Non-Random Team Review: 1977 Topps St. Louis Cardinals (Plus Weigh-In #77)

I’ve been reviewing some running themes that I’ve had during the 11+ years of this blog and I was surprised that it’s been over a year since I did a “Team Review” post.  I usually pick a team at random, but in this case I wanted to feature a team set from 1977.

For those new to this long-running (and clearly long-neglected) series, I take a completed team set from my collection and highlight players and cards which fall under certain categories.

The 1977 Cardinals went 83-79, finishing in 3rd place, 18 games behind the division champion Phillies… but showed an improvement over the 90-loss 1976 Cardinals team under Red Schoendienst.  Vern Rapp was at the helm for that improvement, but his disciplinarian tendencies did not go over well with the team’s veterans and he was fired after a 6-11 start to 1978.

In 1976 the Cardinals were one of the teams who would wear ‘pillbox’ caps as part of the National League’s centennial.  The Pirates, of course, are famous for sticking with that cap for a number of years but the Cardinals also wore those caps a fair amount in 1976… I’m going to point out some examples of that as we go along.

Ted Simmons is one of two Hall of Famers in this team set and was also a 1977 All-Star.  He lead the league with 25 intentional bases on balls and lead the team in homers (21), RBI (95), Slugging % (.500) and on-base % (.408)

If you look closely you can see that Simmons was wearing a pillbox cap that day.  His uniform also includes a sleeve patch for the National League’s 1976 centennial.  Also remember that this was 1976, so he is NOT checking his phone.

Bob Forsch had 20 wins against just 7 losses and his 3.48 ERA was tied for the best among the team’s starting pitchers.

Forsch and his brother Ken also appeared in the “Big League Brothers” subset.

Eric Rasmussen lead the team with 120 strikeouts, 11 complete games and 3 shutouts.

Garry Templeton was a 1977 All-Star and may be best known in St. Louis as the guy they traded to San Diego for Ozzie Smith (although there were other players involved in the trade).  In 1977 Templeton lead the league with 18 triples and lead the team with a .322 average. As you can see by the trophy on the front of the card he had been named the shortstop on the 1976 Topps All-Star Rookie team, meaning that this is one of those cases where the rookie card came after the rookie season.

Lou Brock is the other HOFer in this set. During the 1977 season he would pass Ty Cobb for the career stolen bases record. I can’t fully explain why this card is my favorite from this team set, but the “pillbox helmet” doesn’t hurt. Nostalgia is a powerful drug.

Keith Hernandez lead the team with 41 doubles, so I can rationalize his inclusion that way as well

Mike Tyson was a regular with the Cardinals and Cubs… And oh yeah, there’s also this boxer who came along later and has the same name.

It was years before I realized that this card is airbrushed, but John D’Acquisto pitched for the Giants in 1976, and the Topps artist carefully colored the uniform numbers and name-on-back, airbrushed a Cardinals cap and the sansabelt waistband and striping on the pants. Artistry!!!!

O-Pee-Chee apparently didn’t care for the shadows across Pete Falcone’s face, so much so that they took a 1975 photo of him with the Giants and airbrushed the cap.

Tom Walker is the father of infielder Neil Walker (who played in the Majors from 2009 to 2020). Dad didn’t pitch for the Cardinals in 1977, instead he was released near the end of spring training, hooked up with the Expos and over the summer he was claimed on waivers by the Angels and put in his final Major League innings.

That’s catcher Joe Ferguson’s back on Bobby Murcer’s card. Interestingly enough, both players were airbrushed into other uniforms in 1977 O-Pee-Chee… Murcer got traded to the Cubs, Ferguson to the Astros.

I was going to include a card listed as “Best 1977 St. Louis (Football) Cardinals Card In My Collection”, but I have fewer 1977 Topps Football cards I’d realized and I don’t have any Cardinals from that set.  Oh, well.


And now it’s time for my belated quarterly Weigh-In.  For those wondering what the deal is with a “Weigh-In”, here is my official Mission Statement:

Posting updates on the organizing and streamlining of my collection gives me a look at the big picture, keeps me honest and helps with motivation and/or guilt.

Changes in the 4th quarter of 2022 (from 10/2/2022 to 1/14/2023):

Net change in the collection: +802 (1,012 added, 210 removed)
Net change to the # of cards in the house: +295 (1,157 came in, 862 went out)

The 2022 Topps factory set I bought was more than offset by the 850 cards which were given out at Halloween… but I bought some other stuff on top of that, so overall we’re still on an upward trend.

