Five From 1980 Topps 5×7 Super… For The Heck Of It

Over the weekend I was picking up some of the clutter in Shlabotnik World Headquarters when I ran across a bunch of 1980 Topps 5×7 cards I had in a stack. That was all the inspiration I need to do a post on some of these cards (and procrastinate more on several posts which require research).

For those who aren’t familiar with these cards, this was an oversized 60-card set that was the first in a series of 5″x7″ sets put out by Topps in the 1980’s. Many of the later sets were oversized “parallels” of regular Topps cards, but the first two years the cards were original cards meant to look like autographed photos.

Here’s an example featuring the Mets’ Craig Swan.
1980 Topps 5x7 Craig Swan
For those of you who are not familiar with Craig Swan, he was a very good pitcher on some very bad Mets teams. In 1978 he lead the N.L. with a 2.43 ERA, and in 1979 he went 14-13 for a Mets team that lost 99 games.  No other Mets pitcher had more than 6 wins that year.

Here’s the back… It’s clearly not about the backs.
1980 Topps 5x7 Craig Swan back
I’ve read that these came on white cardboard stock as well, but I’ve never seen anything but “gray backs”.  My 8-year-old copy of the SCD Standard Catalog says that the white backs were issued first and the grey backs came later.

The rest of the cards I’m showing today are better-known players that I expect don’t need mini-biographies.

Don Baylor
1980 Topps 5x7 Don Baylor

Gary Carter
1980 Topps 5x7 Gary Carter

George Brett
1980 Topps 5x7 George Brett

Pete Rose
1980 Topps 5x7 Pete Rose

These might not be the most exciting sets when shown on a screen at a reduced size, but they’re pretty nice in their four-times-larger-than-standard size. I bought a number of these in stores back in the early 1980’s, and at the time (just like now) I sometimes felt like the only one who had any interest.

…But I like them just fine. Get me a pile of 2-pocket sheets and I’m good to go.

This last scan is something I found while I was organizing… This is a header card from a rack pack of these photos, but I believe these were from a later repackaging of the cards.  As you might guess from the upside-down text at the top of the scan, this was originally folded over and stapled to a cello pack of these cards.
1980 Topps 5x7 header card with 1981 copyright
Two reasons why I believe this to be a later repack: 1) There’s a 1981 copyright and 2) there are 5 cards but I believe the original packs were 3 cards.

You’ll notice that the header doesn’t say anything about “Super” or “5×7”.  All of the packaging I’ve seen for the cards says either “Superstar Photo Cards” or “Superstars Photo Cards”… but nobody calls them that.

One last thing for eagle-eyed readers… The price tag is for a discount store called Woolco, which was a subsidiary of Woolworth’s and went out of business in the early 1980’s.

I’m Tired Of Looking For Topps… How About A Pack Of NOT-2015 Topps?

All week I’ve been in and out of Target and Wal-Mart stores, at least one each day, trying to find packs of 2015 Topps. I feel like the employees are saying “Here comes another one of those guys who walks in, looks at the card aisle, and walks out”.

I think I’ve had enough for now… Instead of busting a pack of new cards, how about we bust an 8-card pack of Not 2015! Not Topps!
Not 2015 Not Topps pack

First card is a 1979 Topps Gaylord Perry… Not a bad kickoff, although I guess that the “Not Topps” thing on the wrapper turned out to be false advertising. You think I fully think these posts through before I write them? Pfft.
1979 Topps Gaylord Perry
I unfortunately missed Gaylord Perry’s halftime show at the Super Bowl, although I can’t imagine what he would’ve–

What’s that?

Katy Perry did the halftime show?


I would rather have seen Gaylord Perry.

Even though this pack we’re opening is standard size, you come to the next card and are blinded by a flash of light, then find that the next card is a 5″ x 7″ 1980 Topps Super of Dave Parker.
1980 Topps 5x7 Dave parker
I don’t know why, but the whole “card is bigger than the pack it came in” made me think of the old text-based computer games that were popular among us computer nerds around 1980.

You find yourself in a small room. There is nothing here but a pack of baseball cards.
> open pack
You can’t open something you don’t have.
> take pack

…and at this point anybody below the age of 45 has already closed the browser tab and is off to check out Night Owl’s latest post.

Wait! Wait! Don’t go! Look, I’ve got Tom Seaver from the 1985 Fleer set!  He’s a Hall-Of-Famer!  He’s smiling!  Look how happy he is to be here!
1985 Fleer Tom Seaver
See, there are cards in this pack that aren’t Topps.

Rick Cerone signs a baseball for fans of — QUICK! What team is he with on this card?
1992 Stadium Club Rick Cerone
The answer is at the bottom of this post.  O!  The suspense!

