Tuesday, January 31, 2012
A baseball card mystery: Ken Holtzman’s 1974 Topps cardPosted by Bruce Markusen
Whether you call it gold or mustard or just plain old yellow, the color simply glows on the 1974 Topps card of the underrated Ken Holtzman. A’s owner Charlie Finley liked to refer to this color as “California Gold,” which may or may not be available at your local paint store.
By 1972, the A’s switched from a button-down, vested look to a pullover design, but retained the green and gold color scheme. They generally wore white pants, switching the jersey color from green to gold on a given day. For Sunday home games, the A’s wore all-white uniforms. Only occasionally during the 1973 and ‘74 seasons did the A’s sport the all-green or the all-gold look, the latter being quite evident on Holtzman’s 1974 card.
Given the relatively few number of times that the A’s used the all-gold uniforms, I’m wondering if it’s possible to pinpoint the exact date of the game seen on the Holtzman card. We have only a few clues. The photo, presumably from the 1973 season, appears to have been taken at the Oakland Coliseum. Obviously, it is a day game. We can assume that it is not a Sunday afternoon game, due to the absence of the all-white uniforms. We also know that Reggie Jackson, seen in the background, was playing the outfield that day, most likely in right field.
This might be our most challenging baseball card mystery to date. Most of the time, I’ve been confident that our sharp readers would come up with a correct answer, and they have. But this time, I’m not so sure due to the lack of information. Do we have a sufficient number of clues to pinpoint the date? Well, it’s worth a shot.
Bruce Markusen is the author of seven books on baseball, including the award-winning A Baseball Dynasty: Charlie Finley’s Swingin’ A’s, the recipient of the Seymour Medal from the Society for American Baseball Research. He has also written The Team That Changed Baseball: Roberto Clemente and the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates, Tales From The Mets Dugout, and The Orlando Cepeda Story.