Totals since I started tracking on 10/16/2011:
Total # of cards purged from the collection, to date: 16,272
Net change to the collection, to date: +8,041

Total # of cards which have left the house, to date: 56,200
Net change to the number of cards in the house, to date: -12,691

One of these days I’m going to make a Goodwill donation run and these numbers will look a bit better.

Size of the collection:
Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 73,915
Number of cards that make up the sets flagged as completed in my Access database: 11,987
…which means I’ve got at least 85,902 cards in my collection

Money spent on cards:
This does not count money spent on show admission, shipping, supplies, etc.

1st quarter, 2022: $57.19
2nd quarter, 2022: $224.46
3rd quarter, 2022: $31.79
4th quarter, 2022: $172.72

Average per month for 2022: $40.51
Average per month for 2021: $35.64
Average per month for 2020: $76.66
Average per month for 2019: $80.38
Average per month for 2018: $79.03
Average per month for 2017: $43.63
Average per month for 2016: $36.11

I didn’t track my spending before 2016. In 2016 and 2017 I didn’t go to many card shows because there weren’t any local shows, and I made the 5 hour round trip to a regional card show only once or twice a year.

I’m still well below my spending from 2018 – 2020, but part of it is me feeling a bit lost in where I want to take my collection going forward.  Since receiving a COMC shipment in mid December there’s been very little going on with my collection.

Size of my MS Access card database:
I track my collection in a Microsoft Access database of my own creation. There’s quite a bit of work involved in keeping it up-to-date, so I like to satisfy my own curiosity by finding out how much information is currently in my database.

My database currently contains 1,044 set definitions and 259,365 card definitions (An increase of 12 sets and 2,931 cards since the last weigh-in).

It’s important to point out that this is merely the number of sets and cards which are represented within my database; Although I have no cards from 1949 Bowman, that set represents 1 set definition and 240 card definitions.

Random Team Review: 1977 Topps San Francisco Giants

I’ve  been trying to get back to some of my neglected recurring series, I haven’t done one of these Random Team Reviews since August… Plus I have fun creating them.  Hopefully that comes across enough that you enjoy reading them.

Confession: This team set wasn’t truly random… I looked for a set I haven’t done yet, and came up with 1977… Then I looked at the teams I hadn’t done yet and realized I’ve yet to do a team from the National League West, so I chose randomly from the six 1977 NL West teams.

Under manager Joe Altobelli, the 1977 Giants went 75-87 and finished 4th in the NL, 23 games behind the eventual NL Champion Dodgers. It was Altobelli’s first year as manager of the Giants, after replacing Bill Rigney.

Best Position Player
After three years in exile with The Padres (almost “Washington Nat’ Lea”) and briefly with the A’s, Willie McCovey became a free agent and went back to Candlestick.
The 39-year-old lead the team in Homers (28), RBI (86), OBP (.367) and Slugging (.500).

Best Pitcher
6’7″ Ed Halicki went 16-12 with a 3.32 ERA. He lead team in wins, Innings pitched and strikeouts, plus was second in WHIP (not that anybody talked about WHIP in 1977). He pitched 7 complete games and had two shutouts.  Halicki no-hit the Mets in 1975.

Highest-valued card: #476 Rookie Catchers
Giants rookie Gary Alexander shares a card with two-time MVP Dale Murphy.  Alexander would play in 432 games, mostly as a catcher or DH, for the Giants, Indians, A’s and Pirates between 1975 and 1981.

Here’s a number for you… Gary Alexander lead the American League with 166 strikeouts in 1979.  This past season Yoan Moncada lead the Majors with 217.

Best Giants Rookie Card: #488 Jack Clark
As far as I’m concerned, this is a Mets card and the Lee Mazzilli rookie card.

Jack Clark was a four-time All-Star (twice with the Giants, twice with the Cardinals) and in 1987 he lead the league with a .597 On-Base Percentage (aided by also leading the league with 136 walks)

Best 1977 Giants player without a 1977 Card
Bob Knepper went 11-9, 3.36 in his rookie season. He wouldn’t get a rookie card until 1978 Topps, but he appeared on several Cramer Pacific Coast League cards (more on these in a moment).

