By Drew Pelto aka *censored*

Having just celebrated my 27th birthday a month ago, I’ve been alive for less than half of the sets Topps has put out over the years. This is the first on my list from before my time, five years before the planet was graced with my presence.

Smashing Pumpkins makes it sound like 1979 was so cool. And I guess it kind of was, based on what I know. Disco was dying. Hip-hop and rap were on the upswing in New York City. Van Halen was the be-all and end-all of rock. Led Zeppelin was still around and the Jonas Brothers were not. Jimmy Carter was in the White House and the USSR was bombing Afghanistan. Well, the music was good at least.

And like the Carter administration, the 1979 Topps set left a lot to be desired.  Ozzie Smith’s iconic rookie card is the only memorable card here. But it’s a pretty awesome one. You’ve got to love the Sly Stone sideburns the Wizard is rocking on it. I just want to see him take the helmet off to reveal a giant ‘fro while “If You Want Me To Stay” plays and he pimp walks his way into the field. 1979, you just became alright in my books.

*insert funky wah-pedal guitar line here*

The set just seems like such an ill-fitting start to the career of the flashiest fielder of the last 30 years.  I appreciate the fact Topps didn’t clutter the design, keeping the info at the bottom. But why the weird, kind of inverted-sides hexagon to house the team name? It kind of works, but kind of not. I see it and go “That is one weird shape” (which implies that it doesn’t work) and avert my eyes as quickly as I can, up toward the photo (so it does work, in a way as it draws attention to the player).

Aside from Ozzie, the set is lacking in new player presence. Ozzie is the lone elite rookie, Bob Welch is the lone sort of secondary tier rookie, and then you follow that with the motley crew of Pedro Guerrero, Carney Lansford, and Willie Wilson.  But again, look at the Rookie of the Year voting in 1979: John Castino (it‘s okay, I don’t know either), Alfredo Griffin, and Rick Sutcliffe. Seriously, baseball? Even if you go back to 1978 when Smith and Lansford made their debuts, who else could be put in? Trammell, Molitor, and Whitaker already had their debuts on cardboard. And like John Castino and Alfredo Griffin, no too many people are going to too get excited over Bob Horner.

The 'fro and the creeper mustache with geek glasses. Ahh, 1970's fashions...

A 1979 Topps card was the first card I owned that was printed before my birth. I picked up the set’s card of Don Hood (it’s okay, I don‘t know either) back when I was about 10 years old for a dime or therebouts. I probably still have that card somewhere in my collection.

Really, I haven’t got much to say on this set. It was bland, generic, and lacked new star power. If anything the 1979 set was a sign that the world needed some variety in baseball cards because a snooze-fest like this was the lone option of the time, courtesy of the quasi-monopoly the company held from 1956-1980 and the total monopoly from 1963-1980. And it would come only two years later with Donruss and Fleer entering and re-entering the market. Ozzie’s rookie card and the typical 1970’s-to-80’s crew (Rose, Ryan, Seaver, Schmidt, etc.) saves this set from an ignominious last-place grave.

I still have a bunch more words to fill to even get this thing to my self-imposed minimum of 800 (I learned SCF only imposes it for contest entries, but I think 800 is a good number so I don‘t feel like I‘m putting in a lackadaisical effort), so let me just talk a little about why I’m doing this list. About a year ago, I was a member of a generic baseball talk website that had a forum for baseball card discussion, and just for fun I figured I’d try to put all the Topps sets in order from best to worst. The site died before I ever got a chance to finish it, but it was getting a lot of positive reviews and good discussion (shoutout to Dabigyankeeman, one of the readers of my series there and a member here who actually was most responsible for me coming here), so I decided to resurrect the idea over here at SCF in Topps’ 60th year of baseball card production.  I hope to keep it going all the way down to number one, though I know the 1970’s sets will be the death of me, as this one is starting to be. Thanks for reading thus far.

I despise Reggie Jackson. But I'll admit this is a pretty nice looking card.

About the Author: Drew Pelto enjoys the Smashing Pumpkins and will go to any length to make a 90’s rock reference, though usually with songs other than 1979, as he feels it is a tad overrated.  He lives in Texas and probably has a cat sitting on him right now.