The 1977 Topps baseball card set was the 56th year of production for Topps and contained photos of 728 current Major League Baseball players and managers. Some key things to know about the 1977 Topps set:
Design: Topps kept the basic horizontal card design they had been using since the late 1960s. The cards featured a team photo on the front with the team name arched above and player name/position centered below. Statistics were moved to the back from previous sets when they occupied the bottom of the front. Fun fact – the backs included the year each player was born for the first time.
Rookies of note: Some of the top rookies included future Hall of Famers Eddie Murray (Orioles), Tom Seaver (Red Sox), and Rickey Henderson (A’s). Other notables included Dave Stieb (A’s), Steve Rogers (Expos), Butch Hobson (Red Sox), and Bobby Grich (Angels). Murray and Henderson went on to have Hall of Fame careers while Rogers and Grich both had multiple All-Star appearances.
Short Prints: Topps produced several “short print” cards in the 1977 set that were distributed in much smaller numbers than the base cards, making them harder to find and more valuable to collectors. Some of the bigger short prints included Carlton Fisk (Red Sox), Nolan Ryan (Angels), Reggie Jackson (Yankees), and Johnny Bench (Reds). These stars all had well-established careers by 1977.
Traded and team changes: Since it was common for players to be traded mid-season in the pre-free agency era, Topps produced “traded” cards showing players in the uniforms of their new teams. For example, Don Stanhouse had cards showing him with the Expos and Reds after being dealt between the two teams. Nolan Ryan had a “traded” card showing him as an Angel after leaving the Mets.
Design changes: The backs of star players’ cards had a blue border around their stats/information boxes for the first time. So players like Mike Schmidt, Tom Seaver, Pete Rose stood out from the rest when flipped over. The design would continue to be tweaked each subsequent year.
Promotional inserts: Topps included several fun promotional inserts beyond the base cards. These included checklists, manager/coach cards, Dodger and Yankee team cards recapping their championship seasons, and a “Record Breakers” card celebrating Hank Aaron passing Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list.
Estimated print run: The large size of the 728-card set led to an estimated print run between 80-90 million packs to meet demand. While high, this is smaller than some modern-day sets with sky-high print runs in the hundreds of millions.
Future Hall of Famers featured: In addition to the rookie Hall of Famers already mentioned, the 1977 set included legends like Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Reggie Jackson, Carl Yastrzemski, and several others either in or near the tail end of their careers. Collecting these future Hall of Famers helps add value and historical significance to any 1977 Topps baseball card collection.
While not the most coveted set overall, the 1977 Topps baseball cards remain a fun way for collectors to reminisce about that MLB season and enjoy the rookie cards of future stars. Short prints and stars on new teams through trades add collecting interest. And featuring dozens of future Hall of Famers gives this set excellent longevity and relevance decades later.