Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Once again, I bring up one of those things you notice as a kid, feverishly collecting cards and examining each and every one of them as they make their way into your collection: today it's the strange case of Leon McFadden and his two Topps offerings from 1969 and 1970.
I remember years ago making the connection between both photos that made up his two-time "career" on baseball cards.
McFadden was pretty much up in the Majors for "a cup of coffee" as they used to say. He played in 62 games between 1968 and 1970 on the Houston Astros, mainly as a shortstop.
After appearing in 16 games for his first taste of big league play in '68, Topps had him on a "Rookie Stars" card in 1969 along with Hal Gilson. The following year he appeared in 44 games, and Topps deemed it worthwhile to have him on his own individual card in their 1970 set.
What is so strange about the McFadden cards are the way he was posed. Take a look. For some reason on BOTH his cards he is looking far into the distance, with this almost "glazed" look in his eyes, while up against a brick wall.
Now, if ONE of his cards had an image like this, no big deal right? But why on earth does he have the same exact pose the following year, in front of what seems the same exact wall, but while wearing a cap this time around?! Was this a little bit of an inside joke with Topps' photographer? Could it really have been a coincidence? For some reason I find this hard to believe. And what was with that expressionless face? I'm not saying the guy had to be jumping for joy or anything, but some emotion (like Gilson) would not have been too much to ask for.
So strange for this guy to be slapped up against a wall and have the camera shoved right in his face two years in a row. Perhaps both photos were taken at the same time, and Topps went and used the second one the following year for lack of another shot?
Who knows? But it sure stuck with me after noticing it. Here are the cards:
"Please look straight ahead"

"Now to the right"
It reminds me of some of the early-70's basketball cards (I believe from the 1973 set) as well as a few of the 1977 football cards that seemed to be photographed in a stadium tunnel or hallway. They all had this creepy, sleazy feel to them, and of course, because of that, I was drawn to them!

1 comment:

  1. LOL, I always loved these two Leon Mafadden cards. The all-time baseball mug shot cards. I remember thinking as a kid that they got these pictures from a police photographer. As for photos taken in a tunnel, I don’t know if you collect hockey cards. I was a big hockey fan, so collected a ton of hockey cards in the 70s, and before they started using action shots (they had a few in the 73-74 set, then used more and more in subsequent sets until by the late 70s they were all action shots) they were ALL taken in the tunnels down in the bowels of the arenas. Probably in Madison Square Garden or the Nassau Coliseum, because all the players besides the Rangers and Islanders would be in their road unis. In the earlier sets, they might cut out the posed picture of a player and paste it on a plain color background, like the 1954 Topps baseball set, but many of them would be a pose and you could see the cinderblock wall behind them.



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