Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"I'm a sucker for vintage", Pt. 3: Astros

Picking out my five favorite vintage Astros cards was fairly easy. I featured a few of my favorite Astros cards in a previous post, but I've had a change of heart in deciding a few of my Astros favorites since I made the "Best Of" section of that post.

A note: Houston Colt .45s cards won't be included in this post. I'm saving them for a later post similar to this one.

Honorable Mentions:

1965 Topps #389 Don Larsen
1970 Topps #598 Joe Pepitone

The Countdown:


1972 Topps #65 Cesar Cedeno

Fun Fact: "Hailed as NL's best superstar, Cesar led both leagues in Doubles, 1971 and led Astros in 4 other categories."

Don't you just love the "caveman" language Topps uses on the backs on some of these cards? Apparently the Topps printing company charged on a per-word basis. 

I picked this card up for fifty cents in November. There's just something about the sharp contrast between Cedeno's bright red undershirt and the green grass in the background (or is it turf?) that I love. 

1972 was Cedeno's breakout season, as he hit .320 with 22 homers and 82 RBI's. He'd also get elected to his first of four All-Star teams in '72.


1966 Topps #106 Rusty Staub

Fun Fact: Rusty was 'Louisiana Schoolboy Athlete of the Year'."

"Louisiana Schoolboy" sounds like the name of an awful country band. 

In my original Astros post, I showcased Staub's '67 Topps issue, but I decided that I like this one better after mulling it over for a bit. I'm a big fan of field shots in the background, as shown on this card.

When I picture Rusty Staub, I always picture him as an older player because a majority of my cards of him are from his later Mets days. Staub was just 22 when this card was released. This is just a guess, but I'd bet that Staub was the last former Colt .45 to retire (he retired in 1985). The only other player I could think of was Joe Morgan, and he retired in '84.


1977 Topps #260 J.R. Richard

Fun Fact: "J.R. hit Homer against the Braves, July 6, 1975."

More "caveman" language courtesy of Topps. Not sure why "homer" is capitalized either.

I can remember the first time I saw this card. It was one of the cards featured in Josh Wilker's book, Cardboard Gods, which might be the single greatest book I've ever read. Wilker said that he and his brother always used to try to duplicate Richard's pitching motion based on this card.
Thanks to Richard's signature on the bottom, I now know that the "J.R." in his name stands for "James Rodney".
This card's got it all. It's got J.R. Richard in his prime. It's got a fantastic 1970's Topps action shot. And it's got the famous "Technicolor" Astros uniforms of the 1970's. What more do you need?


1973 Topps #185 Jim Wynn

Fun Fact: "Jim likes jazz music."

I'd previously featured Wynn's 1971 Topps issue as my favorite of his. Like Rusty Staub, though, I've since changed my mind.

I'm not great at identifying stadiums (especially with '70s cards), but it looks like this one was taken at Candlestick Park. It looks like Topps caught "The Toy Cannon" in a candid moment, warming up before the game's about to start. Fans are beginning to find their bleacher seats.

1973 would be Wynn's final season as an Astro. He'd hit just .220 (although he'd post a modest .347 OBP) in '73 and be dealt to the Dodgers in the offseason.


1971 Topps #264 Joe Morgan

Fun Fact: "Joe led Astros in Runs, Triples, and Stolen Bases in 1970."

One thing hasn't changed since my initial Astros post, however. This is still my favorite vintage Astros card.

This is one of the finest in-action shots I've seen of any 1970's cards. To top it off, it's of a Hall-of-Famer. Morgan is shown in the middle of one of his vicious swings, possibly collecting one of his 2,517 career hits. 

Topps really had to work to fit Morgan's facsimile signature onto the card. As a result, it's one of the oddest placements for an autograph that I've seen.

Something about that picture just fits with the awesome black borders of the classic 1971 Topps set.

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