Best on-field shot
Hiding behind Joe Ferguson didn’t work for Bobby Murcer, as he was traded to the Cubs in February, 1977.  Ferguson was also traded in the offseason, and both players had glorious airbrush jobs in 1977 O-Pee-Chee (which was issued later than 1977 Topps).

Most notable Airbrushing
John Curtis was acquired from the Cardinals in an October trade which kept the Topps airbrush artists busy.

Other players in this trade who got airbrushed were Willie Crawford, Mike Caldwell, Dave Rader and the exceptionally-airbrushed John D’Acquisto card (go look it up if you haven’t already said “Oh, yeah” and nodded approvingly)

Favorite Card
I thought about going with Murcer for the Favorite Card, but decided to keep it as a separate category and insert Ken Reitz in here. I’ve always liked photos which include the batting cage, plus Ken looks like he really enjoys being on this baseball card.

Guy With A Rookie Cup
I think of Larry Herndon with the Giants and Tigers, but I hadn’t realized it until I’d looked up Larry Herndon’s Baseball Reference page, but he made his MLB debut as a September callup with the Cardinals in 1974. What earned him his Rookie Cup in 1976 was batting .288 with 42 runs and 23 RBI.

As a little “You learn something new every day” addendum to Herndon’s card: The 1975 trade which sent Herndon to San Francisco sent pitcher Ron Bryant to the Cardinals. If, like me, you don’t remember Ron Bryant with the Cards, that’s because he pitched only 8.2 innings over 10 games, went 0-1 and had a 16.62 ERA and a 3.115 WHIP. OUCH!!! Bryant’s 1975 card (which showed him with the Giants) would be his last card.

The Player With the Best Sister
If you’re not familiar with Randy Moffitt’s sister, she’s none other than tennis legend Billie Jean King, who ranked #1 six times and won 39 Grand Slam titles.

Randy Moffitt was a reliever who spent most of his career with the Giants. In 1977 he had a 3.59 ERA, 11 saves and averaged 7.0 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.

Best Name, Best Nickname
John “The Count” Montefusco was the 1975 N.L. Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in 1976, but was slowed down by arm injuries after that.  In 1977 he went 7-12, 3.49 with 4 complete games

Best Name (Without a Topps Card)
The best name on this team easily goes to Thomas Howard Toms, who was commonly known as Tommy Toms.  He pitched relief in four games for the 1977 Giants and ended up with an 0-1 record with a 2.08 ERA. 1977 was his final season in the Majors and in the Giants organization. He played for three different AAA teams in 1978 to end his career.
1977 Cramer Pacific Coast League - [Base] #81 - Tommy Toms [Good to VG‑EX] - Courtesy of
I’ve been growing intrigued by the minor league sets issued by Cramer Sports Promotions in the 1970’s. Mike Cramer was involved in a number of AAA Pacific Coast League team sets from 1976 to 1979, and while minor league sets were unusual enough for the time, these sets were in color. Cramer Sports Productions would become Pacific Trading Cards, which would make Baseball Legends sets, sets dedicated to Steve Largent, Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan and ultimately would make MLB, NFL and NHL sets through the 1990’s and into the early 21st century… but these sets are where it all started. I just bought a different Cramer PCL Tommy Toms card from COMC, and will share that will everybody once the card arrives (which will be a while because I’ve only got 7 cards to ship right now).

OK, end of side trip… let’s wrap things up with the last two categories…

Best Cartoon: John Montefusco
I’ll bet Freddie Patek appreciated the heck out of this one…

Bonus O-Pee-Chee Card: Bill Madlock
Bill Madlock’s 1977 Topps card showed him with the Cubs, but he went to San Francisco in a February trade that saw Bobby Murcer and Steve Ontiveros going to the North Side of Chicago.  Had this been a Topps card, it would’ve easily beaten out John Curtis for “Most Notable Airbrushing” honors.

Update: After I pressed “Publish” on this post, I realized that tomorrow (3/8/19) is the 2nd anniversary of the first post in this series. Had I realized that, I might’ve held this off for a day.  Oh well, this blog is just a never-ending series of missed opportunities.

Click on the “Random Team” tag at the bottom of this post to see all of the Random Team Reviews!

Card #270 From 1972 – 1978 Topps

Today is the 270th day of 2018, so I’m featuring card #270 from seven different 1970’s sets.

