Wednesday, December 30, 2009

1967 Topps Poster #15, Hank Aaron

Despite their choice of questionable photography in some sets, Topps could take a good picture when they needed to. 1964's set of "giants" gave a great first look at oversized, color prints on card stock (set gallery here) and they soon followed with a series of poster inserts featuring individual players (1967, 1968) and full teams (1969).

Hank Aaron had a comparative off year in 1966, the first in Atlanta after moving with the Braves from Milwaukee. Of course, he still led the league with 44 homers and 127 RBIs, but with "only" a .279 batting average. Gap power (and average) returned in 1967 and stayed high throughout his 30s (career stats here).

Card front (unfolded, 5" x 7")

The Hammer's bat handle proudly bears #44 and would never put up with the Billy Ripken treatment.

Card back (folded, 2.5" x 3.5")

Somewhere in the middle of the year, Topps added a poster to card packs as a promotional insert. Only proof versions come without folds, and are thus exceedingly rare. The set includes some great pictures of and legendary players (set gallery here), but individual "cards" don't cost much. As I write this, HOF singles are on eBay for Buy-It-Now prices under $5.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cards as therapy

We are a few, short days away from the postseason, my friends. And you know what that means to fans who have a team still playing, don't you?

Angst. Frustration. Hopelessness. Feelings of anger, powerlessness, despair.

For fans of one lucky team, the postseason ends in elation -- a world championship. But for the rest, disappointment is the ultimate destination.

I'm no psychologist, so I can't explain the motivation behind half the things I do, but when I am frustrated during my team's postseason run, I tend to avoid taking it out on my own team -- those are my guys out there, you know. Instead, I take it out on the opposing team.

Often times, that's an easy task. It's easy for me to find something to dislike in the Yankees or Giants or Mets or Diamondbacks. Other times, it's a little more difficult, like with the Dodgers' upcoming postseason opponent, the Cardinals. (But, trust me, I'll find something to dislike. Probably something related to Brendan Ryan's socks).

You may have noticed how I took out my frustration when the Dodgers played the Rockies in a season-ending series to determine who won the National League West. I'm not a fan of the Rockies for a variety of reasons, and I couldn't bear to see them win the NL West. I wish I could be a gracious loser, but I'm not. However, I didn't throw things (that much) or get too loud. Instead, I took it out on my cards.

After the Rockies' win on Friday night, cutting the Dodgers' lead to one game, I washed this 2009 Topps Brad Hawpe card with the rest of the dirty dishes. I don't have a dishwasher, because my kitchen is too small. So I washed the dishes by hand, using the card to help with the daily ritual. As you can, see, it wasn't exactly up to the task. Kind of fell apart on the job.

For Saturday's game, I sort of mowed over a Todd Helton card:

The Dodgers actually won Saturday's game, so there was no reason for me to do this. For an explanation, you can click on my blog. Oops, sorry, Todd.

But the whole purpose of this -- besides having a blog post -- was therapeutic. Slowly reviewing the Dodgers' loss in my mind while I washed silverware with a baseball card, actually helped calm me down a bit. And nothing got damaged, except for a dupe of a base card.

(I absolutely recommend using only doubles for postseason therapy. Don't do anything you might regret).

I don't anticipate doing this again this postseason, unless the Dodgers face the Rockies again, or possibly the Yankees. I have a whole stack of Mickey Mantle home run cards backed up for that purpose.

But I have to say, this is a lot better than punching a hole in the wall, or putting a pile of money down on a shrink to tell him that Manny can't hit a fastball anymore.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

1960 Nu-Card Baseball Hi-Lites

In 1960, Nu-Card, Inc. came up with a 72-card set of oversized cards featuring baseball highlights (Hi-Lites). The cards are 3-1/4" x 5-3/8" (postcard sized, maybe?). The fronts feature a newspaper-like layout with the card number in the upper left corner, a clipart catcher, the "Baseball Hi-Lites" text and an "EXTRA***" across the top. Under that, the place and date of the featured event, plus "Ptd. in U.S.A. (c) NCI, are listed like a newspaper date used to be:

The headlines are in red lettering with a sub-heading under it in black. There is a "representative" photo (more on THAT in a minute) that takes up the center of the card. At the bottom, in two column layout, the details of the hi-lite.

