Exciting times here at the Main Topps Archives Research Complex kids! I was recently contacted by Ken Liss, whose father, Norman, handled PR for Topps for more than 30 years. I'll hopefully fill in his details a little more down the road (a brief overview is here) but it looks to me that Norman Liss commenced his work for Topps right around the time the Rookie All Star project (1959 start) got underway, maybe a just a smidgen later.
Ken has kindly sent along three shots featuring Willie Mays during a 1974 visit to the Topps plant in Duryea, Pennsylvania that also feature his dad:
Clockwise from left: Norman Liss, the Say Hey Kid and a man believed to be Ken Byrnes, Topps VP of Manufacturing. If I didn't tell you the year, you could probably guess at it pretty closely given the haberdashery and grooming of the times.
Here's a bit more of a closeup:
Wide ties were definitely the "in thing" in '74!
Here the boys are touring the manufacturing floor, with none other than Sy Berger (a Mays confidant and friend) in tow:
Look at those bags of what must be sugar off to the right-and can't you just smell the Bazooka?! Ken Byrnes recollected this visit a couple of years ago, it's a fascinating read.
There was a groundswell of publicity surrounding Topps and the Duryea plant in the mid 1970's, from Sy Berger's starring role in the Great American Baseball Card Flipping ,Trading and Bubblegum Book to inserts in various baseball annuals and mainstream magazines through things like Willie's visit to Duryea. Norman Liss would have been the instigator of all this PR.