C’mon Get Happy!

Why 1971? Yes, ABC’s Friday night lineup was ( in order, starting at 8 PM EST), The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 22, The Odd Couple and Love, American Style, but I don’t think that’s it (though, as sung in Dayenu, “It would have been enough.”)


My reentry into serious collecting started a year and a half ago, when I realized I needed 57 cards to finish what would end up a VG-EX (mostly) 1971 Topps set. As I thought about what other sets I had enough cards to build around, I was pleasantly surprised to find I had 19 of 75 1971 Kellogg’s 3-D cards. Then, last month, out of the blue, I started thinking about the 1971 Topps coins. You can read my sad story about them here, but as with the others, I had a lot of the set (2/3 in fact) and figured it was worth pursuing.


One of my most favorite things is a complete set of 1971 Dell stamp books. I’ve got them all AND the divisional folders to store them in. I found out about them when I bought the Today’s All Stars book. As with the ’71 Topps coins, 8-year-old me made a dumb decision. I had all the player stamps in their team books, so I figured I could take the All-Stars book apart, removing the perforated player stamps. For what reason? Who the hell knows? They came out of the book and went into a box, where they stayed. It would have been easier to put the intact book in a manila folder with all the rest. Lurking in the back of mind has always been the wish to buy the book and I did, last week. Now I can sell all the individual stamps as a complete set and remove that blight from my memory.

1971 Dell front #1008

But, again, why 1971? Why buy the Dell book now, on the heels of completing the Topps set and midstream on completing the Topps Coins and Kellogg’s 3-D sets? Is it as simple as the math, that I had more than enough of each set to go the distance? I don’t think so.

I’m not one for personal nostalgia, for my own golden era or innocent youth, but 1971 is a pivotal year in my life. We moved from Brooklyn in December, from a middle class Canarsie neighborhood where I could walk to P.S. 114 and stop at a candy store called Paulino’s (not sure of the spelling) on Glenwood Ave., a wondrous place of cases full of candy and boxes of 1971 Topps cards, regular and Super. From there, I was transplanted to the middle of Suffolk County, where I had less freedom and was thrust back in time. Believe me, my long curly hair and David Crosbyesque fringe jacket didn’t play well with the Wenonah Elementary School crowd in January of 1972, kids who still had buzz cuts and never had seen a Jew. Not that it was all bad, by any means. I had my own room for the first time, which was liberating, and, within short order, I fell into a nice Long Island groove.

So why 1971? Somewhere in the creases of my brain, there’s a little Jeff Katz who longs for that year, before real life hit the fan. It could be that. Or maybe 54-year-old me simply thinks this is awesome.


After all, I am a man of simple and consistent taste.

Author: Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.

14 thoughts on “C’mon Get Happy!”

  1. I also have a $h!t-ton of 1971 material — my sweet spot is 1969-71. I have the stamp albums. I also have every baseball preview mag from this period that I have ever run across.

    Despite that, when I hear Carol King’s “It’s Too Late” — a song which was EVERYWHERE that summer — I practically start bawling.

    So, I’m torn.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve got a thing about that year’s music as well, though not necessarily Carole King (though I do think that song is amazing). My big loves are What’s Going On, Ram, “Whatcaha See is Whatcha Get” by The Dramatics, “Treat Her Like a Lady” by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose. The list goes on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For a few years there I listened to Casey Casem and I would write down the Top 40 as each song was played. So if “It’s Too Late” (backed by “I Feel The Earth Move”) was #27 last week, I would be listening while Casey got to the teens, and the tension would be building as I realized how much of a leap the song was taking. Similarly, he would play the #12 song which was #6 last week, and I would sadly shake my head. Because once it started dropping, it was pretty quick.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Question: are you going to put the stamps in the book? I have the booklets and the stamps, but I have not affixed said stamps.

    I have not looked at the stamps in 30 years I bet. That Yaz stamp is gorgeous — Yankee Stadium I am guessing. Topps introduced action that year, so its interesting the Dell would have action shots.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love, American style. Truer than the red, white and bluuuu…. The inner 8 year old is the reason we all collect. I have spent my entire adulthood trying to acquire all the stuff I wanted between 68-80. I only found the All-Star version of Dell stamps as a kid. Very jealous of you having the whole set Love the picture of Gibson with the palm trees.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That inner 8–14 year old indeed. Everything we couldn’t afford minus all the things we now know better about.

      I wonder how many of us got restarted on collecting by having a child approaching 8 years old.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My eldest is turning 8 this year and is showing all the signs of getting into cards. It’s been a major force bringing me back into the fold. My mom was teasing me a little until I reminded her that she only got back into baseball once I turned 8 too.

        I do wonder though whether I’d’ve kept collecting had the 1994 strike not occurred right in the middle of my teenage years.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The Dell stamps are intact in the book, so nowhere else to go with them. However, I never affix stamps anymore. In recent years I bought the 1981 Topps sticker set and the 1974 Topps sticker set (which is beautiful), but they remain unstuck. I don’t even have the albums for 1974.


  5. I had all the Dell booklets back to in 71 but 8 yr old me cut all the stamps out. Still have all the stamps complete set I believe. Never glued them in the books. The books are now long gone. Except for. Redsox Booklet I re purchased about three yrs ago.

    Liked by 1 person

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