Category Archives: 1976 SSPC

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 they were taken a moment before the player was ready.

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

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.


I can’t relate to Topps Willie Stargell. There’s no way I could get away with looking that cool swinging a bat. SSPC Stargell is what I’d look like when a prowler woke me out of bed as I scrambled out with my bat… ok, half true. I’d be much less intimidating until I spent years building up to those Stargell muscles.

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

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

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.


1976 sspc 098 1975 449

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.

1976 sspc 232 1975 052

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

1976 sspc 226 1975 305

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).

1976 sspc 425 1975 230

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.

1976 sspc 427 1975 321

Card Spotlight: 1976 SSPC Countdown Oscar Gamble 526 (#25)

Built-in Traded Set.

This is the last card of Oscar Gamble in an Indians uniform. The back of the card highlights his trade to the New York Yankees in exchange for Pat Dobson. In his career, Gamble switched teams eight times (including two repeats: the Yankees and White Sox).

1976 sspc 526 1975 213

SSPC took full advantage of the timing of their release to include the trades after the 75 season. So the SSPC set is a base and traded set all in one. And that’s why this Oscar Gamble “Traded” card is among my 1976 SSPC favorites: to commemorate the coolness of that idea.

1976 sspc 526b


Card Spotlight: 1976 SSPC

The 1976 SSPC set is one of my favorites: 630 photos that are candid and sometimes funny. It’s a great complement to my absolute favorite set (1975 Topps). This month, I’m starting a countdown of my favorite SSPC cards presented as 25 themes.

There’s occasional confusion about the true year of the 1976 SSPC set. It’s copyrighted 1975, but was released in 1976. A letter from SSPC calls it the 1976 SSPC set, and that makes it so.

1976 sspc 167

You may also see this set called the SSPC Pure Card set (named because of its clean design based on Bowman’s 1953 cards). I like the design, really like the photographs, and the cards are (mostly) ordered by team, which is a bonus.

1976 sspc 506

This set also has an interesting backstory:

TCMA produced oddballs from 1972 to 1987. TCMA stood for Tom Collier and Mike Aronstein (the co-founders). But shortly after starting the company, they started calling it The Card Memorabilia Associates.

Sports Stars Publishing Co. (SSPC) was a TCMA offshoot that published a magazine called Collectors Quarterly (edited by the Keith Olbermann we all know from TV).

Olbermann writes about his experience in this blog post: “I had written the backs for the first [1976 SSPC] set, and another fellow had taken most of the photos for them, only it turned out he didn’t really have any ballpark credentials and was only on the field because he’d been a batboy and knew all of the cops at Shea Stadium and they just let him sneak in.”

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Keith Olbermann’s contribution (writing the text on the back of every single card) is documented on the final card back.

The Winter 1975 Collector’s Quarterly had a two-page insert of 18 cards that are a precursor to this set.

It got interesting when Topps sued and blocked further production. After negotiations, SSPC was allowed to sell their existing inventory as long as they didn’t produce any more. According to Internet posts, the initial print run was 10,000 sets.

A second set was made from the negatives without permission and it’s unknown how many were printed (it contains a Nolan Ryan error card – with his name listed as Noland). So it’s unclear how many total sets made it to the public.

I’ve seen cards from both sets and it’s hard to tell which is which. And I don’t care enough to discover which one I have. And it doesn’t seem like anyone else cares because cards sold online don’t differentiate. At this point I think the inventories have mixed into the general population.

I mentioned a letter – it’s said to have been included with sets sold directly by SSPC, and it reads like this:

SSPC letterhead from 100 Ringgold St., Peekskill NY 10566

Dear Baseball Fan:

We are very happy to report that the lawsuit has been resolved. Enclosed you will find your set of 1976 SSPC cards that you have waited so long to get. These cards are being shipped to you by Renata Galasso Inc. This company is doing the sorting and mailing of the cards for us. If you wish to purchase any additional sets you may do so by consulting the enclosed flyer and ordering directly from Renata Galasso Inc. Thank you for all your support during the time it took to end the lawsuit.

Michael P. Aronstein

I haven’t seen it personally, and I’d really like to get ahold of an original or a copy. So if you have one let me know.