The regular cards from the Topps Archives set was again broken up into 4 different designs in 50 card allotments based on earlier Topps sets. The first 50 cards are based on the 1973 Topps set.
1973 Topps is a pretty cool design. The set has a white border, with the player and team name down in the left hand corner. The right hand corner has the player’s position and a silhouette that differs based on what the position is. How they do the position is the coolest thing about the design in my mind.
There are 8 players in the 1973 section of Archives who also had 1973 Topps cards. The original card is on the left – the Archives card is to the right.
Carlton was coming off a historic season when he won the pitching triple crown for an atrocious Phillies team. He went 27-10 with 310 strikeouts and a 1.97 ERA. The 27 wins were 46% of his team’s 59 victories that season – which is the most since World War II.
I think the photo is about the right timeframe for 1973 Topps, just a few years off. From his old Topps baseball cards, it looks like he sported the mustache in the 1974 and 1975 seasons.
I do kind of like this one better than his original 1973 Topps card, which is cool in that it features Carlton’s battery mate John Bateman – but has clear shadowing issues.
Carlton’s biggest rival for best pitcher in baseball during this era was Tom Seaver. Seaver’s card looks like it could be spot on as far as getting the year right. Definitely the right era.
I kind of like the original better, though both are good. I also just noticed – Topps gets the pitching side correct with the position silhouette. Seaver’s silhouette is shown as a right-hander, while “Lefty” is shown as a … lefty.
Another very good pitcher from this era was Jim “Catfish” Hunter. Hunter was a feature of a Bob Dylan song – but this was before his trade from Oakland to the Yankees.
It’s crazy how similar this card is – though it’s clearly not the same photo. He doesn’t have the ball in the Archives version, and you can tell he’s posing from a different spot on the field. But everything else is so similar – you can tell it’s the same stadium and probably the same photo shoot. Which means Topps probably got the year exactly right.
Topps didn’t start using the name Catfish until much later in his career.
The theme here seems to be great pitchers. Palmer’s didn’t have quite the longevity as that of Carlton and Seaver, but at his peak he was just as good as them, seemingly winning 20 games every year in the 1970’s.
The picture from the Archives set is a little earlier than his 1973 card. It looks like it’s from either 1969 and 1970, based on the fact that he hadn’t grown the hair out too much, but did have the sideburns going. I kind of like the windup from the actual 1973 Topps card – but this is another good effort from Archives.
Continuing with great pitchers of the era – though Marichal was nearing the end of his career. He was traded from the Giants after the 1973 season, and didn’t have much impact with the Red Sox or the Dodgers in his next stops.
This photo looks about right as well. It may be a little earlier than 1972/1973, but I don’t think by much. It’s definitely from the 1970’s.
The last player I can do a comparison from is the former all-time base thief.
Brock’s photo is clearly from when he’s a bit younger – this may be the furthest from the “proper” era of any of the cards I’ve showcased. The card to the left definitely has more of a 1960’s feel to me – it seems like the era of the Cardinals’ championship teams, or maybe their 1968 World Series loss. I really like the photo though!
Nettles is in the SP portion of the set, and I was surprised his original card featured him with the Yankees. He was traded to the Yankees from the Indians in the offseason between the 1972 and 1973 seasons. Back then that usually meant you were shown with your old team, but I think he was in a later series (card #498).
I like the Archives photo better – but I think it’s about 4-5 years later than the 1973 era based on the uniform and how Nettles looks. This is the only 1973 card from the SP section of the set that has a guy who played in 1972 or 1973.
The 8th player did have a 1973 card, but isn’t with the right team. Frank Robinson was far removed from the Reds in 1973. In fact, he wasn’t even with the Orioles any more. His 1973 Topps card says he’s with the California Angels, but the card was an airbrushed photo of him in a Dodgers uniform from a 1972 at bat. Here’s his Archives card.