Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Edition

The Spine Card

I'm sure I put entirely too much thought into the "spine card."  The card that I insert into the spine of a three-ring binder that holds the set.  I've come up with many different schools of thought for choosing the "spine card," and am sure most of you have your own system.  Mine own has evolved in recent years, into something much more complicated than it once was.  In a nutshell, I try to have one player from each position (with one "wild card") represented in each decade, a rule I am currently breaking for every decade.

As much thought and effort as I waste on choosing a spine card, it's still a work in progress.  In part due to my limited cards to choose from for a lot of sets, and in part due to discovering new cards that I had never seen before that instantly demand they be placed in a spine.  Such is the case that happened this week when I picked up a '78 Mark Fidrych card.

I could have sworn I had every Fidrych there was to be had, but after sorting through some '78 set needs, I guess I didn't.  I'd have liked to use Fidrych as a spine card, but my favorite was his '77 which bears both a Rookie Cup Trophy, and All-Star banner.  I try to avoid cards with those as I feel they aren't representative of the majority of the set.

So the '78 Fidrych went into the spine.  Looks great.  But now what about the '78 Rod Carew?  Carew needs to be represented on the wall of binders.  He's one of my all-time favorites, and owns a legacy that is wildly under appreciated.  I'll be damned if my own collection is going to snub Carew.  So begins a game of spine card shuffle.

The first step is to swap out the Carew for a Fidrych.  I can't deny taking a lot of satisfaction in having found an acceptable Fidrych to use amongst my binders.  That was easy.  Now the issue of where to put a Carew.  Carew unfortunately, had a lot of bland Topps cards over the years.  My favorite is probably his '68, but that's too early in his career, has a rookie cup, and my duplicate copy is in extremely poor condition.  '83 is another awesome Carew card, but it shows him at first base.  The man deserves to be represented as a second baseman.

I landed on 1970.  My current 1970 was just a placeholder and never meant as a permanent solution.  I just chose it because it was an awesome looking card.  1970 is a tough set to choose one for because the vast majority of the cool looking cards are of stars past their prime (Aaron, Banks, Clemente).  As it happens, I had duplicates of Carew, and while it's not the best looking card in the world, it's acceptable and will work for now.  Adios Mr. Laboy.

With that switch, here's a run down of the current state of my 1970's "Spine Cards" and their outlooks moving forward.

1970 Rod Carew
Chance of Staying: 40%
Carew will always have a home in a spine, but I don't think this is the spot.  I'm about 85% of the way to completing the '70 set and when I do, it'll be time to go through and pick the right card.  Circumstance may demand it remain Carew, but a change seems more likely than not.

1971 Tom Seaver
Chance of Staying: 85%
I wanted Seaver as a Met, and the '71 card isn't the worst looking card of Seaver's.  I'm only about 50% of the way to completing the '71 set, so the possibility of discovering a "new" card I've never seen is strong.  The Munson has been ruled out due my desire to avoid using a horizontal card for a vertical set.

1972 Roberto Clemente
Chance of staying: 98%
This is one of my all-time favorite cards, and has been since the first time I saw it on a 1987 Topps "Turn Back the Clock."  I also think it's unlikely I'll end up with duplicates of a 50/60's Clemente and decide to use it and knock this card out (one spine per player).

1973 Johnny Bench
Chance of Staying: 80%
I'm not even half-way to completing this set, but I'm fairly confident this Bench will remain the card. Anything is possible, but I want Bench represented, and this seems like the card to go with.

1974 Pete Rose
Chance of Staying: 25%
There's nothing wrong with this card, I just plan on using a 60's Pete Rose at some point.  As it stands, my 60's "spine cards" are a random collection of minor stars such as Mickey Lolich, Joe Peptione, Rusty Staub and Jim Bouton.  It's my most sparse decade as far as set completion and my available duplicates reflects that.  When Rose makes the move, I'll have to find a new '74.

1975 Doc Ellis
Chance of Staying: 35%
This is a tough set to choose for.  It's one of my favorite sets, but a lot of the most iconic cards are rookies (something I try to avoid), and a lot of the Hall of Famers are kind of dull head shots.  Ellis seems to have the personality for the set, but ultimately I expect to switch him out for a more Hall of Fame caliber player.  I'm just not in a huge hurry to do so.

1976 Mike Schmidt
Chance of Staying: 75%
Schmidt has perhaps the worst selection of Topps cards to choose from of any player anywhere near his caliber.  This '76 is one of his only even remotely interesting cards.  For that reason, it seems likely to stay.

1977 Lou Brock
Chance of Staying: 10%
Lou's stripped batting helmet on this card is only going to take him so far.  Oddly, '77 is the set I have the most work to do as far as completing, so there's a lot for me to see.  I don't yet have a card in mind, although I'm leaning airbrushed Reggie Jackson (airbrushing deserves to be represented).

1978 Mark Fidrych
Chance of Staying:  99%
Unless I break all my rules and use Bird for the '77 set, this card is staying.  I'm about 25 cards short of the set, so I feel like I've seen all there is to see.

1979 Andre Dawson
Chance of Staying: 55%
Dawson is another guy that is going to be used somewhere, it's just a question of where.  I want him as an Expo, which leaves me limited options as the early 80's is very crowded and pretty locked in at the moment.  I've completed this set, and there really isn't much to work with, so Dawson may stay here for awhile.


  1. Wow. I put almost no thought into this in comparison. "Got a dupe from that year? OK! In the spine it goes!" That's my thought process.

  2. I used the Laboy for 1970 as well! I don't generally use superstar cards unless they qualify otherwise as one of the nicest aesthetic cards in the set. Hence the Laboy - great colors and a cool photo.
    My other rule is that I try not to use someone from the same team on two binders. That rule will probably get violated first.
    And actually, I don't use actual cards on the spines. I scan them or save pictures off the internet and print them out with the set name text below.