(Check out our other player card posts here.)

You might remember Bill North as the speedy outfielder who captured two American League stolen base titles during the 1970s and helped Charlie Finley’s Oakland A’s turn into a mid-decade dynasty.

You might remember Dick Pole (heh heh) as, well, Dick Pole. He quite simply has one of the greatest names of all time, inside of sports or out. And, yes, he also lived the dream of playing Major League Baseball, racking up a record of 25-37 with a 5.05 ERA over parts of six seasons.

But did you know that North and Pole formed one of the most unlikely, though, culturally integral “teams” in baseball history?

Now, technically they never played on the same club.

North suited up for the Chicago Cubs in 1971 and 1972, before blazing the basepaths in  Oakland from 1973-78. After a mid-season trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1978, North finished his career with a three-year run (1979-81) with the San Francisco Giants after signing as a free agent.

By that time, Pole was playing out the string in the minor leagues for the Detroit Tigers. He had pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1973-76 before wrapping up his Major League careers with the Seattle Mariners in 1977 and 1978. He also spent a year (1979) in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system.

1973 Topps Bill North

So, you see, the Pole and North were never part of the same franchise, but they both toiled in the American League from 1973-78, and its that overlap that made all the historical (Christmas) difference in the world.

After two partial seasons with the Cubs, North was traded to the A’s in exchange for Bob Locker in November of 1972. The next year, Topps granted him a rookie card in their 1973 set, an airbrush special.

That summer, North put together his first big season, swiping 52 bases and scoring 98 runs as the A’s pushed to their first World Series title.

At the same time, Pole was going 3-2, 5.60 ERA for the Sox.

All of that was good enough for Topps to take notice, and, for the first time ever (in 1974),  we had North and Pole on our baseball cards. And, since 1974 was the first set that Topps issued all in one series and since cards for the new season typically roll off the presses beginning late in the previous year, it’s at least conceivable that some lucky collectors spent December of 1973 marveling at this Christmas delight:

1974 Topps Bill North1974 Topps Dick Pole

Both players saw more or less regular playing time in 1974, too, which led to the 1975 Topps North-Pole combo:

1975 Topps Bill North1975 Topps Dick Pole

More action from our holiday-friendly duo led to a 1976 Topps pairing that looked like this:

1976 Topps Bill North1976 Topps Dick Pole

After the Seattle Mariners selected Pole in the November 1976 expansion draft, Topps broke out the airbrush again to bring Christmas to the northwest:

1977 Topps Bill North1977 Topps Dick Pole

And, finally, after Pole went 7-12, 5.15 for the Mariners and after North’s playing time dropped to 56 games in 1977, we got one last shot of the North-Pole in 1978 Topps:

1978 Topps Bill North1978 Topps Dick Pole

And so our brief run of North-Pole cardboard greatness came to an end, never seen before and never to be seen again (at least so far).

But how knows?

Maybe there is a new generation of Norths and Poles working their way up the baseball hierarchy, just waiting to push their way onto the cardboard scene.

And, as long as you can still hear the (Buddy or Gus or David) Bell … as long as you still believe … the magic of Christmas and the North-Pole is never far away.

(Check out our other player card posts here.)

Want to see a video version of this article?