Sometimes it’s the back of the thing that makes a baseball card legendary.

And, sometimes, it’s the back of another card that elevates a particular pasteboard to hobby royalty.

Take the 1977 Topps George Foster card, for example.

It’s a fine looking card in its own right, and it hails from the season when Foster won his only MVP Award, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a second-place finish in the old National League West.

Of course, that was a disappointing outcome for a team that had just won two World Series, and it effectively marked the end of The Big Red Machine.

But it also solidified Foster’s place among the greatest players in the game and earned him a spot in Kmart’s landmark (if ubiquitous) 20th Anniversary set featuring MVPs since 1962 five years later:

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If you were a novice collector back in those days, in 1982 or thereabouts, this was likely the first you’d ever seen of the 1977 Topps George Foster card, same as it was for all the mini replicas that box set featured.

It also put the ‘77 Foster on your “someday” list of cards you wanted to own, right alongside the 1974 Topps Jeff Burroughs and the 1962 Topps Maury Wills (good luck with that one).

It was when you turned that Kmart card over, though, that you began to realize the magnitude of the history you were holding in your hand:

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Some big numbers there, to be sure, but … 52 home runs!

It was an unfathomable number, especially when you looked at the league-leading homer totals from then-recent seasons — heck even forty homers in a season marked a man as a slugger of Ruthian proportions.

And, so, in the few moments it took to gaze at the image of Foster’s 1977 Topps card, and then flip that Kmart over to read the gaud, and then flip back to doublecheck, the marriage was complete: George Foster hit 52 home runs in 1977 and immortalized his card from that magical summer in the process.

Here, see if the *real* 1977 Topps Foster card doesn’t make your belly do the nervous little flip that lets you know you’re in the presence of greatness:

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Yeah, even though there’s no mention of 52 on that magical card, the association is indelible.

Today, that ‘77 Topps card of Yahtzee sells for just a dollar or so in nice raw condition, but ranging up to about $150 in PSA 9 condition and fetching more than $500 in perfect “10” grades.

But, no matter what condition you find your Foster in, the number that always comes to mind is “52” … even if it’s nowhere to be seen.