Skip to main content

Metamorphosis fun

One of my favorite television shows of all-time growing up was "The Incredible Hulk." I couldn't wait for the weekend to roll around so I could watch Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno and Jack Colvin do their thing.

I was never much of a comic book kid, so I didn't get into the Marvel series, and I've never seen any of the Hulk movies. But I am a fan of campy TV action shows. And "The Hulk" on CBS from 1978-82 was right up my alley.

One of my favorite things to do when watching the show was to try to anticipate when Dr. Bruce Banner would turn into the Incredible Hulk. Sometimes it was easy, like when a baddie would punch Banner in the face and he would fly halfway across the room. Other times, it was more difficult, like when Banner would drop a dime in a phone booth and flip out.

The times when Banner would "hulk" over seemingly inconsquential issues were the favorite moments for my brothers and I. We'd go into hysterics watching Banner freak over a relative non-issue. In fact, years later the phrase "to hulk" lives on at my house. My wife has a habit of getting annoyed at small issues. She'll let out an exasperated sigh and sometimes stomp around. I tell her she's "hulking."

So what does this have to do with baseball cards? Well, you may remember this card featured on this post:

Bob Coluccio, the clean-cut, All-American boy swinging for the fences on his 1974 card.

And then Coluccio two years later, in which I mentioned that he looks like he just got done with his gig as a roadie for Grand Funk Railroad. It's quite the transformation, no?

It's not Hulk-like in that Coluccio didn't turn green or sprout muscles. But the guy doesn't look anything like he did in 1974, does he? Coluccio underwent a metamorphosis over those two years.

And he's not a rare exception, as many fans of 1970s baseball cards have noted. The Beatles may be the most recognizable "metamorphosis" examples, going from mop-tops to hippies in three short years during the '60s. But baseball players were a little behind the curve, choosing the early-to-mid-70s for their transformation.

Here is another player who was a Brewer on his 1974 card, Billy Champion (possibly the greatest baseball name in history. He should have a spot in the Hall of Fame just for his name. If I had a son, I think I'd have to name him Billy Champion. Forget about the fact that "Champion" isn't my last name. I'd go through all the paperwork just to get it done. It is THAT awesome of a name).

Then you'll notice on his 1976 card that Champion has taken on the rocker look. Frampton Comes Alive? Hell, no. Champion Comes Alive!

Here's another fine 1970s metamorphosis. Steve Hargan features a clean-cut look throughout his late '60s cards into the early '70s. Check out the look on Hargan's face on the 1971 card. Someone hypnotized him right there in Municipal Stadium.

Then, something happened a few years later and Hargan looks like he's halfway toward becoming Grizzly Adams. Since I wasn't aware of ballplayers until the mid-70s, Hargan's look on the right is what I was familiar with. When I saw Hargan's earlier cards, I was shocked.

But I was a pretty clueless kid in the '70s. I'd walk around in my purple plaid pants and pterodactyl shirt collars happy as a lark. Watergate? Cocaine? Swingers? Starland Vocal Band? I was oblivious.

Here's a great metamorphosis, mostly because it's Billy Buck. But also because it's so drastic. I'll bet there are a ton of baseball fans that didn't even know Buckner used to look like he did on the 1972 card. Chest-hair Billy, that's what they remember.

It's more fun, though, to look at the transformation of players who aren't as familiar as Buckner. Everyone is aware of how Rich Gossage changed. But I like to focus on some of the more common players.

Another one of my favorites is Dave LaRoche (father to Adam and Andy). In fact, you can see LaRoche's metamorphosis over the years, much like the transformation that you'd see on "The Hulk" as he'd go from Bixby to Ferrigno.

If I had photoshop talent, I'd try blurring the images to better show the metamorphosis. But instead I'll just do this:

Please don't make me angry ...

... You wouldn't like me ...



Andy said…
Another great post. I have to say---I would love it if you dropped the Dodgers stuff and made general baseball card posts all the time. You come up with some really great stuff. How do you research posts like this one?

Word verification for this post is "venga". As in "the venga bus is coming."
Dubbs said…
Awesome post, it seems well researched (which was going to be my comment as well) but you've already admitted to having a subconscious filled w/ baseball card knowledge and lore. And please don't drop the Dodgers stuff - it helps knowing I'm not the only person absolutely retarded about a baseball team.
gcrl said…
ha. i had a similar thought recently, spurred by the dr. mike marshall transformation from his 74 traded card (which had to be from a much earlier shoot - maybe even all the way back to his 69 card shoot) to his 75 cards. a true kafka there.
night owl said…
Jim, the Marshall traded card is actually the same photo from his 1973 Topps card, but airbrushed.

Now is the '73 card photo from earlier than '72? I don't know.
jacobmrley said…
the mid 70's were rough on a lot of people.

Popular posts from this blog

Stuck in traffic with Series 2

In the whirlwind that has been my life this month, I found myself going absolutely nowhere for a portion of Thursday afternoon. I was in the middle of yet another road trip, the third one this week. This one was for work, and because it was job-related, it became quickly apparent that it would be a waste of time. The only thing that could save it was a side visit to the nearby Walmart to see if I could spot some Topps Series 2. I found it right away, which was shocking as I was pretty much in the middle of the country, where SUVs share the road with tractors and buggies. Who knew that the Amish wanted Series 2, too? The problem was getting back into civilization to open the contents of the 72-card hanger box I bought. The neighboring village is undergoing a summer construction project smack in the middle of downtown. It's not much of a downtown, but the main road happens to be the main artery in the entire county. Everyone -- and by everyone I mean every tractor trailer ha

Heading upstate

  Back in 1999, Sports Illustrated published an edition at the end of the year rating the top 50 athletes of the century for every state.   As a lifelong Upstate New Yorker, I braced for a list of New York State athletes that consisted almost entirely of downstate natives, that is, folks from the greater NYC area and Long Island.   We Upstaters are used to New York City trampling all over the rest of the state. They have the most people, the loudest voices. It happens all the time. It's a phenomenon unique to this state. Heck, there are still people out there who, when you tell them you're from New York, automatically think you're from NYC. They don't think of cows and chickens when they think of New York. But trust me, there are a lot of cows and chickens in New York State. Especially cows.   So, anyway, when I counted up the baseball players that SI listed as the greatest from New York State, six of the nine were from New York City or Long Island. I was surprised all

G.O.A.T, the '80s: 30-21

  I often call this current period of the television sports calendar the black hole of sports programming. The time between the end of the Super Bowl and the beginning of televised Spring Training baseball games is an empty void when I'm looking for something to watch on traditional television. I don't watch the NBA and the NHL on TV holds my interest for maybe a period. College basketball I can't watch until the tournament. This didn't used to be as much of a problem back when I could turn instead to my favorite sitcoms in February. Do you remember when February was "sweeps month"? (Maybe it still is, I don't know). Networks would make sure that every top show aired original episodes that month, no reruns. So you'd always have something to view during the week even when the sports scene was boring. (I know, people have multiple streaming viewing options now. But I find myself going weeks sometimes before I see something I want to view on Netflix or Am