To hear the stories and read the accounts — and see the photos and watch the videos — there may not have been a much more exciting pitcher in all of baseball during the early 1970s than Oakland A’s ace Vida Blue.

I mean, it’s not every day a 21-year-old pitcher ends up going 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA to win the American League Cy Young Award … and the AL MVP award … as young Blue did in 1971.

And he seemed to do it all with a smile on his face, at least judging by that classic 1971 Topps baseball card of his …

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That 312-inning workload (including 24 complete games!) took a toll on Blue, though, and he fell off to just 23 starts in 1972, logging a relatively meager 151 innings. Topps seemed to catch on to the more somber tone of the youngster’s follow-up campaign before it even happened, gracing him with a card that’s about as exciting as my last water bill:

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Luckily, Pro Star Promotions was there to take up the slack.

Issued in Canada (according to PSA and various hobby forums), the Pro Star set featured 37 player postcards, each measuring 3-1/2” by 5-1/2”.

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In one sense, these things are about as plain as they get — big player picture, facsimile autograph, thin white border, tiny type along the bottom, blank backs.

And that’s it.

Oh, and no team logos anywhere.

But many of those photos are outstanding — sun-dappled action shots, batters kneeling in the on-deck circle, fielders crouched and ready, hitters watching pop-ups, pitchers in full windups.

Great stuff.

And Vida Blue?

He’s coming right at you in his green, gold, and gray A’s uniform that you know is an A’s uniform even without the logos.

That missing piece renders this card imperfect, sure, but its imperfection matches Blue’s own step back in 1972 and thus fits the scene … perfectly.

Vida Blue and Topps were both back on their games in 1973, with the hurler checking in at 20-9, 3.28, and Topps checking in at …

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For a one-year bridge, though, you can’t really beat that 1972 Pro Star beauty.


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