For those who aren’t familiar with 1977 O-Pee-Chee baseball, it’s not your typical vintage or semi-vintage OPC set. Like it’s OPC Baseball siblings it is largely a Canadian, bilingual subset of the Topps set of the same year, but in 1977 – probably because of the Toronto Blue Jays joining the American League that season – there were many cards which got updated for player movement and, in the case of the Blue Jays and Expos, took advantage of OPCs later production date and replaced Topps images with spring training photos.
I learned a lot about this set through the retired blog (and valuable reference tool) Oh, My O-Pee-Chee… hard to believe that it’s been over ten years since that blog wrapped up!
So my objective with 1977 OPC has been to collect all of the cards which were different enough to make “1977 Me” sit up and take notice. Generally speaking, that means OPC cards which have different photos or which weren’t in 77T at all. With some exceptions, I ignored the OPC cards which were missing All-Star Rookie Cups or the “ALL-STAR” banner on the bottom…
…or which were cropped differently than the same photo on the Topps card.
In all, I targeted 78 cards out of the 264 in the set, and the last four of those wants arrived in a recent COMC box.
First up is Phil Roof, an established veteran who was acquired by the Jays before the expansion draft but who played just 3 games for the Jays to wrap up his career. As you can see, he posed for a photographer in spring training.
His Topps card features one of the better Blue Jay airbrushing jobs on a sub-par photo.
Here’s a fun bit of Phil Roof trivia… as a coach in the 1980’s, he was the last Mariner to wear #24 before Ken Griffey Jr.!
Al Woods was selected from the Twins organization in the expansion draft, made his Major League debut on opening day that year and played 122 games for the Jays. This card is unique to 1977 O-Pee-Chee
Woods appeared in 1977 Topps on a Rookie Outfielders card.
Tom Bruno was selected from the Royals in the expansion draft and would pitch 12 games of relief with a 7.85 ERA and a 2.345 WHIP. The following spring he’d be traded to the Cardinals for Rick Bosetti, and he would appear on his first and only Topps card in 1979 as a “Cardinals Prospect”. This 1977 card is unique to O-Pee-Chee
These three Blue Jays cards were a bit of a pain to find. I didn’t see many around, and a few COMC sellers were asking ridiculous prices for players that even die-hard Blue Jays fans would have trouble picking out of a police lineup.
After I got these cards, I thought I was done with 1977 OPC… but I went back to the 1977 entries for Oh My O-Pee-Chee! and double-checked to make sure I didn’t miss anything… and I didn’t.
…but I also changed my mind on the OPC Jeff Burroughs which has a minor difference that I decided was worthy of acquiring. Y’see, I originally thought this was just a matter of changing the team name up top while leaving the photo as-is:
…but look at the jersey. They took a Rangers jersey and airbrushed it into a mid-1970s style Braves jersey (along with moving the signature). I said “OK, fine, just this one last card!” and bought that on COMC.
So with that I figured I was done chasing after 1977 O-Pee-Chee baseball cards.
That’s when I made a mistake of listening to a voice in my head which was thinking about this post and asked the innocent question “There aren’t any Blue Jays cards which are largely the same within both sets, right? I mean, they wouldn’t use Topps airbrushing when they could use spring training photos”.
So I took a look, and for whatever reason the cards of Dave Hilton and Steve Hargan are airbrushed in both Topps and OPC. Maybe they couldn’t get spring training photos of those two. The thing is, they OPC has a very minor “update” on both cards. Here are the Topps versions…
On both cards each player was given red, white and blue collars as part of their Topps airbrushing, but for OPC the collars are tweaked to a more accurate dark blue, white and light blue. The facsimilie autograph was also rearranged, for those who are interested in that type of thing.
I could chase down these last two cards so I would have a complete Blue Jays team set of 26 cards, but I suspect that if I let my collecting impulses settle down I’ll go back to regarding myself done with this set… but I wouldn’t completely rule it out for the future.