Topps Baseball Cards: Then & Now

Topps (then) 1975
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 Cheesy Bruin 491 Articles
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.