Tag Archives: baseball cards

1977 Topps Baseball – Belloir, Kucek and Lindblad

I’ve mentioned previously that I am attempting to build a complete set of 1977 Topps baseball cards. I’m looking to do it through purchasing small lots of cards on eBay (just purchased 55 more for $3.50). I’m obsessed with the ’77 Topps set out of nostalgia and if I’m honest with myself, I’m probably regressing back to my 7 year old self as an escape from reality.

At first, there was a lot of laughing at the cards; strange photo angles, airbrushed hats, horrific uniforms, embarrassing poses and questionable athleticism. It is also fun finding the cards I distinctly remember from my childhood; players I loved (George Brett, Pete Rose) or even uniforms I thought were the coolest (Padres, Expos).

But what I’m most intrigued by now are the fringe players. Those who only had a small cup of coffee in the bigs and then were never heard from again. Their cards captured a moment in time when they realized their dream, when they “made it”. Looking at these cards now, I swear you can see it in their collective faces. Add in the fact that it is so easy to research what they have done since their careers ended, and you have the recipe for fascinating human interest stories.

Here are three of those stories:

1977 topps baseball

  • Only 36 hits in 81 career games
  • 12 errors in those 36 games
  • Debuted in ’75 and had 6 hits in a two game span. This article from ’75 sums up the excitement of getting to the MLB and just appreciating the opportunity.
  • Missed the ’71 season due to military service
  • Out of the majors by ’78
  • While I appreciate any type of humor, I find this type of negative blog post to be unnecessary. Dude made it to the majors, that is like winning the lottery.
  • I found his Facebook profile and it seems too understated. Photo should scream, I played in the frickin MLB. I’m still contemplating sending him a friend request and asking for an interview.

 

1977 topps baseball

  • 7 career wins over 7 MLB seasons
  • Career 5.12 ERA
  • 2nd round draft pick in ’74
  • That grin tells me he appreciated being able to put on that killer Sox hat.
  • In 2008, he invented the Strike Out Strippz, a pitching glove that helps pitchers evaluate their pitching motion after each simulated pitch. A great sales pitch here: “Strike Out Strippz Pitching Glove will do for pitchers what the batting tee did for hitters.”
  • Here’s an example of Roger Clemens pimping it.
  • After digging around some more, my best guess is that he sold it as it is promoted current day through this site without his name prominently attached.
  • I located his LinkedIn profile as well. I am fascinated how typical it looks until you scroll down his page and see “Former Major League Pitcher”. What? Put that shit up top dude, you are one in a million with that.

 

1977 topps baseball

  • I can’t shake this one. Shame on me for not remembering him and more importantly, not knowing his tragic story. More on that in a bit.
  • A lefty middle reliever who made 655 career appearances in the MLB.
  • Was the winner of game 3 of the ’73 World Series against my beloved Mets.
  • He has the distinction of being the last pitcher to face Willie Mays.
  • Participated in 3 World Series with the A’s and was part of the 1978 Yankees World Series team.
  • He died in 2006, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Take a look at this fascinating article from ’97 that talks about the disease in great detail.
  • He started showing signs of early onset Alzheimer’s in his late 40’s. It has been determined that his children have a 50/50 chance of getting Alzheimer’s as well.
  • Research shows that he was a descendant of one of a few German families that migrated to Russia in the 18th century and were linked to familial Alzheimer’s.

1977 Topps baseball cards

I was an avid baseball card collector as a child and into my early teens. This spanned from 1978 up until 1990. During the early years it was all about trying to get a complete set or collecting my favorite players or beloved Mets.

And then the baseball card boom hit in the early 80’s and it became all about collecting and speculating on players’ rookie cards. I completely ignored the common/veteran player and just focused on those first year player cards. I was going to be rich with my 74 Don Mattingly and Darryl Strawberry rookie cards.

The baseball card market eventually crashed and all of those cards became worthless. This was in the early 90’s and I completely turned my back on the hobby and focused on other things like college and hanging with the girl that would become my wife years later.

Fast forward to current day and my son has taken card collecting to levels so way beyond anywhere I ever went with it. But now it is about collecting/finding rare inserts and autographed cards. One pack of cards was 30 cents back in my day yet they are now anywhere from $3 to $10 per pack. He has cards worth hundreds and actively sells and buys cards off of eBay. A burgeoning entrepreneur.

