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1972 Topps Baseball

By Patrick Mondout

Topps once again checked in with a record setting total number of cards (this time 787 - a record they would not approach until the Awesome80s) with perhaps the gaudiest and most colorful - not always in the most complimentary ways (though that may well have been the point) - sets to that point in history. The cards are also unique up to that point in Topps history in that they do not indicate the player's position on the front.

Psychedelic is a term many associate with the late 60s, and it with good reason. But much of what people remember about that period actually took place in the early Super70s. This set of baseball cards is perhaps the most divisive set of cards Topps made during the its first forty years of making cards. Some love the design and often clashing colors and how they reflected the times. Others absolutely hated the both the design and especially the colors. Polarizing, gaudy, psychedelic, or all three, it has become a popular set amongst collectors.

Uncensored!

It is rare that something naughty slips past the editors and on to a baseball card (the notorious 1989 Fleer Billy Ripken, for example), but Billy Martin made his feelings about being photographed at that very moment known in this shot. The hot-headed Martin, who was appropriately the only manager to have an "In Action" card (he's arguing with an ump) this year, is seen here giving us the bird.


Getting the number of cards up and over last year's total of 752 seems to have been a design goal and one that they may have been struggling to meet as the subsets include some of the most useless cards this side of the Donruss's The Chicken cards of the early Awesome80s. The 16 "Boyhood Photos" and the first "Traded" cards are fine, and the extra "In Action" cards of stars were welcome (a trick Topps would later use to increased the size of the 1982 set to a record 792) but did we really need a card featuring a picture of the Minor League Player of the Year trophy?

While there are still no All-Star subsets, Topps did create playoff and World Series subsets and tri-rookie cards by team or by position (a repeat of 1971). There were also cards for the managers and once again team cards with a team photo on the front. The Chicago Cubs team photo was once again just a collage of heads (see below). Cubs team photo cards of the Super70s were usually just a collection of head shots. As a kid I always assumed it was because they couldn't stand one another and refused to be photographed together, but if the notorious Oakland A's had a team photo year after year, surely the Cubs could have. It remains a mystery to me why they never did.

The backs of the cards had year-by-year stats and no player photo. Topps had experimented with the backs in 1971 but must have decided it was a mistake. 

This is not a great year for rookie cards. Two of the best, Cecil Cooper and Carlton Fisk appear on the same card. Others included Toby Harrah, Jose Cruz, Dave Kingman, Ben Oglive/Ron Cey, Chris Chambliss, and George Hendrick. The cards were distributed by series (with the 6th and last series - #657-787 - being the scarcist) in 10 wax packs of 10 cards each.

A checklist for all 787 cards is available here.

1972 Topps at a Glance
Back Checklist Wax Pack
Rookies Traded In Action
Awards Boyhood Photos Team
 

 

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1972 TOPPS BASEBALL

Year: 1972

Manufacturer: Topps

# of Cards: 787 (Checklist)

Value/Price: Check eBay (see links below)

Size: 2 x 3

Image courtesy of Topps


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