#CardCorner: 1978 Topps Checklist
Hall of Fame staffers are also baseball fans and love to share their stories. Here is a fan's perspective from Cooperstown.
They were the disposable smartphones of their day, but baseball history was the only information they offered.
Colorful cardboard that fit neatly into the palm of your hand, with a picture on the front and printed numbers on the reverse. Nothing made the nine-year-old me as breathless as I was when I opened a fresh pack of baseball cards.
And nothing was as crushing as discovering that one of those cards was a dreaded “checklist.”
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Individual player cards were best, but team cards – why were those Cubs team shots always pictured with floating, seemingly disembodied heads of players – were acceptable as well. Then there were the manager cards, oriented long-ways (instead of vertically like the player cards) that were pretty cool as well. If not for those, I can’t say I’d be able to remember Bobby Winkles or Vern Rapp.
I can see myself outside the five-and-dime: My bicycle tumbled over on the sidewalk, my behind perched unsteadily on the low-to-the-ground shop window sill that was no more than a foot wide. I had just handed over 25 cents for a pack of 1978 Topps cards, and I was frantically searching for my favorites.
“Hey, Johnny, I’ll give you my Nos. 122-242 checklist for your Mike Schmidt. Is it a deal?”
Not even the best general manager could make that one work.
Why did Topps do this? I suppose it was to convince kids to try to get every card. But there were some players that just never came up in packs, no matter how many you bought. In the days prior to widespread card shows, some players were impossible to find.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum