Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set (Article 1)
By Paul Semendinger
Originally Published – March 23, 2020
The first Yankee to appear on a 1977 Topps baseball card, if one is going in number order, is Graig Nettles who appears as the American League Home Run Leader on card #2.
Regular readers to this blog know that Graig Nettles was my favorite player growing up. As a kid first getting cards, I don’t recall thinking much of this card other than the fact that it pictured a Yankees player. As I was first getting into the game, I had a few preconceived notions that I have probably never fully grown out of:
First, I had this expectation that Yankees players should be on leaders cards.
Next, I thought that being a Yankee meant that the player was the best at his position. I thought every Yankee was great. Along with that, I looked up to all of the Yankees players as gods or super heroes. I thought they were all bigger than life (and they were) and possessed other worldly skills (which, in some regards, they also did).
Finally, I thought it was preordained that the Yankees should have the best players and that they should always win.
Nettles hit 32 homers to lead the league in 1976. He would hit 37 in 1977, five more than his previous output, but he wouldn’t lead the league that year. The league leader in 1977 was Jim Rice who clubbed 39 homers for the Red Sox. Nettles and Bobby Bonds (California Angels) were tied for second in the league with 37 each.
At the time I first saw this card, I probably didn’t know how special it was that Graig Nettles was the home run champ. I didn’t know that he’d never lead the league in any major category again. When I first saw this card, I don’t even think Nettles had evolved into becoming my favorite player. It was just a card of a Yankee… and that’s what made it special.
Over the years since, this has become one of my favorite cards.