I do these posts because I enjoy pulling out cards from the very core of my collection (1974 to 1978 were my first five years of collecting), but I also enjoy the randomness of saying “I think I’ll do a Card Number post on Thursday… what day of the year is that?” When used my little Excel spreadsheet formula to determine that 9/27 is the 270th day of 2018, I knew that we’d have some good cards because Topps traditionally assigns card numbers ending with zero to good players.

…But in this case, not the absolute BEST players. The six or seven tippity-toppest players get the card numbers which are divisible by 100 (100, 200, 300, etc.), the next tier generally gets the “fifties” (150, 250, 350… ) and so on. Anybody on a card with a number like 270 are generally among the best players in the game, but weren’t THE TOP PLAYERS.

Because it was a card number ending in zero (and because I happened to have the appropriate cards), I decided to add in 1972 and 1973 this time.

…and so we’ll start off with Card #270 from 1972 Topps:  Jim Palmer

What Jim Palmer did the year before to earn a card number ending in zero: In 1971 “Cakes” won 20 games, making him the fourth member of the Orioles rotation to win 20 games.  That’s just amazing, especially considering that there won’t be four pitchers in all of the Majors to win 20 games in 2018.  As for Palmer in 1971, he was an All-Star, but didn’t win an award or lead the league in any particular category… probably the epitome of “divisible by 10-ness”

Card #270 from 1973 Topps – Luis Tiant
Tiant always looks strange to me without his trademark Fu Manchu mustache.

What Luis Tiant did the year before: Went 15-9, lead the league with a 1.91 ERA and got Cy Young and MVP votes.  More importantly, he re-established himself as a starting pitcher and won the Comeback Of The Year Award.

I enjoyed the cartoon on the back of El Tiante’s card:

Card #270 from 1974 Topps – Ron Santo

What Ron Santo did the year before: He batted .267 with 65 runs and 77 RBI and was an All-Star… but there’s probably a significant element of “He gets one of these numbers because he’s Ron bleeping Santo”.

Here’s a freaky little fact: Ron Santo batted .267 in three of the four seasons from 1970 to 1973, and in 1970 and 1971 he had the exact same number of hits and at-bats. This seemed so unlikely that I went to a couple of different sources to verify these numbers.

After the 1973 season, Santo was traded to the White Sox, to the dismay of Cubs fans everywhere.

Before Ron Santo was traded across town, a trade had been worked out to send him to the Angels; however, Santo vetoed it.  Several years ago I’d shared a card which I’d received in an interdimensional PWE from my counterpart in an alternate universe:

I haven’t heard anything from Alternate Universe Joe in a while, I’ll have to reach out to him.

Finally, Santo’s card had a good cartoon:

Card #270 from 1975 Topps – Ron Fairly
Had there been a Traded set in 1975, Ron Fairly would’ve likely been featured in a badly-airbrushed Cardinals cap. In the December 1974 Winter Meetings, Fairly was traded to St. Louis for two minor leaguers.

What Ron Fairly did the year before: Ron Fairly batted .245 with 35 runs and 43 RBI, and he had been an All-Star in 1973… I’m thinking that Fairly got his semi-star card # by being good for quite a long time – he played 21 years over his career, spanning 1958 to 1969 with the Dodgers, 1969 to 1974 with the Expos, and 1975 to 1978 with the Cardinals, A’s, Blue Jays and Angels.

One other fun Fairly fact: He was the Toronto Blue Jays’ first All-Star.

Card #270 from 1976 Topps – Willie Stargell

What Willie Stargell did the year before: By this point in his career, you couldn’t really give “Pops” just any old number… But Stargell got MVP votes while batting .295 with 22 homers, 90 RBI and 71 Runs

Card #270 from 1977 Topps – Dave Parker

What Dave Parker did the year before: Parker was still a fairly new player and when this card initially came out he had yet to be an All-Star, an MVP or a Gold Glove winner, but he did bat .313 with 90 RBI and 82 Runs.

Card #270 from 1978 Topps – Carlton Fisk

What Carlton Fisk did the year before: Obviously, Fisk was an All-Star.  He batted .315 with 102 RBI, 26 homers and 106 runs. He was also the 1972 Rookie of the Year and a 1975 World Series hero.

