by Drew Pelto, AKA *censored*

Wow.  Been a while, hasn’t it?  I’ve been a tad busy with work and travel and the hockey season starting (actually the three are synonymous for me) and now that the World Series is about to start, it’s time we go warp speed through the countdown and start with the Top 10 on Wednesday, hopefully. Let’s fast forward from #34 on down to #25.

#34. 1996 Topps
#33. 2006 Topps
#32. 1997 Topps
#31. 2005 Topps
#30. 1968 Topps
#29. 1989 Topps
#28. 1971 Topps
#27. 1969 Topps
#26. 1976 Topps

#25. 1972 Topps

I once tried to put a 1972 Topps card into an 8-Track player.

Seriously. Look at it. As someone who both loves and loathes the 1970s, I am frankly at a loss for words when it comes to this card set. It just… it… I… uhh… yeah.

Wow… Just… Wow.

It’s ugly. Not like Don Mossi ugly, but a different sort of ugly. It almost becomes beautiful in a way. If Ike and Tina Turner had a baseball card, it would have been from this set. Or Bootsy Collins. Or Curtis Mayfield. Or Fat Elvis.

You cannot tell me this card did not exist (Huge thanks to Travis at PunkRockPaint)

I see these cards and immediately think of VH1’s 8-Track Flashback show opener. I expect to see the cards jump out of the pack with an Afro and bell bottoms and platform shoes, parading around as Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” plays.  I bet Richard Nixon, if he was a card collector, would have hated this set.  And just looking at this, I’m sure you could guess that the first all-color season of TV shows was in 1972. Something about this set just screams “Our family just got our first color TV.”  Again, I don’t know why, so please don’t ask me. I come up with very odd associations sometimes.  At the very least, it goes well with the 1968 cards that look like my grandmother’s tweed-covered stereo speakers.

Moving past the incredibly gaudy yet awesome design, the set itself was a pretty good one. Nolan Ryan makes his debut as a California Angel.  Willie Mays has a great looking card.  There’s a good size group of rookies in here too– Carlton Fisk with Cecil Cooper is the big one, but there are also regional favorites J.R. Richard, Toby Harrah, Jose Cruz, Chris Chambliss, Dave Kingman, Charlie Hough, Mickey Rivers, Steve Stone (and Sly Stone too… no?)… the list goes on.

I wish I was cool enough to be Mike Garman.

1972 was also a year of innovation.  For the first time, Topps issued a set to update player transactions, with a big “TRADED” stamp across the front of the card. Note that the team name was not used atop the card in these version. I never figured out why and it just feels a bit lacking because of it.

So Joe, you play for… Who now?

A part of the reason I actually like this set is that some cards from 1972 Topps were the first vintage cards I had in my collection.  I used to trade cards at my church with a couple other kids back in the early to mid 90′s, when a guy saw us wheeling and dealing one day. He said his kid had been a card collector back in the 70′s and 80′s and left a bunch at his house when he moved out and he was willing to give the cards to us.  The first batch were a bunch of 1981 Donruss cards, but the second batch was all 1972 Topps.  My friend Sean ended up with a Reggie Jackson and a bunch of commons.  I got a few Hall of Famers with a bunch of commons– cards of Ted Williams and Gil Hodges as managers, Willie Stargell, and a couple other semi-big names. Not bad for being free.

And so, 1972 was a set worth noting– it was both awesome and ungodly in one fell swoop.  The only reason I posted this one instead of going straight into the Top 10 was so I had an excuse to show off the Sly Stone card seen above.  Huge thanks to Punk Rock Paint’s Travis Peterson for putting it together for me. Seriously, if you haven’t checked out his blog and designs yet, please do so.  I’ve made some custom cards in my day, but this guy is the master.

For any missing countdown posts (in other words, 34-26), I am considering putting a blog together with all the entries. Maybe into a self-made book that I can trade on here. Hell if I know. But I want to compile it somewhere.

Coming this week: On Wednesday, we’ll fast-forward through sets 24-11, and give the full treatment to set #10.

About the Author: Noted slacker Drew Pelto has been busy with calling hockey games for the NAHL’s Wichita Falls Wildcats (yes, he admits he is that guy) and thus has fallen behind in his writing duties.  But he’ll make it up to all of you, he swears.