Topps Baseball Cards: Then & Now

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Topps (then) 1975

Topps (then) 1975…

SOCHI, RUSSIA – Forget the great hockey yesterday… for even before pitchers and catchers reported to the snow-less climes of Florida and Arizona – as they did this past week – there is something else more important to us and grade school kids everywhere; Topps Baseball Cards. The 3 1/2 by 2 1/2 inch rectangles signaled the coming of warmer weather and more importantly, the opening of a new baseball season for Major Leaguers and Little Leaguers. Kids, these aren’t your daddy’s trading cards… as I’ll compare then (circa 1970′s) and now.

Topps (now) 2014

… Topps (now) 2014

When I used to buy these trading cards at Bill’s Friendly Spot (not to confused with Cookie’s front yard G-Spot) or Woolworth’s, there were three options for kids with money in their pockets.  The most popular option was the wax pack that set you back .10 to .20 cents (10-15 cards per) during the era and came with a stick of gum (hence the name bubble gum cards) often producing sugar-stained card backs or impending cavities depending on the amount of cards purchased every year.  There were clear “cello” packs around .25 cents with about double the amount of cards than the wax packs and “rack packs”–another clear package with three windows and the benefit of seeing the top and bottom cards. All packaging was non-descript and with little, if any, print on the wrappers.

Mouth by Topps

Mouth by Topps

Friday, I purchased the only affordable option on my MTM salary and used all but two pennies of the petty cash account limit.  There were no single packs for sale at Wal-Mart so I opted for what the Mike Trout likeness promotes as a Jumbo Pack of 36 cards.  No inserts other than the gum in my childhood which today is now missing probably because of heat from mothers and the American Dental Association.  The back wrapper is filled with fine print of insert probabilities, trademark and copyright scribble, twitter and facebook symbols, and get this, a frickin’ customer service email address and phone number!  HUH?

Medlen's pre-game meal

Medlen’s pre-game meal

It Used to be where only the face of each card was glossy with an unfinished cardboard backing with the players stats and an uninspired factoid like “Jim enjoys crossword puzzles”.  Today’s trading card also has a glossy back with some imaginative blurbs such as the first card out of the pack, the hefty San Fran 3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval, “…was a judge in the 2012 Miss Universe pageant.  He was looking pretty good himself after breaking a slump by losing 22 excess pounds inmidseason and eating pitchers for lunch the rest of the year”.  Or how about this one on pitcher Kris Medlen of the Atlanta Braves– “treats himself to a peanut butter and honey sandwich thirty minutes before each start”.

There’s no such crummy checklists of my youth in these cards.  Each of the two checklists in my pack are disguised as a regular card with a highlight (Mariano Rivera and Miguel Cabrera) of the previous baseball season on the front and the card list on the back.  Cards feature player’s photos during in-game action in difference to the posed shots of yore.  And you can still flip and play “colors” courtesy of the players team’s two uniform colors that subtly border each card.

Today’s post brought back memories for me. What are some of your baseball card-related remembrances?

Come back tomorrow for a guy that will pancake you on the football field, DJ Eberle.

P.s… As per butch gorings nostrils, here’s a little hockey, added by the MTM Sunday Morning Tech Staff:

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About the Author ()

A man amongst men. Cheesy Bruin kicked cancer to the curb - twice. The Cheese Man's a big, tough teddy-bear who survived the Bronx despite being an unabashed Boston Bruins fan and Sargent-At-Arms for Angry Ward's Urban Spur Posse. Nuff said. Doctors have taken most of this throat and had to make him a new tongue from thigh-meat (his own) and still he won't shut up about the Bruins, Cowboys, Pirates and Cleveland Cavaliers. And yes, his kids do love him.
  • butch gorings nostrils

    Nothing on the hockey yesterday? The best game in years! Come on guys!!!

    • Puck Face

      That was electric. The kid Oshie going over and over against the great Russians was tremendous. But Quick has to get as much of the credit, if not more. The Russians were all over 40% in scoring in shootouts.

      • http://meetthematts.com/ Meet The Matts

        One of the best games to watch in a long, long time… Had all the grit and passion of a medal game.

  • Big Fat Toad

    I’d trade my Topps collection to see that Lori chick take hers off!

    • AngryWard

      I’ll throw in mine as well.

      • Cheesybruin

        I’d like to flip her. I’m heads and she’s tails.

        • http://meetthematts.com/ Meet The Matts

          We categorically and unequivocally deny anything to do with this thread!

  • AngryWard

    Too many baseball card memories to post here. I can recall my mom and Grote’s mom going down to Patty’s Market (think Irish-owned bodega) and yelling at Patty to stop selling us cards. This is probably because we were stealing our mom’s blind to get them. Barring that, one of us would distract Patty and steal him blind. Favorite cards? Oscar Gamble Traded card, of course. The Bump Wills error card was a good one. There was a George “Boomer” Scott card where he’s wearing some sort of cool voodoo-lookin’ necklace.

    • Cheesybruin

      I remember the Scott card. I think he was with the Brewers at the time. My favorite card was a Pat Corrales getting wiped out at home plate…

      • http://meetthematts.com/ Meet The Matts

        George C. Scott had a baseball card?

      • jgclancy

        click

        • AngryWard

          That’s a good one but I was thinking of this one…

          • jgclancy

            Or this eerily similar one?

    • http://meetthematts.com/ Meet The Matts

      So, baseball [cards] brought out the “juvenile delinquent” in you boys. You’re no different than the guy (Ruben Rivera) that stole Jeter’s glove… And getting back to hockey, Oshie sounds like Yoshi – a card we happen to have.

    • FakeSandyAlderson

      In Queens we would Flip and trade cards all day. If you had “doubles” you wld swap with a buddy. Also recall vividly sticking baseball cards in the spokes of my Schwinn to produce the coolest clicking noise when you pedaled. I also recall putting the cards in the spokes of my bicycle.

      • Cheesybruin

        The “dubs” had to be of equal value like a Major League trade, though. I am correct on this aren’t I, FSA? Speaking of which, when’s the last significant trade you made for the Mets?

    • Grote2Dmax

      That led to a month long grounding for me after the Patty’s fiasco.

      • AngryWard

        It was worth it. And, c’mon, the two of us combined couldn’t keep up with the one-man baseball card crime wave that was Joe Murphy. To this day I am convinced that he put Woolworth’s out of business.

  • DJ Eberle

    I remember when I was a kid the number of baseball cards I collected. I even have Derek Jeter’s rookie card! Good times…

    • Cheesybruin

      Get that card signed, DJ.

      • jgclancy

        Not if it’s a mint rookie….autographing a mint rookie lowers the value.

        • Grote2Dmax

          I’m glad to see you are now represented by the image of “the one beer to have when you’re having more than one.”

          • jgclancy

            Unseen next to it is the Rheingold can too! I actually prefer the Champagne of Beers–Miller High Life!

  • Grote2Dmax

    Cheese that was a nice read and am amazed that I never kept any of my cards that turned into collector’s items. I’m sure I had George Brett rookie cards in triplicate. Yesterday’s hockey game was great though and we are on a collision course with Canada in the semis. I like the USA squad but Quick looked a bit shaky against Russia.

    • AngryWard

      I never understood why Rheingold was known as the “extra dry” beer until they brought it back to Shea for old time’s sake many years back. I ordered up a can and it was so dry it sucked all the saliva out of my mouth. Like drinking a bag of salted peanuts. No sir, I’ll stick with Schaefer.

      • jgclancy

        And it didn’t have that Scheafer smell, either! No beer does.

  • Junoir Blaber

    My mom really did throw away my cards

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