Sunday, August 31, 2014


Here's a card I always loved: Topps 1975 Chris Speier:

What a nice card with a great photo!
But there IS something "off" about it, and that's the strange "smudge" or smokey blob immediately in front of his face-shoulder-bat, obscuring a bit of the background.
What exactly is that?
Strange. My first impression was a film smudge, but it almost looks like the "smudging" stops right when it gets to Speier, as if it's behind him in the photo.
But this card represents to me what the 1975 and 1976 sets were all about: actions shots bursting with border colors of the players I first got into as a kid getting infatuated with the sport.
Just love those sets!
As for Speier, he forged a nice 19-year career spanning 1971 to 1989, playing for the Giants, Expos, Cardinals, Twins and Cubs.
His first five years in the Big Leagues were his best, making three All-Star teams and even getting a bit of M.V.P. support in 1972.
Pretty much a baseball lifer, Speier continued with a Major League career after his playing days in various coaching jobs up until 2012 with the Reds.
He even filled in for Dusty Baker as Manager of Cincinnati when baker fell ill for a spell, eventually finding himself as Special Assistant to G.M. Walt Jocketty.


  1. The "Smudge" was a not-unheard-of thing for Topps at the time... I've never seen any sort of authoritative explanation, but in every case there must've been something or someone in the stands that Topps did not want on the card. Another example (off the top of my head) is the 1974 Tom Seaver, although that was more of a floral potpourri than a smudge... In both cases, it's right at the edge of the stands. Hmm.

  2. I've looked at that Seaver card many times and never noticed that floral bouquet of colors. Is there any chance that the Speier card and the Seaver card were taken at the same game? The railing in the seats behind Speier look the same as in the Seaver card so it's probably at Shea. And the location of the "smudge" is in the first few rows on both cards as mentioned above. The sun and shadows are similar and the time frame is a year apart. The only difference is the angle of the shot.

  3. I also have noticed that Topps began tinkering with color filters in their printing process in the late 70s and early 80's leading to some very unnatural green skies or blue grass. Take a look at some of the KC Royals cards from the years 1979-1987. I am not sure what they were thinking when you compare those cards with the cards of the early 1970's. They look muddy and surreal at times.

  4. Speier is not pictured at Shea Tony. Shea's box rails were right at field level, not raised like that. I'll bet it was Cincinnati.

    Joe S, I have noticed the Seaver '74 blur and I thought of it as soon as I saw the card and read the page. Always wondered what was going on there. "Floral potpourri", lol, that's what it looked like alright. Wacky stuff. Here's a link to the card:

  5. Warren it might be Cincinnati but I can't tell for sure. If it is they have touched it up. Also on the Seaver pic, someone on a Mets blog thought it might have been a coach that was "colored" out for contractural reasons.

  6. Holy cow! You know I never realized the 1974 Seaver card had that strange "flowery" blur?!?!?! And I even profiled and redesigned the card a while back! What a strange blob. And don't forget that Carlton Fisk 1974 card with the messed up background! That one also had me wondering...

  7. I never heard about or noticed the Fisk card. What is that? Its a crack in the world! I did not know about that one Giovanni. Amazin'.

    Tony, now that I look close it looks like the stands below the floral pattern were also touched up, but properly. I think you're on to something. I don't know if you'd find a coach there during a pitch though. Did Topps have any problems with umps? Or maybe it was a base runner leading off first base.

    Now I'm really curious. There must be people still around that we can ask these questions to. Lets get a list of all those players that weren't signed by Topps in 73-74. List can't be that big. Pretty sure Rusty Staub was one, but he was a Met. I'm gonna figure out who it was and photoshop him back onto the card. lol.



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