1973-74 Topps card #15 – Gary Unger
Here is proof that not all hockey cards from the 1970s had boring photography. While the 1973-74 Topps set was rife with static portraits and blurry game-action photos, this card is one of those rare, wonderful exceptions.
I found this card of Gary Unger in a stack of commons at a card show last year and paid a quarter for it. The 1973-74 set is not a set I am trying to build (though eventually I plan to). Likewise, I am not a fan – or even that knowledgeable – about Unger. He played “before my time”, and retired a good five years before I even knew what hockey was. But I saw this card, and was amazed at how cool it looked.
In this photograph, Unger is photographed from below as he skate in, about to slap the puck with his hockey stick. The dynamic angle of this photo – as well as the mostly-black background – succeeds in making Unger feel like a towering, dynamic presence, while the blurriness of Unger’s left hand and stick preface the action that is about to take place. I have to commend the photographer for his (her?) inventiveness in composing and taking this photograph, as he has succeeded in creating a picture that is both portrait-esque and action-oriented.
Other factors that enhance the composition are the glare/highlights on Unger’s shoulder and hair, as well as the gold stripe on his pants. These all help to separate him from the darkened background. While these other factors might have been unintentional, it is clear that the photographer did not “phone it in” during this photo shoot of St. Louis’ leading scorer.
Thirty five years later, and this card is still impressive compared to its younger, slicker brethren of today.