Random Top Loader - 1971 Topps Baltimore Orioles World Champions

The World Champion Baltimore Orioles?

That hasn't been a thing since 1983. 

Or 1970...

Which was commemorated on 1971 Topps Baseball, card number 1.

Today calls for a random baseball card story, that can be kept relatively short and simple.

Which could only come out of...

The Shoe Boxes of Top Loaders!

Meaning one of them will be chosen at random, using a super secret and highly complex formula... 

Involving a series of long unused Dungeons and Dragons dice, from 35 years ago...

I will narrow these thousands of Top Loadered cards down to one...

And that dice-chosen Top Loadered card will then have a story written about it!

The featured team this time around ends up...

The Baltimore Orioles. 

While not one of my least liked teams, Baltimore doesn't rank too highly either. If I were to rank all 30 teams by how much I'd like them, Baltimore would probably fall in the 14-17 range. Which isn't that bad. Baltimore never has given me much to like, but nothing really to hate. 

My first in person baseball game was the Baltimore Orioles playing the Minnesota Twins, at the HHH Metrodome, in Minneapolis. We had upper deck general admission seats, and chose right field, high above the Baggie. 

Not the greatest view, but the Metrodome wasn't set up for viewing baseball. I've seen enough games at different stadiums (most of which don't exist anymore) to comfortably say the Metrodome was the WORST ballpark I've been to. 

Even taking away all pro Expos bias, the two games I saw at Olympic Stadium in Montreal were held in a better stadium for baseball, than the Metrodome. 

But yeah, the Orioles were the first opposing team I saw in person.

Before I reveal the answer that the headline already spoiled, I'm disclosing that I removed all Top Loadered cards of Cal Ripken Jr. for consideration.

My Ripken collection is too significant for inclusion of coverage in a Random Top Loader story. 

Meaning there wont be a significant write-up about Cal Ripken Jr. hawking Coke, on the back cover of the 1996 Baltimore Orioles Media Guide.

In case you missed it, the late 1980's D&D Dice chose...

1971 Topps - Baltimore Orioles World Champions

Card #1 in the 1971 Topps set. Due to that number, #1's from all vintage sets have the best chance to get beat up. Black bordered 1971 Topps had virtually zero chance in surviving from 1971 in mint condition. Still a great looking set, even if it is beat to crap. No creases though!

Who knows what this card went through in the 41 years before it ended up in my collection.

Here's the back of that 1971 Topps, Baltimore Orioles World Champions card!

Winning 217 games over the 1969 and 1970 seasons is an impressive feat. Also interesting in that it features so many records of St. Louis Browns. Of course by 1970, the Baltimore Orioles hadn't even been around for 20 years yet.

I'd forgotten about the story of former Browns pitcher, Urban Shocker. A star pitcher for the Browns and Yankees, but a heart condition cut his career short. He became too ill to effectively pitch for the Yankees, who released him in May 1928. He attempted a comeback by joining an amateur tournament, in Denver, CO. Only making it into one game however, in August 1928, and pitched poorly. Shocker caught pneumonia, and died a month later.  

I miss Denver...

I was living there in 2010, when Topps ran their incredibly awesome Million Card Giveaway. Somewhat saddened by the loss of Upper Deck, and lack of interest in Topps other 2010 releases, I started turning to buying more cards from the 1960's and 1970's. My LCS at the time was a great source of vintage commons and semistars, at very good prices. I wanted albums of cards that I felt represented each year's set. This became my collecting goal from mid 2010, until 2013, when that shop closed.

An idea which developed over the summer of 2010, thanks to this promotion. These redemption cards were pretty easy to get in packs, and I bought a ridiculous amount of 2010 Topps, just for these codes. You'd enter that code at Topps website, then you'd have the option of having the physical card sent to you, or you could make trade offers for one you wanted. 

Making and accepting trade offers was a lot of fun. Topps went through the effort of providing an image for every card in the promotion, allowing you to search for cards you wanted by picture. Once you narrowed it down by year and team, player if you really wanted to be specific. Looking through these searches inspired the album idea.

On occasion, I would take a portion of my monthly card budget, and buy a vintage lot of ebay. Usually around 400-600 cards of a given year, for various levels of player and condition. Then one afternoon in the Spring of 2011, I found an auction for a 1970s' lot. Approximately 4,500 cards from 1970-1979. Stars, semistars and rookies, in conditions ranging the spectrum, from Mint to "just throw it away already".  

I won the auction with a bid of just over $100. The seller was honest in his pictures, breakdown and description of the contents. The box was a blast to go through. I even took some pictures of a few "hits" as I sorted them out.

These cards have since been moved to more permanent homes (Top Loaders in most cases), and I didn't take new pictures. So these are all from that 2011 afternoon when I unpacked them. Too bad there wasn't more of them...

Some highlights from the 30-40 1971 Topps cards included in the big box. Including that familiar World Champion Baltimore Orioles card. Each of the "hits" were immediately placed in semi-rigid card savers, after freeing them from their Monster Box home. Nothing special and pretty beat up, even for 1971 Topps. 

But I like 'em!

There's really not a whole lot else to say about it. 

But of course I've got a lot more to say, because I'm me. 

I've attended two games in Baltimore, both at Camden Yards. The first in July 1995, and the other in September of 1996. Both came via Jay Buckley's Baseball Tours. The tour bus passed by the stadium, and parked for a few minutes so we could get pictures, in 1996. We didn't get to come here in 1995, due to road construction in the area.

Memorial Stadium September 9, 1996.

Bet you can't even tell this is actually two pictures Photoshopped together! I'm so good at doing that!

