Today we will take a quick look at an instance where Topps did indeed use their noggin and produce a card for someone even though they barely played in the Major Leagues the previous season.
Card #338 in the gaudy (yet sexy) 1972 set features future star Bobby Grich in only his second baseball card (his rookie was in the 1971 set), and normally would be a bit of a surprise since he only appeared in seven games, good for 30 at-bats in 1971. Take a look:
However, when you look at his monster year in the Minors in '71, and note that he was named "Minor League Player of the Year", you realize Topps actually used their brains and figured it'd be worth it to throw in a card for was thought to be an up-and-coming star.
Check out his year at Baltimore's Triple-A franchise, Rochester of the International League:
A .336 batting average with 124 runs scored, 26 doubles, nine triples, 32 homers and 83 runs batted in, all with just 473 at-bats.
He also sported a .439 on base percentage and .632 slugging, with 81 walks and 299 total bases.
As we all know, Grich did not disappoint, going on to have a very nice 17-year career with the Orioles and Angels.
By the time he retired after the 1986 season, he finished with 1033 runs, 1833 hits, 224 homers and 864 runs batted in, while being considered one of the finest fielding second basemen in the game, winning four Gold Gloves while appearing in six All-Star games.
I'll always remember the Godly status he had in my eyes because of his 1977 all-star card.
That was the first year I was collecting like crazy, and anyone with "all-star" on their card was almost "super-human" to me!