Saturday, October 31, 2009
What I thought about this card then: Never saw it. But I liked Tanana as a youngster. I always gravitated toward the second banana, if you want to call someone who could throw 100 mph second-best. But, hey, Nolan Ryan is Nolan Ryan.
What I think about this card now: The red-yellow color combo is among my favorites. And I continue to think Tanana is cool, even after the arm problems, and his complete overhaul into an offspeed specialist playing for the Red Sox, Rangers and Tigers. If only he could throw like he did in 1975 his entire career. We would be talking about a legend.
Other stuff: Tanana was responsible for the Red Sox trading Fred Lynn to the Angels. I can't remember what my brother thought of this trade, which is odd, because my brother is a Red Sox fan and Lynn was his favorite player. But I'm guessing it wasn't pleasant.
Back facts: Tanana was a lefty. He was left-handed and could hit triple figures. THAT's why I liked him so much.
Other blog stuff: You didn't think I'd end the post without talking about the rookie cup did you? This is the first card with the rookie cup, and I will not run a 1975 Topps blog without seeing if Topps featured a full team of a Rookie Cuppers in its '75 set. So let the evaluating begin:
1B - ?
2B - ?
3B - ?
SS - ?
OF - ?
OF - ?
OF - ?
C - ?
P - Frank Tanana
We have our pitcher ...
Friday, October 30, 2009
What I thought about this card then: Even though I had the mini card of Cardenal, he was one of those players that just didn't register with me. It wasn't until he played with the Phillies late in the decade that I remember watching him play on television.
What I think about this card now: Look at what Cardenal is wearing. Isn't that the best example of little boys jammies masquerading as a major league baseball uniform? My condolences, Jose.
Other stuff: If you are lucky enough to own every 1970s card of Cardenal, place them in a row, from the 1970 card to the 1979 card, and then look at them from left to right. It's like having a Chia Pet on cardboard. Cardenal's hair grows from virtually nothing (1970 and '71 cards) to a medium Afro (1972, 73, 74), to a major Afro (1975, 76) to an industrial Afro (1977, 78). The helmet he's wearing on the '79 card kind of obscures his 'fro.
Back facts: When I was 9, I thought actors actually looked like what is portrayed in the cartoon.
Other blog stuff: For some reason, the green-purple combo (see Milt Wilcox card) makes me think of the Incredible Hulk. I'll have to do some "research" on that and see if that's a suitable title for that color combo.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
What I thought about this card then: Can't think of a thing. I know I had this card. I had the mini. I still have the mini.
What I think about this card now: I think most people became aware of Milt Wilcox when he pitched in the postseason for the Tigers in 1984. But I remembered him from his '75 card, and I couldn't believe this mustachioed rendition was the same guy. Sixteen years in the majors. Pretty damn good.
Also, it looks like he's got a CC Sabathia thing going with his cap. (*Gasp*) Could Sabathia have been doing a tribute to Milt Wilcox?
Other stuff: I'm sure you've read this on another blog, but Wilcox now trains dock-jumping dogs. Here's his web site.
Back facts: Wilcox is one of the few major leaguers born in Honolulu, Hawaii. But he won't be the last one in this set.
Other blog stuff: This is the second straight card in which the player is pictured looking up and off into the distance. I've decided to keep track of the number of cards in this set that feature a player doing this. Just another thing to do while trying to avoid more pressing responsibilities in my life.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
But I guess that's not a fact, is it? It's more of a suspicion, huh? How about this: it is a fact that I don't know if this photo is airbrushed or not.
Also, to me, this color combination screams the '70s more than any other in the set. I'll have to come up with a very '70s-specific name for the design.
What I thought about this card then: This is the first of several cards from the set that freaked us out as boys. Some '70s ballplayers were just too weird for us, and Locklear definitely fit the description. As I've said before on this post, I would trade cards with my friends or brothers and try to slip cards like Locklear in with the other cards. Then when the tradee discovered the Locklear card, he'd let out a squeal of horror and whip it back at me or whichever person traded it to him.
