Tuesday, June 12, 2012

May the force be with me

This is one of the high holy cards of the Golden Age of collecting for me.

The Golden Age of cards may mean something else to the general collecting public. But to me it means the card sets issued between 1975-80. Those were the first six years of collecting for me and where the most memorable cards in history reside.

There are a special few for each year, and this is one of them for 1977.

Looking at this card with our hindsight eyes -- with 35 years of collecting gone by since this card first blew me away -- we can find a host of flaws. But I refuse to look at it that way. I look at it as I did as an 11-year-old. When I see it that way, I feel the old feelings coming back. I like the "in-action" approach. I like Griffey's smile. I like the up-close-and-personal crop. And I like Griffey's bright, yellow bat. It practically looks like he's waving around a light saber.

It was 1977, after all. The year Star Wars first came to be.

This year was a terrific one for me for collecting cards. I already documented it once. We had one hell of a sixth-grade class in which card-collecting was one of the many fun things that we did collectively there in Mrs. Fiato's class at MacArthur Elementary.

But '77 was key for another reason. A baseball fan at age 11 is just beginning to realize his or her connection to the game. They are starting to absorb the teams and connect the players with the teams. Which teams are good. Which teams are bad. They're learning the sport's history and its background and really getting to KNOW what's great about the game, and that THEY can play a part in it.

I collected cards for three years before the 1977 set and season debuted. These were really introductory years for me. I barely watched baseball between 1974-76. Cartoons were still the program of choice. I bought packs of cards, but there were so many people on those cards that I didn't know. Cards were a great way for me to learn, but I don't know how much I consciously absorbed during that period.

But at age 11, I was ready to learn exactly what this baseball was all about. And with a couple of years under my belt, the faces I pulled out of packs in 1977 were no longer strangers. I knew who Garry Maddox and Steve Braun and Larry Hisle were.

Of those years between 1975-80, I have completed Topps sets from '75, '76, '78 and '80. Next on the list is 1977. It has been for some time. But it wasn't until I received a small lot of 1977 Topps from Jeff of My Sports Obsession that I finally --- FINALLY -- put up a want list for the '77 set. It's there under the want list tab in all of its glory.

Here are some of the other cards that Jeff sent.

BOOOOOOOOOG!!!!! This is his final Topps card issued during his career. He was a Dodger by the time we were pulling this card in '77. You can see how a card like that might've looked here.

Each one of these cards are upgrades. I have so many cards to upgrade from the 1977 set. After all, I collected it when I was 11.

You were required to collect checklists if you wanted to complete a set during the Golden Age of collecting. Some people resent this today. I have no problem with it. It was as things should be. Every card should have a number that attaches itself to a set. None of this "no-number" crap.

TEAM CARDS!!!!!!!!!

I still love those things. Check out the Orioles jerseys. They almost look blood red instead of orange for some reason.. Earl Weaver made them Bleed, baby.

I plan to collect this set like I have collected the other sets between 1975-80. I'm looking for cards that are in as ideal condition as possible. Relatively sharp corners. Relatively centered.

But I realize the time period. Centering was a more difficult objective to achieve than it is now. And that's part of the charm of collecting sets like these. So if the card looks fairly new but is off a few degrees, I'll welcome it gladly.

My want list includes plenty of cards in the '77 set that I already have. But I need to upgrade them because I would like to look at them and remember pulling them out of the pack. The cards the upgrades will replace will receive a place of honor in a separate binder, much as my 1975 replacees did.

One of the other fun aspects of chasing this set is there aren't any too-difficult-to-obtain cards, which means I won't have to tackle a Robin Yount or Eddie Murray rookie as I did finishing other Golden Age sets.

I'm looking forward to this journey because of all the cards I will unearth (I've been gobbling up the 1977 Topps blog every day, by the way). There are lots of cards in this set that I haven't seen since 1977. And there are lots of cards that -- Oh, wow -- I have never seen before.

It's going to be a fantastic adventure.

May the force be with me.


  1. I've always been a fan of Ken Griffey's 1977 Topps card as well. It's kind of surprising that OPC used a different photo for their 1977 set.


  2. If you replaced his cap with a hooded robe, he could be a Jedi. Sounds like a custom card idea, too bad I have no skills.

  3. I should be heading to my LCS this week. Expect some 77 Topps coming your way. The dime box always has some littered in the 5000 count boxes.

  4. I love the manager pic sneaking in across the team cards!