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Sunday, July 3, 2022
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Action packed


If 2022 Topps really wanted to draw my interest, it would recognize a significant anniversary in its history this year.

It’s been 50 years since Topps installed an “In Action” subset into its flagship set for the first time, in 1972. And it’s been 40 years since Topps repeated that tactic in its 1982 set. I was quite disappointed when I opened packs in 1992 and found no “In Action” subset.

Since that time, the only “In Action” references from Topps that I can think of are online one-off deals. Maybe it was an insert set recently? I do not know. If it is not part of the base set, I lose track.

Perhaps it is not necessary to have such a subset now since just about every base card is an action card. But I think there are creative ways to make an “In Action” set today by finding special action shots or using different cropping to make the cards distinctive.

But again, stuff like this is usually reserved for SPs and such. I’m wishing for something nobody is capable of producing today, which is why I am reliving the past again. Here are some of my favorite “In Action” cards from that 50th anniversary set:

I have more favorites than that, of course – there are 72 of them in the set! But I’ve written about several of them on the blog, and in a Beckett article, and in a blog post about the Beckett article. Sheesh! So these will do fine.

Topps was just warming up its action-picture muscles at this time, debuting action photos on individual players’ cards only the previous year. That’s why the ’72 In Action cards have some wonderfully unusual action photos, some – like the Darrell Evans – that you’ve never seen again.

OK, here are some 1982 In Action favorites:

For the most part, the 1982 In Action photos are clearer and significantly closer than the ’72 In Action cards. That also means there is more “sameness” with the photos than in the ’72 set. And “sameness” with action pix has been a complaint of mine with sets since the early 1990s. It shows creativity of picture-taking and picture selection is just as important with action pix as it is with the older candids and posed shots.

Since Topps was using action more and more for its base cards it ran into issues like below and I guess hoped nobody noticed ?:

But the Tony Perez card is great and the Carlton Fisk goes without saying. I love the Reggie card because it rhymes. Reggie Jackson In Action!

And you know you all saw the Rod Carew shot in ’82 Fleer, too. I’ve written about that before as well.

Here’s something else I’ve probably mentioned:

Topps re-used the 1981 Willie Stargell photo for its In Action card of Stargell in 1982. I did not even notice that when I was accumulating cards in ’82.

Stargell is one of the players who appeared in an In Action card in 1972 and 1982.

Otherrs include Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew, Johnny Bench and Pete Rose.

Here are a few more “In-Action” favorites from ’72 before I hit the road. (Perhaps double quotes are needed for that Bill Barton “In-Action” “In-Action” card).

I think we’re all a bit immune to action cards and have been for decades. Fifty years after the first In-Action subset would be a nice time to make action cards distinctive again.

Maybe Topps has something like that planned.

Or not.



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