Thursday, November 28, 2013

Trepidation of Deciding to Complete a Set: 1973 Topps

The title of this post is a nod to Cardboard Junkie's "Joy of a Completed Set" posts. That's a special type of joy I've never experienced. I've spent a lot of time and energy collecting baseball cards in my lifetime, but I've never ever completed a set. I've bought complete sets, but never hand-compiled one. I can't even think of any small oddball sets, team sets, or insert sets that I may have completed.. nothing larger than a half-dozen cards, anyways. It's kinda sad, actually. I probably got close to 90% with a set or two back in my younger days, but gave up and purged my collection before sealing the deal.

Now with the internet and my renewed interest in cards, I thought it might be a fun goal to pick a set and see if I could do it. Plus, with my new blogging activities, it'll give me fodder for posts, plus you readers out there can hopefully lend a hand by hooking me up with some singles you might have available.

Trying to narrow down a set to focus my sights on, I knew it would have to be a vintage set. I'm just not excited enough with today's players and today's products to go after completing a current/recent set, even though that would be the easier route (assuming I didn't mess with SPs and parallels, etc).

First I narrowed it down to the decade of the 70s. I wanted something vintage, but not super expensive. Maybe someday I'll set my sights on a 50s or 60s set ('65 and '57 Topps perhaps), but not anytime soon.

Then I narrowed it down to 1971 Topps and 1973 Topps, ultimately going with '73. I like '71 a lot, but..
- The black borders make it a very "condition sensitive" set which could be frustrating.
- No full stats on the back. (I love me some full stats.)
- I don't really like facsimile autographs.
- No cartoons on the back.
- Topps has really run the design into the ground these past couple years (see 2012 Archives and the 2013 Update mini inserts). Hate to say it, but I'm kinda tired of it at this point.

Seems 1973 Topps is a pretty divisive set. Some people think it's one of Topps' weakest showings. I think it's great, though. It features many in-game action photos-- often wonderfully strange looking ones, at that. Nice vertical backs with full stats, and often a cartoon and/or brief write-up. And the fronts feature a simple, classic design that still seems fresh to me.

Plus, when I was a kid, the first "really old card" I remember adding to my collection was a '73 Pete Rose. This was probably late 1990. I traded my Super Mario Bros. 3 NES cartridge for it. A lot of other kids in school thought I was crazy to make that trade. But I had worn out SMB3 by playing it so much the previous several months, and knew it'd be good trade bait for building my burgeoning card collection, so decided I could part with it. And you know what?, that Pete Rose was a jewel of my collection for a long time. As a kid whose collection was mostly '90 Donruss and '90 Topps at that point, I was awed by the card! So neat and ancient! Even if it didn't hold its value (used to be around $20, down to maybe $5 these days).. and I'm not exactly a big Charlie Hustle fan anymore.. plus the unflattering photo makes it a classic "butt card".. I've still got it after all these years and still like it a lot. And thanks to the wonders of technology, I can play SMB3 on my computer anytime I want for free.. so take that, my middle school classmates who thought I got suckered in the deal.

But the point of that little story is that 1973 Topps has a sentimental place in my heart, and that gave it an edge in my decision to try to complete it.

I've already got many of the key cards in the set, such as Aaron, Clemente, Yaz, Bench, Gossage RC, and Mays (though Willie could use an upgrade). The most daunting card for me to obtain is the Schmidt/Cey RC.. but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I won't be super picky with condition, though of course I'd like 'em to be minty fresh if possible. Creased or dinged-cornered cards will be reluctantly added until an upgrade can be acquired. As for centering: if there's white border all the way around the front-- no matter how skinny one side may be-- it's good enough centered for me. Same goes for the back black border. Does the black go completely around the card? Then the back is centered well enough for me.

I've been working on a spreadsheet to track my progress. It's now been added to the blog as it's own page in the sidebar. Link below. If you've got some extra '73 Topps commons you could part with for the cause, please drop me an email and hopefully we could work out a trade.

As I officially take on this goal today, Thanksgiving 2013, I'm only at around 10% complete, so I've definitely got a ways to go. But with your help, perhaps someday in the not-too-distant future, I may be fortunate enough to finally know the joy of a completed set.

Take a look! 1973 Topps needs
Thanks and enjoy your holiday.


  1. Great choice with the '73 set. I picked up the Clemente a while back, though I'm not really a stickler for condition at all when it comes to anything in the 70s and older. The '73 and '71 sets are easily my favorite vintage sets, but it'd be hard to decide which one I like more - that could probably change just based on my mood. I WILL say that despite the overuse of the '71 design in the last few years, I still love it. The '73 card backs are all time greats, too.

  2. Good choice. 1973 is one of the under appreciated sets. For a long time the 1973 Carew was one of my oldest cards, and it is still just as sharp a looking card as it ever was.