Wednesday, January 6, 2010

1977 Topps Stickers #5, Bert Blyleven

Today's guest just missed 2010 HOF election, falling 5 votes short of the required 75% (full story). Some writers have made his long-time excellence for (mostly) middling teams a fulcrum to critique the business of baseball and Cooperstown's own political history. I just remember Bert as a worthy opponent for my Mariners, going 14-7 against them in 27 games pitched (career splits).

Card front

In 1977, Bert led the AL with a career-best 1.065 WHIP (BB + H / IP), yet went "only" 14-12. Being third starter behind Gaylord Perry and Doyle Alexander meant missing a start every now and then, but a few extra wins probably wouldn't have gained Cy Young notice. (Sparky Lyle, the Yanks' dominant closer, took the award by winning 13 and saving another 26.)

Card back

Topps printed this 55-sticker, cloth-front set as a companion to their normal 660-count issue. It came in its own wax packs and proved relatively popular. The peel-away, self-adhesive back includes player highlights, though I think stats would've worked fine. (Perhaps that would've cost more than this one-off project was worth to them.)

1977's the best known cloth sticker set, but Topps tried them first in 1972. Robert Edwards Auctions sold a pair of uncut 1972 sheets for $1K not long ago.

Value: Ungraded sets go for up to $50 and singles cost a dollar or two. Nolan Ryan is the top star and could cost you $20.

Fakes / Reprints: Haven't seen any fakery for this set, as it's too costly to replicate a sticker issue for just a few dollars.

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