Saturday, June 11, 2016


I received a GREAT email recently from blog-reader "RAJ" with some excellent examples of Topps and their airbrushing choices which really left me wondering how many other examples like these exist throughout the 1970's.
I liked the email so much I thought it'd make a perfect post.
Some good stuff here! Thanks Robert!

"Here is a great example of how Topps would remove certain elements in the background of photos for their cards using airbrushing when it really didn’t seem to be all that necessary.  On the left we see Mike Lum batting against the Pirates in Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium during the 1978 season.  On the right is a photo take during that same game, with no Topps airbrushing applied to it.  I’m not sure what was gained by painstakingly removing the photographers and their tri-pods.  

I guess Topps was wanting a clean background for this card as well as the cards for Johnny Bench and Dave Concepcion (below):

However, they chose to leave photographers and their equipment in the cards for Ray Knight, Ken Griffey, and Joe Morgan although they certainly removed portions of a photographer who was wearing blue jeans and a red shirt because you can see remnants of him in the Griffey and Morgan cards: 

In the cards we also see some strange happenings in the crowd as it appears that there are flesh-colored arms (or limbs of some sort) next to and below the big fella in blue in the Lum card.  What could they have done THAT for?

Hope this was of interest to you.  It always fascinated me the airbrushing “hack jobs” that Topps pawned off on us with some of those horrific baseball hats as well as the terrible football helmets in the 70s.  Classic..."  


  1. Personally, I prefer a lot of stuff going on in the background. That's probably why I love those wacky action shots in the 1973 topps set.

  2. RAJ I absolutely agree with you! Topps must have taken pictures of the entire 1973 Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians in just one game!! If you look at the background you can see the same fans sitting in the same seats...

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! Would love more

  4. I knew that Topps would sometimes airbrush over things in the background, but I'd never known that it was done on such a large scale, and I'd never noticed it on these cards. I'll have to go back and look at my 79's again.

    I can't say anything negative about the practice, because I've done similar things on my custom cards... Removing some distraction in the background, or a ballpark ad which takes away from the primary subject. I haven't done it often, but I have done it.

    1. Something that occurred to me just after I clicked on "Publish" for the last comment... it could've been done for legal reasons. Perhaps there's a reason for removing anyone there in an official capacity who's not uniformed personnel, like giving them the opportunity to ask for royalties or compensation for being on the card. It's a different matter for people in the stands, they effectively waive that right by purchasing a ticket, but photographers? I'm no legal expert, but I also think that collectors looking at this type of thing get caught up in the aesthetics and forget that there are *business* reasons for some of the things they've done.

  5. Johnny - you are correct about the 1973 Orioles and Indians cards being taken at the same game:



Everything baseball: cards, events, history and more.