Card of the Day: 1972 Topps Bruce Kison

Today’s Card of the Day comes from the 1972 Topps set. It is the rookie card of pitcher Bruce Kison, who pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1971 through 1979, putting him on each of the last two World Series winning teams for the Pirates. This particular card is #72 in the set, and it has something interesting on the front that brings about multiple questions. Kison, who passed away in 2018, was born 73 years ago today. He last appeared in this series back in August of 2020, so he was long overdue to appear. Let’s get right into the front of the card.

Here’s the front:

This is your typical staged action photo from Topps from this era. Their photographer (or photographers) were trained to tell pitchers to pretend they just threw a pitch, while looking off to the side of the camera. This card has something extra added though.

At first glance in the tiny Ebay thumbnail photos, the mark behind Kison’s left knee looks like a shadow. You’re seeing a bigger picture here, and that’s clearly not his shadow, which can barely be seen by his right leg going in another direction. So that begs the question, what is that mark. It’s not just on this particular scan, they all have it. Just scroll Ebay for “1972 Topps Kison” and you will see it over and over and over…

Did Topps write something on the photo and it needed to be scratched out? Was there something actually there that is covered up? Why didn’t they try to blend it into the grass? They definitely took more than one photo of Kison, and they could have just cropped the photo different, so how did we end up here? If that is a cover up, that had to be something that got by quality control until the last practice press run by them, otherwise you would think that they would do a better job.

Here’s the back of the card:

The back is an interest contrast to the front. The 1972 set is flashy, with a very 70s look. I didn’t live the 70s, but I’d have no trouble pinning this design into the 1970s category. Then there’s the back. It loses the bright colors and the flashy look. It’s all business, except the cartoon of Generic Gray Topps Man, who clearly looks like Bill Mazeroski in that photo.

The stats here are too small and they don’t have enough categories, but I’m not complaining for two reasons. They not only list all of his pro stats up to that point, they also included the actual leagues for each of the teams. The minors weren’t covered as closely back then, so I’m not sure how much good it did people to see partial names of the leagues. It’s not for everyone, but I like it. I pointed it out in his bio today, but check out the win/loss records Kison put up in the minors. He went 30-9 before making his big league debut.

If you want to pick up Bruce Kison’s rookie, then you’ll be happy to know it’s cheap and there are many options available. There’s a PSA 8 with a best offer option, which is for sale for $45. The prices drop quickly from there, with three autographed cards in the $20-$25 range. Someone has a PSA 4 for $19, which probably looks a lot nicer because it’s useless to grade a 1972 Topps common that only gets a 4 grade. The grading fee is worth more than the card. If you really want one that is a VG/EX grade, just grab an ungraded one for $2. You can get really nice ungraded ones for under $15. For reference to the PSA 4, a PSA 8 recently just sold for $16.