So what of Topps and its abiding fascination with cloth?
Seems someone in the hallowed halls held fast to the hobby-horsical notion that the kids wanted to see cloth versions of their cards.
In 1972, Topps created a test set of brown-backed cloth stickers. These made it out of the factory in uncut sheet form in some abundance, and the fledgling hobby broke out its collective X-ACTO knives and got down to the business of creating singles.
Then in 1976, Topps produced ragged cloth versions of two cards (Duffy Dyer and Bob Apodaca), utilizing a number of different materials. Samples of these also found their way into the hobby, and today will set you back about $50 a pop.
These 1976 cards were no doubt a run up to the widely distributed 1977 Topps cloth stickers, a little-loved set, then as now.
The cloth contingent within Topps then lay dormant until 1988, when another cloth test set was produced in sheets. This set is somewhat generously dubbed an “experimental” issue in the hobby literature, due to the unique tactile feel of the end product.
There has long been speculation that these 1988 cards were meant to turn into sponges when soaked in water, but a quick search of “1988 Topps Cloth Experimental Issue Experiment” on YouTube will demonstrate that they have no absorptive power whatsoever. ShamWow’s they ain’t…
And what of our Mets’ man of the cloth here?
I think the most-fascinating thing about Barry is the fact that he spent time with eight different organizations, but never once in his career was he traded for another player. Each and every time he moved to a new team, it was via the release/free agency route.
I defy you to find me another modern player cut from quite the same cloth…