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The 1975 Topps baseball card set is one of my favorites. Its garish frontal design just screams Seventies.

Also, I happened to come into possession of a few ’75s when I was a kid, so the set has sentimental status as one of the first “old” sets I ever collected. (The set was only seven or eight years old when I first encountered it, but even seen through 1982 eyes, it clearly belonged to a long-ago time.)

One of the running themes of the ’75 set — as documented on Night Owl Cards’ excellent blog devoted to the set — is that many of the Houston Astros players are depicted on some sort of forsaken, parched prairie.

I didn’t ask Night Owl for permission to use his photos, so I won’t post any here. But seriously: Take a second and click on a few examples and you’ll see what I mean.

Like Mike Cosgrove, or Doug Rader, or Tommy Helms, or Greg Gross. They all look like the Astros are holding spring training in Lubbock. In July.

It pleases me to report that whatever cockeyed god it is that protects the Astros has guideth them out of the desert and maketh them to dwell in green pastures — as shown by this card I pulled over the weekend.

I bet all the old-school Seventies Astros are sitting over their rods at the local fishing hole, grumbling about how the new generation doesn’t know how easy they’ve got it, and how these kids get things like shade at spring training!  And trees! And water!

Interestingly, almost precisely the exact same background can be seen behind Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett. I think they lined up Beckett maybe six inches away from where they lined up Weiland:

The Astros train in Kissimmee, Fla., while the Red Sox train in Fort Myers. Both pitchers are wearing their home jerseys. So I don’t know where they would have taken these.

(Weiland played for Boston last year, so maybe they shot Beckett and Weiland in Fort Myers last year. If so, that’s a heck of an airbrush job to squeeze Weiland into a striped Astros home uniform. Much better than Topps usually pulls off.)

I’ve strayed from my original topic, but while I’m writing, one more observation: If you look carefully behind Beckett, to the very right of the card, you can see what appears to be a car parked on the street behind him.

Some time ago, I read a baseball-card blog in which someone pointed out a car in the background of a card and commented on how rare that was. (It might have been this post, which features a classic Topps card appearing to show a spring-training game next door to a grocery-store parking lot.)

That immediately sent me rifling through my cards, convinced I had at least one somewhere that had a car visible in the background. But nooooo …. I couldn’t find one.

Now I have one. So I can check that off my mental punch-list of random objects to find. (What else is on the list? Don’t ask.)


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