Kellogg’s Pro Super Stars 1973 – Beginnings End

Kellogg's Pro Super Stars 1973 FrontKellogg's Pro Super Stars 1973 Back

Because in the process of writing about Carlton Fisk cards, I came across cards I didn’t know existed which has led to time jumps and some weird chronology in the process. This Kellogg’s card from 1973 closes the book on the four Kellogg’s cards which were made of Fisk in the 70s and 80s.

Most notably, this is the only traditionally printed Kellogg’s card. All others are lenticular and marketed as “3-D,” so this set is “Pro Super Stars” instead of the following cards being “3-D Super Stars.” Also, notably, “Kellogg’s” is nowhere to be found (like the 1974 card). Not exactly marketing geniuses at work, here. The trivia of Kellogg’s cards only including last names, printed autographs, and big ol’ position indicators are present even on his first card.

The front is a “building blocks of color” approach, with cyan, magenta, yellow, and black getting featured roles. Hot take: I don’t have the card handy, but I think that they might be printing spot red instead of magenta (more about printing… soon). It’s not an action shot, but it’s a nice, regular season posed picture.

The rear has Kellogg’s customary great printing on white, and even includes a headshot and team logo (though in just a single color, like the rest of the Kellogg’s cards). There’s also Kellogg’s trademarked TON of copy, especially voluminous due to only have three years of statistics to include. Also, “Hobby: Sports”… for a professional baseball player.

And that wraps up every Kellogg’s Super Stars Carlton Fisk card. None of them are great, but 1983 and 1973 are the highlights.

Kellogg’s 3-D Super Stars 1974 – Not Anchored in Time

Kellogg's 3-D Super Stars 1974 frontKellogg's 3-D Super Stars 1974 back

I’m not sure why I thought the 1982 Kellogg’s 3-D card was the only one of Carlton Fisk when Kellogg was doing their thing, but we’re now on our third one… with two still remaining, though one actually isn’t lenticular.

Speaking of things being not lenticular… I’m not sure what this card is accomplishing. There’s a tiny bit of movement in the background, creating some depth, and the dots are moving in the (ugh) cyan border. Ther ribbon and seal features for the last name and position are odd… as is Kellogg’s signature showcasing of the last name. Why the weird title? Without knowing the card is from 1974, no one could ever guess what era this is from. The design combines weird “futuristic” 3-D features yet looks like it’s from the 40s or 50s in other regards due to the yellow name and position indicators. I don’t know. It gives me the heeby-jeebies.

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The back showcases Kellogg’s high quality printing (in cyan…) and includes a photograph. It also refers to homeruns as “barrier shots.” Yeesh. Also, I’ve mentioned before, but I still love that under hobbies, it shows “sports.”

Hostess 1976 – Upon Further Research…

Hostess 1976 frontHostess 1976 back

We are WAY back in time at this point. 1976. This is another card (actually, another entire run of cards… Hostess produced cards throughout the 70s) I didn’t know existed until 2017. Also, an important distinction above: these are “cards.”

What does that mean? It means that these weren’t really produced as cards. Notice the weird “cut here” lines? Notice the baseball card proportions aren’t quite met? These were actually just one face of a box of Hostess® snack cakes. Really. Check it out.

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Yep. It’s the bottom of a Twinkies box.

Weird things: the cards are designed to be cut apart, yet there’s no Hostess branding on the front of each card. Relentless CAPITAL LETTERS except the location of the team. Player statistics on the back of each card!

Speaking of the back, this is one of the least “designed” cards I’ve seen. The card number inside a black circle is the only design “flourish” to be found. And that’s certainly not much.

For the card itself (at least the front), it’s fine. Probably on the wrong side of “clean design vs. good design,” but the red, white, and blue (in that order) works, if only because of contrast for the text. The Spring Training picture… is a Spring Training picture (home jersey, but that’s certainly not Fenway Park). Printing-wise, it looks like the yellow layer generally missed registration, and the red, white, and blue is actually red, white, and cyan, but for a baseball “card” meant to be cut from the bottom of a box of Twinkies… it’s fine.

