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C.A.: 2023 Topps Heritage 1974 Flashbacks insert, Garvey Shines In The MLB All-Star Game

(Woo-boy, I haven't done one of these since April??? I need to pick up the pace or we're never going to get anybody else in the Cardboard Appreciation Hall of Fame and people will start showing up at my home with pitchforks. It's finally time for Cardboard Appreciation again. This is the 322nd in a series). 

In an earlier post, I mentioned that post-career Steve Garvey cards can be a little tricky to acquire and I was determined to make sure that the latest readily available one would not elude me for too long.

So I landed this Heritage insert before I even finished the Dodgers Heritage team set (last card on its way to me as I write), which is not the usual way.

It's a great card and now that Heritage is covering the 1970s, suddenly all these Baseball Flashbacks are like the most interesting part of Heritage for me. I usually pay them almost no mind -- now I want them ALL!
But one card at a time. This magnificent picture shows Garvey accepting his All-Star Game MVP trophy after the National League's win in the '74 game. Garvey was a write-in selection to start the game, he wasn't listed on the ballot, and he responded with a double, single and an RBI.

That's just one of the reasons why I was transfixed by the photo (and able to ignore the dumb copyright symbols after MLB and -- All-Star Game is copyrighted????). The other reason is Garvey is receiving the award from MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn.

I know nobody cares about the commissioner when it comes to cards but think for a moment, when have you seen Kuhn on a Topps card?

I'll save you the brain pain. You haven't. Topps never featured Kuhn on a card during his tenure as commissioner from 1969-83. There is only one instance, that I know, of Kuhn appearing on a card while he was commissioner.

It's from a team-issue set in 1977 from the San Diego Padres, one of 92 "schedule card" in the set. Kuhn is again presenting an award, to Randy Jones for the NL Cy Young in 1976. (I've written about the absence of commissioner cards before, and I showed the Jones-Kuhn card then, too).

Topps has featured Kuhn on various cut signatures, but as far as I can tell, those cards show a signature and that's it.

Outside of Topps, Kuhn appears in a 1983 oddball set documenting Al Kaline's career and in Panini Golden Age and Cooperstown sets from 10 years ago. That's about it.

This is interesting to me because in the Beckett article I just finished, I mentioned how rare it was for an MLB commissioner to appear in a set. It was quite common during the 1950s and then suddenly it stopped. I'm assuming that was because kids complained about bald-headed old men in their card sets.

So the Heritage insert card is a little piece of history, more than what it's documenting on the card. It's probably Topps' first time showing the commissioner of baseball who was in charge during my formative years as a baseball fan.

Also -- don't think I haven't noticed -- it's a night card.


Michael Gray said…
Topps actually made a special card of Kuhn in 1969. There aren’t very many out there, and they are quite expensive, but it’s a funny little card that pokes a little fun at Kuhn.
gogosox60 said…
Plus the 1990 Bart Giamatti Topps card of his passing.
night owl said…
Yes, the Giamatti card was mentioned in the previous blog post that I linked (and it's also mentioned in my future Beckett article).
I have just 1 card of Kuhn.
Chris said…
I had never noticed that Kuhn was (almost) never pictured on cardboard, and had not realized until this post that I probably couldn't picture what he looked like at all.
Fuji said…
That Padres set is pretty neat. It also contains a card of Ray Kroc. Don't see too many owners cards either.
1984 Tigers said…
Kuhns tenure what quite the Rollercoaster ride.

1969 was the expansion year (4 teams). Plus I think they experimented with DH in spring training?

1972 season was delayed with a work stoppage (don't remember if strike or lockout) and my tigers won the AL east by 0.5 games.

1973 DH in AL.

Somewhere in there, Marvin Miller convinced him and owners to use arbitration.

1976 massive free agency after season. Vetoed sales of Vida Blue and others for millions.

1977 two more new teams

1981 50 day strike

Early 80s, Mantle and Mays banned for working for casinos that didn't allow betting on sports (lifting their ban was one of the few things I likes about Peter U)

So during his tenure, league went from 20 to 26 teams, salaries soared, fan interest increased (as did ticket prices). Led to a 1980s where only team to win WS 2x were Dodgers. Parity. 9 different champs in 10 years.

Paul t

gcrl said…
Of course I really appreciate this card as well. I was happy to see topps did not crop the image like they did last year with Garvey’s Turn Back the Clock card. The only other card I own with Kuhn on it is Roy Campanella’s 1977-79 Sportscaster card. I featured that card here:
ned said…
Great card! does it mention that Garvey was a write in vote?I was a big Garvey fan and couldnt believe he wasnt on the ballot so of course wrote him in ,watched the game on TV and was thrilled as only a 11year old could be when he was the MVP.
night owl said…
The back does mention he was a write-in vote.
Nick said…
Garvey was the first 2023 Heritage card I bought - might be my Card of the Year as of this writing.

I just got a Bud Selig card in the mail the other day and had the same thought of "there really aren't a lot of commissioners on cards, are there?"