As a child, I was given a Crown Gasoline poster featuring the 1988 Orioles schedule and the slogan, "Come Out And Watch Us Add To Our Legendary Collection". It's an amazing poster, with photos of 30 Topps baseball cards of Orioles stars, ranging from 1956 to 1987. I recently dug that poster out from under my bed, and hung it on the wall where it belonged.
I remember studying that poster frequently when I was younger, the images of decades-old cardboard that were but a rumor to me, something unattainable. The only featured card I had was the 1987 Cal Ripken, Jr. Eventually the 1986 Eddie Murray made its way into my hands. Last year, I began to pursue vintage Orioles cards on eBay, and bit by bit, some of those older, mythic cards came into my possession. This brightly colored, Art Deco-styled Pat Dobson card is one of those.
My first impression of this card is the most lasting: that photo is as unflattering as it gets. Pat stands front and center, ball hidden snugly in his glove, with a blank stare in his eyes and his jaw hanging slack in an unintelligent manner. For goodness sake, he looks lobotomized! Is this really the best picture taken during his photo shoot in Spring of 1971? The guy is a five-year veteran who just won 20 games - one of four Orioles pitchers to do so - you'd think Topps would give him a little more respect. They could've just dug out this photo in a pinch.
Perhaps this goofy-looking card got Pat's year started on the wrong note. He actually pitched slightly better than he had in 1971: his ERA dropped from 2.90 to 2.65, his WHIP from 1.10 to 1.08. But he was plagued by bad luck and worse run support (2.9 runs per game) and lost 18 games, winning only 16. For all his struggles, he was still selected to the All-Star Game. How many 18-game losers can say that?