As a sports card collector for some 35 years, as well as a Graphic Designer for over 20, I've always had my "favorites" as far as card designs go, whether it was a set or even an individual player. Who can argue with the fact that the 1952 Topps baseball set, or 1953 Bowman baseball set were simply sublime in design? Or what about those Allen & Ginter or Mayo Plug masterpieces from 100+ years ago? Little rectangular pieces of art!
However, as a "child of the 1970's", I must admit I have always had a warm spot in my heart for those Topps baseball sets of the decade. We were given psychedelic, eye-gouging designs like 1972 and 1975, while also having bland, almost inexplicably boring set designs in 1970 and 1973. And who can forget that frustrating (for a condition-sensitive collector today) 1971 set with the black borders?! Topps seemed to be trying to catch up with the "go-go" '70's, exploding with color, design, and sometimes even photography after pumping out "middle of the road" offerings ever since Bowman bailed out of the baseball card game in 1956. I mean, besides the "clean" 1967 design, which was really just an updated version of the 1957 design, Topps really just kind of phoned-it-in between 1960-1970 in my opinion.
Then, out of nowhere, they hit us with that aforementioned 1971 set, black and bold with some horizontal cards thrown in for extra "kick", only to visually rape us with that acid-trip of a 1972 set! As a matter of fact that set was so visually explosive that it seems to have made Topps take a step back for a couple of years in 1973 and 1974 to have some time to reload before they jumped into the color pool again with their 1975 edition!
Personally, the apex of Topps baseball was indeed the run between 1975 and 1978. Those four sets were, and still are, just magic to me. The colors of 1975 and 1976, along with the clean designs from 1977 and 1978 made these sets my favorites to this very day. On top of it all, I was always a sucker for the All-Star cards being the players' regular issue card. I'm sure many would disagree with me here, but I never liked separate All-Star cards for players. I always felt that when you pulled a player's card from a pack, and saw that "All-Star" designation on the card, it was awesome to turn to the back to see the very stats that made them an "All-Star" to begin with. That run of regular issue All-Star cards from 1975-1981 will be examined further in the near future, sort of a sub-set of articles actually. But for the near future, allow me to jump right into the cards of that crazy decade that burned themselves into my brain and have stuck with me all these years…