Monday, November 21, 2011

1975 Topps Redux: Hank Aaron

Recently, I've been working on some 1975 Topps Traded Project submissions. While doing the research,  I was reminded of the strange manner in which Topps handled the newly crowned HR King, Hank Aaron with this set.

Early in the 1974 season, Hank Aaron hit his 715th HR and broke baseball's all-time home run record as a member of the Atlanta Braves. He was the toast of baseball and the rest of the '74 season was simply a victory lap for baseball's latest super-hero. Not surprisingly, he was elected as a NL starter in the 1974 All Star Game in Pittsburgh.

I'm not sure any noticed -- but once the record was broken, Hank's power production dropped off considerably. When the season was done, he had delivered "only" 20 HRs and 69 RBIs, a big drop from previous seasons. It was clear that time was catching up to the future hall of famer.

In November, after the conclusion of the 1974 season the Braves traded the now 40-year-old slugger to the Milwaukee Brewers. It was a nice fit because the still very popular Aaron was returning to the city where is his big league career had started and Milwaukee was (at the time) an American League town, where the newly adopted designated hitter rule was being used. In exchange Atlanta got outfielder Dave May and a minor league pitcher. Becoming a full-time DH enabled Aaron to extend his career long enough to break Babe Ruth's career RBI mark (2,217) and play two more seasons before retiring at the end of the 1976 campaign.

The 1975 Topps set actually has two Hank Aaron cards. One is an awful looking airbrushed Brewers card the other shows him in a Braves uniform. This "HR record highlight" card carries the NL all-star designation, which makes no sense to me at all.  I decided to fix this error in judgement and give Hank Aaron a decent looking 1975 card with his correct team and a proper all star designation.


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