The Golden Age of Baseball Cards™

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Topps 1974 Baseball Card Set - The Way We Were

July 31, 2015

by William Szczepanek

Topps Baseball Card Checklist - 1974

"The Way We Were"

1974 Topps Pete Rose#300Mem'ries,
Light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were
Scattered pictures,
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? Could we?
Mem'ries, may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember...
The way we were...
The way we were...

The words were sappy back then and are still so, but they were meant to be that way. While Barbra Streisand’s song relates largely to lovers, it can relate to many other aspects of life. The memories aren’t just stored in my brain, they are part of who I am.

Scattered pictures could easily be a pile of baseball cards. And collecting baseball cards back then meant something totally different from what it means now.

The 1974 Topps Baseball Card Set

1974 Topps Hank Aaron #001The design was refreshingly clean, yet distinctive. A classic set that many collectors still like today.

The following subsets were also included: Hank Aaron Tribute: #1-6, League Leaders: #201-208, All-Stars: #331-339, Playoff Highlights: #470 and #471, World Series Highlights: #472-479 and Topps Rookie Stars: #596-608

The set of 660 cards was released in its entirety rather than distributed over time in individual sets to prevent baseball cards from competing with football cards in the Fall. While it may have improved marketing it did destroy the feeling of anticipation of not knowing when a favorite card would be released. It also allowed distributors and Topps to package cards for the entire year and sell them all at once. It’s kind of like celebrating all of the holidays on one day of the year for efficiency-sake.

This decision forever changed how baseball cards were collected. It is ultimately the beginning of baseball cards as a commodity and for that reason 1974 marks the end of the Golden Age of Baseball Cards. As a commodity the values of baseball cards hold up through 1975, but the effects of the changes in 1974 hit home and values for cards will drop thereafter.

Baseball 1974

On April 4th Henry Aaron ties Babe Ruth’s home run record and then breaks it on April 8th. Many believe that Henry Aaron’s total of 755 home runs should still be considered the Major League record.

1974 in the World

The F-16 Fighting Falcon was introduced and while it has go through many variations it is still in use today. Like many other things manufactured in the distant past they were made to last.  Consider the implications of our military using planes made in 1925 as the mainstay of the force in 1974.

Anyone who didn’t live through this time would not be able to understand it. Like so much else in life once those who have lived the experience are gone, so go the actual facts of the experience. In the future people will write about these times, but the events of the time will get distorted to fit the aims of the historians.

In June, for the first time a Universal Product Code is scanned. Coincidentally it is for a pack of Wrigley's chewing gum.

The End

Mem'ries, may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember...
The way we were...
The way we were...

The Golden Age of Baseball Cards ends in 1974 and will never be lived again, but we will always remember… the way we were.

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