(Check out the rest of our posts on the 2018 Hall of Fame class here.)

Sometimes, a little bit of luck in timing and location can make all the difference in the world.

Take the Jack Morris rookie card, for example.

If the 2018 Hall of Fame inductee had made his debut before 1977 or with just about any team other than the Detroit Tigers, he would have had one rookie card.

And if he had made it to the Major Leagues a few years later, he likely  would have had three rookie cards, and that’s what everyone would have expected.

As things stand, Morris got a cup of coffee with the Tigers in the summer 1977, appearing in seven games and going 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA. That was enough for Detroit to call him back to Motown early in the 1978 season.

It was also enough for Topps to tag Morris for card #703, a Rookie Pitchers card he shares with Larry Andersen, Tim Jones, and Mickey Mahler.

Here is what that one looks like:

1978 Topps Jack Morris

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But the Tigers probably wouldn’t have called Morris up at all, not right then, had they been, say the New York Yankees. After bottoming out in the mid-1970s, though, Detroit had invested in a youth movement, and their minor league moves were paying off in the spring of 1978.

Ready to reshape the Big League team were youngsters like catcher Lance Parrish, second baseman Lou Whitaker, shortstop Alan Trammell, first baseman Jason Thompson, left fielder Steve Kemp, starter Dave Rozema … and bullpen hand Jack Morris.

Of course, Morris was destined for the starting rotation, too, and moved into a full-time starting role in 1979.

Before that came to pass, though, it just so happened that hast food monarch Burger King decided to ramp up their baseball card promotions. In 1977, BK had tested the cardboard waters with a Topps-made set devoted to the Yanks and available with food purchases in the New York area.

That apparently worked out well enough that the King wanted more in 1978, expanding their sets — and markets — to include the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, and, yes, the Detroit Tigers.

The Yanks were back on the docket, too.

But it’s that Tigers set that really paid dividends for a generation of baseball card collectors. Among the 23 cards issued in the Motown BKs were solo cards of Whitaker, Trammell, and Morris.

While most of the Burger King cards were just copies of the corresponding base Topps cards, that wasn’t really possible with the three youngsters — they all appeared on multiplayer cards (like Morris’ above) in the regular Topps issue.

And, no matter how good Topps is at their craft, even they can’t make one player look like four players, or vice versa.

So each of these guys, all of whom will someday be in Cooperstown, instantly doubled their baseball card count. And, in each case, that new rookie card was an upgrade over the original.

Here is the Morris single from that Burger King set:

1978 Burger King Jack Morris

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Now, I’ve already told you, in this post, what I think of the 1978 Burger King Jack Morris card, but you can decide for yourself.

Is it better than his base card?

Is it better than Trammell’s card?

Than Whitaker’s?

That’s the beauty of baseball cards, and, especially these Burger King cards …

You can have them your way!

At least in a binary sort of way.

(Check out the rest of our posts on the 2018 Hall of Fame class here.)

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