But what does that title mean? At the beginning of this project, I had made the executive decision to stick with baseball cards; none of the ancillary almost baseball cards would be included. No stickers, no bottle caps, no pennants, no mini-posters, no postcards. This one is a bit of an oddball. It’s a baseball card because… the packaging (see above) says it’s a baseball card. It’s really the bottom of a box (of snack cakes) with printed cut lines (and statistics on the back). Two reasons I’ll include it, one rational, one… not so much. 1) In the coming years (reminder: we’re at 1984 in the ‘main’ series), we’ll be coming across baseball card companies pulling similar concepts with their boxes of packs (“wax boxes”), of which Carlton Fisk makes a few appearances, 2) I thought these Hostess “cards” were fully baseball cards when I bought them, and didn’t realize something was fishy until after I looked at them in hand… so, they’re baseball cards.

1970s Rankings!

We’ve reached the end of our first decade! Sounds like a good time for some rankings.

From best to worst…

1976

1978

1975

1974

BIG GAP

1972

1977

1973 (that picture…)

1979 (that design…)

As we look ahead, take note that 1977 and 1979 wouldn’t look out of place with the early 80s designs, while others are firmly set in the 70s (or prior). 1974, sometime in the 1940s, and 1978 killing it with a classy 70s design. Yes. They proved it was possible in that awful decade.

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Topps 1979 – Quietly Gross

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In my article about SSPC’s card that never was, I mentioned knowing the cards I didn’t have versus discovering cards I never knew existed. My binder had an empty spot for the 1979 Topps card from 1993 to 2017. I knew it existed, but eBay didn’t exist in 1993. Unknown unknowns vs. known unknowns and all that.

Before getting to the nuts and bolts of the card, it’s a nice picture; the visiting Boston Red Sex facing the hosting New York Yankees captured in an exciting action shot. Probably due to the length of the lens, there’s a weird depth of field issue; look at his knees. His right knee looks like it’s closer to the camera than his left. Odd. Also, Fisk was known for his aggressive one hand follow-through when hitting (“COACHES HATE IT!”). That one hand would be his left, yet the bat remains in his right hand. Perhaps this is a false action shot; something like looking awesome while hitting a foul tip.

There’s no special All-Star set this year, but notice the All-Star ribbon. Speaking of which, this is the spiritual successor of the 1977 which began the ribbon theme. At first glance, it’s fine. Old-looking, but fine. But then there’s the “RED SOX” in yellow (because CMYK, of course), but the background’s “arrows” are both facing in; >RED SOX<. Odd. Oh, yeah. It’s also inconsistent. “A.L. All-Star” only gets one arrow feature, then blends in with the ball. That’s not terrible… but then there’s the Topps baseball graphic. That’s not great, but it gets worse. Look at the picture. It wraps down around the ball graphic. Terrible. Keep in mind this is also in the painfully analog 1970s. This was all down by hand. This was on someone’s resume.

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The back is unexpectedly handsome. Black, green, and raw cardboard complement each other. They get a little cute with how the title background geometry matches with the baseball seams. It would appear 1979 was Topps’ Cropping and Separations Department’s B Minor Mass. They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

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Trivia unrelated to the featured player makes an unfortunate appearance again, and the best they could come up with for the “flavor text” was something from four years prior. Also, Game 5 of 2017 was better. There actually was some worthy Carlton Fisk trivia for a 1979. He played his first games in the outfield in 1978; one in left field, one in an unspecified “Outfield” position. Prior to 1978, if he wasn’t playing catcher or taking a day off, he was slotted into the designated hitter slot a handful of times.

Not to pile on the front, but it also has three different typefaces (four, if you include the Topps logo!). That’s normal for the back, but that’s excessive for the front. This is not a strong end to the 70s. Next? Topps 1970s round-up!

SSPC 1976 – A Challenger Appears!

What have we here? When I picked up this interest again in December 2017, it didn’t take long to get some of the same feelings I had 25+ years prior. Baseball card shops and shows in the Lehigh Valley were basically a known commodity in terms of which Carlton Fisk cards were available. Eventually, I had all of cards which existed in the area (except his pricey rookie card). BUT, every now and then, a vendor at a show would have something new, and that was amazing. It was easy to know which I was missing (for the main companies, cards are yearly), but any oddballs were unknown to me. With the internet, this feeling can still happen. Above is the SSPC 1976 Carlton Fisk card. It shouldn’t exist.

Literally, it shouldn’t exist. Topps had an MLB-blessed monopoly on the market. What did SSPC (Sports Stars Publishing Company) do? They simply made a set of cards unlicensed by the MLB and the MLBPA. Topps sued them, and the result of the lawsuit was that they’d stop making cards. Read more about SSPC and their parent company, TCMA, on the Baseball Card Pedia.

