Monday, September 18, 2023

Vintage Equipment: 1977 Topps

Starting off with a great look at one of the more unusual uniforms in baseball history. In 1975 the Astros hired the well-known marketing firm McCann Erickson to create a futuristic new look for their uniforms. They came up with the orange, yellow and red rainbow uniform we all know and love. But in that first season of the new uniforms, the player's number was unusually located in a giant round patch on the player's back. The players hated the patch, which would get very hot in the warm weather, and in 1976 the Astros returned to a more traditional back uniform number. Though you can see side angles of the patch in some 1976 Hostess and Topps cards, I believe this is the only card to feature a full-on view of the patch. This may be a 1975 photo that Topps could have used a year earlier, but it's also possible the Astros still used these in their 1976 spring training.

 I only found one instance of a player borrowing someone else's bat. That's Cito Gaston, #43, with the bat of #12 Tom Paciorek.

Only one number to a player, so that makes more sense for labeling bats than using the player's initials. Therefore it's a bit unusual to see Al Cowens with an "AC" bat. Cowens did not have a teammate with "AC" initials until 1983 when Al Chambers joined him on the Mariners. Hopefully he switched to numbers by then, or didn't mind Chambers using his bats.
Finally, any overview of interesting equipment in the 1977 set has to include the White Sox team card, with their famous short pants uniforms!


  1. Childhood set, so I have these all memorized, but never noticed the patch number on Cabell's back.

  2. I never knew about those patches. It does seem like they'd make a sweat-laden jersey even more uncomfortable.