Contrast And Compare: Another Four From 1977 O-Pee-Chee Baseball

The subject of 1977 O-Pee-Chee baseball came up on Twitter the other day, so I figured I’d take inspiration where I could and I decided to write another in a series of posts about 1977 O-Pee-Chee Baseball.

1977 OPC is a 264 card set that, like most OPC baseball sets, is a sort of parallel of the same year’s Topps set.  Unlike other years – probably because it was the first year of the Toronto Blue Jays – OPC was updated and contained many different Blue Jays and Expos than the Topps set.

I’m kind of surprised I hadn’t featured the Gary Carter cards before.  Here’s his 1977 Topps card:

For reasons unknown, OPC replaced the catching photo with a batting photo.

I think I like the catching pose better, but then again if OPC hadn’t have updated the photo I never would’ve tracked down that card.

Pete Vuckovich, who had been taken from the White Sox in the expansion draft, had a particularly unflattering photo in 1977 Topps.  They didn’t even bother to try to airbrush over the black White Sox jersey.

His 1977 O-Pee-Chee card is leaps and bounds beyond the Topps card

Vukovich was a reliever with the Jays, but a couple of years and a couple of teams later he would win the 1982 AL Cy Young Award while with the Brewers.

Pedro Garcia was with the Tigers in 1976, but was released during the offseason

He would sign with the Blue Jays early in 1977 and would play 41 games before being released in June

This last pair of cards is a little odd… Here’s Dock Ellis’ Topps card:

And here’s his O-Pee-Chee card:

Since the pose is so similar, I wonder if when they were doing OPC someone said “Hey, hand me that photo of Dock Ellis where he’s standing with his hand in his glove.”

Something about this photo on the OPC struck me as odd and it took me a few minutes to realize what it was… and it was actually two things.  First off, the spacing is unusually wide between the letters in “NEW YORK” on Ellis’ jersey;  and second, just the fact that Dock Ellis is shown in his Yankees road uniform was pretty unusual in itself.  I did a very quick review of Topps Yankees cards from 1974 to 1978 and out of what must be more than 100 cards there I counted just 7 which showed the road uniforms.

Card #179 from 1974 to 1978 Topps

Today is the 179th day of 2018.

1974 through 1978 are the first five sets I collected (and among the first I completed).

Combining them together allows me to revisit cards from my early days of collecting.


This is the first Mets coaching staff I was ever aware of, and also the one which had the biggest impact on my collecting goals. Rube Walker, Eddie Yost and Joe Pignatano All came to the Mets as part of Gil Hodges’ coaching staff in 1968;  Roy McMillan joined in 1973.  I have modest player collections of everybody on this card… less so for Yogi only because his vintage cards are quite a bit pricier.

Yost and McMillan would coach with the Mets through 1976; Walker and Pignatano through 1981.

1975 Topps #179 – TOM BRADLEY

Bradley was a solid pitcher for the White Sox and had a couple of seasons where he won 15 games and struck out over 200 batters. He tailed off after a certain point, possibly due to overuse stemming from Chisox manager Chuck Tanner’s experimentation with a 3-man pitching rotation.

I had a small epiphany regarding Tom Bradley; forgive my small side-trip in explaining…

In early 1986, Joe Jackson came out with his “Big World” album. Coinciding with the release of the new album, the Alternative Rock station I listened to at the time played a bunch of his older songs. That was when I came to realize that the guy who had new songs like “Wild West” and “Right And Wrong” was the same guy who did “Is She Really Going Out With Him”, “It’s Different For Girls”, “You Can’t Get What You Want”, “Breaking Us In Two” and “Sunday Papers”… I’d just never put the pieces together before that. After that realization I became a JJ fan.

For me, Tom Bradley was the baseball version of that. In writing this up I realized that I have all of his Topps cards from 1972 to 1976 (I still need his 1971 rookie card), but for some reason never mentally put them all together as the same guy’s baseball cards.

1976 Topps #179 – GEORGE FOSTER

Foster finished second to teammate Joe Morgan in the 1976 MVP voting, and would be the MVP in 1977. One of these days I should make an all-star team of big name players who the Mets acquired after their prime. I think George Foster is the left fielder on that team… although he wasn’t bad for the Mets, just in his 30’s and exposed in the batting order.

1977 Topps #179 – PAUL HARTZELL

This is the rookie card for Paul Hartzell, who played four full seasons for the Angels & Twins and parts of two others with the Orioles and Brewers. He was one of four players the Angels sent to the Twins for Rod Carew.