What I think about this card now: Man, kids can be cruel can't they? You're not going to complete the set if you refuse to own one of the cards.
Other stuff: Locklear became a commercial artist. His web site is here.
Back facts: Part of what made a card less desirable to us as kids, beside the player's outwardly appearance, were the statistics on the back. If the player had lousy statistics, that made the card even more horrifying. Locklear's stats weren't as bad as some other players we'll see, but all it took were a couple sub-.200 averages for us to pass judgment.
Other blog stuff: If you like the set retrospective, take a look at the sidebar. I've added a list of set specific blogs. Some aren't active, but I'm hoping by putting them on the sidebar that one or two will be inspired to post again.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
What I thought about this card then: My brother had an inexplicable interest in the Rangers in '75. His favorite team was the Red Sox, yet he liked collecting Rangers cards, too. So, the Rangers of the '75 set became very familiar to me, including this one.
What I think about this card now: Given Clyde's famed armed troubles, it's interesting that you can see a billboard ad for Anacin to his right.
Other stuff: Everyone knows the story of David Clyde, don't they? He was a high school pitching phenom, was drafted first overall by the Rangers, was brought up to the big club by an owner who wanted to boost attendance, was good in his first few starts, and then disaster. Arm troubles, trips to the minors, a mismanaged career cut short. Out of the majors by age 24.
Clyde was my first encounter with a young baseball phenom. Mark Fidrych and Joe Charboneau would follow. By the time I reached Dwight Gooden, I was about as cynical as you could get over hyped future stars.
Oh, and there's supposed to be a movie on the way about Clyde, with Jessica Simpson playing his girlfriend.
Back facts: Hey, the cartoon refers to a Dodger! It's very odd seeing a player with so few major league stats lacking in minor league stats, as well. Also, nice random mention of Bill Gogolewski in the write-up.
Other blog stuff: I've now scanned the first 196 cards in the set. Beaming with pride.
Monday, October 26, 2009
What I thought about this card then: Long before I began to admire the left-handed pitcher more than any other player, or the right fielder with an epic arm, or an artful base stealer, I was like everyone else: I loved the home run hitter. I remember looking at Melton's stats and noticing he was a slugger. That immediately made his card valuable to me. I never saw Beltin' Melton play until he was with the Angels, when his career was dying. But his stats on the back of this card made an impact.
What I think about this card now: Two things: 1) those are some kind of Steve Garvey arms he has there; 2) Those numbers that they wore on the jersey sleeves back then look quite strange. I'm told they were there so players could be identified easily on TV.
Other stuff: Melton was the White Sox's all-time home run leader until Harold Baines came along. Now it's Frank Thomas' record.
Back facts: I love totally random cartoon trivia questions. "How many night games did the Cleveland Indians win in 1952?" I don't know. "How many fallen leaves are in my front yard right now?" What a bizarrely strange question! I need CONTEXT, Topps. Did the Indians play only 34 night games, making 33 wins a significant number? Explain, please.
Minis: This is the first card in the set that comes with a matching mini! Yay! Let's have a look, shall we?
At one point the minis were thought to be rarer than the regular '75 cards because they weren't issued everywhere in the country. But I don't believe that's the thinking now. They're easy enough to find. Also, I've heard for a long time that the minis were issued primarily in Michigan and on the West Coast. Well, then, explain to me how I was buying mini cards in 1975 from a corner grocery store in upstate New York?
As I've mentioned before, I have bought no mini cards since they came out in '75. A couple of generous bloggers have sent minis my way, which I appreciate more than just about anything you could send me. Those mini cards are the truest, most direct connection to my youth that exists. Thank you.
Other blog stuff: When I started this blog, I didn't make any guarantees about how often I would post. So far, it's turned out that I have posted once a day. I'd like to keep that pace, even though it may affect how much I post on Night Owl Cards. We'll see ...
