All right, I was a little hasty in my previous post, speculating that Fleer was a little smarter than we thought they were in 1982. If the card makers were thinking of the "rule of thirds" when they composed the cards, they didn't do a good job of it.
Chances are they weren't thinking any such thing, as the comments in the last post suggested.
I had my suspicions anyway based on a few things that were also mentioned in the comments. First, I agree that the image on the Sutcliffe '82 Fleer card should be on the right, not the left. Also, while posting the cards, I kept thinking that the rule of thirds would have worked better if the cards were horizontal and not vertical.
But the big thing is the background. I didn't really think of that. In order for the rule of thirds to be effective, you need something in the rest of the photo that is interesting. Fleer fell flat on its face in that area.
So, I decided to go to my favorite photographic set of very recent times to see the rule of thirds in true action. It's 2008 Stadium Club, the ultimate uncompletable set.
The rule of thirds was difficult to find on vertical cards, even in Stadium Club. If it was there, it was super subtle. But for the horizontal cards, it is all over the place.
Here is the Granderson card divided up into nine squares (actually rectangles, again. Sorry). You see the lines on the left intersect at Granderson. It implies movement more than if Granderson was centered. Also, although there isn't a lot in the background, your eye is drawn to the first baseman covering the play and leads you to speculate who that might be (Morneau?).
Here the lines on the left intersect at Santana. But the rule of thirds also leads your eye to the action at first base and whoever that Reds player might be.
I decided to do this one with red lines, for Mr. MVP. There is quite a bit going on in the background, so placing Votto in the right third of the photo was a good move. Terrific photo.
The lines intersect here right at the subject of the card just as a good little "rule of thirds" photo should. But Braun is also positioned so you can take in the crowd, as well as the catcher at left.
Notice that the Ninety Nine restaurant sign is obscured by the catcher.
But not here. This is the famed photo in which the umpire was removed from the picture and the back fence was painted blue to give the impression that this game took place in Dodger Stadium, although it was actually Fenway Park.
The lines intersect near home plate, but given all the foolishness by Topps on this card, I wouldn't be surprised if the central image was supposed to be the Ninety Nine sign. Notice how the lines intersect there, too.
Here is perhaps the best example of rule of thirds on a card. I've already mentioned how terrific this photo is. But now I know why. Sheffield is positioned right along the intersection of two lines, and your eyes are drawn to the terrific backdrop of Comerica Park.
So, that is how the "rule of thirds" is done correctly.
Sorry, '82 Fleer. You're back to being the ugly duckling.