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Ranking 73ness, a double shot

One of the things that I've most enjoyed about my continuing quest to complete the 1973 Topps set is the perspective that these cards provide.

I do love backgrounds on my cards, something that is in much shorter supply on modern cards. As I've mentioned before, I like seeing "baseball" on my cards. That's not just the player in a uniform. It's other players and the field and the stands and fans and fences and equipment and everything that makes up this great game. I collect Baseball Cards, not merely Some Dude's Cards.

Take a look at one 1973 Topps card in all of its background glory:

Drink in all it has to offer.

Empty stands.
Guys chilling in the dugout.
Equipment on the ground.
Players in the distance with hands on hips.

There is a story to these cards.

Recently I received two separate stacks of 1973 Topps from two of the collecting veterans of our community, Mark Hoyle and Commish Bob. (I would like to state for the record that I am younger than each of them).

The two stacks combined was close to 100 cards, some of them the same cards, obviously.

This was an excellent chance to kick off another edition of "Ranking 73ness," which I started last spring.

If you've forgotten the rules, here they are again:

1 point - typical head shot
1 point - tilted background
1 point - shadows
1 point - gum stain
1 point - centering issue or miscut
1 point - obvious spring training site
2 points - typical 1970s pose (swinging/pointing bat, hands on knees, pretending to throw, pitchers in the set position, catcher squatting, etc.)
2 points - player looking up
2 points - palm trees
2 points - scoreboard or ads
2 points - batting cage or fence
2 points - players in the background
2 points - horizontal card
3 points - airbrushing
3 points - 1970s action
3 points - awkward action
3 points - nonplayers in the background (coaches, fans, umps, etc.)
5 points - blatant airbrushing (so blatant that even I would notice something amiss as a kid)
5 points - featured player obscured or overshadowed

I've added two more point categories to that original list:

1 point - groovy 1970 uniform (in 1973's case this is mostly Padres and A's)
1 point - dugout

After totaling all the cards that Mark and Bob sent me, here are the top 10 most 73ist cards of the bunch in reverse order:

10. Denny Doyle, 9 points (shadows, centering issue, typical '70s pose, batting cage, players in the background, groovy 1970s uniform)

I've just added the Phillies uniforms to the Padres and A's. Because I love this card so much.

9. Bert Campaneris, 9 points (shadows, typical '70s pose, batting cage (with wheel, BONUS POINT), nonplayer in the background, groovy 1970s uniform)

I am not above handing out surprise bonus points for batting cage wheels.

8. Ken Rudolph, 10 points (typical '70s pose, centering issue, players in the background, nonplayers in the background, fence)

Cards need to show catchers in their crouch again.

7. Ray Corbin, 10 points (typical '70s pose, centering issue, nonplayer in the background, ads, shadows, players in the background way, way, way in the distance)

The guy in the background appears to be measuring something? But for a moment I thought a dad got on the field to play catch with his son.

6. Paul Lindblad, 10 points (shadows, fans in the background, 1970s action, groovy '70s uniform, fence)

Lindblad appears to be airbrushed out of his Rangers (or maybe even Senators) uniform from head to toe. I doubt I would have noticed this as a kid but that sickly shade of green does not appear standard-issue.

5. Gerry Moses, 11 points (centering issue, fans in the stands, 1970s action, awkward action (dude just standing there))

If Panini were to use this photo -- and I think it can because no MLB logo is apparent -- it would be the best Panini card ever.

4. Dave Marshall, 11 points (typical head shot, looking up, airbrushing, blatant airbrushing)

If I was collecting as a kid in 1973, I would know that something was very wrong about what Dave Marshall was wearing on his head. He seems to be bothered about it, too.

3. Bobby Bonds, 13 points (centering issue, gum stain, fence, 1970s action, player in the foreground, awkward action)

Extra point for Willie Stargell.

2. Willie McCovey, 16.5 points

Count 'em up:

Centering issue
Player looking up
Player in the background
Nonplayer in the back(fore)ground
1970s action
Awkward 1970s action
Player featured overshadowed by another player (I wouldn't say McCovey is being overshadowed, but that IS Johnny Bench in the photo, so half-credit for this).

I'll be interested in seeing who can top Willie McCovey for 1973ness.

1. Ken Tatum

Ken Tatum?

Count 'em up:

Centering issue
Typical 1970s pose
Palm trees
Players mingling in the background


That's only 9 points.

Nine points isn't going to cut ...


That's at LEAST 17 points.

1. Ken Tatum, 26 total points.

And the most 1973ist guy in a double shot of stacks.

There were quite a few more '73 cards than those 10. I feel bad that I haven't shown them, so here you go:

I've got to get the managers in because there won't be any in 2018 Topps:


Oh, and a Kaline.

2018 Topps is scheduled to hit shelves tomorrow.

It's not going to do very well in terms of 73ness.


Nick Vossbrink said…
Those Boyhood Photos cards remain one of my all time favorite subsets. And it's starting to look like the 1973ness is especially strong with the 1973 Giants team set.
Nick Vossbrink said…
And I just noticed that Joe Shultz's name went AWOL on that Billy Martin Tigers Coaches card.
Commishbob said…
::raises hand:: Sir...may I propose that wearing a windbreaker under uni top is a 70s thing and should be be worth a point...maybe two? And having collar of said windbreaker OUTSIDE of jersey be a bonus point? ::sits::
steelehere said…
I think you could probably create a separate ranking system for the manager cards. Besides ranking the manager's photos, other things to rank could be number of Hall of Famers among the coaches, coaches with unique names, coaches/managers on teams they're not known for. Whitey Herzog/Rangers, John Roseboro/Angels and Warren Spahn/Indians stand out.
Brett Alan said…
I second the motion. Windbreakers are very 70s.
Old Cards said…
Great post. You have made me have more appreciation for my 73 cards. Agree with you on the goodness of the background but I do want to see the dude, whose name appears on the card, prominently displayed and the cards you show here do a good job of that except for the Bobby Bonds card. Even with Willie Stargell on it, this a ridiculous card. Two players too far away and the same size. The featured player should be in the foreground. The Dave Nelson and Willie Davis cards are 2 other examples.
Stubby said…
"Cards need to show catchers in their crouch again."

Nick said…
I don't think there's ever been a set as varied as '73 Topps. The nooks and crannies of each card are what make it so memorable.
Fuji said…
Not sure which one I like more... Kaline and palm trees or Campy at the Coliseum. It doesn't matter... that well cropped action shot of Lindblad takes both of them down.
Matt said…
This may be the Ken Tatum's biggest win...
Mark Hoyle said…
Hope there weren't to many dupes. You should have this finished pretty soon. I don't think I'm too much older than you.
Captain Honkass said…
I applaud your efforts into trying to define your personal ranking categories for defining favorite cards... I'm pretty all over the place in my Top Whatever countdowns... To try to define them would be an exercise in futility...
Jonathan said…
73 is just fantastic. I wonder which card would win if you tried ranking the entire set.