Vada and Felipe

Mark Armour recently challenged us to write about our favorite common cards. For me, two cards from the 1971 Topps set immediately came to mind.

vada-pinsonGrowing up in Sacramento, the 1971 cards were really the first I collected and, as an Indians fan, my favorite player was Vada Pinson. To this day he remains one of my favorites. The 1971 Topps card shows him sliding into home against one of the greatest catchers of the era — Thurman Munson of the Yankees, wearing his Yankee cap, not a helmet, on his head. Totally old school. Plus I loved action shots as a kid and seeing your favorite player in that shot keeps it ingrained in your mind.

That year was Pinson’s second with the Indians and he had a small resurgence in his base stealing, nabbing 25 that year after stealing in the single digits the previous two years. Vada came up with the Reds, and in 1959 at age 20 led the National League in runs scored and doubles. He followed that up two years later by coming in third in the MVP voting, part of a decade-long run of stardom in Cincinnati. He ended his career with 2757 hits, just short of the magic number of 3000. 

I loved those old simple Indians uniforms. This card I think about more often than I probably should.

felipe-alouAnother card from that set I loved was this Felipe Alou, taking a full swing in those beautiful Oakland A’s uniforms, his number 8 showing for the camera. Just the color of that card was, and still is, mesmerizing. Alou moved around a lot when I was a kid, and he eventually landed with another of my favorite teams — the Montreal Expos — in 1973, their first decent team. Felipe will always have a special place in my heart, but this card is just flat out gorgeous.

The 1971 Topps set was the first that showed action photos as part of the regular player cards. There are many in this set I could choose, but Pinson and Alou are my choices. Both cards will remain in my memory forever.

5 thoughts on “Vada and Felipe”

  1. That Vada Pinson card features a picture taken on the same day as the ‘Tony Horton crawls into the dugout’ affair at Yankee Stadium in 1970. Pinson is being thrown out at home to end the 8th inning of the 1st game of the 6/24/70 doubleheader. Ironically Pinson was also tagged out at the plate in the second game when attempting to score on a wild pitch. Stan Bahnsen applied the tag and a fight ensued. Pinson was tossed. I was there and blogged about it here. I may already have linked to that in another comment a few weeks ago. Here is a newspaper story of that day at Yankee Stadium.

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  2. All of Topps’ action shots that year were taken at Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, likely over just a few games in each park. The Yankees and Mets both have a lot of in-action shots, while only a few other teams have any.

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  3. The 1971 Topps set was the first one I collected, and is still one of my favorites. I always believed the poet e e cummings inspired their decision not to use capital letters for the players names on the front of the card. Anyone know if that’s true?

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  4. I also love the 1971 cards. My one quibble — and its pretty important — is that they took a big step backwards on the backs of the cards. That was the year they switched to the grey stock — after years of bright easy-to-read stock — and they also got rid of the yearly statistics (for one year only).

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