would only put in a kitchen because the color would best hide splattered food stains.

This is probably one of my least favorite Topps designs. It's got to be in the bottom 5. Probably because I was equating it with old splattered gravy stains. I could never understand why Topps came up with that design. I was barely alive in the '60s, so I don't know what Topps' inspiration was.

I know 1968 is going back a ways, but does anyone else know how Topps came up with the look for these cards? And more importantly, how would you sum up this design? If you had to describe the 1968 Jim "Mudcat" Grant card to someone who had never seen a '68 card before, what would you say?

For me it would be: "You know that wallpaper your grandmother had hanging in the kitchen? ..."


  1. I think people were referring to this set as the burlap (sack) set.

    JayBee Anama

  2. I always associated that design with canvas, but it probably is my least favorite set of the 1960s.

  3. Yup, burlap. I've been calling it that since I first saw it in the mid-'80s.

  4. They've always reminded me of a burlap covered bulletin board that my dad had in his office.

  5. Yes! I was thinking burlap too.



    The shot of Jim Grant is pretty amusing. Like he's trying to pull away from the cameraman.

    It's weird that they put a "shadow" behind his right shoulder, too, considering that grass is probably 50 or more feet away.

  6. A burlap design for grandma's kitchen wallpaper while in the background, on her TV console, she watches The Mod Squad, Here Come the Brides, Hawaii Five O, The Prisoner, or Land of the Giants. For although it was not a good year for Topps baseball cards, it was an incomparably great year in television. <----looking on the bright, although irrelevant, side

  7. See, I think it looks like an old suitcase, or a bad sports coat.

  8. I always thought burlap sack. It was a couple more years before Jim Mudcat Grant had his Mod Squad card. He was on the A's by then. Can you say Mutton Chops?

  9. Burlap it is.

    The border design never bothered me about this set. What I don't like about it is that an overwhelming majority of the photos don't contain the hat or uniform of the player and, apart from the team name on the front, there is no way to identify that The Cat is a Dodger. The photography on this set is the blandest I've seen on Topps.