Feb 15, 2009

1973 Topps Baseball Cards- An Amusing Closer Look Into the Set

As a huge baseball card fan I have always admired the whole scene living on a baseball card. To me they are like a true work of art, an image caught in time forever secured in a plastic case. All the details from the players expressions, the uniform colors, to the back drop, the stadium, the fans, team mates & what ever else might be visible in the photo. Lets take a closer look at some great ones from one of my all time favourite sets the 1973 Topps. Dont you just love the little icons for the players positions?

Topps baseball cards didn't start using action shots until 1971. By 1972 they had those special Red "In Action" cards & in 1973 they again issued random action cards in the regular set. Many of the action shots in the set were landscaped photos, where you had to turn the card sideways to view the whole picture.


1973 Topps #360- Joe Rudi: This card is a classic case of mistaken identity. The player pictured is NOT Joe Rudi but of fellow moustached team mate Gene Tenace. Tenace has just hit one of his 5 regular season HRs of 1972. He would go on to World Series fame as the hero of the 1972 Fall Classic vs. Cinncinati belting 4 HRs in that Series alone.
It's a Sunday afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum because the A's only wore their home whites on Sundays. There's a big crowd on hand for a game vs. the California Angels. Notice the cap of the catcher behind the three A's.
The A's used 47 different players in 1972 & the two players congratulating Tenace are obscure themselves. Bill Voss (left) was a journeyman outfielder acquired from the Brewers. He played some right field from June to August of 1972. The other player patting Geno on the butt, is the on deck batter, utility infielder Orlando Martinez. He was soon traded to the Rangers for Don Mincher.

Where the hell is Joe Rudi?? Pictured or not- Rudi was one of the best defensive players in the AL throughout the 1970's. He won 3 Gold Gloves & made 3 All Star teams. He made a game saving catch in the 1972 World Series, that's still considered one of the best ever. Rudi batted over .290 & drove in over 75 runs three times. He also hit a game winning HR in Game #5 of the 1974 World Series to clinch the A's 3rd straight title.
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1973 Topps #420- Tommie Agee: This is another great landscaped action card. It's also unique for its touch up air brush paint job. Back in the early seventies Topps would air brush a new color, or sometimes a logo over a players picture. They would match his new teams colors if the player was traded in the off season & no other photos were available.

This picture was taken on a beautiful sunny afternoon game at Shea Stadium during the 1972 season. Notice the green fence with the 371 numbers on it. The caps, sox & sleeves of the players were air brushed Houston Astro reddish/orange. The players pictured on the card are second baseman Ken Boswell back peddling and moving out of the way, as Agee comes in to catch a shallow fly ball. The right fielder jogging in to back up the play is Rusty Staub. 1972 was the only season the three players were Mets teammates. Agee was traded on November 27, 1972 to Houston for Rich Chiles & Buddy Harris.
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1973 Topps # 550 -Dave Johnson: Another landscaped action, air brush Topps classic. Johnson's uniform has been colored bright early seventies Atlanta Brave blue. Complete with the logo on the sleeve. Davey is stepping on a player who has just slid into second base. The game is being played on a sunny afternoon at the old Yankee Stadium. The old rightfield scoreboard is visible behind the umpire, and if you look real close you can see the teams (Balt & NY) blacked out on the right side of Johnson.

The player being stepped on is the most Famous of the Alou brothers, #24 Felipe. Felipe spent parts of three seasons with the Yankees from 1971-1973. 1972 was his only full season, hitting .278 with one stolen base. Could this have been that one steal? Felipe had a good career batting .286 life time and then going on to become the winningest manager in Montreal Expo history. At the time of this photo his little son Moises was six years old.

Dave Johnson was second baseman of the mighty Orioles Dynasty teams until the end of the 1972 season. That winter he was traded along with Johnny Oates & Pat Dobson to Atlanta for Rookie of the Year catcher Earl Williams. Johnson would have his best offensive year in 1973 hittting 43 HRs and joining Hank Aaron & Darrell Evans as the first three team mates to hit 40 or more HRs.
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1973 Topps #542- Pat Corrales: Poor Pat Coarrales is pictured getting leveled at the plate in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. To add insult to injury its by non other than the Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins. Coarrles is shouting in pain but has held on to the ball in his right hand, as the ump is ready to call out Jenkins.


On top of everything Coarrles in doning the bright yellow San Diego road uniform of the early seventies. Padres owner Ray Kroc (also owner of the McDonald's franchise) possibly had cheeseburgers on his mind when he designed these babies! At least you could see the players clearly at night games. This would be Coarrales last player card as his career ended in San Diego after the 1973 season.

Pat's baseball career started in 1964 as a catcher. He was Johnny Bench's back up from 1968-1972 with the Reds. He ended his carrer with a .216 average. After his playing days he managed the Rangers, Phillies & Indians from 1978 to 1988. He then was a bench coach in Atlanta & Washington up until last season.
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1973 Topps #236- Tito Fuentes: In this photo Tito has just taken out Astros second baseman Tommy Helms, as short stop Roger Metzger comes running over to survey the scene. Cesar Cedeno is also seen jogging in from center field. The game takes place on a sunny afternoon at Candelstick Park. Many cards were photographed at the Stick & across the Bay at Oakland's Coliseum in those days. Probably because it was a two team market, just like New York.

