Saturday, January 21, 2017


Here’s an interesting find, the original negative for the image that would end up being Billy Champion’s 1973 Topps card.
First up the card as-issued by Topps:


Now the negative as it was treated for final production:

I love finding these to see just how Topps had the original photos “touched up” to show the correct team for a player in the following set.
Here we see that Champion was originally photographed with the Philadelphia Phillies, for whom he played the first four years of his eight-year Major League career.
To get him into his new team’s uni, in this case the Milwaukee Brewers, Topps just went and partially touched up the image, enough to get the part of the photo that would be used on the card.
I would have thought it was a given to re-paint the whole image, but certainly makes sense to JUST do what is needed.
As for Champion, he played for eight seasons in the Majors evenly split between the Phillies and Brewers, compiling a 34-50 record with a 4.69 earned run average over 202 appearances, 102 of which were starts.


  1. From what I've learned, Topps' artists did their paint jobs right on the color negatives (very small canvas). This means that the Topps Vault will never be releasing un-retouched examples of our favorite paint jobs like Champion above, the '78 Maddox, the 73 McKinney, etc, etc...really wish those still existed someplace.

  2. Billy just died last week. Wasn't sure if you knew that.

  3. As a kid I always thought this guy should have been way better than he was just because of his name

  4. Regardless, just look at that horrible Brewers hat they painted on to him.

  5. Love seeing the original photo.

    I know it's out of the scope of the blog and a bit off-topic but there is a series of photos that Topps used for Ron LeFlore in 1981. One is for his Topps Sticker as an Expo. One is an airbrushed version for his Coke card with the White Sox and the third was airbrushed for the 5x7 Team Photo Card with the White Sox. All three are slightly different but it's pretty obvious that they were taken at the same time. I'd love to see the original photos for that group.

    And he also has a different shot for his standard card with the Expos and one in the first Topps Traded set for his departure to the South Side. I don't think he was in the Scratch Off set so that might be all he had that year.

  6. RIP. One of the first cards that I got when I started buying baseball cards was his 1970 card. Starting to feel old when guys you watched play as rookies start dying of old age related maladies. Terrible airbrush job on the 1973 card though--one of Topps' worst, although they seemed to routinely do a terrible job on airbrushed Brewers' caps (you would think they would have gotten good at it since there was always a whole bunch of new guys that they acquired every off season.



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