Some baseball cards are just cooler than others.

Take the 1976 Topps card of Chicago Cubs legend and Hall of Famer Billy Williams, for instance.

Williams retired after 1976, but since Topps seemed to only want to issue cards of guys they thought would actually be playing in the new season, they hardly ever issued career-capper cards.

Just ask Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.

No surprise, then, that Williams didn’t appear in the 1977 Topps set, and maybe just as well, because it would have been hard to top this ’76 beauty in terms of coolness.

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In fact, I’ve rounded up seven reasons why this card is cooler than you ever imagined, even though Billy shows up with the Oakland A’s rather than his lovable Cubbies.

Why seven?

I have my reasons, as you’ll see below.

Here goes …

  1. That sweet, powerful swing that had produced 415 home runs and a lifetime of memories for the Cubs, and then the A’s, by the time this card saw the light of day.
  2. That golden A’s uniform that (I think) they used for both home and away games in 1975 … at least, that’s the way I read the Hall of Fame’s uniform chart, here.
  3. The perfect 1970s facial hair — thick, thick sideburns and a detached mustache. Although, to be fair, just about any configuration of face fur that featured ‘burns could be construed as groovy in those years.
  4. The solid block of stats on the card back that left no room for prose, and that didn’t need any. As if to punctuate the sentiment, the monstrous ball and bat lining the left-hand side said, “THIS MAN CAN HIT!“.
  5. A’s manager Alvin Dark (again, I think), watching from his perch in the dugout, sporting his white-hat beacon.
  6. The designated hitter figurine on the card front — a lefty, just like Billy. Of course, this feature was present across the entire 1976 Topps set, but it’s the sort of detail that made/makes Topps such an icon.
  7. The *thing* in Williams’ back pocket.

And that last one is the rub.

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It’s always cool to see dudes batting with big, but not obviously identifiable stuff in their back pockets — Skoal, sunflower seeds, gloves, hats — lots of candidates.

In Williams’ case, the thing looks like a fielders cap, an oddball sighting considering he was Oakland’s full-time designated hitter.

Ah, but he did play first base seven times in 1975, so you have to figure this shot is from one of those games.

(Seven, see? Seven (7)).

I could buy that dugout behind Williams is in the Oakland Coliseum, in which case we’re down to one choice — June 8, when the A’s beat the Tigers, 4-0, at home.

And, even if I flubbed a couple of details here or guessed wrong on one or two, it’s hard to find a better cardboard period piece than this last Billy Williams baseball card.

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7 Degrees of Coolness with 1976 Topps Billy Williams


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