Wednesday, October 22, 2014

C.A.: 1976 Topps Mickey Rivers

(When I was a kid I begged to stay up for the World Series and wished it would last forever. Now I'm required to stay up for the World Series and can't wait for it to end. Life plays tricks, man. Welcome to Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 214th in a series):

This has been one of my favorite cards from the 1976 Topps set since I first saw it in 1976. I'm sure that if you asked me then, "why do you like this card so much?" I wouldn't have been able to explain it.

I still don't know if I can explain it.

But I'm going to make an attempt. I think the reason why I like/liked it is because it was so unusual for its time and that made it stand out to me. Even in 1976, almost four decades ago, the photograph on this card was old-fashioned the moment people pulled the card. Pretending to field a fly ball? Wasn't that something they did on cards from the '60s?

In the years since, the old "pretend" poses have gradually been fazed out because of everyone's addiction to ACTION.

But you can still find some "pretend" hitting poses:

There's Magglio Ordonez nailing a drive from the sidewalk.

And there's Miguel Cabrera conveniently following through so he can show his hand tattoo.

And there's Chris O'Riordan blasting the ball before it hits the brick wall behind him and pelts him in the back of the head.

There are so many more of those kinds of poses, usually reserved for retro sets like Heritage and Allen and Ginter, but also used as a fall-back pose for some rookies still.

There are also plenty of "pretend" pitching poses.

The classic close-up.

Or from a distance.

Amid all of the action, there is still no shortage of cards issued of players pretending to pitch.

As far as "pretend" fielding poses, there are still some. Catchers still squat, and first baseman still put out their mitt like they're waiting for a throw.

The "pretend to field a grounder" shot -- a staple of sets from when I was a kid and featured, oh, maybe 75 times in the 1975 Topps set -- is still around, too. Although, like I said before, it's usually a rookie who is doing the pretending.

But the "pretend to field a fly ball" shot?

I haven't seen a lot of those in my 40 years of collecting. Upper Deck used to play with the "I caught the ball at the wall" shot, staging a player with the ball in his glove and mock surprise on his face.

But this shot?

I know Yaz.

And I know Mickey.

I'm sure I'm missing some others -- probably sitting right  in my own collection -- but there can't be a lot of them, or else I would have stumbled across them during a random shuffling of the cards. Which is what happened when I found the batting and pitching and grounder poses.

It's actually good that's it's been so rare for 40 years.

It makes the Rivers card distinctive. Quaint, even.

But when you're pulling runs like this in 2014:

It's appreciated.


  1. Although I nearly completed this set when I was twelve in 1976 I never came across this card even after attending countless card shows in the 1980's. This a great looking card. The photographer caught THE moment of this posed "action" shot, Topps framed the photo perfectly and did not crop the shot like the Yaz card. Had the Yaz photo been cropped any more it would have been a strange card. Back to the Rivers card - the card colors and design just go well with the shot and uniform help make this card a little different and unique from the rest of the set. Had I pulled this card in 1976 I don't believe I would have thought the card to be old-fashioned simply because it would stand out from the cards I had collected up to that point in time and I probably would not know any better as I started collecting big time in 1973. I too appreciate this card and thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  2. Looks like Mickey Rivers' 2004 All-Time Favorites card photo is from that same shoot. He and the photographer must've really worked on that pose!