It seems incredible to believe, but there was a time in the not too distant past that men wearing mustaches was NOT appropriate for "appropriate" society. As a matter of fact, for professional baseball, we were already a couple of years into the 1970's before a player showed up to Spring training wearing one. Problem is, baseball has what is becoming one of those legends that is actually NOT true, so let's set the record straight and give credit where credit is due.
As you know, legend has it that in 1972 Reggie Jackson showed up to Spring training wearing a "scraggly" mustache (as Rollie Fingers would state years later), and it lead to a challenge for all players to grow one of their own, all in the name of publicity for the eternal showman owner Charlie Finley. Of course, as we all know by now, this team of rebellious ball players with nicknames like "Catfish" Hunter and "Blue Moon" Odom were on their way to three consecutive championships, and were as colorful a bunch as any in baseball history.
Problem is, though they are credited as the players (specifically Reggie) to usher in the hairy decade that was the 1970's, it was another, even MORE rebellious player who sported the first "soup strainer" to be seen on a baseball card in the modern era: Richie Allen and his 1971 regular issue Topps card (#650).
Allen, who some would say re-defined the term "head case", played his only season as a Dodger in 1971. But since Topps issued him as part of their last series of the set, they were able to have him in the correct uniform, and as history would have it, sporting his 'stache for all to see and admire.
As a short-print card in a later series on an already above-average valued set (because of the sensitive black borders and card condition), the card carries a decent price tag. But for all you quirky sub-set collectors out there, this may be the easiest "1st" out there: the very first Topps baseball card to show a mustachioed player.
|Richie Allen with his groundbreaking 'stache|