I have a Bob Feller, Rocky Colavito, the "Unassisted Triple Play" above, and an Early Wynn in my personal collection:

Now, you may notice something about the Wynn below:

The card features a write-up about Early Wynn crushing the Yankees in the 1954 season to keep them out of the pennant. The place on the paper reads "Cleveland." Early Wynn did play for the Indians in 1954. So, what's the problem? The picture is actually from Wynn's team AT THE TIME THE CARDS WERE MADE! You see, Wynn played for the White Sox in 1960, hence the "wrong" picture for the featured event!

Wait a minute! Doesn't that remind you of a recent set in which the photo on the card may or may not have had anything to do with the event on the card!? Wow, talk about going vintage!

On a more positive note, the back of each card features a trivia question. Unlike later sets that did this and made you hunt down the card with the answer, these cards actually give the answer and then refer you to the card that has more info! How nice of them.

Here is the list of cards in the set:
1 Babe Ruth Hits 3 Homers In A Series Game
2 Johnny Podres Pitching Wins Series
3 Bill Bevans Pitches No-Hitter Almost
4 Box Score Devised By Reporter
5 Johnny Vander Meer Pitches Two No Hitters
6 Indians Take Bums
7 Joe Di Maggio Comes Thru
8 Christy Mathewson Pitches Three WS Shutouts
9 Harvey Haddix Pitches 12 Perfect Innings
10 Bobby Thomson Homer Sinks Dodgers
11 Carl Hubbell Strikes Out 5 A. L. Stars
12 Pickoff Ends Series
13 Cards Take Series From Yanks
14 Dizzy And Daffy Dean Win Series
15 Mickey Owen Drops Third Strike
16 Babe Ruth Calls Shot
17 Fred Merkle Pulls Boner
18 Don Larsen Hurls Perfect W. S. Game
19 Mickey Cochrane Bean Ball Ends Career
20 Ernie Banks Belts 47 Homers Earns MVP
21 Stan Musial Hits 5 Homers in One Day
22 Mickey Mantle Hits Longest Homer
23 Roy Sievers Captures Home Run Title
24 Lou Gehrig2130 Consecutive Game Record Ends
25 Red Schoendienst Key Player Braves Pennant
26 Midget Pinch-Hits For St. Louis
27 Willie Mays Makes Greatest Catch
28 Yogi Berra Homer Puts Yanks In 1st
29 Roy Campanella NL MVP
30 Bob Turley Hurls Yankees To WS Champions
31 Dodgers Take Series From Sox in Six
32 Carl Furillo Hero as Dodgers Beat Chicagoin 3rd
33 Joe Adcock Gets 4 Homers And A Double
34 Bill Dickey Chosen All-Star Catcher
35 Lew Burdette Beats Yanks In Three World Series G
36 Umpires Clear White Sox Bench
37 Pee Wee Reese
38 Joe Di Maggio Hits In 56 Straight
39 Ted Williams Hits .406 For Season
40 Walter Johnson Pitches 56 Straight
41 Gil Hodges Hits 4 Home Runs In Nite Game
42 Hank Greenberg Returns to Tigers From Army
43 Ty Cobb Named Best Player Of All Time
44 Robin Roberts Wins 28 Games
45 Phil Rizzuto Two Runs Save 1st Place
46 Tigers Beat Out Senators For Pennant
47 Babe Ruth Hits 60th Home Run
48 Cy Young Honored
49 Harmon Killebrew Starts Spring Training
50 Mickey Mantle Hits Longest Homerat Stadium
51 Braves Take Pennant
52 Ted Williams Hero Of All-Star Game
53 Jackie Robinson Saves Dodgers For Play-off Serie
54 Fred Snodgrass Muffs Fly
55 Duke Snider Belts 2 Homers Ties Record
56 Giants Win 26 Straight
57 Ted Kluszewski Stars In 1st Series Win
58 Mel Ott Walks 5 Times In Single Game
59 Harvey Kuenn Takes A. L. Batting Title
60 Bob Feller Hurls 3rd No-Hitter of Career
61 Yankees Champs Again
62 Hank Aaron Bat Beats Yankees In Series
63 Warren Spahn Beats Yanks in W. S.
64 Ump's Wrong Call Helps Dodgers Beat Yanks
65 Al Kaline Hits 3 Homers Two In Same Inning
66 Bob Allison Named AL ROY
67 Willie McCovey Blasts Way Into Giant Lineup
68 Rocky Colavito Hits 4 Homers in One Game
69 Carl Erskine Sets Strike Out Recordin World Ser
70 Sal Maglie Pitches No-Hit Game
71 Early Wynn Victory Crushes Yanks
72 Nellie Fox AL MVP

Saturday, August 22, 2009

1982 Topps Squirt Bottle Tags

In 1982, Topps teamed up with Squirt to create a scratch off game where people could win $1000 in groceries, plus get a collectible trading card to boot! The game pieces had a circle that could be punched out in the top section, then those placed on the necks of Squirt bottles. Somehow, the one I ended up with is not punched!