I pulled this card out of the 9-pocket sheet and the first words out of my mouth were “Wow, I’ve got to upgrade this thing”.  While the creases readily show up in the scan, it’s also got water damage like it had been rescued from a puddle.  I’m normally pretty passive about upgrading my childhood cards, swapping them out only if I happened to come across something significantly better, but I’m starting to look at some of these and thinking “Man, that is ugly”.  I’m going to put a little more effort into upgrading the cards which are truly “Poor”.

1978 Topps #179 – DICK TIDROW

Dick Tidrow began as a starter and would be a reliever on two Yankees World Champion teams in 1977 and 1978. He’s currently with the San Francisco Giants as the “Senior Vice President, Player Personnel and Senior Advisor to the General Manager”.

Something I hadn’t known before: Dick Tidrow was the 1972 Sporting News Rookie Pitcher Of The Year… that came while he was a starting pitcher with the Indians.

Something else I hadn’t known before: Tidrow is one of a handful of players who have played for the Mets and Yankees AND Cubs and White Sox. Tidrow pitched 11 games for the Mets in 1984 before being released (and thus ending his MLB career).

Tidrow’s time with the Mets came after his last baseball cards (which showed him with the White Sox), so “Dick Tidrow as a Met” gets added to my “someday I’ll make a custom of this” list.

Fast Five: Card #135 from 1974 to 1978 Topps

Today is the 135th day of 2018; hence, card #135.

1974 Topps #135 – Roy White
Like with most in-game shots, I really liked this card as a kid.  Roy White seems like such a classy guy that he’s exempt from any Yankee-hating activities.

1975 Topps #135 – Charlie Spikes
I remember getting Charlie Spikes’ 1974 card as part of a panel stapled into Scholastic’s Dynamite Magazine… Possibly the first issue (which I really need to find and feature here). I thought Charlie Spikes was a cool name.  The replica signature is of his full name, Leslie Charles Spikes.

1976 Topps #135 – Bake McBride
Bake McBride made his only All-Star team in 1976, but he didn’t appear in the game.

I’ve always liked the red and green combo on the 1976 Cardinals cards

1977 Topps #135 – Mark Belanger
Like Bake McBride, Mark Belanger made his only All-Star team in 1976. Unlike McBride, Belanger got into the game, coming in to play short in the 6th inning. Belanger won 8 Gold Gloves over his 18 year career.

I completely forgot that Belanger finished his career by playing 54 games with the Dodgers.

1978 Topps #135 – Ron Guidry
“Louisiana Lightning” dominated the American League and won a Cy Young in 1978. Guidry went 25-3, 1.74 with 9 shutouts. He struck out 18 Angels on June 17, 1978, a mark which remains a team record.

Last June I Tried To Predict The Designs Used For 2018 Archives… How’d I Do?

This past Friday Ryan Cracknell of Beckett tweeted the early details for 2018 Topps Archives and this got me excited.  Not only would the designs picked determine how much Archives I’m buying this year, but it also reminded me that I’d written a post last year theorizing about how Topps selects designs to use and then using those theories to try to determine which designs they would use the following year (i.e. 2018).

To recap for those who don’t want to click on the link, here are my two theories and some ground-rule assumptions I also used…

THEORY #1:  The “No-Fly Zone”

There is a 15 year exclusion window surrounding a given year’s Heritage design;  Topps will not use a design from up to 7 years before or 7 years after the design used for Heritage.  For 2018, that means 1962 to 1976 is out of bounds.

THEORY #2:  A design must be at least 25 years old.

This rule is not iron-clad given that 2013 Archives included the 1990 design, but 2016 Archives included the 1991 design and 2017 Archives included 1992.

Further assumptions made:

  • Topps would use three designs which hadn’t already been used in the Archives set.
  • One of the designs would be a set that’s already been “done” in Heritage (so for 2018 that would mean something from 1952 to 1961)

So, let’s see how Nostradamus-y I was…

1st design I predicted:  1959 Topps

What I said then:  “It’s a popular, easy-to-replicate design which wouldn’t necessarily require a posed photo.”

What Topps is doing:  1959 Topps!  Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

…and from the sample it looks like they did a good job.

