I don't know about you, but by the time I was 11 or 12, I thought I had everything figured out. I knew how the world operated and how I fit into it.
I knew the routine. Get up in the morning, go to school, return home, play baseball with my buds, do a little homework, goof off, and go to sleep. In between there were other constants. Frankenberry and Count Chocula. Happy Days. Kiner's Corner. They were always there.
So it was with card backs.
I knew what card backs should be. They should be horizontal. They should be green. They should have a cartoon on the left and statistics on the right.
For the longest time, this is what I thought was the ultimate template for a card back. The 1977 Topps set was the standard. Any deviation from this formula was to be treated with suspicion.
Of course, looking back at it now, the '77 card back isn't much to see. Most of the 1970s card backs were drab and dark. The '77 back is a little difficult to read. But when I think of the cards I collected as a child and the backs of those cards, the '77 back is the one that springs to mind first. In my mind, that is what a card back should look like.
Again, the best part of this card back is the cartoon. Each player's card featured a cartoon. That's the best part of anchoring the cartoon on the left side of the card. The statistics don't get in the way. By the way, do you think you could get away with drawing a McDonald's arch in a cartoon on the back of a card today?
Nice of Topps to point out Garagiola's failed efforts in the presidential race.
"Joe Morgan is an expert on wines." Morgan? An expert? He told you that, didn't he?
As time went on, I found out I didn't know anything at all. The world was an ever-changing place, and that included card backs. They weren't always green and they didn't even always have a cartoon. But the '77 set gave me a starting point, something that I could match up with other card backs.
It was also the starting point for a few other things.
One thing that a boy verging on puberty noticed with these '77 card backs is how many lovely young ladies made an appearance in these cartoons.
Perhaps the card below was an attempt to balance things out at least a little:
As you can see, I studied the backs of the 1977 set intensely, perhaps more intensely than any other set.
This was the card set in which I first fully appreciated the card back. That's the main reason why it is where it is on this countdown.
Best of the set:
Really, was there any doubt?
Yes, I'm a pig.
(previous card back countdown selections):
50. 1978 SSPC Yankee Yearbook
49. 1993 Score
48. 1999 Skybox Thunder
47. 2000 Upper Deck
46. 1999 Skybox Premium
45. 1953 Johnston Cookies Braves
44. 1995 Topps
43. 1997 Fleer
42. 1992 Pinnacle
41. 1989 Bowman
40. 1977 Kellogg's
39. 2004 Topps
38. 2004 Topps Total
37. 1992 Topps
36. 1992 Donruss
35. 2008 Upper Deck Documentary
34. 1963 Fleer
33. 1955 Bowman
32. 2006 Topps
31. 1961 Topps
30. 1955 Topps
29. 1967 Topps
28. 1970 Topps
27. 1969 Topps
26. 1966 Topps
25. 1963 Topps
24. 1911 T205
23. 1962 Topps
22. 1981 Topps
21. 1981 Donruss
20. 1958 Topps