Category Archives: 1976 SSPC

Card Spotlight: 1976 SSPC Countdown Carbo 411, Rader 59, Cowens 175 (#15)

Facial Expressions.

This set is chock full of facial expressions. Random fact – Chock full o’Nuts is a brand of coffee. The story goes: a guy owned nut store in the 1920’s and those morphed into a chain of coffee stores that morphed into coffee sold in grocery stores. At some point Jackie Robinson worked for the company with the oddball name.

I haven’t counted, but I’d bet this set has more nutty, oddball expressions than most others.

Carbo played for the Reds previously and still had connections and friendships from his stint with Cincinnati. Then he had to compete with them and lose in the 1975 World Series. Sometime that’s how life works out – right place, wrong team. It’s the journey that matters.

Doug Rader in the first card the looks like he had that second cup of coffee. This card shows him in the new Astros uniform (introduced in 1975 to commemorate the Astrodome’s 10th anniversary). It also has a clear view of a circular black 40 patch. That’s a tribute to Doug’s former teammate Don Wilson, who died under mysterious circumstances in 1975. On the right, aside from his toned down Topps-approved expression, you can see Doug in the 1974 uniform.

And then there’s Al Cowens…

By the way, if you’re looking for SSPC cards from this set, I have many on COMC here and many more that I can mail out. If you want any and write a blog, contact me to work something out.

Card Spotlight: 1976 SSPC Countdown Milan 536, Mays Score 595 (#16)


Interviews happen all the time in life and so do speeches. Microphones help with both. When microphones are around, something important is happening. I need to pay attention.

I have no idea how many cards of players with microphones exist. But they’re not common – I can’t recall even one in the 1975 Topps set. But this sets got two.

Is this thing on?

There’s Felix Millan. They didn’t have wireless microphones back then. Maybe he’s in the middle of an interview. Is he talking to Keith Olbermann? He looks a bit concerned on the 75 card.

Willie Mays shows up twice in both sets (though in Topps it’s the MVP reprint subset). In this SSPC checklist card, he’s being interviewed by Herb Score, who was a radio play-by-play announcer at the time. This is a good read about Herb, who may have been one of the best pitchers had it not been for an unlucky accident. Stats never tell you the full story about a person.

If you’re looking for SSPC cards from this set, I’ve got many on COMC here (including a couple of Mays cards).

Card Spotlight: 1976 SSPC Countdown Doyle 407, Hargan 254, Stargell 573, Hands 253 (#17)

Candid Photography.

Sometimes what makes photos good is that they’re candid. Maybe the intent was for a posed shot, but what turned out is a candid moment before the player was ready.

The 1976 SPC set has some of those and they end up showing guys that look more approachable. I can relate to those guys.

Unlike Topps which had the luxury of selecting from many photographs, SSPCs likely had a limited selection since they had to get in and out with their photography as fast as they could. And that turned out to be a pretty good thing for us.

Steve Hargan has that split second of surprise. That’s what my face looks like when I forgot to take the trash out (and the truck’s passing by). A good complementary card to Topps Hargan.


Denny is lost in thought. A few more seconds and he’d be looking at us, or maybe they’d make him look at the sky. This pensive state is much more interesting. It’s the look I have wondering about upgrading my Topps Doyle card full of print streaks.


Here are two different sides to Willie Stargell. There’s no way I could get away with looking as cool swinging a bat as Topps Stargell. But SSPC Stargell seems more like an everyday guy.

And some players look just the same in Topps as SSPC, like Bill Hands. Looks like he’s been ready for 10 minutes and now just annoyed. Will you just take the picture? We’ve all been there… relatable.

By the way, I’ve finally got some extra SSPC cards available on COMC (look here for SSPC or here for over 800 other cards).

Book Review: 1975 Red Sox

When you’re a kid, you end up in places because that’s where your parents go. One of my favorites was the mall, where I’d plow through stuff at toy shops and play video games. Eventually, I’d end up at B. Dalton’s, a bookstore chain that existed before Amazon took over. There I’d chase down Choose Your Own Adventure books.

Grownup books weren’t on my agenda, but if I got bored I’d look at books with a lot of photos. 1975 Red Sox: American League Champions would’ve been one of those books that would capture my attention – it has 218 photos within its 127 pages.