2nd design I predicted:  1981 Topps

What I said then:  “This seems to me like an easy-enough design to replicate, and it’s one that a lot of people have asked ‘Why not?’ and I can’t think of a good answer to that.”

What Topps is doing:  1981 Topps!  Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom!

Nit-picky time… Even if the Nats wear a navy cap with a white front panel (and I don’t think that they do, but I could be wrong), it’s not what people associate with the team.

3rd design I predicted:  1993 Topps

What I said then:  “1993 will be 25 years old next year, so I think they’ll continue the trend of using the upper limit of their ‘window’.”

What Topps is doing:  1977 Topps  (Sad trombone)

Ah, well… Two out of three is still pretty good.  However, “pretty good” is not a phrase I’d use to describe this attempt at the 1977 design.  OK, I know it’s a sample and they’ve tweaked designs between sample and production before… but the colors are completely wrong for the Astros, and the font isn’t anywhere close enough for me to give them a pass.  Hint to Topps:  Italicized Arial Black is still not correct, but is much better than what you’ve got here.

Last June I also picked three designs I wished they would use.  Two were doubtful… Doing Archives versions of 1956 and 1978 would pose more challenges than Topps seems willing to take on for this set… But I thought the third wish wasn’t unreasonable:

1988 Topps has an anniversary this year and is an easy design to replicate, but there’s a bit more work involved when creating each card because the player’s head has to be “in front” of the team name.  Maybe that’s a little too labor-intensive for a relatively low-effort set like Archives.

But that’s all good from my standpoint… I’ve been thinking of doing some 1988-style customs, but was holding off until I was pretty sure that Topps wouldn’t be doing anything like that themselves.  I’m confident enough now that I’m releasing my own pre-production sample that I whipped up in an hour or so this past weekend:

I specifically went with a team which didn’t exist in 1988 to emphasize that this is “from scratch” and not just digital manipulation of an existing card.  There’s still some tweaking to be done, but I’m happy to revive one of my favorite 1980’s designs.

Given how fun this post was (and, I’ll admit, how *right* I had been about 2018), I’m very likely to do a post predicting 2019 Archives… but I’ll save that for another time.

Fast Five: Card #82 From 1974 To 1978 Topps

I kind of stumbled on these posts as a fun, largely mindless way to come up with a post topic and to reconnect with cards from the first five sets I collected… and this week has been crazy at work, so “fun” and “largely mindless” are what the doctor ordered.

Today is the 82nd day of 2018;  hence, card #82.

1974 Topps #82 – Dave Giusti

How’s this for an arcane fact:  There have been two Major Leaguers who went to Syracuse University and were All-Stars… and both were pitchers who didn’t start a single game during their All-Star seasons!

After spending most of the 1960’s as a starter, the Pirates converted Giusti to relieving and they were rewarded with four straight seasons with 20+ saves.  Jim Konstanty, the other relieving Orangeman, was an All-Star and the N.L. MVP with the Phillies in 1950.  He went 16-7, 2.66, and lead the Majors with 74 appearances – nearly half of his team’s 154 games – and 22 saves.

1975 Topps #82 – Pat Kelly

This Pat Kelly is the first of three Pat Kellys to play in the Majors, and one of two Morgan State University players to appear in the Majors;  the other was Dodgers pitcher (and 1952 NL Rookie of the Year) Joe Black.

1976 Topps #82 – Von Joshua

This is one of those shots that wouldn’t be impressive on a 2018 card, but was a favorite of mine in 1976.

I’ve always felt that the border colors enhanced this photo.

1977 Topps #82 – Jim Rooker

Jim Rooker started out in pro ball as an outfielder, but was converted to a pitcher before reaching the Majors.  He was a decent-hitting pitcher, batting .201 with 54 runs and 56  RBI over 668 career AB’s.

As a broadcaster with the Pirates, during a game in Philadelphia in which the Bucs took a 10-0 lead in the first, he said that he would walk home if the Pirates lost.  The Phils won 15-11, and after the season Rooker walked from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to raise money for a Children’s Hospital.

1978 Topps #82 – San Francisco Giants Team Checklist

It’s a bit hard to see on a 2.5″x3.5″ card, but the Giants are posing on a cable car!  Talk about your San Francisco Treat!

I didn’t blink at the Astroturf at the time, but now – thankfully – it’s an odd-looking sight.