Sunday, October 25, 2009
What I thought about this card then: Well, apparently this was a common theme when I was 9 years old, but I couldn't get over how OLD Willie Davis looked. If you had asked me for Davis' age, I would've said 60.
What I think about this card now: If you look at Willie's cards, he looks like a young guy until right around 1968. He then starts to take on a world-weary look. My theory is that the Dodgers started sucking right after the '66 season, so that explains it. Willie was about the only "star" of those Dodgers teams of the late '60s and early '70s, especially after Don Drysdale retired. That's a lot of responsibility for one man.
Other stuff: Davis was one of the fastest players of his time. But you'd never know it by the photos they selected for him over the years. This is a prime example. He looks like they dipped him in wax.
Back facts: Here is a reason why I like the backs of 1975 Topps: There was ALWAYS a cartoon on the player cards. With many other years that featured cartoons on the back, the cartoon was omitted if the player had a lot of stats. But '75 Topps would have none of that. They just squared off the cartoon and squeezed that baby in there!
I know exactly how I obtained most of those '75 Topps cards, but there are a handful that have escaped my memory. This is one of them.
Other blog stuff: I have started a "define the design" category on the sidebar, in an effort to come up with titles for the various color combos in the '75 set. I've already added a couple titles, but those are open for debate. If anyone has any ideas for any of the combos, just let me know.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
What I thought about this card then: Never saw it. Didn't know the guy existed.
What I think of about this card now: Well, basically the same thing that I thought when I was 9 years old. And being a grown-up now, I felt guilty about that. So I did some research.
Tepedino, although a career back-up, has led an interesting life, even after his playing days. He became a New York firefighter about 5 years after his playing career ended, and he knew many of the firefighters who perished in the 9/11 attacks. Miraculously, Tepedino and four other relatives who were NYC firefighters survived. Since that day, he has spoken many times about his experiences.
Other stuff: During Tepedino's time with the Braves, he was Hank Aaron's back-up at first base. Also, this was Tepedino's last baseball card. He spent almost all of 1975 in the minors.
Back facts: The cartoon mentions Elmer Valo, who was just brought up here.
Other blog stuff: Nada. Must. Sleep. Now.
Friday, October 23, 2009
What I thought about this card then: My brother had this card. He was and is a Red Sox fan. Red Sox cards automatically went to him. That was a rule of card collecting in our household (all Dodgers went to me, so I was cool with it). I remember the Moret card he had was the mini card.
What I think about this card now: The one disturbing thing to me now is that I had no idea how to pronounce Moret's name then, and I have no idea how to pronounce his name now. First and last name. No clue. Still. I am so glad I didn't pick broadcasting for a career.
Other stuff: I don't remember watching Moret pitch when I was a kid. What I do remember is the end of his career, in 1978, when he was found in the locker room in a catatonic state, holding out a shower slipper. I didn't know what "catatonic state" meant. I had to look it up, and when I figured out what it was, it freaked me out. Keep in mind, there was no internet then. So I was probably freaked out 3 weeks after the fact.
Back facts: The first cartoon of the set! Yay! It says that 100 players named Smith have played in the majors. According to baseball-reference.com, that total has ballooned to 145 players.
This card also shows the first example of the green type on the red/pink background, which can be difficult to read, especially the vital statistics area at the top.
Other blog stuff: In my first attempt to define one of the designs in the '75 Topps set, I'm going with the "candy-corn" design for the title of the orange-brown combination. That's open for debate or reconsideration, as I have 651 more cards before I put this blog to bed.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
What I thought about this card then: Never saw it. The interesting thing is that in 1975 I was more aware of Dick Bosman than I was of Steve Busby or Nolan Ryan. The reason for that is I received 100 percent of my baseball knowledge in 1975 from my baseball cards. And I owned a Dick Bosman card. I did not own the Busby or Ryan cards.
What I think about this card now: If you were a Steve Busby fan (and, surprisingly, I knew one when I was a kid), this was your only chance in 1975 to get a card featuring Busby, because Busby wasn't featured on his own card! (More on that when card #120 comes along).