My son’s interest in the card collecting hobby has awakened a nostalgia in me that harkens back to a simpler time. The innocent era of collecting cards without any financial motives. Trying to complete the entire Minnesota Twins team set. Enjoying the players from back in the day who clearly never indulged in any performance enhancing drugs. Players that looked more like my weird uncle then a young and blossoming professional athlete.

Which brings me to 1977 Topps baseball cards. The set I worshipped as a child. The set I am now collecting again. The set that has inspired me to learn about each and every player in the set.

As a young dude, I always found the 1977 Topps baseball set to be the coolest. I loved the white border and bright colors.

topps

The sets prior and subsequent to 1977 Topps baseball were drab and missing that 70’s funk. The players seemed to be photographed in cooler and stranger poses. I willingly traded many ’78, ’79 and ’80’s Topps cards for any 77’s anyone was offering up.

I’m now 43 years old and I still love these cards. I dug through my entire card collection recently to reunite with my favorite cardboard cutouts. As expected, they were in awful condition but just like I remember them. They made me smile and brought back a wave of great childhood memories.

But I didn’t have enough of them. I wanted more. I wanted the rush back.

So I followed my son’s lead and purchased a lot of 1977 Topps baseball cards on eBay. I didn’t want any superstars from the set. The more obscure the better. When they arrived, I found a quiet spot in the house and leafed through them slowly. They are still the best.

Here are some of the cards I received in the lot and why I love them so much. Some are based on the photos, some based on the uniforms and some are just freakin funny.

Going forward, I plan on doing one post per week featuring one of the players and an in depth review of their story.

 

topps 5

  • My favorite hat of all time. That mustard color is phenomenal.
  • Quintessential 70’s mustache.
  • Traded to the Mets in ’79. Touted as the “savior”. Never liked playing in New York so I came to hate him.

 

topps 15

  • Coolest cat around. That necklace alone made this card awesome. Claimed it was the “second baseman’s teeth”. This photo captures him even better.
  • Wore a helmet in the field at first base.
  • Died in 2013 in his hometown of Greenville, MS.

 

topps 18

 

topps 13

  • Even as an 8 year old, I knew this dude looked stoned.
  • Epic mustache.
  • Funny thing, he never pitched for the Expos.

 

topps 8

  • Bake is the best baseball first name ever.
  • Always had a solid 70’s fro.
  • This video brings me back to Saturday afternoon games with Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola.

 

topps 12

  • Interesting fact – combined with his brother for a shutout. Only time in MLB history.
  • Great article from 1985 article on what he was doing now.
  • Maybe the least intimidating pitcher of all time.

 

topps 14

  • This is why I bought that lot of cards.
  • Phenomenal sideburns
  • More my weird uncle than an MLB player

 

topps 6

 

topps 11

 

topps 3

  • The air brushing of the hat is pretty awful. The Mariners had yet to play a game when their cards were added to the 1977 Topps set.
  • Probably the best Mariners hitter (27 HR and 90 RBI) in their inaugural season in ’77.
  • Was included with Nolan Ryan in the worst trade in Mets history.
  • Was beaten out by Bobby Bonds in ’77 and did little after that.

 

1977 Topps baseball

  • Top ten ugliest uniform contender.
  • Great action shot although I can’t figure out where the base is and why he is fielding the throw on the inside of first base.
  • Within 2 months had two 2HR/8RBI games.
  • Had no idea until now that he died of a heart attack in 2002 at the age of 55.

 

topps 2

  • Impossibly hideous uniform
  • Scored 1,000,000 run in MLB history. Great party trivia question.

 

topps 10

  • In the top ten worst uniforms list. The matching shirt and pants are classic.
  • Known as the “Bogalusa Bomber” which is simply awesome.

 

topps 9

  • I loved these quad rookie cards. Such promise and potential for the card gaining value in years to come. These are the guys I paid close attention to.
  • Mike Champion only played 2 years with San Diego.
  • Juan Bernhardt hit the Mariners first home run but only played a total of 154 games in the MLB.

 

topps 7

  • My favorite card in the set to this point based on the hair/uniform combo.
  • Cy Young award winner the year this card was created.
  • Credited with All Star save in ’75 and All Star win in ’76.
  • In his last start of ’76, he was injured and never the same again
  • Owned a catering company and hosted a baseball radio show.