The Guy Before The Guy: Trammell And Molitor

It’s been a while since I did a “Guy Before The Guy” post, so to recap the idea behind this topic… I do a little digging into retired uniform numbers and find out who the next-to-last guy to wear the number was …In other words, the guy before the guy for whom the number was retired.

This time around I thought I’d focus on two Hall-Of-Famers who share a 1978 rookie card, Alan Trammell and Paul Molitor.

Alan Trammell, Tigers, #3
Tito Fuentes wore #3 for the Tigers in 1977 but after the season his contract was sold to the Expos so Tito and his headband headed north of the border.

Side note for any musicians out there trying to find a good name for your band: You could do a lot worse than “Tito And The Headband”.

Meanwhile, Alan Trammell wore #42 during his September, 1977 callup – BOTH of his numbers are retired, ooooh — but took over #3 starting in 1978.

In one of those situations at which I scoff – SCOFF, I TELL YOU! – there had been two players who wore #3 *after* Trammell retired: Gary Sheffield and Ian Kinsler.  I suppose there could’ve been bad blood after Trammell’s managerial stint, but otherwise it doesn’t seem like his number should’ve been retired if they were willing to give it away twice.

OK, off the soapbox and on to the next number…

Paul Molitor, Brewers, #4

Mike Hegan played his second stint with the Brewers from 1974 to 1977; however, he wore #6 for most of that time.

When the Brewers signed three-time World Champion and four-time All-Star Sal Bando after the 1976 season, Hegan switched to #4 so that Bando could continue wearing #6. The Brewers released Mike Hegan in July, 1977 and nobody wore #4 until Molitor made his MLB debut on opening day of the 1978 season.

And now you know who was the guy before the guy.

I started this post back in December and the first draft included this scan of a 1976 Topps Terry Humphrey… Only I can’t remember why.

If anyone can establish a link between Trammell (or Molitor) and Humphrey… well… have at it.

US vs. Canada In The “1977 Baseball Card” Competition

It’s been a busy week and the past day or two I’ve been spending my small amounts of free time watching Olympic mixed doubles curling… So out of necessity this post is going to be relatively quick, and will involve comparing three 1977 Topps Baseball cards to their corresponding (yet different) 1977 O-Pee-Chee Baseball cards.

First off, we’ll start with the Blue Jays’ John Scott.  Scott was the Padres’ 1st round draft pick (and 2nd overall behind Chris Chambliss) in the January, 1970 draft.  In 1976 he played for the AAA Hawaii Islanders under Roy Hartsfield, who would become the Jays’ first manager… so it’s no coincidence that he was among the first players obtained by the Jays (purchased from the Padres on Oct 22, 1976).

For Topps, he shared a rookie card with Andre Dawson, Gene Richards and Denny Walling.

But since he was a Blue Jay, he got his own card in the O-Pee-Chee set.

John Scott did not play well in his only long look in the Majors, batting .240 with 26 runs, 15 RBI and 10 stolen bases.  He’d never play in MLB after 1977, but he would play in Japan for the Yakult Swallows and make his way into the 1979 TCMA Japanese Baseball set.

As long as I’m sharing John Scott cards, here’s his 1976 SSPC card from his time with the Padres.

OK, getting back to 1977…

In 1976, Phil “Scrap Iron” Garner was the starting second baseman for the Oakland A’s, and was named to the All-Star Game, backing up starter Bobby Grich.

The A’s were, at the time, cleaning house of all of the players who were likely to leave as free agents, and Garner was involved in a 9-player trade that had him going to the Pirates.

Garner’s numbers with the 1977 Pirates were similar to his numbers with the 1976 A’s, except he went from 54 runs scored to 99, and his homers more than doubled from 8 to 17.

…and how about that airbrushing job?

For the most part I’m collecting 1977 O-Pee-Chee cards which have photos which have different photos or are airbrushed, and I skip past cards which have different cropping.  This last card falls into that category, but I didn’t realize it until after I got the OPC.  Here’s the Topps card…

In 1977, Larry Parrish was 23 and in his third season as the Expos’ starting 3rd baseman.  He struggled a bit in 1976 and 1977, but would bounce back nicely in 1978 and have an All-Star season in 1979.

O-Pee-Chee cropped his photo much tighter than Topps did.

Like Phil Garner, Parrish would later manage in the Majors.  Like John Scott, Parrish would play in Japan for the Yakult Swallows (and also the Hanshin Tigers).