In 1976 — or 1975, depending on which source you believe — SSPC produced and released a set of baseball cards that became known across the ages as, “The Pure Set.”

It’s a fitting moniker considering these cards offer up just a plain white border and full-color player photo on their fronts … and nothing else. Card backs are simple black-and-white affairs with statistical information woven into a block of biographical text.

Collectors loved them, have loved them ever since, will love them forever. They were the inspiration for the “pure” cards that ruled the late 1980s and early 1990s — 1989 Upper Deck, 1990 Bowman, 1991 Leaf.

There was just one problem — these babies were unlicensed, and MLB and the MLBPA noticed.

So, SSPC was shut down — no more MLB cards for minors card-maker TCMA by way of the Sports Stars Publishing Company.

Except, where there’s a will …

After a year’s breather (or two — you know, depending), SSPC was back, this time on magazine stands with three new baseball publications for 1978:

  • “All-Star Gallery,” profiling 44 top baseball stars
  • “Baseball the Phillies Way,” profiling the Phillies (duh)
  • “Diary of a Champion Yankee,” profiling the champion (duh) New York Yankees (duh)

And in each of those magazines?

Yeah, SSPC included cardboard sheets of 27 players for either the Phillies or Yankees, or one of eight other teams.

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And each of those 27 players was presented in a sort of, um, card-like format that looked an awful lot like a baseball card if you cut out the sheets and then cut the, uh, cards apart.

Thus, you’ll find checklists like this one, showing 270 different baseball cards, including things like an extra Willie Hernandez rookie card, when he was still with the Cubs and before he was really Willie Hernandez.

It was like fireman contraband.

Except, you know, these weren’t really baseball cards. They were “photo fact” cards.

Totally different things. No harm, no foul.

No 1978 SSPC baseball card set or “pure” Willie Hernandez rookie card. Even if MLB, probably with some “help” from Topps, did shut down production of the magazine.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Hobby Hots

You can still find complete 1978 SSPC magazines for sale on eBay, like these lots …

So, yes, Dear Santa, I would love to have one (some?) of these for Christmas … wouldn’t you??

Check out the current listings here (affiliate link).

1978 Topps Baseball Cards MLB

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Lot 404 different 1978 Topps BASEBALL cards

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