Some Old School Giants
November 14th, 2010 by slangon

Today’s episode of Sunday Afternoon Football Cards is brought to us by the number 1,973. As in a couple of 1973 Topps football cards.

I don’t own a whole lot of football cards in general but my collection of vintage football cards is especially low key. I have picked up a few random ones here and there, but I think before these came into my collection, I could count on one hand all the football cards I own from before 1980.

One of my tactics when I buy cards from either Sportlots or eBay in order to maximize the shipping charges is to pick up as many cards as I can from the same seller. Best case scenario, that involves picking up multiple cards that I need for one of my many wantlists. Sometimes, however it involves picking up cards that I don’t necessarily need, but are cool none the less. Sometime recently (I can’t remember when exactly. I’m horribly backed up as far as posting new acquistions.) I was grabbing a few vintage Mets and 1960 Topps cards off of Sportlots. I started to dig around the other cards that the seller had available when I decided to see what he had as far as football goes. I was able to grab quite a few old cards on the cheap, including these 2 1973’s.

#106 Willie Young

One thing I find interesting about the way Topps designed their football and baseball sets back in the day is that they actually had different design for the 2 sports. After quickly flipping through Check Out My Cards, it seems that the flagship Topps baseball and football sets have been, for the most part, the same design since the early 90’s. Sometimes there’s slight differences in minor elements of the design, but for the most part, they’re pretty identical. Back in the day, however, the design team actually had to come up with 2 separate, yet equally cool looking designs. I guess when you’re only putting out 1 football, 1 baseball, 1 hockey and 1 basketball set a year, you can afford to spend time making them different. When you need to design 47,000 different baseball sets alone, I guess it’s hard to find the time to come up with another idea for football.

#142 Doug Van Horn

What I think is really interesting about the older football sets though, is often times there are elements of the design that have been lifted from a Topps baseball set that came out before or there are elements of the design that show up in Topps baseball years down the road. Obviously these cards look nothing like the 1973 Topps baseball set. They do have elements similar to the 1979 baseball set.

Maybe the base card isn’t the best example but you can clearly see the similarity of the vertical ribbon shape of the ’73 football card and the horizontal ribbon where the team name is written on the baseball card. (By the way, now with Joe Morgan and Jon Miller out of the picture, can we hurry up and ban Tim McCarver from ever stepping into a broadcasting booth?)

You can get a much better sense of the similarity on this Record Breaker card and this All-Time Record Holder card, where the ribbon is striped. What make’s this tactic of Topps sort of cool is that they rarely seemed to blatantly rip-off their own designs. They merely borrowed from them. I don’t think anyone would ever get the 1973 football design mixed up with the 1979 baseball design, but there’s enough there to see the connection. It almost make’s it like a fun little design nerd game, trying to figure out where the Topps artists recycled their work.

The backs do not seem to be recycled, but they do follow the classic Topps card back formula of personal data, biography, stats and, most importantly, cartoon.

I like the old timey football player in the cartoon on Willie’s back.

What makes the backs extra cool, at least since these are cards of New York Giants, is that the color scheme is red and blue. That sure as hell beats the pink and yellow ribbon they used for all the Giants in this set (as well as the Oilers for some reason). That always gets my goat when they use a certain color scheme for all of a teams players, but that color scheme has nothing to do with the teams colors.

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