Tuesday, January 22, 2013

You always remember your first ... and the other 659

This is the first card I pulled out of a pack of 1977 Topps cards. It was a rack pack. My dad bought it for me from a store on the other side of town. The store was a couple blocks down from a hospital. We were coming home from visiting my mom there. I don't remember why she was in the hospital. It wasn't anything major, because I don't remember feeling alarmed or anything.

In fact, I remember the entire ride home as a very pleasant, comforting experience. Just me and my rack pack of brand, new 1977 cards. It was going to be a heck of a collecting season, what with me pulling a Dodger in my very first card out of a pack.

And it turned out to be a terrific collecting season. One of the best. I've recounted it once or twice. Probably more. The way I collected cards that year -- the communal nature of the collecting process during that season -- makes the 1977 set very special to me.

It is why it is the next set I am collecting during my bid to complete all of The Golden Age (1975-80) of sets. And it is the very last set that I need to collect to finish off the trifecta of the first sets I ever collected (1975, 1976, 1977), which would be when the thrill of collecting was at its highest point.

I intend to complete this set this year, which is something I am very confident I'll be able to do -- it's not that difficult a set to finish. There are very few rookies (Dawson and Murphy are the most "difficult" and I have both). There are very few costly cards. If I can complete '71 and '75, '77 is simple.

How simple?

Well, dude sent me 160 cards off my '77 want list just the other day.


I don't know what to say, other than I really need to start stocking up on Pirates cards.

The cards were sent to me by Pirate fan David, the same person who helped me complete my 1984 Donruss set. It's a terrific gesture. And the best part is I get to relive that time period, when I was a sixth grader collecting cards, while going through what he sent me.

So, when you are collecting a set from your childhood 35 years after the fact, you can put the cards into three separate categories.

There are the "upgrades":

(What's Jeff Terpko doing with all of these all-stars? Well, you haven't seen my other Terpko card. And, no, I'm not showing it, because I think placing its image for all to see will cost me a job at some point).

There are the "oh, wow, I remember THAT" cards:

(Did a bird just drop a bomb on Lintz's cap?)

And there are the, "holy hell, I've never seen that before!" cards:

(You can blame Jack Brohamer for everyone's crookedness. He didn't want to play nice and now he's dragging everyone down with him).

Needless to say, it's going to be great fun putting these cards in my '77 binder. If you were with me when I was adding them, you'd hear lots of giggling and other assorted happy sounds (don't get alarmed. Nothing weird).

But we're not done here. David sent me 160 cards so you're going to see a few more.

Here are six guys airbrushed into unreasonable facsimiles of their new teams. The 1977 set is the greatest set since 1969 Topps for artwork on photographs. Back in 1969, they were blacking out caps everywhere to reflect expansion. In 1977, they got more creative and started drawing (or scrawling) new logos to reflect further expansion AND the first real group of free agent moves.

Here are four guys with artificially curly hair. I remember the "permanent" wave well. Women everywhere got "perms," and then bizarrely, men felt like they had to get them, too. I think it was Mac Davis' fault. And this is what was produced. Don Sutton, god love him, still clings to his curls. But it's just not a good look.

Here are two guys with uncorrected errors. The error is in the color that was used with each player's name. The Tigers cards did not feature brown letters, they featured red ones. The Giants cards did not feature purple letters, but blue ones.

Like so:

Perhaps somebody thought they could sneak that one past us wee collectors. But at 11 years old, not a lot got by me, and those purple letters on Evans' card jumped out as if they were alive.

How about some roooooooookies?

Outside of Martinez and Krukow, not much excitement here. As I've mentioned before, every 1977 rookie card I obtained was sectioned off into four mini cards. In fact, I can remember all of these players as tiny little cardboard squares. The cards were smaller, but each player had their own card!

And how great would it have been to have this card full-size:

How did he ever put a helmet on his head?

How did HE ever put a helmet on his head?

I cannot tell you how much everyone in my sixth grade class valued this card. Even the Yankees fans. I think this card was stolen and re-stolen about five times between me and my classmates.

He was only 9 years older than us when he made the major leagues. We noticed. It's the same reason all the youngsters go for Bryce today.

I've spent all my life admiring Brock's striped helmet and I've never noticed the red bat until now.

One of the few examples of a card being issued in a current set after a player died. Frisella died mere weeks before the first cards hit shelves.



Dick! (Isn't this card glorious?)

One of the best things about collecting old sets from when you were a kid are the thoughts that pop into your head regarding what you thought of the card back when you were little. I saw this card and immediately thought "hamster!!!!"

I don't know what that is. My brother got a hamster right around this time, so maybe I thought Wood looked like a hamster? Kids are so weird.

He won Rookie of the Year, and not many people have any idea who he is. I barely know who he is, and I remember the award announcement.

Finally, if you are going to have only one card from your career, do like Chip did. And if you are going to have only one name in your life, also do like Chip did.

Well done, sir.

So, that's all I have for you. David sent a lot more '77s -- some others that I showed on Twitter earlier today -- but I've already taken up too much of your time.

I'll just say that after this package I am down to needing only 22 cards to complete the set ... give or take the few wants that will show up after I think I have completed the set.

Isn't that phenomenal?

But I just want to feature one more card.

I mentioned during that '84 Donruss post, that I was missing one card from the set. I discovered I still need the Bob Welch card. It was no big deal because I had the card already as part of my Dodger binders. But I wanted an extra one at some point and threw it on the Nebulous Nine list.

Well, this fell out of the box with all of the 1977 cards:

It seems like every day I'm in sixth grade all over again.


  1. The Dick Pole looks like it should be painted on black velvet.

  2. When I was 11, the only thing that didn't get by me was the new Sears catalog.

    Just think about it....

  3. That Asselstine - my eyes went straight to him.

  4. That was fun. I don't have my '77 set in a binder and never look at it. Thanks for the ride down memory lane...

  5. 1977 was the first year I collected and I wish I could remember what the first card was that I got. The thing I remember most about the 77 set was the Pete Broberg card. I had no idea how he could be in a Mariners uniform without ever actually playing for them (as I found out when I collected the 1978 set). I was 8, I had no idea about airbrushing.