Card of the Day: 1974 Topps Jim Campanis

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired catcher Jim Campanis from the Kansas City Royals in a major trade completed in December of 1970. A total of six players were involved, with three players going each way. Campanis provided the least amount of value for his new team. The Pirates still won the World Series in 1971, getting some help from Bob Johnson and Jackie Hernandez, who were the other two players in the deal going to Pittsburgh. The Royals were also happy, because they got the better value long-term in the deal. Campanis didn’t play for the Pirates in the majors until September of 1973. His whole time with the team consisted of six pinch-hit at-bats.

That brief time in the majors in 1973 helped land him in the 1974 Topps set. It was his first appearance in a Topps set since he was part of the 1967-70 sets. It’s also his only card with the Pirates. He spent the 1974 season in the minors, then retired after he was released in January of 1975. He was still a solid Triple-A hitter at the time, but his defense didn’t work anywhere on the field.

Today we take a look at card #513 from the 1974 Topps set, which will likely be the only time Campanis appears in our Card of the Day series.

Here’s the front of the card:

My first thought when I saw the tiny thumbnail photos of this card was wondering if it was airbrushed. They had plenty of time to get a photo of Campanis with the Pirates in Spring Training, so I felt like it probably was an untouched photo, but you never know with Topps around this time. After enlarging the photo, you could see the telltale sign it was real. You can see the hats of two Pirates players in the background. Also, Topps has never airbrushed something this well.

You should already know by now that I’m a fan of the 1974 Topps set. The design ranks fourth in the decade for me behind the 1970/1971 combo at the top, and the 1976 set third. I will say this about the 1974 set. If we are talking just about Pirates cards alone, it might be my favorite set of the era. I’m a big fan of matching card colors to team colors, and there might not be a set from the early years that does it better than this one. The 1981 set is my gold standard (“gold” pun sort of intended).

Here’s the back of the card:

I’m not a huge fan of the backs of this set, partially based on the color. They cut down on the stats available from earlier cards, giving you just seven categories. It’s strange that both games and runs seemed expendable to them. The stats are hard to read for most players in the set, because small dark writing on a dark green background is never a good idea. Those limited stats you see there are his entire career. The guy hit four homers in six partial seasons and finished with nine RBIs.

Other things of note include Generic Gray Topps Man making an appearance here, though I’m not 100% sure he’s wearing pants. I like how they included a facsimile autograph on the back up top. That’s something you don’t see often in baseball card history. A large majority of facsimile autographs are on front. This particular scan also has something very interesting. That black line going top to bottom on the right side shouldn’t be seen. That’s the guide line to cut the cards, making this a side card on the sheet of cards, which was miscut. Some people collect those cards, so this particular card might have a small amount of value added.

If you are interested in getting this card, you’ll be happy to know that it’s a common that can be had for $2 delivered from multiple sellers. There are over 100 auctions for this card on Ebay right now. Campanis has autographed a few of these, which shouldn’t be a surprise, as he’s still alive and has had nearly 50 years to sign them. He has a terrific autograph as well. You can get one for as low as $10 delivered, so that might be an option you want to consider. There is a PSA 8 of this card for $22 delivered, which also includes a best offer option.