Friday, July 30, 2010

#2 - Hank Aaron Special - '54-'57

In the 1974 Topps set, cards numbered 1 through 6  commemorated Hank Aaron's soon passing of Babe Ruth to become the all time home run king.  Card #1 is Hank's '74 card, while cards #2 through #6 were known as "Hank Aaron Specials."  These extra five cards showed the face of all of Hank's previous Topps cards (with four faces on each card - times five cards.  Hank had 20 previous Topps cards).  Additional information is given on the reverse of each "Special" about Hank's career.

Here is the card showing Topps years 1954-1957.  The first three of these come with two images and a printed autograph.  Look how young he is!  Also notice the error on the 1957 card.  The image is reversed, and shows Hank batting left handed.  I'm sure the "M" on Milwaukee's hat helped out on this one, as "M" is a mirror image of itself.  He's turned inward so the "Braves" across his chest can't be seen, but if you look closely, you can see just the bottom of the reversed numeral "4" in his uniform number "44."  Rookie mistake at Topps.  Hank's list of major league records on the back of this card is impressive.  Because the '54 card is a portrait layout and the '55 and '56 are landscape, it makes it a bit difficult to determine that his photo is the same one on all three cards.  Another curious thing I noticed is that only on the '54 card is he ever named "Henry."  Lastly here, the bottom record on the back shows his then 713 home runs as being the major league record for home runs for the same club.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

#1 - Hank Aaron

Henry Louis Aaron. What can you say? This card shows a 20 year career that is just one home run short of the all time record. 713. It must have been a terrible off-season, waiting all that time to get a shot in April. Hate mail by the truck load, much of it racist, with death threats and all. Move over Babe, here comes Henry.

Topps must have been in a slightly awkward position having to plan and announce their new home run king months in advance. Of course, it happened without too much consternation. They couldn't say what date, though, but did it matter to all the kids out there? I remember watching 714 and 715 on TV and getting caught up in the historical occasion. This card in my collection is a constant reminder.

The photograph of Hank leaves a lot to be desired. His smile is a bit too big, and his hat and uniform logos aren't visible. Maybe they wanted a big smile to go along with the occasion. Five other cards show the entire collection of Topps cards in his career to that date (see upcoming posts). The 1974 is by far the worst. It's been great to see Hank turn out to be such a spokesman - statesman, even - for baseball.

Ballpark background: [Update 09-05-10: I always enjoy trying to figure out the ballpark in the background on a ballcard.  This shot appears to have been taken at the 1973 All-Star game in Kansas City.  Notice the scoreboard just behind Hank's head.]

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Introduction To My 1974 Topps Set

I started collecting baseball cards in 1971 at the age of seven. I collected several dozen, mostly from candy or variety stores. Although I played in an organized baseball league in 1972 when I was eight, it wasn't until 1973 when I was nine that I played for a Little League with good fields, good grounds, and a snack shack that sold baseball cards. We received tickets after each game that could be used at the snack shack for various items. Since I loved baseball cards I used my tickets occasionally to get a pack after the game.

Well, the next year when I was ten, I went full out in collecting cards. I not only got them from the snack shack, but my mom (bless her!) was in charge of supplying bulk candy, etc., as the Women's Auxiliary President, to the Little League snack shack. We hit up the candy store big time. The local candy store had fully stocked shelves of not just ball card packs - but boxes and cases of cards. My personal 1974 Topps set was well underway.

It is my desire to post both fronts and backs of all my cards in the 1974 set, as is done on most other set blogs and websites. I have the vast majority of '74 Topps cards, with maybe a handful remaining to collect. I will post each card and hopefully give some description of the player and card along with each post. Numerical order seems the most natural to me, but if that isn't the case, I'll say so. Anyway, here goes with a blog that encapsulates a wonderful part of my childhood.