I figured I'd take a break from my Steve Garvey collection to write about about a couple peculiar trading card quirks that I've noticed through the years. The first has to do with former NFL Star and sometime actor Bubba Smith (who actually was a College Football teammate of Steve's at Michigan State).
I'll be the first to admit that I don't have any recollection of Bubba Smith the football player as he stopped playing just as I was getting into trading cards. I remember him as a thespian and his great work in the Miller Lite commercials, Police Academy movies and guest appearance as Al Bundy's high school football rival on Married with Children.
One of the reasons I've always enjoyed collecting Baseball Cards (and even Basketball cards) as a kid is that Topps was able to include almost all the players on each team in each of the sets I collected as a kid (i.e. mid-70's to mid-80's). With football cards, there were too many players on each team for Topps to feature them all in a set. However, they always seemed to include Offensive Skill Players and Pro Bowl caliber defensive players in their sets.
Bubba Smith ended up being one of Topps' chosen ones as they included him in everyone of their sets from 1970 to 1976 Topps (sans 1974) and even going so far as to give him three cards in their 1972 set. With that said, photos of Bubba must have been scarce as Topps was extremely lazy in their photo selection as you'll see below.
1972 Topps All-Pro (High #)
Blame it on scareness of sourcing his photos or Topps' laziness but five of Bubba's eight Topps cards used the exact same photo. Incredibly the first and last cards were released six years from each other. That wasn't the extent of this photo on trading cards as Kellogg's used this photo on their 1970 card (see below).
The only Topps cards of Bubba's that didn't use the photo above were his 1972 base, 1972 In Action and 1973 base. You'll see below that Topps didn't exactly go out of it's way to make up for their repeat used of photos in 1970 & 1971 in terms of creatively as their 1972 and 1973 base cards were most likely taken from the same game.
Bubba Smith is one of those old-time football players that makes the rounds signing autographs at card shows. For whatever reason, he isn't a name that would make me want to attend a card show alone. However, if he just happened to be signing at a card show that I was attending, I'd like to ask him how he felt about Topps providing an extremely limited photo selection on his NFL cards.
My guess is that he'd have liked more cards like his 1972 Topps In Action.
1972 Topps In Action