Monday, January 14, 2013

Background Noise - 1987 Topps Steve Carltons

It’s the little things that catch my eye when looking at a baseball card.  Whether it’s facial expressions, hand gestures, dated apparel, scenery, etc., there is almost always something special pictured on a card.  Nearly every card tells a story if you are willing to read it.

While thumbing through my 1987 Topps Traded set for the last Joy of Sets post, I noticed the Steve Carlton card.  Originally, I thought it may have been an airbrush because the scenery is so similar to the base release.  Here is a side by side comparison.

Both cards feature Lefty warming up on the sidelines prior to the game.  Both cards appear to be photographed at Tiger Stadium.  Both cards have fans in the background, and both backgrounds tell a different story.  

In the White Sox version, the background is drab, dreary and lifeless.  The card shows what can be assumed as the father leaning on the railing, looking off into the distance.  Behind him is his presumed son, wearing a jean jacket, shoulders slouched, and looking blankly at Steve Carlton.  In brief, this card breathes angst.

Conversely, the Indians version is vibrant and alive.  The colors are sharp, and what’s happening in the crowd is priceless.  LOOK AT HOW THAT YOUNG BOY IS GRIPPING THE RAILING AND ABSORBED IN STEVE CARLTON.  This card does not reek of the dysfunction of a father/teenage son relationship.  In fact, the father is immediately behind his son, and they are both engrossed in watching Lefty warm up.  What could quite possibly be the icing on this cake, but impossible to prove, is that I think the older gentleman in the newsboy cap is the grandfather. If so, I hope the boy has this card as a keepsake.

Three generations caught in the background of a baseball card, intently watching an all time great warm up.  That may not be the case, but it’s my story.


Carl Crawford Cards said...

Awesome catch on the family in the traded card.

gcrl said...

i have been paying closer attention to the backgrounds during the 4+ years i've been blogging. i enjoyed your interpretation of these!

Doc said...

The little boy in the Tigers cap on the Carlton Traded card has to be one of the greatest things I have ever seen on cardboard. The awe shown in his grip and stare is amazing. Thanks for commented you guys!


cl_kyle said...

I just love the stirrups in the regular issue. Reminds me of little league growing up.

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