Ray Sinibaldi saw 1975’s World Series in person including games 6 and 7. Ray has a trove of photo negatives from 1975 and he’s generously shared them with the world. Ray is a teacher, a writer, and a baseball fan who loves the Red Sox. This trifecta of a background is the secret ingredient that makes his book such an enjoyable read.

Hall of Famer Fred Lynn leads off with a reflective and heartfelt foreword about the experience and teamwork.

Fred Lynn’s SSPC card (photo from the 1975 season)

“Freddy was my first choice, as in 1975 he was the MVP and the Rookie of the Year. It had never happened before and has happened only once since,” Ray recalled. “I contacted him and within an hour I received a response that he would do it… His foreword speaks for itself and he was perfect for the job.”


The book traces the Red Sox path to the 1975 World Series with photographs busting out right from the first chapter, The Bridge Between Two Pennants (1967 and 1975). It’s the Ocean’s 11 equivalent of a baseball documentary where we meet the crew that aims to pull off the heist of the century.

You get to know the 1975 team as they’re built over the years through trades and rookies joining. This is what they looked like on baseball cards at the time…

Jim Rice came up through the Red Sox farm system, Luis Tiant and Rick Miller joined in 1971, and Carlton Fisk arrived in 1972 (then dealt with injuries). Reggie Smith was traded away for Rick Wise and Bernie Carbo in 1973, Dwight Evans and Bill Lee arrived in 1973, and Jim Rice started in August of 1974 followed within 18 days by Fred Lynn and another rookie, Rick Burleson.

Ray shares many candid shots – ones you won’t find on most baseball cards – like the brawl between the Red Sox and Yankees (with Carlton Fisk in a choke hold by Gene Michael).

Chapter 2 digs into the 1975 season. Denny Doyle joins in June through a trade. Manager Darrell Johnson shows up in this chapter along with action shots of Doug Griffin, Juan Beniquez, Bob Heise, Rogelio Moret, Tim Blackwell and Cecil Cooper. I didn’t find Tim McCarver mentioned but he played in 1975 so he’s included.

What are Angels doing in my Red Sox card stash? The Angels traded Heise for Tommy Harper in Dec. 1974, and Doyle in 1975 for Chuck Ross and some cash.

Chapter 3 covers the Pennant games and the 1975 World Series (which many view as one of the best ever). To this day, game 7 is still the most watched of any World Series TV broadcast.

The photos in this chapter alone are worth the price of admission. But the stories are also a fun read, like rookie-year Fred Lynn recalling his sleepless night walking the streets of Boston before a big game.

Here’s a final set of Red Sox that played in the 1975 World Series: Reggie Cleveland, Diego Segui, Dick Drago, Dick Pole, Bob Montgomery, Jim Burton, and Jim Willoughby

I also learned some random history lessons like how Hurricane Eloise dumped 5 inches of rain on Fenway Park. Some clever groundskeepers had to dry it out. I found a link to a Harvard Crimson new story about the hurricane’s impact. It’s a weird experience reading an actual 1975 news story online.

Chapter 4 ends with a focus on Luis Tiant and some poignant shots with his father. It’s a great finish to a book that perfectly blends my interests of 1975 baseball and historical photographs.



I had a chance to ask Ray some questions…

Q: I read that many photos in the book were from discarded 35mm negatives. Can you share more about that and did you take any of the photos in the book yourself when you attended games?

Ray: I have been collecting photos since I was a kid in 1967. The idea for the book came from my first Arcadia book in 2012, Images of Fenway Park and then I came across the discarded negatives of both the 1967 and 1975 season. This led to my 1967 and 1975 books. I did not take any photos during the games in 1975. However a friend took a couple outside Fenway with Luis. My best guess about the negatives becoming available: when newspapers sent photographers to cover games they would send a couple and each would take probably hundreds of photos. Maybe four or five would go out over the wire and the rest would be archived. As we move to digitization negatives become obsolete and are sold off and thus resold. I have about 125 negative strips with four or five photos in each. Then I became a history detective…Great fun.

Q: Are any photos in color?

Some of my collection is in color but the Arcadia series calls for black and white. However, I am under contract to deliver a book in 2018 called “Modern Images of Fenway Park”… 90% of those will be in color and I have taken many of them.

Q: I understand you got a season ticket in 1975. Was that tough to get?

Not at all. In 1972 my brother and I bought a package that were for Sundays, Holidays and opening day. It included access to playoffs and World Series games.