The 1971 and 1983 Baltimore Orioles won their World Championships here. They left Memorial Stadium after the 1991 season. It sat mostly vacant until the summer of 1996, when the Cleveland Browns suddenly moved to Baltimore, to become the Ravens. They played home games at Memorial Stadium in 1996 and 1997, while their new sportsball palace was built. Not too far from Camden Yards. 

Memorial Stadium closed for good in December 1997, then rotted away for four years before getting demolished in 2001. 

Coincidentally, my first in person NFL game was those same Baltimore Ravens playing the Denver Broncos at (not) Mile High Stadium, in December 2005. Which was also better than the Metrodome. 

Baltimore does not have an NHL team, and I've already seen a few NHL games in person. That means if Baltimore gets an NBA team, I'll have to get a ticket when the expansion Baltimore Dribblers make their debut against the Timberwolves, and Target Center. 

Unless A-Rod moves them to Baltimore first...

So 1972 then?

Three of the 1972 Topps cards found inside that big box of 1970's Topps. Which leaned heavy on several Hall of Famers. Like Pete Rose (well, you know...) and Al Kaline. Even if there wasn't a whole lot of cards from any given year, each of them did have at least a handful of decent stars. Some of which were in good condition. Although, not the Fisk rookie. While it looks okay here, that would be about a PSA .25, if slabbed.

And I'm not doing that.

Some of the 1973 Topps card from the Big Box of 1970's Topps. I'd always wanted that 1973 Clemente, and happy to find one in the big box. even though it's condition left much to be desired. However the Nolan Ryan was pretty sharp, despite it's off-centeredness. 

No Orioles "hits" were pulled out of the 1974 Topps cards. There were still plenty more stars than I put up here. I know there's a 1974 Topps Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer in my Orioles binder that came from this box. 

The Orioles of today have been going through a rough stretch. Now lasting for the last five or so years, However, they would have to been considered the surprise team of the 2022 season. No one picked the Orioles to be hanging in the Wild Card race, going into October. The number of people who predicted them to finish any higher than last, isn't very many.

But it's always nice to see the Red Sox finish last the AL East!

2021 Bowman Draft Adley Rutschman Purple

A lot of thanks goes to Rutschman's graduation to the Major Leagues, and the promise his rookie campaign showed. The first overall pick in the 2018 Draft, Rutschman has thrived on both offensive and defensive side of the ball. Along with a young, developing crop of prospects coming up to build around him, the Orioles have an interesting future in the coming years. 

Years that come well after 1976...

Soft corners aside, this was a pretty nice Nolan Ryan from the box. Much nicer than the Robin Yount with the one REALLY bad corner, also mixed in with the 1976's, but otherwise near mint.

For some reason, the box had less than ten cards from the 1975 set. All of which were commons. Not a real problem, since I already have a complete set of 1975 Topps. Although a bunch of duplicates would never be a bad thing...

Another couple of decent Nolan Ryan's. Like the rest of these 1977's, not perfect condition by any means, but still worth some space in team albums.

1978 brought another Ryan and 12 rookies, who went on to varying degrees of success.

25% of those rookies ended up in the Hall of Fame, which is a pretty excellent ratio.

We close out the 1970's with a couple more Ryan's and a pretty beat up Ozzie Smith rookie. I already had one in far greater condition, so this is just a duplicate that I didn't know I needed.

The point of searching ebay for a box like this, then dropping over $100 (the price of a decent hobby box in 2011) on it was to kind of replicate what it would be like to rip a bunch of wax packs from the 1970's. Obviously none of the cards would be in packs, nor would they be anywhere near the condition they'd be in if they were. But it would be a chance to get a random assortment of what I was looking for, without care that none of them are really gradable. This was to fill team albums, in addition to whatever rookies, superstars, Twins and Expos we included.

This was a very fun box to dig through. Well worth the $100 to me.

Wish I would have taken more pictures when I sorted it... 

July 15, 1995.

Batting practice at Camden Yards.

Several Kansas City Royals are standing around in center field, waiting for something to happen. 

It was insanely hot that day. A brutal heatwave followed our tour bus from Minneapolis, through Chicago, across Ohio and Pennsylvania and up into New York. On this day, to walk around the Baltimore harbor area and go to an Orioles game, I wore a mesh Florida Marlins batting practice jersey. Just under 100 degrees that afternoon and I made the mistake of thinking I could remain somewhat cooler if I skipped the t-shirt underneath. Not a good idea as the heavy stitched Marlins letters nearly sanded my nipples off, over the course of the day. Just brutal... 

Unfortunately, that seems to be my strongest memory of the Baltimore Orioles.

That doesn't involve Cal Ripken Jr. at least...

Who knows, next time I decide to roll the dice, maybe one of these cards will be selected!


On Labor Day, Topps released a promotional image of the 2023 Topps Baseball design. Coincidentally, the player chosen was a Baltimore Oriole. Adley Rutschman even!

Since I certainly don't want to step of Topps toes, I present their 2023 Topps promo, in the form it will likely arrive out of any packs I buy...

2023 Topps Baseball Promo - Adley Rutschman

I like the mug shot, but It needs a frame. I like the team logo area, but it would be a lot better smaller.  The bottom graphics aren't too obnoxious. Look like Topps is fighting with itself to keep all the pointless sharp angles, no matter how out of place they may look.

At least I'll still have a few months to decide weather I want to buy these or not.

Okay... Enough of that.

Time to go find a new abandoned building to write about.


Other Random Top Loader stories, for your reading pleasure!

Starting with a real rarity...

A once hot parallel in the post strike card era...

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I need to write more of these.

They go quick!


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