Thursday, April 17, 2008

1973 Topps

Okay, I seriously love this set. No lie. It's probably in my all-time top ten baseball sets.

That out of the way, I must ask "What on earth was Topps doing?!"

Look at these cards!

Yeah, the design is classic and the player selection is pretty awesome. No, I'm asking you to actually LOOK at these cards. Specifically the photos. Ever wonder why most Topps cards from this era feature posed and non-action shots? Apparently it's because when they asked their photographers to get them some hot, in-game action this is what the shutterbugs came back with:

Really? That's the best shot of Mike Epstein they were able to find? Was the zoom lens not yet invented in 1973?

Ah '73 Topps. It's as if they forgot they had to put out a baseball card set that year and at the last minute quickly scrambled for any and all in-game baseball photos, identified someone in said photo and sent them off to the printers, making it home just in time to catch the new episode of M*A*S*H.

Really, with no serious competition in those days, it's not that big of a stretch to think that Topps might have put things off until the last minute.

This might seem like I'm being overly harsh with our 35 year old pal '73 Topps, but really these crap-tacular photos are the biggest why I love this set so much.

Here are some of my favorites:

Maybe Steve can help us out here. Did the White Sox actually play some games at Arnie Jipflack's Discount Oldsmobile in 1972? And just which one of these guys is supposed to be Alvarado? If I had to guess based on their position on the field, I'd guess the guy on the left. You know, the guy whose face is turned completely away from the camera. Maybe all the exhaust fumes got to the photographer that day.

Photographer: "Okay, here. You can use this picture for the card of Tommie Agee."
Topps Guy: "Great. Looks good. Just needs a little cropping."
Photographer: "Uhhh.... yeah. I, I wouldn't do that."
Topps Guy: "Why not?"
Photographer: "Well, do you know which one of these guys is actually Agee?"
Topps Guy: "Good point. Better leave the umpire and those two other guys on there too, just in case."

Seriously, this looks like a picture some six year old kid would take from the stands using his mother's Kodak Instamatic while attending his first baseball game ever.

"Honey, that'll never turn out. You didn't have the flash on..."

I've loved this card ever since I first read about it in a Baseball Cards Magazine article that described it as Pat Corrales either doing his impression of Yertle The Turtle or throwing a temper tantrum.

Given the track record of this set, you really have to wonder how this one didn't end up being the photo on Wes Parker's card.

There's a bunch more cards that would have also been worth showing. For all its flaws, you can't say '73 Topps isn't fun to look at.


Steve Gierman said...

Great first post! That's Alvarado catching the ball waaaaaay in the back there. I have no clue who 38 would be. No one wore that number for the Sox in 1973. The player to wear that number in 1972 was Phil Regan and that's definitely not him and it's not Jim Otten from 1974's team! 38 must be someone who was cut in Spring Training.

capewood said...

Hi, Rich, welcome to the team. I'm not that familiar with the 1973 set, I think all I have from then is Phillies cards. I'll have to pull them out and take a look at them.

Dinged Corners said...

Terrific bizarro-world action shots. Now you're making us want the 1973 set.

Anonymous said...

Classic! I don't collect baseball cards but I came across your blog and thought it was cool.

I always remembered the 1992 Classic football card of Wayne Hawkins with trees in the background - - but yeah, 1973 Topps Baseball takes the cake for photography!

T-_Bone said...

These cards have so much more character than the crap they produce today. I cannot stand these cropped shots that look posed, but are supposed to be action shots. I am surprised they don't have dollar signs on the cards these days.

wideworldofroop said...

73 set is a quirky one for sure. I love finding them in my brother's old case. They're all in good condition but would probably end up in penny collections.

There's still plenty of posed and doctored headshots but the action shots are entertaining.

Real brainiacs at Topps back then, love that Jim Katt card, he's batting! The Pete Rose card is a gratuitous ass shot of "Charlie Hustle" undoubtedly popping up. Cubs pitcher Bob Lockers card is unique because the number had been doctored out. Willie Davis' card looks like it's post beaning. He's taking one for the team. John Ellis' of the Indians has most of his uniform doctored out in an equally appalling photo choice of him arguing with the umpire.

But the Harmon Killebrew card is among the good ones as he readies himself to take a swing. I love Dick Bosman's name and card, as he's coming out of the delivery.

An odd set indeed. If you want to look some up I'm sure you can find the set pics on a few sites.

Witz said...

I can’t believe the Agee card blurb doesn’t mention that he is a Met in that pic. He is airbrushed into an astro uniform, as are his teammates Staub and Boswell (who ironically played for and would later play for the Astros). As for Staub and a dispute he had with Topps, it is his only card in that early 70s era!