Also, this is almost a throwaway "highlight." No-hitters are cool and all, but there are two or three no-hitters most years. You don't see them commemorated in card form every year.
Other stuff: This is the first of 57 horizontal cards in the set. All of the horizontal cards are either a team card or from a subset.
Back facts: Ending the top line of a headline with a preposition! Naughty, naughty, naughty.
Both Busby and Ryan threw no-hitters in back-to-back seasons. It was Bosman's first and only one.
Other blog stuff: We have reached the end of the highlights! New, pretty colors coming up!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
What I thought about this card then: Sadly, I didn't even know it existed. And that's the way it stood for decades. Since highlight cards weren't included in your garden variety team checklist, how was I to know there was another Dodger to collect? Finally, when I returned to collecting in 2005 by focusing on the first set of my childhood, I stumbled upon this card. Boy, was my face red. All of those years of proclaiming I had completed the '75 Dodger set way back in the late '70s turned out to be nothing but a lie. OK, I never proclaimed it to anyone. But it still tore me up.
What I think about this card now: I'm not crazy about the picture. Marshall is surrounded by manager Walter Alston, catcher Steve Yeager and shortstop Bill Russell. Something bad appears to be going down.
Other stuff: Pitching in 106 games a season is amazing, especially with the way relievers were used in the '70s. But I'm kind of surprised that the record is still standing. Now that relievers barely pitch an inning, you'd think someone would have no problem throwing in that many games. But the closest anyone has gotten is Mike Fetters with 97 in 2002.
Back facts: Not only did Marshall set records for game appearances and innings pitched in relief, but he appeared in 13 straight games and closed 84 games. All of those records are still intact. Here is Dr. Marshall's web site. There is a lot to absorb there. If you know the history of Mike Marshall, you know he has many, many thoughts on pitching.
Other blog stuff: I officially have the first 110 cards of the set scanned. Working hard, people. ... OK, back to scanning.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
What I thought about this card then: Again, one of my brothers had this card. I'm not sure which one. We didn't have an inkling of who Ryan was. We did think "Angels" was a meek name for a baseball team. We were glad our favorite teams weren't called the "Angels," but named after more masculine themes, like colorful birds, and socks, and people who didn't want to be run over by trolleys.
What I think about this card now: I believe this is the first time that Ryan is pictured on a card in which the photographer shot him from underneath, so that Ryan appears bigger than he is. But it certainly wouldn't be the last time. Ryan may have been the subject of more "hero shots" than any other player. The guy was practically a god by the end of his career.
Other stuff: The signature on this card is much larger and has much more of a flourish than on Ryan's regular card. Just thought you should know.
I looked up the game. A whopping 7,727 people came out to County Stadium to watch Nolan Ryan that day. Ryan struck out nine. Batters, not spectators.
Other blog stuff: The No. 1 song on this date in 1975 was "Bad Blood," by Neil Sedaka. That's the kind of nonsense you'll be subjected to when I don't have any new blog stuff to relate.
Monday, October 19, 2009
But maybe it's best he retired when he did. The 1975 Tigers team was atrocious.
What I thought about this card then: OK, we finally have a card that I saw a lot of as a kid. My brother had this card. I remember thinking how old this dude Kaline looked. Kaline was probably just shy of 40 when the photo was taken, but to a 9-year-old, that's pretty damn old. Also, I thought he had an old person's teeth. I remember that vividly. Poor Kaline. All throughout his career, he was considered the boy wonder -- making the major leagues at 18 years old -- and the only thing some dufus boy in upstate New York thought was that Kaline was an ancient dude with bad teeth.
What I think about this card now: What a young-looking fellow that Kaline is! He has such a nice smile.
Other stuff: The guy was known as "Six" throughout his career. Couldn't Topps have given him the No. 6 for his last card? I guess only the great and powerful Mantle deserves that treatment.