The Cuban born Fuentes led all 2nd baseman with a recod .993 fielding % in 1973 after leading the league in errors the two seasons prior. He was traded to San Diego in 1974 for Derrell Thomas. Three years later he landed in Detroit batting .309 but was let go due to the arrival of Lou Whitaker.


Tommy Helms was the 1966 Rookie of the Year. Famous for big side burns, being Wes Helm's uncle and a two time All Star & Gold Glover. He was involved in a huge trade that completed the Big Red Machine. On November 29, 1971: the Reds traded Helms along with Lee May and Jimmy Stewart to the Houston Astros for Joe Morgan, Denis Menke, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo, and Ed Armbrister.
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1973 Topps #45- Ellie Rodriguez: Ellie gets jipped here because the main object of this photo is the umps big butt! What was Topps thinking? You gotta love the old puffy chest pad the ump is holding. Theres alot of confusion on the play as Ellie is ready to fire the ball some where, even though most of his team mates are next to him. My guess is that to the left of Ellie is future Met reliever Skip Lockwood & in front of him is "The Boomer" George Scott. It does't matter because according to the huge sign beyond the fence, "It's Miller Time" and the packed bleachers agree.


Ellie was a two time All Star that didn't get to play in either game. He was an original Royal,& the main Brewers catcher (1971-1973) until Darrel Porter arrived. He then was traded to the Angels where he caught Nolan Ryans 4th no hitter in 1974.
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1973 Topps #35 Willie Davis: Another crazy idea for a card was this Willie Davis photo. Wille looks like he was either just beaned or thrown out at close enough to having his head torn off. It's a dangerous situation because his helmet has flown off his head too. The catcher is Phillies Tim McCarver and he is turned sideways. Either the ball is no where near him or it's possible that he caught the ball to the right of his body. The Dodger faithful look like they too are concerned on a beautiful Los Angeles afternoon.

Davis replaced Duke Snider as the Dodger centerfielder in 1961 and stayed for over a decade. He won 3 gold gloves, led the league in triples twice, & stole over 20 bases 13 times. He hit over .285 ten times in his 20 year career, including 4 times over .300. He ended his career 7th all time in put outs & chances, also 3rd in games played in center field. He still holds the L.A. Dodger record for career hits (2091), runs (1004), triples (110), at bats (7495), total bases (3094) and extra base hits (585). His 31-game hitting streak in 1969 remains the longest by a Dodger.
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Speaking of Tim Mcarver he sure made some cameos in the 1973 set. Besides his own card & the Willie Davis card he is pictured on two Hall of Famer cards: Topps #300 -Steve Carlton to whom he was "Lefty's" personal catcher & Topps #175 -Frank Robinson. Tim is behind the plate as Robinson rips one at Doder Stadium. Notice how Topps whited out the Dodgers logo on Robby's uniform?
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There are approxiamtley 75 cards photographed at Shea Stadium in the 1973 set. Some show the stands,dug out, the outfield or the score board behind the player.Here's a few examples.
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Here are two great cards with Mets players making cameo appearances:

Topps #50-Roberto Clemente: This was Clemente's last card issued. It was released in his honor after the 1972 New Years Eve plane crash that took his life. Clemente is shown at bat with Mets catcher Jerry Grote behind the plate ready to catch the pitch. The umpire is also on top of the action. I cant tell where this photo is taken. The green wall in the outfield looks to high to be at Shea. I assume the Mets are home because Grote is in his Met whites. Possibly a spring training game? Notice how Grote was still only wearing a cap under his mask, it wasn't mandatory for catchers to wear helmets yet. And put that hand dpwn Jerry before you get hurt!
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Topps #574 Bob Didier: In this landscaped action photo, time definatley stands still as everyone awaits the umpires call at home plate. Mets outfielder Cleon Jones #21 has just slid into home plate in a cloud of dust, and still has his leg resting on Dider's shoulder. Dider has shed the mask and seems confident as he looks at the umpire. The game is at Shea as Cleon is in Mets home whites. There are still no names on the back of the Mets uniforms & notice the Mets logo on the left sleeve. On deck is a Mets catcher (either Jerry Grote or Duffey Dyer) wearing the shin guards, also awaiting the call.

Didier was a good catching prospect who's career was ruined by injuries. He was 4th in the 1969 Rookie of the Year voting and led Atlanta to their 1st NL West title, losing to the Mets in the playoffs.
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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great look back at the 1973 set, my favorite Topps offering. I love the odd cards - Didier, Corrales, etc, but you missed one! The "Wes Parker Memorial Card", # 213, as Steve Garvey calls it (It was Garvey's card)

EricLoy said...

Here is the game for the Corrales card: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN197206140.shtml.

The play happens in the second inning.

Also notice that Didier is wearing the black-and-white Braves uni, not the blue multi-colored one!

Anonymous said...

Felipe Alou's one steal in 1972 was against the White Sox: http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1972/B06130NYA1972.htm