For my second “Looking Back” segment, I thought I would take a peek at the 1977 Topps Baseball set, because that was the first year I began collecting baseball cards.
As a poor youth growing up in central Missouri, I usually spent my meager allowance on wrestling magazines. Then one day I decided to buy a few packs of baseball cards and my life changed forever.
The first thing that caught my eye when opening the 1977 Topps Baseball cards was the little pennant on the front of each player card that contains the player’s position on the baseball field.
I’ve always loved pennants, and have a fairly extensive collection – so large that many of them sit in an elongated box, perfect for pennants, in storage because I have no more room to display them.
Because I have a large pennant of all the major league baseball teams, I once strung them together with heavy-duty string, separated by leagues and divisions (there were only four divisions back then) and displayed them across my room, from one wall across to the opposite wall.
Enough about pennants – back to the cards.
There is much to appreciate about the 1977 Topps Baseball set. For starters, Topps continued with its clean design. Card fronts have the team name in large letters at the very top of the card, with the player name directly underneath. The aforementioned pennant is off to the side.
Aside from Topps rookie logos and All-Star designations at the bottom of the card fronts, the only other thing adorning the card fronts is a facsimile autograph of the player pictured.
I’ve never been crazy about facsimile autographs on sports cards, because I think they clutter up the card front. It also makes it difficult to obtain an actual autograph on the card without making it look messy.
Once again, Topps kept the card backs simple. The player name is in large letters at the top of the card, along with complete player statistics. When a player didn’t have enough years to fill out the back, Topps inserted a bit of trivia to fill the gap, which I’ve always thought was a nice touch.
Another nice touch to the 1977 set was a small bit of trivia, along with a caricature, with a piece of baseball history, off to one side.
It was around this time that Topps began a habit of displaying star players with card numbers that ended in zero. Of course, Topps’ guess was as good as yours and mine as to who would end up being Hall of Famers, but they tried.
What makes the 1977 set so collectible is its affordability. A complete set, in near-mint condition, only books for about $200, and if you look hard enough, you can probably find one for half that. The reason is the relatively few rookie cards. Aside from Andre Dawson, Bruce Sutter and Dale Murphy, there really aren’t many notable rookies in the set.
Star cards come in abundance, though, especially for those who grew up in the era. Several top players are featured more than once, as record breakers and other specialty cards. Hall of Famers including Reggie Jackson, Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Mike Schmidt make this an underrated – and affordable – set to collect.
The 1977 Topps Baseball set has three uncorrected error cards. Card #431 is supposed to be Dave Collins, but the photo is actually Bobby Jones. Card #521 of Bob Grich doesn’t list his date of birth, and card #634 of brothers Paul Reuschel and Rick Reuschel have the photos switched.
1977 Topps Baseball
Complete set: 660 cards.
High book: NM, $200; EX, $100; VG, $50.
Top Stars: #1 George Brett-Bill Madlock – Batting Leaders ($10); #6 Nolan Ryan-Tom Seaver – Strikeout Leaders ($20); #10 Reggie Jackson ($15); #70 Johnny Bench ($12); #140 Mike Schmidt ($20); #150 Tom Seaver ($10); #231 George Brett – Record Breaker ($10); #234 Nolan Ryan – Record Breaker ($20); #390 Dave Winfield ($10); #450 Pete Rose ($30); $480 Carl Yastrzemski ($10); #580 George Brett ($20); #635 Robin Yount ($10); #650 Nolan Ryan ($40).
Top Rookies: #144 Bruce Sutter ($15); #265 Mark Fidrych ($4); #473 Andre Dawson ($20); #476 Dale Murphy ($15); Jack Clark ($5).