Breaking Down 1972 Topps By Team

Last week I wrote about the 47-card 1972 Topps Mets team set, the largest team set in 1972 Topps and quite possibly of any “flagship” set.

As I was writing that post, I got to wondering…  There can’t be this many cards for all the teams, not without the entire set going well over 1,000 cards.  So if that’s the case, who else is up near the top?  How quickly does it drop off?  And which teams have relatively small sets to keep the entirety of 1972 at 797 cards?

You see, after spending the work week doing research and analysis, I like to kick back by coming home and doing research and analysis.  I’m weird that way.

1972 Topps Tommy Davis IA

So I did a little poking around and got some numbers…

…And just to be clear about something:  Although these numbers are, to the best of my knowledge, correct, please do not take them as gospel.  I can’t swear that they are absolutely correct.

Let  me put it this way;  if  you’re trying to cross the Bridge Of Death and the bridgekeeper asks you “How many California Angels cards are there in the 1972 Topps set?”  my advice to you is this — RUN AWAY!  RUN AWAY!

The most well-represented teams in 1972 Topps are the Mets (47 cards), Pirates (46), A’s (41), Orioles (40) and Giants (37).

1972 Topps Bruce Kison

FYI, I counted all eight World Series cards for both the Orioles and Pirates, even though 5 cards have photos of just a Pirate and 2 have just an Oriole. I figured that a Pirates or Orioles collector is going to want to collect all of the World Series cards, regardless of who’s featured.

I had expected the least number of cards to come from one of the four teams that had been expansion teams 3 years prior – the Expos, Padres, Royals and Brewers.  That was surprisingly not the case.

The award for the fewest cards overall goes to the Cleveland Indians with 26.

1972 Topps Gaylord Perry

Just above them are the Angels, Rangers and Brewers with 28.
1972 Topps Rudy May

That’s a big disparity; going from 47 Mets to 26 Indians…but  the real story here is how the Mets came to have 21 cards more than the Indians.

If you count just the “regular” cards – team cards, managers, players and team-specific “Rookie Stars” cards – the disparity isn’t all that notable.  When you take out the League Leaders, “In Action” and “Boyhood Photos”, the Mets have 29 “regular” cards.  The Royals surprisingly have the most “regular” cards with 32, and the Tigers, Twins and Padres have the fewest with 25.

1972 Topps Cesar Tovar

Obviously, what I getting at is that the big difference among teams comes from the subsets.  Nobody on the Indians, Astros, Rangers or Brewers was among the league leaders, was ever “in action” or even had a “boyhood”.

Where it really gets interesting is in the breakdown of the “In Action” cards.

1972 Topps Wilbur Wood IA

Since I started working on this set , I knew that there was a disparity in the way these cards were assigned — certain players get overlooked while less-deserving players get chosen, certain teams better represented than others – but I had no idea it was as “unfair” as it turned out to be.  Check out the way the “In Action” cards are broken down by team:
11: Mets
10: Giants
5: Pirates, A’s, Reds, Yankees, Padres
4: Red Sox, Cubs, Twins
2: White Sox, Braves, Tigers, Dodgers, Phillies, Royals
1: Expos, Angels
0: Orioles, Cardinals, Astros, Brewers, Rangers, Indians

The reason the Mets and Giants are so heavily represented is because many of the photos used were taken in Shea Stadium or Candlestick Park… even when the card didn’t feature a Met or Giant, like with the In Action cards of Hank Aaron, Maury Wills or Willie Stargell.  I can only guess that Topps’ best “Action” photographers mainly worked out of those two ballparks.

A little later in the week, I’ll feature some of these In Action cards which were photographed in Shea or Candlestick.


Just a reminder that today is Election Day in the United States. It’s the duty of all Americans to go to your local polling place and cast your ballot for the candidate you think will do the least harm.

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One thought on “Breaking Down 1972 Topps By Team

  1. OMG! I remember the “In Action” cards from ’72 AND I wondered if anyone but me (a St. Louis fan) noticed that there were no Cardinals depicted “In Action.” It’s not as if the Cardinals didn’t have their share of stars that year. They had Joe Torre, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson and Ted Simmons. I remember as a kid actively looking to open a pack of cards and get one of those guys “In Action,” but – of course – it never happened. I’ve borne that grudge all these years(!) LOL!

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