Three 1970’s Burger King Cards With Their Topps Counterparts

Because I don’t have time to write a deeply insightful post, I’m going to fall back on one of my ongoing series… in this case, “Contrast And Compare” in which I highlight Topps cards and their close relatives.  Today, it’s Burger King sets of the late 1970’s.

…Starting with Jim Spencer from the 1978 Burger King Yankees set.  Obviously these cards were produced by Topps.

Spencer was coming off his second Gold Glove season with the 1977 White Sox, and was obtained by the Yankees in a five-player late 1977 trade where Spencer was the only one who would play in the Majors after the trade.  Spencer would appear in only 71 games for the 1978 Yankees with only 15 games playing at first.

Here’s Spencer’s 1978 Topps card which shows him in those regrettable White Sox uniforms:


Al Oliver was a key member of the Pirates from 1969 to 1977 before being sent to Texas in a four-team trade which also involved Bert Blyleven, Willie Montanez, Jon Matlack, John Milner and Ken Henderson.

Oliver would play four seasons with the Rangers, two as an All-Star.  Perhaps he welcomed the trade;   after all, he looks kinda bored on his 1978 Topps card:


Finally we’ll wrap up with a 1979 Burger King Yankees Ron Guidry card.

Guidry was coming off of a phenomenal Cy Young Award season;  this career Yankee got a different card even though it wasn’t completely necessary.

Here’s his 1979 Topps card…

If you think the photo used for the Burger King card seems familiar, that’s because it was also used in 1979 Topps — but on a Record Breaker card:

Contrast & Compare: 1979 Burger King Beniquez & Tiant

I thought it might be good to share some real cards after two straight days of customs.

1979 and 1980 Burger King cards are among my recent obsessions…  Well, I’ve come to obsess over any baseball card from the 1970’s, it’s just a matter of degree…  But anyway…

Just like with 1977 O-Pee-Chee baseball, I only collect the cards that have different images and aren’t just the original Topps card with a different number.  Today I’m sharing two cards like that from the 1979 Burger King Yankees set, starting with Juan Beniquez:
1979 BK Juan Beniquez

Juan Beniquez came to the Yankees in a blockbuster deal with the Rangers on November 10, 1978:  Beniquez, Dave Righetti (I always forget he started in the Rangers organization), Paul Mirabella, Mike Griffin and Greg Jemison for Sparky Lyle, Mike Heath, Dave Rajsich, Domingo Ramos, Larry McCall and cash.

Just under a year later, the Yankees traded Beniquez to the Mariners.

Here’s the Topps Beniquez:
1979 Topps Juan Beniquez

Luis Tiant came to the Yankees as – how else? – a free agent.
1979 BK Luis Tiant

Although he was 38 in his first season with the Yankees, he went 13-8 with a 3.91 ERA. Here’s the Topps equivalent:
1979 Topps Luis Tiant
I was in the New York area at the time, so I don’t remember hearing about any Boston backlash towards El Tiante going from the Sox to the “freakin’ Yankees”, but I’m sure there must’ve been some.

Tiant spent two years in pinstripes and had an interesting career path. He won 20 games 4 times, twice lead the league in ERA and shutouts, but in 1969 he went 9-20 and lead the league in homers and walks. Most people think of the 8 years he spent with the Red Sox or the 6 with the Indians, but he also spent a year with the Twins and spent the end of his career hopping around between AAA and the Mexican League while making brief appearances with the Pirates and Angels. In between pitching for the Twins and Red Sox he sent a month at the beginning of 1971 pitching for the Braves AAA team. The Braves released him, the Bosox picked him up, he went 1-7, 4.91 in 1971 but turned it around in 1972 and lead the majors with a 1.91 ERA.

Hold The Pickles, Hold the Lettuce, Burger King Yankees Don’t Upset Us

If Burger King had been serious about letting me have it my way in 1979, there would’ve been a Burger King Mets set… but that wasn’t going to stop me from getting a complete set of 1979 BK Yankees .

Below on the left we have the 1979 Burger King Yankees Tommy John, and on the right is the O-Pee-Chee equivalent, complete with “Signed as Free Agent, 11-22-78” text which made those cards worthwhile… in some circles, anyway…

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I found an article which said that Tommy John signed for less money than had been offered by the Reds and Royals;  it might seem strange to hear about the Royals going hard after a free agent, but keep in mind that the Royals had won the AL West in 1978 and were among the league leaders in attendance.  The Dodgers didn’t want to go past two years in signing a guy who would turn 36 during the 1979 season, but the Yankees – damn them – made the right move because John went 21-9, 22-9, 9-8 and 10-10 in his nearly four years in New York (he was traded to the Angels on 8/31/82).

Tommy John won the 1976 NL Comeback Player of the Year award after missing the 1975 season because he had a ligament transplanted into his pitching elbow.  Who would’ve thunk it?