Friday, January 18, 2013

Get funky

Just a couple of weeks ago I announced my official pursuit of the very colorful, very '70s, very funky 2001 Upper Deck Decade set. The set is an homage to everything I truly love about baseball and cardboard, glossed-up and modernized just enough.

Well, not long after my declaration -- Monday, in fact -- my mailman handed me a package about yay big (pretend I'm holding up a baby pig). I opened it up and out popped 75 cards toward the set, direct from the always generous mr. haverkamp.

I tell ya, this blog thing is genius, it really is.

So after chopping my want list for this set in HALF, I decided to show off some of the cards. For anyone who lived through 1970s baseball, especially if they were a kid at the time, this set is a terrific trip, full of memories of when players were larger than life and dressed like they were float decorations in the Rose Bowl Parade.

I get such a kick out of looking at these cards. The memories come flooding back. And the photos -- while not the greatest, quality-wise -- make me smile. Broadly. A lot of the pictures I have never seen before, and I'm so grateful to have new cards of players wearing uniforms that no longer exist.

Dig it.

Here we have the Brewers' baby blue, the too-brief Red Sox red helmets, the chocolate-and-peanut butter Padres, and the rainbow Astros.

I'm suspicious of both the Yount and Cruz photos. They actually may be from the '80s. Yount looks early '80sish, and I don't quite remember those blue Astros jerseys in the '70s.

But, overall, Upper Deck does a respectable job of staying true to the '70s, providing both the stars of the era and players you don't hear about all that often.

All of these players are well-known and did very well in the majors. But you never see them in retro sets. I would have preferred Mayberry in a Royals uniform, as he was king of K.C. in the pre-Brett years, but that's typical night owl being typically picky.

Perhaps you're wondering what the deal is with the back-and-white photos.

Well, there are several B&Ws in the set. Upper Deck didn't have the archive that Topps has so it probably had to scramble for some pictures. I applaud them for digging up a photo of Ruppert Jones and Ron Fairly.

Besides, it reminds me of reading newspapers as a kid. There was no color in newspapers in the '70s (If you can't figure out why people freaked out about USA Today, you never lived in the '70s). Everything was grayscale.

The set also features a lot of players that I don't necessarily equate with the '70s. Jim Perry is one. Others are Joe Torre, Billy Williams, Al Kaline and Harmon Killebrew.

But those guys make a nice pair of decade bookends with these guys:

The sensations of the late 1970s. Rookie mojo, groovy style!!! Can you name their rookie cards? I bet I can do it without pausing from typing. Guidry 1976, Murray 1978, Murphy 1977, Dawson 1977. See? I did it. And you thought I'd have to stop.

But, of course, the set is filled with the stars everyone knew in the 1970s. It is overflowing with Reggie cards. I apologize for scanning the Reggies crooked, but he did stick out that hip in the 1978 World Series.

There are also plenty of cards of Tom Seaver and Johnny Bench.

A lot of the same photos of Bench, too.

That's actually pretty cool. It reminds me of the graphics on the Charlie's Angels TV show intro.

I guess Johnny is more David Doyle than Farrah.

Another example of repetitious photos. Upper Deck probably could've worked a little harder on that.

The Decade Dateline subset is the most drab collection of cards in the set -- not that anything in this set is drab. But I like them because they commemorate very specific '70s moments. Famous ones like those two ...

... and not so celebrated moments like this one. How cool is it that there are TWO Ron Fairly cards in the set?

Speaking of great moments of the '70s, these are almost jaw-dropping. A rush of feelings comes back viewing these. Sure, not all great, but I desperately lived for baseball for most of these Series (sorry, Brooksy, you were before my time). I begged mom to stay up for the '77 Series (didn't work).

And, of course, there are key inserts in this set:

This is probably the dullest one, and it ain't dull at all. In fact it's a lot shiner in person.

This is the first "Arms Race" card I've seen. These are much, much, MUCH shiner in person. In fact, I feel sorry for you that you have to look at this scan. You poor thing.

Now we're talking. I almost have this insert set wrapped up already.

OK ... NOW we're talking. That is the strangest disco get-up and disco dance move I have ever seen!

But really, what I love about the set are the base cards. They show the guys I rooted for as a kid, in all of their '70sness. The uniforms, the bad photography, the candid innocence. It's all there.

Each of these players meant something to me in a very specific way. As specific as you can get anyway as a 10-year-old kid who had never seen a major league game in person.

God, I thought Garry Maddox was the most fantastic superman I had ever seen. Why, oh, why didn't he play for the Dodgers? (But what's with "Ken Griffey Sr.?" He was never called Sr. during his playing days).

I'm going to have great fun discovering the rest of the cards in the set. And filing them. And putting them into a binder. And reviewing each page over and over. As I take a trip back to the time when I'd walk to the corner store for cards and open them up on the walk back.

Thanks, mr haverkamp for sending so many from this set.

And, thanks, for not sending them all.

I love the '70s.


  1. This is a great example of why you will always be at the crescendo of the card blogosphere.

  2. Man - I loved Ruppert Jones hit "Escape (the Piña Colada Song)". Soooooooooooo 70's.


    Caps completely necessary.

  4. I gotta get checkin your list or you will have 'em all!