For the card itself, it looks like a Spring Training photoshoot, similar to the 1975 Topps. If the link above is to be trusted, the design goal was to copy the Bowman 1953. Mission accomplished. Interestingly, it’s printed on white paper instead of cardboard. Because the card doesn’t have tabular statistics, there’s more room for copy (written by Keith Olbermann while he was in high school, nonetheless), where we learn that his 1975 season was short due to a Spring Training hit-by-pitch. “BR-TR” left me scratching my head longer than I’d like to admit. It’s “Bats Right – Throws Right.” I’d go so far to say that there’s enough room on the card to not abbreviate it, but, hey, I’m no card designer.

Here’s some more nuts and bolts info about the 1976 SSPC set.

 

 

Topps 1978 – Attracting Flies (and My Mom)

Topps 1978 Front

Topps 1978 Back

As begun in 1973 and will show up sporadically through the years, an awful picture was selected for the card. That said, according to my mom, he’s got it going on in this card. Yeesh.

It’s another clean design in 1978; the offset, colored border makes it look like it’s more than just a picture with a white matte… Bowman 1989. Instead of a dedicated card, he gets an All Star (no hyphen) shield, and looking at his stats, holy crap, he killed it in 1977 with a .315 batting average, 102 RBI, and 152 games played. Of note, it appears spot colors were used with pure cyan and 50/50 magenta+yellow for the “Red Sox” and All Star shield, yet they’re not dotted to all hell. I’m not planning on dedicating many words to the Red Sox uniforms on this site, but the Red Sox uniforms, with the red helmets and prominent use of super dark navy blue, were spot on in 1977.

Considering the era, the back is fine. Cardboard with orange and blue ink. An odd combination, but it works. There is a bit of a typeface disaster in that there are so many different ones, but at least the trivia is related to the player at-hand, and it took place in the prior (covered) year, instead of arbitrary facts from his past. Topps used the back of the cards this season for some sort of two player game, so that’s actually pretty creative.

Follow-up: here is WAYYYY more than I ever expected to learn about “some sort of two player game” on the back.

Topps 1977 – Real Action

1977 front

1977 back

Another rough scan, but a great action shot of an of-the-time 70s design. I’m digging the double border serving as a frame for the photograph. The “Catcher” pennant is in lazy process cyan ink… and is the only graphic detail with a shadow for whatever reason. Topps included a printed autograph, too. Not a classic design by any measure, but I like it.

The back is exposed cardboard with green ink only. This is a first for Topps. All previous cards used black plus another color. Check out that completely unrelated Ty Cobb trivia which includes a remarkably dumb cartoon. But, hey, there’s some actual Carlton Fisk trivia back there, too. Oddly, there are some missing “the”s in the interest of limited space for the trivia, but he was killing it in the 1975 postseason.

Topps 1976 – Old Doesn’t Mean Ugly

The front isn’t my finest scanning effort (I got much better later). The white balance is pushed way towards blue. The yellow and red work (like they did in 1975), and the white space between color blocks, then thin red border, following the catcher graphic, is nice and clean. I’m not sure it’s “70s design,” but it looks old. It’s a good look, but it’s old. Oddly, after a year of printing color to the edge, Topps went back to a white border.

The back is cardboard with green and black ink. As mentioned for the 1975 card, injuries are incongruous. 79 games in 1975? That’s only half a season. (1975 was the crazy World Series home run.) 52 games in 1974. Yikes. Injury-prone? We’ll get back to this later. Also, check out that completely irrelevant trivia from 1917!

Topps made a retro card for this set in 2003. I’m not sure what the occasion was, but the design still worked, retro without being old. (The card below is from eBay, hence the watermark.)

Fans also made their own cards which worked with this design:

I’m not sure the years of the actual pictures match up (the red batting helmet is suspicious as is the the pull-over jersey versus the button up, much less the completely different “BOSTON” lettering), but it’s a good-looking card.

Some Fanmade Rookie Cards

Like detailed in the 1972 review, well after the fact, Topps made a retro rookie card. It seems there’s also a small fan community which makes “missing” cards from historical sets. A dedicated Carlton Fisk rookie card is practically the definition of a missing card. Interestingly, while Topps made a new card layout for their hypothetical rookie card, the internet made cards following the standard 1972 design. Spoiler alert: the community’s designs are better, and big part of that is them not feeling beholden to the original rookie card’s picture.

While the last two cards are mysterious results from Pinterest, the first one is from the great Cards That Never Were. (Card concepts from that site will make a few appearances throughout this list.)