Back facts: It's pretty cool that one of Baltimore's most famous native athletes recorded his 3,000th career hit in Baltimore.
Other blog stuff: I upgraded several 1975 Topps cards at the card show this weekend. So that's about 15 or 20 fewer scruffy cards you have to view!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Card fact: Bob Gibson is the third player featured here who has two cards in the set. I can't say that about the subject of the next post.
What I thought about this card then: Never saw it. Gibson was one of those players who retired immediately before I started paying attention to baseball. I'm sure I didn't know who he was until I was a teenager.
What I think about this card now: Gibson is one of my favorite pitchers of all-time. I wrote about him once before here. He is everything that I want a pitcher to be. As for the photo, it's OK. I do like it when pitchers color coordinate their gloves.
Other stuff: We continue with the mind-blowing achievements. Three thousand strikeouts may not seem a terribly big deal now, but back then Gibson was just the SECOND player to ever reach 3,000 strikeouts. And the first person since Walter Johnson retired almost 50 years prior.
These days, we're debating whether someone with 3,000 strikeouts -- Curt Schilling -- deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Schilling has exactly one less career strikeout than Gibson.
Back facts: For the first time, no errors to be found. Cesar Geronimo was the 3,000th strikeout victim of both Gibson and Nolan Ryan. Take that, Big Red Machine.
Other blog stuff: Nothing new today. I'm kicking around something to do with the cartoons on the back -- maybe a list of my favorites.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
What I thought of this card then: Unfortunately -- and this will come up again and again -- I never saw this card when I was buying packs in 1975. Lou Brock was just one of those names floating in the ether. I had a vague sense he was a big deal, but I didn't realize how big until I read this book:
Brock always had trouble stealing successfully against Grote. Then, one day when the two teams played each other, as the story said, "things changed":
"Grote walked past me before a game, and I said hello to him," Brock recalls. "He either didn't hear me or was ignoring me so I said hello a second time. Again he didn't answer. So I screamed at him, 'Hello Grote!' That seemed to bother him, and he was still upset about it when I came to bat. So when I got on I began screaming again. 'Grote! Grote! Grote!' He wanted me to go, of course. So I went. And I finally beat him. Since that day I've run at about a ninety-percent efficiency against him."
What I think of this card now: Well, other than it's a very static shot for a card that honors the new single-season stolen base king, I noticed one thing for the first time.
I began to think about how there was two epic events during the '74 baseball season by Aaron and Brock, and then I thought about how Topps very rarely issued cards commemorating moments from the past season, unless it was the postseason. In fact, I can't think of a single year prior to 1975 in which there was more than one card honoring the past season's events, aside from World Series cards.
That interested me, because when I first started collecting, "highlight" and "record breaker" subsets were a fact of life. They would appear in every set every year during my formative collecting days. And then it occurred to me: Aaron and Brock triggered that trend. Topps looked at those two giant moments and thought, "We HAVE to recognize it in the card set next year." And they came up with a 7-card "Highlights" set. And that trend continued for years after that.
Other stuff: Hell, I've prattled on long enough. There is no other stuff.
Topps follows the newspaper headline rules on this card, but it commits another gaffe. Actually, it's more misleading than an outright mistake. The date mentioned is Sept. 29, 1974. That is the date that Brock stole his last base of the 1974 season, his 118th base of the year. But the write-up mentions him stealing bases 104 and 105 in Busch Stadium, which happened on September 10. So you've got a dateline of Chicago, Ill., followed by a write-up that says Brock set a record "in Busch Stadium tonight." Huh? Did they move Busch Stadium to Chicago?
Yeah, I'm an editor. Deal with it.
Other blog stuff: I've decided I will show some of the '75 mini cards I have, but not all of them. Scanning the fronts and backs of 660 cards is enough, and the minis look just like the regular cards except for one small difference (heh). But don't worry, you'll see some of them.
Friday, October 16, 2009
And we're off!
Card fact: For the third straight year, Hank Aaron appeared on the first card of the Topps set. Aaron would do it again in the 1976 set, and is the only player to appear on the first card four straight years for Topps.
