1969-70 Topps Basketball — Walt Bellamy

A first for Off-Centred: a basketball post! Basketball cards don’t get much love from collectors, myself included. In fact, I don’t really like basketball–I’ll watch the Celtics if it’s the playoffs but that’s about it–so this was purchased strictly for aesthetics. I like it so much that I thought I’d try and put it together, however, the Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar/Lew Alcindor and a few other rookies put it out of reach. Also, Topps had some sort of licensing issue going on at the time with the NBA, so almost all the players are wearing their jerseys backwards to avoid showing team nicknames. This card is an exception, as the Pistons away jerseys at the time just listed “Detroit” on the front instead. So I’ll probably just pick up a few here and there for my tallboy collection.

I don’t know much about Walt over here other that he won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics, was a first overall pick, and is in the Basketball Hall of Fame here in Massachusetts. The thing I find most impressive about him is the list of defunct and relocated teams on his resume: Chicago Packers, Baltimore Bullets, and New Orleans Jazz. Of all the strange things about professional sports I think the strangest is that the franchise kept the nickname “Jazz” after they moved to Utah. The Utah Jazz. Just think about that for a second, people.

Frazer-Nash / Grand Touring Sports Coupe

This is only my second card from the 1961 Topps Sports Cars set. This one inverts the manufacturer/model listing from the Moretti I own but I guess it makes more sense this way. In a past post I compared the 2001-02 Topps Heritage Hockey set to Pop Art but I wish I hadn’t because these are definitely more Warhol-esque.

I don’t know much about British cars other than Jaguars are supposedly unreliable and I only know that because of an episode of Mad Men from last season. (Quick aside, Topps should totally do a Mad Men Heritage set, like how every hit show in the seventies and eighties had their own.) I’m mainly interested in this set because they’re tallboys. Topps produced a number of these back in the sixties and seventies and this is the only set that realistically fits in my budget.

  • 1961 Sports Cars
  • 1964-65 Hockey
  • 1965 Football
  • 1969-70 Basketball
  • 1970-71 Basketball

Are there other tallboy sets? I guess 1976-77 Basketball could qualify but its dimensions are different, they’re even larger.

Sports Coupe Italy / Moretti

I originally bought this on ebay as a birthday gift for my dad but once it arrived in the mail, I knew I could never let it go.

It’s part of the 1961 Topps Sport Cars set. There’s only 66 cards and a bunch of license plate stickers but they’re tallboys and feature a great, simple design. I can’t think of another set of horizontal tallboys but it fits great with the dimensions of a car. I love the single color background, the white border, and the slash between the country the car is from and its name. And the copy is wonderfully awkward and uses the oxford comma. “It is quite small, and very expensive for its size.” As with most Topps sets from the sixties, there’s a single panel comic on the back. They’re never funny but they add to the cards’ overall charm.

See the rest below.