Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Looking at::1971 Topps Baseball

Looking back at what might be my favorite card set ever in the 1971 Topps set.
I did not buy baseball cards in 1971, I was yet to turn three years old when the set began to dribble out, but I did begin to buy cards in 1972 and hit the local country store hard in 1973.

However, the set I coveted most was the black-bordered 1971 set.
Filled with players in different uniforms than I was seeing them play in such as Joe Morgan, Dick Allen, Frank Robinson, etc and the sharp design yet aged look made it my card hero immediately.

I had few cards of the set until 1978.
In 1978, there just were no card shows around Hagerstown, so anything other than the current set of Topps or trading with someone that had older stuff was the only opportunity to get anything else (more on this in a future post).

But in the Summer of 1978, an older boy down the road was selling his collection at a yard sale and it was filled with 1971 Topps!

Yard Sales in our rural area were located on a road noted for splattering bicycles, and anything else in its way, but they were a big thing for a kid, especially when someone was selling toys or especially baseball cards and when I found out, I spent about every nickel that I had and begged for as much money as I could scrounge up to buy more.
I did not get them all, only so much money and only so much that I was going to weasel out of my mom, aunt, grandmother, the beat went on...
But I bought what I could and they never went anywhere.
I still have them and they are the beginning foundation of my latest project.
I grabbed as many of the top stars as I could such as Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Juan Marichal, Steve Garvey (rookie), and as many Pirates and Senators as I could.

Remember it was in the winter of 78/79 that I became an Indians fan and I was a Texas Rangers fan at the time, yet there were no Texas Rangers in the set as the 1971 set was the final one with the Washington Senators in the set.
Even though there were no stars of the Senators and my favorite Ranger Toby Harrah would not make his card debut until 1972, there was still the Ted Williams manager card to find and it was still neat to have as many cards of defunct teams as I could.
I used the same philosophy to buy commons from the 1970 set with the Seattle Pilots and the only set to show players in the Pilot uniforms.

1971 was the first Topps set that used the regular player cards with action shots for the first time as well.
Past sets used action shots for "In Action" cards or post-season cards and used the standard poses for the individual cards.
The Chris Short card to the right is a personal favorite as the card was from Connie Mack Stadium (which was no longer used in 1971), Pete Rose leading off second base in the background, and the ALPO dog food ad on the left field wall.

The 1971 set has its pros and cons.
The Black borders are what makes the cards look so sharp, while the black borders are also what makes the cards so hard to find in mint condition.
Adding to the issues with the borders are that many people crop cards to make them look mint or use a black felt tip pen to fill in any border issues.
The cards do look better, but they still are not mint!
The popularity of the set also allows the worth and the cost of the set to increase, especially if the cards are the higher numbers from the high number series.
The set was released in seven different series and as always the final two are the ones in the highest demand as there are far fewer of them in existence.
The high-number series were usually released in the later part of the season and between the waning end of summer and the beginning of football season so there are far fewer of the cards from those releases than from the earlier series.
The set consists of 752 cards with number 524 (Mickey Stanley of the Tigers) being the first card of the sixth series.

The 1971 set has always been a holy grail of mine for my collection and as much as I doubt that I will ever finish the set or get the higher-priced cards in great condition.
However, an event in my collecting life changed my priorities a bit and I decided to give building the 71 set a go.
After I was able to finish the 1976 Topps set (my second favorite set from my childhood, I began the process of attempting to complete the set.
I am not wagering that I will ever get this finished, but it should be fun to give things a try.

The 1971 Topps set is the bridge of the sets of the old to the new as they featured more of the 1960s uniforms just before the onset of Astroturf, Multi-colored Polyester uniforms and cookie-cutter stadiums as will be seen if you look at the 1972 set inspired by the Peter Max pop art style of the time.
The player's looks change drastically from the 1971 set to the 72 and 73 sets as long hair and mustaches become so much more prevalent in those sets than in the 71 edition.

Wish me luck as I work on the 1971 set and I'll be taking additions to the set as donations!
Ha Ha.

I would like to thank Mike Oravec for his help with the 1971 set with many additions to the set that I never possessed, including the pictured Roberto Clemente card at the top of the page.
Mike's help has made my task easier than it could have been with a large leap towards completion....

Sorry that this took so long to post, but I wanted to wait until a slow day to put this up.

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