You know the feeling. You're at a card show or a card shop or a flea market or some other seller of cards other than Wally World or Target and you see something absolutely amazing. Something fantastic, something you've never seen before. A card you've always wanted but never quite been able to track down due to rarity or priceyness or lazyness or dumb luck or whatever. Something iconic, a card everyone knows about and covets for themselves. Something that people you know have and show off frequently while you look and admire with envy. Every collector knows dat feel and has gone through it many times. It's actually a nice feeling, being able to look at a great card like that. To be in the same room with it. Sometimes you can ask the shop owner nicely and they will let you hold it while you look at it. You had that card in your hand! It's a great feeling! But there's a better one.
WHEN YOU CAN ACTUALLY AFFORD THE CARD YOU HAVE IN YOUR HAND
That feeling is rare unless you're rolling in the big bucks or know a lot of people who had relatives who were card collectors and are trying to dump a bunch of cards in order to clean out that back closet. That feeling doesn't happen very often but it does happen and it happened this weekend. I was minding my own business, looking through the bargain box and then I saw a card. And then I saw another card. And then I went like this:
That's pretty much exactly what I did when I saw these cards. The dude weighs less and has more hair but that's basically exactly what I looked like. The last time I had a reaction like this was when I found an Ozzie Smith rookie for 5 clams a few years back. You can probably find the same card in the same condition online for $2 nowadays but that's not the point. My idea of card values for anything older than the 1987 Topps set is firmly and permanantly locked into whatever the price was in my 1991 Beckett magazine with a Brave player on the cover. In other words, horribly inflated. This is actually a good thing in my case for a whole lot of cards from the '70s and early '80s because now I find them cheap and get a huge rush from finding such a great deal. It's probably one of the driving forces behind my current push to complete all those sets instead of dropping loads of cash on all the new expensive (for three months at least until the bottom falls out) packs that come out on a distressingly regular basis. Buy low, kiddos. Here I bought low. And it will oficially kick off my push to complete this set. Behold: The Crown Jewels of the mid-'70s.
I was born just a touch too late to have seen a lot of 1975 Topps when I was a kid. Unlike some folks who were swimming in the stuff, I don't think I even saw a 1975 Topps card until after I had been collecting for a few years and even then they didn't do a lot for me. Too many colors I guess. No real pattern. I liked brightly colored cards back then though, 1960 was one of my favorites. 1963 topps too. But those sets had patterns to them. Alternating letter colors on 1960. Red, Blue, Green and Yellow bottom borders on 1963. Just RedBlueGreenYellow! No more, No less. Four colors was plenty. 1975 had colors all OVER the place! With no rhyme or reason! Sometimes yellow was on the top, sometimes it was on the bottom! MADNESS! And then there was purple and pink cards, which made sense, but then they switched it up and had pink and yellow cards! And green and purple! WHAT?! Who puts together green and purple? Then there were brown and orange cards which make perfect sense until you got some cards where the orange didn't LOOK RIGHT. And the green and green cards? Why would you put together green and green??? WHYYYYYY. I had problems as a child. People have written articles about me that have been published in journals.
So along with the fact that I was dazed and confused by all the pretty colors there was another problem with the 1975 set. Two problems actually. The two problems you see above. George and Robin. Two Hall of Famers. Two guys who everyone knew were going to be Hall of Famers from the get go. Two guys whose rookie cards were damned expensive even in the first pricing guide I ever got. And the bastards never dropped. Basically I just never bothered with this set because it seemed unattainable. I don't mind chasing after the unobtainable - hell, I'm trying to complete the 1972 Topps set - but unless I really really like the set I'm chasing having a big road block in the way to completion is a turn off. But now I've attained the unobtainable! I can chase this set now! The quest to complete 1975 Topps is on!
There is a reason this pair so sought after, these are two pretty great cards. You can tell these cards are from the heyday of the '70s just by the hair. Brett is standing in that classic staged batting pose in the middle of foul territory for no reason. Robin crouches in the 'baseball ready' fielding pose taught to every little leaguer. Both cards have a vaguely airbrushed feel even though they didn't need it. Ths pictures are soft and a little grainy for that nostalgic feel. Both photos have an artistic feel. George's card has a striking perspective reminiscent of Munch's scream. Robin's background is of solid rectangular fields of color like a baseball version of Rothko. And everyone has seen these cards a million times - in books, on card magazine covers, in price guides, on reprint cards, online. And with over 6000 hits between 'em the players themselves are pretty iconic as well.
These cards were dirt cheap, mainly because they are in pretty scruffy condition. But when I saw then back to back in that bargain box, I knew they both had to come home with me. I couldn't risk having the pair separated, they belong together. When I page out my '75 set later this week, they'll both be on the same page. Robin on the front on the bottom left corner, George on the back in the top right corner.