One of the things I always loved about those early 1970's sets was the fact that as you get to the later series every year, you have these random players that had a card issued for them for no apparent reason.
Trying to figure out Topps "selection process" when it came to WHO they'd have in their set left us scratching our heads.
A great example of this is card #466 in the 1973 set: Jose Arcia.
He was a light-hitting utility player from Cuba who could play any position on the field, and he finally broke into the big leagues in 1968 with the Cubs, appearing in 59 games after toiling in the Minors for six years.
In October of that year he was picked by San Diego in the expansion draft and became one of the original Padres, getting into 120 games and playing all four infield positions as well as some outfield while hitting a light .215 with no "pop" whatsoever.
1970 was more of the same, as he played in 114 games while "upping" his batting average to .223 in 229 at-bats. Sadly for him, it wasn't enough for the Padres to keep him up in San Diego.
He bounced around the Minors for the next couple of years, playing for the Padres, Angels and Twins AAA teams until he signed with the Royals in early 1973.
Apparently, Topps assumed he'd be back up to the "big show" and decided to issue a card for him. So they used a three year old photo at the time, and airbrushed Arcia into a Kansas City Royals cap and uniform.
Only problem is, Arcia never made it back to the Majors. He did play for Kansas City's Triple-A Omaha club in 1973 and '74, but that was as far as he got. In 1975 he was demoted to Double-A Jacksonville, and then closed out his professional career in 1976 at Columbus (AA) for the Houston Astros.
So by the time kids were opening up packs in the Summer of 1973 they were staring down at a guy who was already out of the Majors for a few years.
I do wonder what Topps went by when it came to player selections, as some of them really were out of nowhere.
But hey, looking back at some of these cards decades later, you have to love these little quirks popping up from time to time.
I'll be profiling more cards like this in the future, so keep an eye out for them.
|A 1970 photo on a 1973 card.|