Topps 1972 – Rookie Card

And we’re off…

He didn’t even get his own rookie card!! This wasn’t abnormal back then – Nolan Ryan got the same treatment.

There’s nothing especially notable about the design. The three face rookie card doesn’t allow much room for design features. It’s very green. It’s fine, but it’s very green. The pure yellow and black of the thin border was likely to minimize print registration issues by using only two of the four print colors. It works on this design, but Topps used this trick later in the 70s and 80s with less pleasant results.

Interestingly, the normal 1972 Topps design actually is kind of batty. It’s got that late-60s “groovy” appeal. The use of the green field on the rookie card makes more sense when seeing a normal card. The back was unnotable with orange and black printing on brown cardstock. It made sense when I was a little kid, but I don’t understand the relevance of including the home town on every card. Maybe to give a a thrill to people in the home town? Who knows, but it sticks throughout all the cards.

Back when I was a little kid going to card shows and reading the Beckett price guides, his rookie card was viewed as “impossible” to get. It would regularly be $60 or more from vendors at card shows in the Lehigh Valley, and that was simply way, way too much money when $0.25-$1.50 was the normal going rate. If anything, the internet “fixed” card prices, and I bought this specific card (in maybe “good” at best condition) on eBay for $4 a few years ago. Graded, mint examples still go for a $30+.

Though my collection doesn’t include cards made after he retired, Topps did print a “make-up” rookie card in 2001… and there were three increasingly limited versions of it. Because 2001. I’m loving the retro-plain back, but they should’ve printed a light brown layer first so it appeared like the cardboard of the original 1972 set.

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