Thursday, January 31, 2013

The golden age of all-star cards countdown: 20-16

I have determined that it is almost impossible to rank the all-star cards from 1975-81 -- what I call the "Golden Age of All-Star Cards" -- with any kind of objectivity.

I'm really trying, because objectivity has been pounded into my head as a valuable thing to possess. But I basically threw up my hands after a few minutes of the whole business. I can't do it.

Once you slap that all-star star or badge or banner on a card, it immediately becomes special. How can I eliminate any of the cards from the countdown if all of them are special?

But press on I must. Because I do it for you. I give and give and give ...


The point is there are a lot of cards that you probably think should be in this Top 20 countdown, that I think should probably be in this Top 20 countdown, that aren't in the countdown. For example the 1975 Topps Pete Rose card, a card that I looked at as a tiny cardboard god when I was a kid, is not in the countdown.

I don't even know if I can explain why it's not in the countdown. Or why the the '78 Reggie Jackson is not in the countdown. Or why the '75 Rod Carew is not in the countdown. But they're not there.

I tried to pick the cards that meant the most to me at the time and mixed that with what means the most to me now. So you see? There's no objectivity in this exercise at all.

But I promise it won't be all Dodgers.

So, to recap, I'm celebrating these cards from 1975-81 because I think they're the best of any All-Star cards. Yes, they happened to come out during my early days of collecting, so I'm biased in that way. But I like the fact that an individual's card was honored in a special way, instead of just issuing an extra card of the player. It elevated that card above other cards in the set.

So, here we are, my top 20 from this period, broken down into four tidy posts for easy manageability.

20. Dave Kingman, 1977

During this time period, the Mets weren't all that good. It was exciting to have a player like Kingman who could become an all-star. I was a closet Mets fan at the time, so this card was particularly cool, and much coveted in my sixth grade class of collectors. You can tell Kingman is admiring a titanic blast. Or a long foul.

19. George Brett, 1978

An All-Star logo excuses all kinds of otherwise distasteful card photo behavior. I HATED cap-less ballplayers on my cards and I'm still not crazy about it. But slap an All-Star logo on it and everything is OK. Think 1981 Paul Molitor or 1976 Ron Cey. It's almost as if they didn't need a cap because they were so special. And, look, Brett doesn't even have to spit out his chaw. He's that impressive.

18. Toby Harrah, 1977

Why did Harrah shave off his mustache? Why did he cut his hair? I don't care how old Harrah is now, but he should STILL have a mustache and long hair. Harrah never made a finer baseball card than this card. A Texas Ranger? You don't have to write it across the top of the card to convince me.

16. Dave Concepcion, 1976

It was difficult growing up a Dodger fan during the 1970s because the Reds were so good and they had all-star cards everywhere. I ended up with a grudging respect for most of their players just because they were so good. Concepcion wasn't one of those -- I was never a fan. But this card is fantastic. And I'm convinced that if there was no yellow star there, Concepcion's card would be a head shot.

15. Nolan Ryan, 1980

Even in 1980, you never knew what you were going to get with a baseball card. An action photo was not guaranteed. But when you saw an action photo WITH an all-star logo, well, it was the most terrific card ever. It's also possible that this is a night card. I know the darkness of the background certainly was one of the things that appealed to me about this card.

And those are the first five cards.

But they could easily be the last five cards.

They're all great. What can I say?


  1. I never really looked that closely at the "All-Star" cards of the '70s until I started reading your blog.

    So, thanks, Mr. Owl. I now have a newfound appreciation for these.

    That Kingman is definitely one of my five favorite cards of the '77 set. Same goes for Concepcion and '76 Topps.

    I've always felt that Dave Concepcion is under-appreciated in this hobby, in fact. After looking through them, though, he actually had a lot of great cards.

    1. Wait until you see his creepy alien goudey card from a few years ago.

  2. The 1980 Nolan Ryan is one of my favorite cards of all time. I have the urge to buy them up even though i already three or four.

  3. That Conception is a beast. And I've never seen a George Brett like that. Mmmm....chaw.

  4. Love "Golden Age" Topps All-Star cards. Can't wait to see the remaining cards on your list.