Best Player to retire in 1974. Al Kaline (Hall of Famer)
Did he have a 1975 card? No and Yes.
Like Mays and Koufax from previous posts, Kaline was featured on a subset card but not a regular card in 1975 Topps. He was given card #4 for notching his 3,000th hit in the 1974 season, but no card showing his career total of 399 homers and 3,007 hits.
You could also argue that Kaline had a legitimate final card in a different set – but that depends what you call legitimate. SSPC challenged the Topps monopoly in 1975 and 1976, issuing a few different card sets. 1976 was the biggest set, but Kaline was featured in the smaller 1975 SSPC set. The card describes him hanging up his cleats, and shows his final career statistics.
Was a “retro” card ever produced? Yes – another somewhat inadvertent one. Topps included Kaline in their 2011 Lineage set as card #85, and they did a 1975 mini parallel version for that set. So Kaline got his regular 1975 Topps card design. However, the Lineage set doesn’t have statistical backs, so this card feels a little incomplete!
Apologies to: Ron Santo (Hall of Famer), who is probably the second best player to retire after the 1974 season. He did have a regular 1975 card, however – showing him in his one season with the White Sox (see above). Orlando Cepeda also retired that year, though his only card in 1975 Topps was an MVP subset.