Wednesday, April 10, 2024

A 23 year wait...

Opening Day had nothing on today. I have been waiting for this day since I first discovered the Baseball Card product known as "Heritage," the very first year it existed. It took me all of about ten minutes, way back then, to start thinking about today.

That's because, like so many of this day's very happy 50-something Baseball Card collectors, the very first complete pack of Baseball Cards I ever purchased was a pack of 1975 Topps. 

I often wonder that if I had first opened a pack of 1974 Topps, or 1976 Topps, would I love Baseball Cards quite as much? I will never be sure. I just know that 1975 Topps is my favorite set of Baseball Cards and always will be.

The big day started with the appearance of this nifty graphic on -

Coincidence? I think not.

I have never written very much about 1975 Topps, nor can I often spend a few delightful minutes perusing the ever fabulous 1975 Topps blog --- the web creation which first led me to this wonderful world of Baseball Card blogs, for which I am forever grateful.

The reason I can't read or write that much about my favorite set of Baseball Cards is that I'm not sure if I still own my 2/3 complete original collection of 1975 Topps. It might still exist, or it might have been stolen. It's a bit of a long story that I have occasionally "written" in my head, but have never committed it to pixels. If it wasn't stolen, it is in my father's basement, which looks like that shot at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie, where the Ark of the Covenant is wheeled into a random spot in a huge government warehouse.

That warehouse known as my Dad's basement does need to be cleaned out, but it is not a task I can really begin, just yet. If I attempt to move an item from that basement basically way, way over-full of near worthless junk, it sparks an argument - with an ever-so-slowly-spiraling-into-Goodbye dementia patient.

Which is just not something I am going to interject into an already plenty difficult process. The whole situation was of course heavy on my mind today, as it often is, with an extra emphasis on the Schrödinger's-Cat-like status of my beloved 1975 Topps. But I have known all my life that writing about things that wander around in my brain is one of my best ways to get them to slowly stop wandering. So, today is the day to get that started. I will work on the catharsis again later this year and maybe sneak into that basement, finally. There will be cards involved, I promise.

Hopefully, like this one:

Upon entering the Baseball Card store where I am still working away from home, I was quickly at ease when I saw the small stack of 2024 Heritage boxes still available. I was nervous about a potential sellout of these all day long while working, which just dragged and dragged, as I'm sure it did for all 1975 Topps enthusiasts.

I was also happy to discover I had time to shop, so I decided to celebrate this wonderful day  by picking up some original 1975 Topps. Just in case? With the Leflore card, I know I have never owned one before as my family moved to Michigan 2 years after 1975 and I then became a Tigers fan and very familiar with Ron LeFlore. There is quite an intriguing backdrop on that otherwise classic Topps photo location - hopefully this new 1975 process will make it a little easier for me to go to the just exactly perfect place to learn all about that one.

Next I worked on a brand new super slo-mo collecting effort - 

My 2nd 1956. What a great day!

And after a while I was able to remember a player that has a slowly growing stack of $1 box cards somewhere on my ever distant Baseball Card desk:

An impulse purchase all the way; he gets nice cards even on that brand I don't even collect. And it is nice to see the Pirates (a big favorite of 8 year old Base Set) finally have an every day starter in their middle infield.

Then I fell into a big 1975 flashback -

This is a must have 1975 Topps card, of course. I did own one of these when I was a kid and it was a very memorable acquistion - it arrived in the mail, not in a pack. Somehow back then I discovered a pen pal service in some sort of small print b&w ad, probably in the Sporting News. That first pen pal contact sent me a little flip book of people with their addresses and the teams they collected, which you could add to and then send it along to someone else. The little flip book led me to a wonderful pen pal in northern California who was collecting the Giants while divesting the A's; a bit of jealousy there, perhaps. She was a fun pen pal for a while; she sent me a fat envelope of Oakland A's cards, including that Reggie Jackson.

1970s Social Media was so kind and sweet - have long wondered if any card bloggers have memories of those Baseball Card themed circulating flip books?

So, yeah, the Maguffin in my Baseball Card dreams these last 23 years was finally mine:

I did already know the cover "star" - the first change from the original I guess, in that the player on the original box wasn't selected for his star quality but rather the great quality of the photograph used for it. Of course I like the photo recreation as I have loved that image all my life. 

I am just decidedly not a fan of Gerrit Cole. Sure it wasn't his fault he couldn't stay in Pittsburgh, but afterwards he has just never seemed, Nice. I could be wrong. Maybe we could be bros out Steelhead fishing and he would be wonderful company, I dunno. I have just never warmed up to his vibe. And now I have to live with a Yankees cap on my most anticipated box of Baseball Cards in, like, forever, basically. Let's open it up -

sad trombone

Man I hated to see this. Example # I-can't-count-that-high of Topps being 100% completely oblivious to the simplest things about Baseball Card esthetics. I'm referring of course to that stamp. I have long concluded that Topps probably doesn't actually control where the stamps go - some rando at the printing plant does it. One who could obviously care not a whit (nor have any wits) about the 2.5"x3.5" works of Art that I love so much.

And just wait till you see where they put the serial # stamping on the serial #'d cards...something I accidentally saw a few days ago when I wasn't being careful enough about my long-time aversion to seeing Baseball Cards from someone else's packs before I can open mine. After all I was fully aware of what these cards would look like - but once I saw the x/xyz stamp on one, online, I shut down online Baseball Carding until I could finally open this 23 years of Treasure and find my first 1975 Topps Baseball Card, all over again:


This created a reaction that was the complete opposite of what I was thinking about all those years: I reached for an electronic device. Was this going to be a Rookie who never breaks double digits in any baseball stat, like the RC I pulled from Series One who has 0 AB in MLB and now looks unlikely to ever get an official At Bat? After 23 years?

This instant need for an electronic device was because of the back -

Which is both strangely authentic - a wax stain card! Just like in 1975! And completely useless - I can't read this. The photograph improves this tremendously, compared to in-hand. And the entire box of cards is like this. Maybe an upside down picture of the back of the pack illustrates this a little better:

Maybe tomorrow in full sunshine, or, err, after a big 3 day rain blows past us, eventually I might be able to read these card backs. Or maybe my next box of these cards won't be so frustrating in this regard - I watched my regular LCS break a whole case tonight, and from what I could tell the cards in that case weren't this crazy dark. Neither are most of my low # short prints; I can read those OK.

As it turns out, Kyle Harrison is an actual every day Baseball player for the Giants this year - a Starting Pitcher, even. Which is kind of above average for the dizzying blur of RC logo cards that appear in my hands whenever I open a pack of 21st Century Baseball Cards. And he appears to be standing in some authentic San Francisco fog - neat. I will now be noticing his name whenever he appears in MLB, so, pitch long, and prosper, Kyle Harrison. Please.

My next card was a big part of my 1975/2024 dreams - an All-Star card with the correct big fat Star on it. But I am not going to post any more cards from this set, tonight. Later this year I'm sure I will assemble some delightful 9 card detour side collections in this, and all kinds of neat gimcrackery I can bloggle about with you. For now, though, I want you to discover what these cards look like, the old fashioned way - by ripping a pack!

1 comment:

  1. Based on all the love for '87 Topps because that's when everybody on the internet started collecting cards, it wouldn't matter what year you started, but thank goodness it was '75! ... I actually know who Kyle Harrison is. But a lot of those 2024 Heritage rookies belong on a 4-player card. Topps knew what those were last year.