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Legends of cardboard: a two-fer

This post is a product of spending a lot of time lately in the early '70s, in each of my hobbies, card collecting and music.

While adding some of my recent 1970 Topps acquisitions to the binder, I paged over two very familiar cards, which are exactly 20 cards apart when paging by number.

I'm going to focus on the fellow who arrives second in the set because he's a well-worn blog topic, someone whose fantastic cards were introduced to me during my early blogging days.

Lowell Palmer is one of two new Legends of Cardboard in my continuing series. You might remember that players are only selected as a "Legend of Cardboard" if they are known more for their cards than their baseball career.

And while certain moony-eyed women of the early '70s would argue, Palmer's fame rests with his cardboard, specifically his Joe-Cool specs, which appear in both the 1970 and 1971 Topps sets.

Uniform and background aside, it's almost as if the 1970 and 1971 photos were taken from the same shoot.

I don't know the details about why Palmer is appearing with such dark shades on his head. Sure, it must've been a sunny day. But god bless the photographer for refraining from telling Powell to take off his shades. Or maybe credit Palmer for refusing to, both times.

Palmer's 1972 card doesn't feature the secret-agent man specs but it's just as enthralling. Palmer appears just as confident and very Austin Powers, and I love that background, stands, fans, high-rise, it's got it going on.

I hope I don't need to tell you why Palmer is part of off-the-field baseball lore. But if so, just check out my old 1971 Topps blog and then go from there. The ladies loved him. Still do, apparently.
Those are Palmer's only three Topps cards and I think that's automatic induction into Legend of Cardboard status. Three-for-three on terrific cards.

His later Senior Professional Baseball League cards are pretty sweet, too. Powell's Palmer's found some shades to match his sunburst orange jersey!

The other Legend of Cardboard that I am introducing made his debut on the 1970 Topps set just like Palmer. While Palmer is card No. 252 in the set, this fellow is card No. 232.

That's one of the better rookie trophy cards that you're going to see.

Bob Didier was well on his way to becoming ineligible for Legend of Cardboard status at this point, he was going to be too successful and too popular for his baseball playing ability.

But after starting at catcher for the NL West champion Braves in 1969, he fell way off in 1970, finishing with a .149 batting average in only 57 games. That fourth-place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1969 seemed like a long time ago.

That didn't stop Topps from producing another terrific card of Didier, and displaying his entire full name for everyone to see. This is good stuff, even though there really is no ball up in the air there, Bob.

Didier appeared in even fewer games in 1971, just 51, and Topps didn't bother making a card of him in the 1972 set.

Then, weirdness: Didier played just 13 games the entire 1972 season but Topps went ahead and put him in the following year's set, with this:

I'm going to assume that Topps had this photo on standby and just couldn't pass it up. Thirteen games? Good enough!

The photo seems to be from 1971, judging by Didier's road gray uniform, which the Braves stopped using in 1972. Didier and the runner, the Mets' Cleon Jones, are both looking for the umpire's signal. A commenter on this post seems to have figured out when this photo was taken.

Didier would have only one more Topps card -- the less said about his 1974 card with the Tigers, the better -- but its pedestrian nature doesn't disqualify him from Legends of Cardboard nomination. Those first three cards are too good.

Didier's father, Mel, spent decades upon decades in baseball. He's known as the advance scout who told Kirk Gibson that Dennis Eckersley was going to throw him a backdoor slider on a 3-2 pitch in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

Bob Didier himself would spend many years as a coach after his career. But I think those outside of baseball might know him more for his brief cardboard run.

Both Dider and Palmer made the most of the few cards they had. It all began in 1970, just over 50 years ago.

It's about time they were named Legends of Cardboard.


bbcardz said…
Nice Legends of Cardboard selections. I have both 1970 cards (originally pack-pulled myself back in 1970). Although the card design was a letdown compared the the 1969 design, those two cards got a lot of attention from me for their uniqueness and just the way they distinguish themselves from the other 1970 cards. fwiw, I'm now 103 cards away from completing this set.
bryan was here said…
I remember getting the '71 Lowell Palmer when I was about 11 or 12. Thought it was the coolest card ever! Soon after I grabbed the '70 card and a few years later I picked up the '72 at a card show. The finest three year run of anyone ever. A well-deserving member.
Old Cards said…
Excellent picks for your Legends of Cardboard. Not to nitpick, but maybe just to show how close I read your posts, you refer to Lowell as Powell under his Senior Professional card.
night owl said…
I had to fight calling him "Powell" the entire post (it's been a draining last 24 hours). Must've missed one when I was cleaning up the others.
Fuji said…
I'm glad I'm not the only one to ever refer to Palmer as Powell. And thanks for opening my eyes to Bob Didier. Never heard of him or seen his cards before this post... or if I had... I didn't take the time to remember. But now he's truly a legend of cardboard in my eyes as well.
Bo said…
That '74 Didier has a very nice Old Yankee Stadium background.
Anonymous said…
Didn't know Palmer had similar cards in 71 & 72. Pretty cool.
I made several cards of Palmer with other teams and I think all but one had the Dark glasses on. He even sent a picture from one team that I couldn't find him with.
Jafronius said…
I also didn't know about the 1971 Lowell!
Adam said…
I'm not familiar with either player aside from those cards. Old vintage commons are the absolute best!