I've been working through the Topps 1969 set since May and its been an interesting trip down memory lane. I've also been keeping track of the number of hatless and airbrushed players in the set. When I was halfway through, a whopping 45% of the players were without a hat or had their hat doctored.
There were three main reasons for this...
1) Expansion brought four new teams in 1969, meaning there were no photos for any of the players on these new teams
2) A dispute of some sort prevented Topps from using the Astros' name or logo on the cards, so all of the Astros players were problems (though by series four the problem had been fixed)
3) The A's moved to Oakland from Kansas City for the '68 season and Topps had a bunch of older A's pictures that featured a "KC" on the hat. Airbrushing took care of the KC.
So, 45% of the first half of the set were logo-less cards.
Now fast forward to 2009. Upper Deck loses its' MLB license beginning in 2010 but retains one with the players. They announce that they will issued cards without the MLB logos. But as Mario at Wax Heaven pointed out a few days ago (and by the way, Mario, you will be missed!), we haven't seen any design previews, while Topps has had their 2010 designs out for months.
Why no designs? My guess is they are still trying to figure out how to make a decent card without any logos.
Are they going to look like this? Go the hatless route? I sure hope not, because one of the most identifiable features of a ballplayer is his hat. You've got to have the hat!
What about this...the under the hat look? That sure looks ugly.
Then, there is always the airbrush. Of course, with Photoshop you can make things look a little better than the old airbrush, but a blank hat is, well, blank.
And then there is the issue of team names. I would assume that Upper Deck can't use them either.
All the cards will look like this, Houston, not Astros. I really don't want to collect cards that say "Chicago NL."
So how can Upper Deck pull this off? In 1969 Topps had no competition, so if 45% of the cards had lousy or doctored pictures, Topps could say, "So what?" But Upper Deck doesn't have that luxury. Can they come up with a decent looking product without the logos?
Here are a few crude attempts on my part, taking a 2009 card and removing the logos.
This wasn't too bad, just had to doctor the hat.
The road uniform wasn't too hard to fix either.
But messing around with the home uniform and the pinstripes was not an easy thing.
And this Soriano card looks a lot like.....
These cards without logos just look so incredibly wrong. It is obvious that something is missing and even a casual baseball fan would recognize that immediately.
So back to my question. Can Upper Deck come up with a decent looking product without any logos?
I'd be shocked if they do.