Fun With 1974 Topps Traded

I recently did a post about the custom cards I’ve been making in the style of 1974 Topps Traded, and I thought it would be fun to take a look at the original set.

The 1974 Topps Traded is an insert set made up of an unnumbered checklist and 43 player cards representing players who had changed teams after the base set had been “put to bed”. 1974 was the first Topps baseball set to be issued all at the same time rather than in series, which left Topps looking for ways to update the set without having later series to make changes to.  The Traded cards were inserted into packs that contained the later printings of the regular cards, and were also included in the first-ever Topps factory set, something which was sold exclusively through J.C. Penney.

While researching this set I’d seen references to the Traded set updating player transactions which happened during the season, but that’s far from the truth.  All but two of the transactions took place during the 1973 Winter Meetings which were held in Houston from December 3rd to the 7th.

The one trade that went down before the Winter Meetings is the mid-November transaction that sent Larry Gura from the Cubs to the Rangers as the player to be named later in an earlier deal.  On August 31, 1973 the Rangers sent pitcher Mike Paul to Chicago for that PTBNL.  Paul appeared in 1974 Topps with an airbrushed Cubs cap.

As for Gura, he never pitched for the Rangers, he was sent to Triple-A during spring training and then traded to the Yankees, who would call him up in August.

The sole deal from after the Winter Meetings is the December 11th trade which sent Ron Santo to the White Sox. During the meetings the Cubs had traded Santo to the Angels, but Santo shot the deal down – he was able to as a veteran with 10 years experience, 5 with the same team – and the Cubs had to work out another trade.

I hadn’t thought about it before, but the traded card has the cap airbrushed red, but it doesn’t have a White Sox logo. I wonder if this had anything to do with this transaction being the last one included in the set… maybe they only had time for a rush job.

Some of the transactions featured in the Traded set weren’t trades, at least not the way most fans think of them. The back of Luke Walker’s traded card says the Tigers got Walker from the Pirates, but don’t mention that it was cash going to Pittsburgh in exchange.

Other players in the Traded set whose contracts were purchased were Terry Crowley, JIm Mason, Felipe Alou, Juan Marichal, Bill Sudakis, Cesar Tovar and Eddie Watt.

Aside from Larry Gura, there were some other players who never appeared in a game for their new teams.

Like Gura, Terry Crowley also never played for the Rangers; his contract was sold to the Reds during spring training.

Aurelio Monteagudo – a name that every kid I knew was doomed to mispronounce – was obtained from the Angels, but would never pitch for the Phillies… or for any Major League team after that deal.

Tommie Agee also never played in 1974 or thereafter; after obtaining him from the Cardinals in exchange for pitcher Pete Richert, the Dodgers cut him late in spring training.

Barry Lersch, obtained from the Phillies, spent most of the 1974 season with the Braves’ Triple-A team in Richmond, was sold to St. Louis in September, gave up 6 earned runs in 1.1 innings in his only game with the Cardinals and never pitched in the Majors again.

Several other players had very short stints with their new teams.  Kurt Bevacqua, Fernando Gonzalez, Felipe Alou, Pete Richert and Bob Heise all appeared in just a handful of games for their new teams before moving on.

Check out this Traded card of Bob Locker… No, that isn’t the greatest airbrush job in the history of Topps.

Bob Locker pitched for the A’s from 1970 to 1972, and then was traded to the Cubs in November, 1972 for outfielder Bill North. During the 1973 Winter Meetings the A’s got Locker back from Chicago, trading pitcher Horacio Pina in exchange, and when Topps created Locker’s traded card they only had to dip into their photo file for one that showed him in an A’s uniform. As it turns out, this is the only card of Bob Locker to show him in this particular version of the A’s uniform, as his prior cards showed him in the sleeveless flannels that the A’s wore from 1968 to 1971.

Mike Marshall was not one to cooperate with Topps photographers, so his 1974 Topps Traded card re-used a photo that had been used in 1973 Topps. This photo, according to Keith Olbermann, had been taken in the late 1960s when Marshall was pitching for the Toledo Mud Hens, the Tigers’ top farm team at the time.

I’ll wrap things up with “the one who got away”.  Lynn McGlothen was one of the players who was dealt during the 1973 Winter Meetings had who a significant impact on his new team… but he didn’t get a Traded card.  After being sent from Boston to St. Louis as part of a six-player deal, McGlothen would win a career high 16 games, finish 6th in the league with a 2.69 ERA, make the All-Star team and get MVP and Cy Young votes. Several other players who were involved in the trade got Traded cards (John Curtis, Reggie Cleveland and Diego Segui), but McGlothen had pitched just 6 games in 1973 and carried an 8.22 ERA so Topps didn’t give him a card in 1974 Topps. With no card to update, he didn’t appear in 1974 Topps Traded.

One bit of information I just realized I hadn’t worked into this post… The Mets, Giants and Padres did not acquire any players during the Winter Meetings and there are no cards for those teams in this set.


2 thoughts on “Fun With 1974 Topps Traded

  1. It was only a few years ago that I realized that although I had long had the Tommie Agee Dodgers card, he never actually played for them. I didn’t know about the other zero-year guys in this set (which I completed as a kid), but Agee is the only one who’s a Mets icon.

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