One of the insert sets in last year’s Heritage was a “First Draft” set that featured a handful of players, and they all looked like nice cards, but as a Mets fan the one I really wanted was Nolan Ryan. I bought a wax box of Heritage. I bought a couple of blasters of Heritage. I bought loose packs of Heritage. Every “First Draft” card I got was Johnny Freakin’ Bench. I ended up using a small amount of my COMC credit to finally get this one.
2014 Topps Heritage First Draft Nolan Ryan
“295th Overall”, in very small type.  That’s my favorite part of the card.

Speaking of Heritage, this card should perhaps whet your appetite for the 2015 set.
1966 Topps Luis Aparicio
I know, I know, the 1966 design doesn’t hold a candle to 1965. I still like the set in a minimalist sort of way, and I’ll be buying another wax box or two.

In the early 1960’s, Danny Kaye recorded “The D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song” where he half-sings the play-by-play of a fictional game between the Dodgers and Giants.  While the song is amusing, I’ve always enjoyed the way he relishes singing “Orlando Cepeda”.
1968 Topps Game Orlando Cepeda
“Orrrrrrrrrrrrrrlando Cepeda is at bat with the bases jammed…”  Unlike this 1968 Topps insert card, the result was a little better than “Ground out, runners advance one base”.

Wrapping things up with a 1970 Dick Drago. Why Drago? Why not.
1970 Topps Dick Drago
Here’s a fun Dick Drago fact… On July 30th, 1971, Drago faced 13 batters while pitching a complete game.  “Huh?” you say.  Well, it was a rain-shortened 4.5 inning game, the Royals were in Baltimore and lost 1-0 on a Frank Robinson homer.  Jim Palmer pitched a 5-inning complete game because he had to pitch the top of the 5th to make things official.  My favorite part of the game’s Baseball-Reference page:  “Time Of Game:  0:48”.

Answer to the Rick Cerone quiz: That 1992 Stadium Club card shows Rick Cerone during his half-season with the Montreal Expos. Ten points to everyone who got that right.

Oversized Mets, Part 1: 1980, 1981 Topps “Super”

Pfeh. You can keep your minis, give me oversized cards any day! Big is beautiful, baby!

Topps has played with “super” and “giant” cards during the years, and during the Eighties, “Super” meant cards which were a shade smaller than 5”x7”… or in other words, roughly four times the size of a standard-sized card.

In 1980 and 1981 these cards meant to look like autographed photos, and though most people refer to this set as “Topps Super”, the pack they came in listed them as “Superstar Photo Cards”.  Here’s the 1980 Super Lee Mazzilli:

1980 Topps Super Lee Mazzilli

The 1980 set was a 60-card set, and Lee was the lone Mets representative… which was fair enough, the Mets were having a number of difficulties at the time.

OK, fine, they sucked.

Here’s the back: I’ve read that they also came in white-backed versions, but I’ve never seen those myself.
1980 Topps Super Lee Mazilli Back

I remember buying these cards in a hanger pack of 3 cards. It was a plain cellophane sleeve with a cardboard header stapled on. They may have been sold other ways, but where I lived it was cello hangers.

Here’s an image to give you a better idea of how big the cards are… Like I said, 4 times the size of a standard card.
1980 Topps Super Comparison

In 1981, Topps tried again but tweaked it by selling multiple “Home Team” sets.  The New York set was made up of 6 Mets and 12 Yankees. 1981 Topps Super Home Team Lee MazzilliThe other Mets cards were Neil Allen, Doug Flynn, Rusty Staub, Frank Taveras and Alex Trevino.

Just like in 1980, the packs didn’t say “Super” on them… this time they said “Giant Photo Cards” and below that it said “Home Team Series!”  Cards were sold individually in red paper packs crimped at the end, and came in display boxes that would sit on the counter with the cards upright. I’ll admit, I was a “pack feeler” with this set;  When you pushed the paper wrapper up against the back of the card, you could read the name on the back of the card.  Forgive me, bloggers, for I have sinned.

The back of each unnumbered card had the basic information and a checklist on the back.  Note that “Yankees” and “Mets” uses the same script that was used on the 1978 Topps cards.
1981 Topps Super Home Team Mazzilli back

Home Team sets were also issued for the Reds, Red Sox, Phillies, Cubs/White Sox, Astros/Rangers, Dodgers/Angels, and a National set of 15 stars. Years ago I bought the Red Sox and Reds sets at a show, and I’ve always meant to get the other sets, but I never ran across them… And I’ve just added them back to my want list.

If someone asks me nicely, I’ll share some of my other cards from these sets.