Q: The Tiant ending was pleasant surprise. What made you end the book that way?

I have been a proponent for Luis election to the Hall of Fame since Catfish Hunter was elected in 1987. They were contemporaries and I saw both of them pitch, often. Catfish is a worthy inductee. As a baseball historian, I went to work and found that Luis career can be laid upon the careers of Catfish, Don Drysdale and Jim Bunning. They are nearly identical. Add in Luis post season performances and it adds to his credentials. Since the inception of sabermetrics into the discussion of Hall of Fame consideration and it elevates his career. I met Luis back in 2004 when he was inducted into the pitchers portion of the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame in Hernando FL (now at Tropicana Field in Tampa). And a few years ago I reconnected with him at the Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice FL. (photo page 125). I learned on that day that he is as great a guy as he was a pitcher and I also came to realize what it would mean to him to take his rightful place in Cooperstown.

I have been going to Fenway Park since 1959, I have seen a lot in my day and I will unequivocally tell you that if I had to win ONE GAME and could choose a pitcher it would be Luis Tiant. If you want to watch what he is made of, YouTube the fourth game of the 1975 World Series. The Sox were down two games to one and on the road. Watch this 169 pitch complete game effort and you will see the measure of the man, the competitor, the teammate. It is the best pitched game I’ve ever seen and after you watch it I would love to talk about it with you. The last chapter is my tribute to him and I hope it may wake up a few voters.

Q: Do you experience any connections between your day-job at the Youth Ranch and the writing you do?

Ray: I am fortunate enough to burn with a passion for both endeavors. American philosopher Joseph Campbell said “Pursue your bliss.” If you do, you will never work for a living. I am blessed as a result of being immersed in my bliss in both of these aspects of my life… I never work.


I’m grateful that Ray decided to write this fun and educational book. You can follow him at his blog fenwaypark100.

Card Spotlight: 1976 SSPC Countdown Charlie Williams 98 (#18)


When I think of baseball players from the 70’s, I picture them as seen in their photos from the 1975 Topps set.

And that’s the way it was… until I caught a glimpse of some SSPC cards that were unique in all sorts of ways. I got the whole set and my world view of how baseball players should’ve looked in ’75 changed.

The Charlie Williams that I saw at my local mini-mart had with straight hair but he’d already transformed into some serious curls that year. It took until 1978 Topps Charlie Williams to ditch the perm.

This dusk shot of Williams captures the sun setting at the ballpark so well that it transcends being just a card.  It makes me feel like I’m in the middle of a warm summer night

Card Spotlight: 1976 SSPC Countdown Darrell Porter 232 & Jim Colburn 226 (#20)

Facial Hair.

When think of the 70’s, I think of facial hair.  And there’s a bunch of it in the 1975 Topps Set.

But there are players like Darrell Porter who are clean shaven in the Topps set but have a lot more hair on their SSPC card – like Darrell’s horseshoe mustache. If Topps Porter ran into SSPC Porter in a bar, I don’t think he’d want to start any trouble with himself.

Like Porter and Munson, Jim Colburn was clean shaven on his 1975 card but sporting a twirly mustache on the SSPC.


Finding the SSPC set was like unearthing photographs of people you’ve known all your life and discovering their wild and crazy side.

Card Spotlight: 1976 SSPC Countdown Jim Hunter 425 (#22)

Nickname appropriate.

Catfish Hunter’s SSPC card pictures him in a pose that matches his nickname.

If you bought a Topps card in 1975, his card showed him as an Athletic but he was really a Yankee by then. If you own the SSPC card, that covers both teams he played on (though technically he started as a Kansas City Athletic).


Bake McBride is another player with an SSPC card that’s more nickname appropriate.


Card Spotlight: 1976 SSPC Countdown Rudy May 427 (#23)


Some of the photographs in the 1975 Topps and the 1976 SSPC sets are so different it’s hard to tell it’s the same person. And others, like this one of Rudy May are more subtle.

I was used to the sullen Topps Rudy May that I’ve grown accustomed to for decades. When I picked up the SSPC recently, there’s familiar Rudy with the same glasses (a little crooked), a Yankees cap (not airbrushed), and sort of a grin. Plus he’s got a gold chain.

And there’s more. More of his Yankees uniform. More of the background with a stadium full of fans.

That’s what I like about this SSPC set. It’s a different perspective on familiar faces from the Topps set. And that’s pretty cool.