What I thought about this card then: As a 9-year-old, I had a vague idea of who Hank Aaron was. He was only the biggest sports star of the time. And I knew he held the all-time home run mark. But that was about it. I never had this card as a kid and neither did any of my brothers. But I do remember seeing it somewhere. One of my friends must have had it.
What I think about this card now: Well, the first thing I notice is the All-Star star on a subset card. That is very odd to someone who only knew the stars to appear on cards that were framed in yellow and red. Also, Aaron was traded to the Brewers the November before the cards were issued, so Hank's not wearing the correct uni.
Other stuff: I love the "highlights" font. Diamonds for the apostrophe and dots on the "I"s! Can you dig it? And purple on an orange background? Out of sight!
Back facts: Since this is the first back shown on the blog, I'll point out the Christmas colors that dominate the '75 backs. All of the Highlight cards feature the newspaper-like design. Some of the headlines stick to traditional newspaper rules. Others, like this one, don't. In real newspaper land, if you ended the top line of a headline with an adjective, you'd get a nastygram the next day.
Also, there is a big-time flub in the copy. According to the write-up, Babe Ruth set the career home run mark in 1945 -- or, 10 years after he retired. It should have read, "39 years."
Other blog stuff: I've settled on a few things that I will showcase in this blog. There may be some other features, but, like I said, I'm doing this on the fly, so I don't know what those features are yet. This is what I do know I will be featuring:
a) Define the design, 1975 style: You know how I like to find a name for card designs. 1975 is fantastic for this, since there are more than a dozen different color combinations. I'm going to come up with a name for each of the color combinations. I welcome any suggestions, and I plan on refining the names as the blog goes along. Also, you may have noticed the banner color changed with the color of the featured card. Yeah, I plan to continue to do that.
b) 1975 originals: The main reason why I love this set is it's the first one I collected. And I still have the cards I collected as a kid. So, when I get to one of those cards I pulled as a kid, I will show the upgraded card and the beat-up card. And we can all make fun of it together.
c) The "Dude looks like a lady" count: I know that's an '80s reference, but it works for this feature. There are a bunch of long-haired dudes in this set. And, as kids, we thought they were borderline women. So, anytime I come across one of those DLLALs, I will add it to the counter. And we'll see what we have at the end!
That's all I've got for now. Hope you enjoy!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
This is my new blog. It is a tribute to the Muhammad Ali of card sets, the G.O.A.T. of card sets, the 1975 Topps series.
I love the '75 set for its over-the-top color, its uniqueness, its ability to stand out against all other sets. But mostly, I love it because it is the first set I ever collected. Those were great times to be a 9-year-old boy.
But you know all that. I've babbled about it enough on Night Owl Cards. So much so, even, that I've finally carried out on my threat to start a blog devoted to just the 1975 set.
Now, I don't have much of an idea of how this blog is going to work other than that I will be featuring each card of the set in order from No. 1 to No. 660. But unlike some very fine blogs devoted to a single card set, I will not be doing a lot of research for each of these posts. That is because: first of all, several blogs, like the Project Baseball 1976 blog and the 1980 Topps blog, cover many of the same players that are in the '75 set, so I don't want to repeat their fine work.
Secondly, I don't have the time to do that. So, mostly, this will be nostalgic musing about each card. I hope that you will muse along in the comments. This is meant to be a trip back in time, even though I admit I don't remember a whole lot about it. I was only 9 after all!
As for the look of the blog, the '75 set is the inspiration, particularly the Oscar Gamble card that you see at the very top. So that's what you can blame for all the wild colors. I promise you my home does not look like this.
The site is still a bit under construction (including additions to the blog roll -- I ran out of time!). Feel free to lend any advice. I'll be winging this whole thing as I go anyway, and I probably won't be posting on a daily basis. But I hope you enjoy. Especially you kids out there who didn't catch the set the first time.
Keep on truckin'