It was all too rare during the Golden Age of Topps (1952-1980) for star players to get cards that matched their luster.

I think of cards like the 1967 Mickey Mantle. I’ve seen more flattering photos on DWI mug shots.

The 1973 Willie Mays did its best to make a tired middle-aged man look like a tired old man.

And I am somehow convinced that if the 1970 Pete Rose never existed, I would have gotten more dates in high school. Still working on some of the mathematical formulas to prove that theorem…

(The only consistent exception to this rule was Ernie Banks, but this is not because Topps was being deferential or especially attentive. It is just physically impossible to take a bad picture of Ernie Banks.)

Tom Seaver was certainly vulnerable to this particular maxim.

Take 1972 for example. His regular card shows one of the most dynamic pitchers of the era in a lazy spring-training fake-follow-through pose. How lazy? He didn’t even bother to remove his blue satin warm-up jacket.

Seaver’s In Action card from the same year pictures him hunched over on the mound, apparently in the throes of a bout of ulcerative colitis.

That is why the 1974 Seaver card is such a relief.

This is Tom Seaver as the world should see him, in mid-stride as he delivers some 95 MPH heat, with a full house in the Shea boxes, and John Milner in the background tapping his first basemen’s mitt.

“Strike ‘em out, Tommy!”

This is the Tom Seaver I see when I close my eyes and remember…

6 comments on “Mets Card of the Week: Tom Seaver

  • Mike Caruso

    The Hammer in the background is quite awesome! I love the Mets!

  • Brian Joura

    You hit the nail on the head with the drunk Mantle and the ready for Social Security Mays.

    And the Seaver poses were extremely repetitive. It doesn’t help that the 1968 and 1969 cards came from the same photo and the 1970 card was not much different.

    But from a pure picture POV, I think I’d take the 1977 version. While it doesn’t have Milner in the picture, I prefer the portrait cards to the landscape ones. And the 1974 version loses points for me because Seaver doesn’t go all the way to the ground with his knee on this follow-thru.

    Of course, the 1977 version has the stigma of being from the year that he was traded but to me it’s the one I always think of as the best one.

    The Seaver Kellogg’s cards look better than the Topps cards to me.

  • Stu Baron

    It would be helpful if you would include links to the cards you reference, not just Baseball-Reference.com pages.

  • SteveC

    It is a nice action shot, but as kids we always called it his fart card. What the heck is that brown-ish airbrushing that seems to be eminating from where Tom Terrific sits?

    • Chris F

      love the ’74 Topps set.

      • Doug

        Given the placement of that blotch, I’m thinking that Topps needed to obscure the first-base coach, probably for contractual reasons.

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