About This Set

The 1974 Topps set has some unique facts about it.  It was the first Topps set to not be issued in series.  The '73 set was the last set put out in series.  All 660 cards were issued in one set.  Later in the year, a special "Trades" set was issued to show players who had switched teams, presumably by trade.  All cards in the Trades set have the word "Traded" across the bottom of the picture.  This set was analogous to previous "high series" cards in years gone by.

The Trades set, since it was issued separately from the regular set, is considered by most card experts to NOT be a part of the 1974 Topps set itself.  But, contrary to the experts, I DO consider it to be part of the same set.  I collected them, and they were found in standard wax packs at the end of the year, I put them in the same shoe boxes with the same teams, I played with them just like the other cards, so those are the reasons why.  The Trades cards did not have their own unique numbers, starting with 661.  They used the same card number of the respective player in the regular set and added the letter "T" to the card number.  So, Jim Wynn's standard card number was 43, and his traded card was 43T.  The Trades checklist, unlike the checklist cards in the regular set, didn't have a card number.  The fronts of the Trades cards are a collection of some of the most hideous photograph air brushing in baseball card history.  Almost every card is airbrushed, since Topps had no time to get photographs of players in their new team's uniforms.  Bob Locker's card is difficult to determine whether it was airbrushed or not, and if it was, it was a good job.  The backs of the Trades cards contained no statistics, but were a mock "Baseball News" newspaper story and headline about the player's trade.

Topps also included a cool gimmick in '74: the Team checklist.  Team checklist cards were not part of the numbered set, but were both found in wax packs and purchased separately in sheet form.  You sent money to Topps, they'd send you the checklist sheets, and you'd cut the cards out (carefully) and put them in your set.  The team checklists were un-numbered, and had each player's signature on the front, while the rear of the card contained each team's checklist.  I will be posting each team checklist card immediately after that same team's normal team card (i.e. Baltimore Orioles will have their team checklist card posted after card #16).

Specialty card in this set include: a special layout for Hank Aaron's card #1 announcing him as the new all-time home run king.  Five more cards show all of Hank's previous Topps card faces and give career info for the Hammer.  League leaders from 1973 in various categories.  All-Star cards showing all the starters in the 1973 game, position by position.  Post-season cards highlighting the playoffs, each game of the 1973 World Series and the A's celebration.  Also were non-team specific rookie stars cards.

One of the most interesting aspects of this set is that it was originally created with the idea that the San Diego Padres were going to move to Washington, D.C. for the '74 season.  No team name was created yet, and no uniforms were made.  So, Topps started issuing the Padres cards as "Washington" as the city name, and "Nat'l League" in place of the team name.  When the Padres announced they would remain in San Diego for the 1974 season, Topps altered all Padres cards back to the traditional (all of five years for this expansion team at the time!) San Diego Padres.  The Wash/Nat'l League cards were in the minority, and are more rare, and thus more valuable.  Not all Padres cards were issued with a Washington format.  I'm curious as to why this is, given that this '74 set was not issued in series, but as a whole set.  If anybody can shed some light on that, please let me know!

All in all, the 1974 Topps set is not my favorite set, design wise.  It's just the one I started collecting en masse.  It's the one I remember most.  I find the photography to be of lesser quality than of previous years, and the card design is just so-so.  The dark green backs often make it difficult to read the stats.  But I love the set nonetheless.


  1. Is it true that Ben Oglivie was not included in the 1974 Topps set??

  2. Anon,

    Yes, it's true! He only played 58 games the previous year with the Red Sox, so along with his trade a couple of weeks after the '73 season, I'm guessing Topps decided not to issue a card.

  3. Steve:

    That's interesting. So was Oglivie the only player left out of the 1974 Topps set, that you know of? Has that ever happened before or after?!?!

  4. Paul,

    Thanks for the comment. I know from reading some of the other blogs on their specific years that players have been left out of their year's set more often than one would think. Why this is so is a bit of a mystery, but I seem to remember a friend saying that his parents accidentally left him at a gas station once while on a family trip. :-)

    I'm not aware of any other players left out of the '74 set, and would probably have to compare checklists with some stats lists to determine this.

  5. Nice site. Not my favorite set either, but I'm very fond of it. Many great memories tied to it. I have to disagree about the photography though. I provided an improvement in action shots from previous years. Best Nolan Ryan shot of any year, I can almost feel the power of that fastball about to be fired at me. Also provided my favorite Reggie Jackson card. Dave Kingman's card is one of my favorite cards of my 30k+ collection. It has an artistic quality about it, dark background, abstract faces in stands, Kingman's image as a focal point of the sunlight (though I'm guessing he missed with that swing).

  6. Here's a tough technical and strange question for which I cannot find an answer . . . Is the cut on a 1974 Factory Set any different from the cut found on cards in packs, rack packs, etc. I always examine cards for doctoring, trimming, etc and I have about ten cards that are hard to tell if they have been trimmed or not. Why anyone would want to trim otherwise very clean cards of Chris Arnold, Bill Gogolewski, or Billy Champion, I don't know. Unless they were guinea pigs for the card trimmer.