04/29/2008 1:24 PM ET
The Bigs List: '70s baseball card hairdos
From Big O to the Bird, a decade with a flair for hair
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Too much free time hanging with the locals at your neighborhood baseball card store can end up being downright weird.
One recent two-hour stay, for example, revealed overly detailed information about Bob the drywall installer's wife's labor induction and Big Steve the bank teller's passionate discourse on Simon Cowell's facial expressions.
We at MLB.com/Entertainment's Bigs List are all about making you, our readers, smile. So we were able to (sort of) ignore these distractions while poring over reams and reams of vintage Topps baseball cards to unearth our latest and hopefully greatest: Here are our nine favorite 1970s baseball card hairdos:
1. Tom Murphy, P, St. Louis Cardinals: It doesn't look like anything special at first, but we especially like the subtlety of what, upon closer inspection, is a very styled 'do on this 1974 card. Check out the way that one strip hangs down in front of the left ear -- you don't have to be Vidal Sassoon to realize that hair doesn't just randomly happen like that. Murphy clearly thought about it and combed it that way. Or the team stylist did. Either way, extra points for that. And even though this has nothing to do with hair, kudos to the writer who broke the huge story that's revealed in the information tidbit on the back of the card: "Received a reported $20,000 to sign with the Angels in 1967."
2. Mike Cuellar, P, Baltimore Orioles: This 1975 card shows very nice, bushy vintage curls, with mutton chops a la Neil Diamond and a quality period mustache. Cuellar, who entered this card with six straight seasons of at least 18 wins, including 22 victories in 1974, is the best player among our nine selections. Too bad Topps didn't realize this, spelling his last name "Cueller" on the card. Oh well. Maybe his overall look distracted the printer.
3. Bart Johnson, P, Chicago White Sox: This 6-foot-5 drink of water serves as a perfect preamble to perhaps the best baseball hairdo of all time, which is coming next. The circles of curly hair popping out of both sides of the cap couldn't be beat in 1975, when this card came out. And for extra credit, the back of the card reveals his full name is Clair Barth Johnson, making him most likely the best Major League Player named Clair Barth. Ever.
4. Oscar Gamble, OF/DH, New York Yankees: No description necessary on the hair, which should be shown on dictionary.com under the word "perfection." Congratulations for the wordsmiths working at Topps in 1976, too, for the truly witty pun in the "Sports Extra" headline: "Yankees Take Gamble on Oscar." Get it?
5. Wayne Garland, P, Cleveland Indians: Garland showed up for the 1977 photo shoot for this card coming off a career year in '76: a 20-7 record and a 2.68 ERA for the Orioles. The confidence shows. Garland strutted his straw with a man-perm that looks like it came straight out of a salon how-to guide, and the handlebar 'stache is a heck of an accessory piece. Also appreciate the fact that he took off his cap when the Topps photographer came round. He was proud of that look, as he should have been.
6. Mark Fidrych, P, Detroit Tigers, and John Denny, P, St. Louis Cardinals: A two-for-one deal, and you really can't beat it. Topps tried to pass it off as a 1977 card honoring the previous year's ERA leaders from both leagues, but we recognize a "Best Of" hair collection when we see one. For "The Bird," it's the reddish curls covering the ears that do the trick. For Denny, it's the long 'burns, wings of hair and super-stache. Solid all the way around.
7. Randy Jones, P, San Diego Padres: This 1977 card highlights the fact that this southpaw was an All-Star in the midst of his 22-win 1977 campaign, but it could have been referring to his All-Star hair. The blond, curly 'fro rises about 8 inches from the top of his forehead, and thankfully Randy lost the lid for the photo as he toed the bullpen slab. Or maybe his cap accidentally fell off. Or maybe it was impossible to keep on his head in the first place.
8. Roy Smalley, SS, Minnesota Twins: The back of this 1978 card tells us that Smalley is the son of Roy Smalley, the former National League shortstop, and the nephew of manager Gene Mauch. The front of the card, however, shows us that Junior could have made the cover of Tiger Beat if he only had the right agent. Is that hair spray mixed in with ballgame sweat? It very well could be. And even with the helmet imprint that resembles "bed head," he's front and center on this card, showing it off and enjoying showing it off. Check out the way he turns his head to the camera to enable a full, dandruff-less view. Classic.
9. Pat Zachry, P, New York Mets: America was fresh off a 39-episode arc of TV's "Grizzly Adams" when Zachry went for a wild, unruly 'do and facial look clearly inspired by "Grizzly" star Dan Haggerty on this 1979 card. The show was billed as "The true story of a man exiled in wilderness and how he learns to survive," and if you exchange the words "in wilderness" for "on the last-place New York Mets," it's even more fitting. Zachry looks like the kind of guy who lived in a cave for three years, saw light for the first time on Opening Day, threw eight shutout innings and celebrated by eating a couple of Central Park pigeons.
Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for MLB.com/Entertainment. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.