The cards feature the trademark yellow and green of the Squirt bottle's colors. For those that have never heard of Squirt, it was kinda like Mt. Dew, but not. Do they even make Squirt anymore? I have no idea. The entire piece is about 9 inches long and about 2.5 inches wide. The card itself is standard width, but about a half-inch or so short of a standard-sized card. The stock is about half the thickness of a regular card. A quick search on eBay revealed that another variety of these features two players instead of a player and game card.

Here is a close up of the Gary Carter (#19 of 22) card:

And, I scanned the back of the card so you can see what it looks like as well:

As you can see, Topps may have come up with an original design for the front, but the back is all '82 Topps. In fact, if I were a betting man, I'd bet it is the back of his '82 Topps card. Although, the "Jim Palmer" fact on the right at the top looks way too typewritten to have been on the real card. I could be wrong. I don't have an '82 Carter to compare this with.

As mentioned before, Carter is #19 of 22 cards. Here is the whole checklist:

1 Cecil Cooper - Milwaukee Brewers
2 Jerry Remy - Boston Red Sox
3 George Brett - Kansas City Royals
4 Alan Trammell - Detroit Tigers
5 Reggie Jackson - California Angels
6 Kirk Gibson - Detroit Tigers
7 Dave Winfield - New York Yankees
8 Carlton Fisk - Chicago White Sox
9 Ron Guidry - New York Yankees
10 Dennis Leonard - Kansas City Royals
11 Rollie Finger - Milwaukee Brewers
12 Pete Rose - Philadelphia Phillies
13 Phil Garner - Houston Astros
14 Mike Schmidt - Philadelphia Phillies
15 Dave Concepcion - Cincinnati Reds
16 George Hendrick - St. Louis Cardinals
17 Andre Dawson - Montreal Expos
18 George Foster - New York Mets
19 Gary Carter - Montreal Expos
20 Fernando Valenzuela - Los Angeles Dodgers
21 Tom Seaver - Cincinnati Reds
22 Bruce Sutter - St. Louis Cardinals

Saturday, August 15, 2009

1991 Score World Series Trivia Cards

It amazes me that no one (including myself) has posted about these little gems on here yet! So, I will take the lead (much like the first lemming over the cliff has to go some time):

Pictured above is one scanner bed full of these minis. The full set takes multiple scans.

There are 72 cards in the set. These were special cards that were included in the factory boxes. Collectors would also find one motion card per pack off the shelf. Each card measures 2" x 2.5" in size.

The front of the card is a 'motion' (like Sportflics) that would change from "World Series Trivia" or "World Series Q&A" to the year the card focuses on (in this case, 1932):

On the back, the collector finds either a tidbit of trivia (on the "Trivia" cards or a question to be answered (on the "Q&A" cards):

If you were to ask anyone that either collected these in the 90's or has since discovered them and held them in their collection for any length of time, the first thing that likely comes to mind is the fact that these little cards are stiff as boards and bend like nobody's business.

Over time, for whatever reason, the 'stuff' that binds everything together on these cards appears to shrink or tighten. The cards end up bowing in the middle and will not lay flat. In fact, to get the scans, I had to press down on the lid of my scanner. What a weird thing to happen, eh?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Games in a Pack

Note: the bulk of this post is paraphrased from my post about the "Pirates" pack featured on "A Pack to be Named Later." I have added some thoughts and additional information for this blog. It's not exactly the same post! --David

Wiz Kids Games (an apparent subsidiary of Topps), provides many of the "game in a pack" fodder that one might encouter during a trip to one's favorite (or highly loathed, whichever) retailer.

These packs include everything needed for two people to play a game including punchout pieces which often require assembly by very nimble fingers, one or more dies, instructions, and other items that may or may not be needed for gameplay.

Some titles include: "Nascar Race Day," "Star Wars Pocket Model TCG," Pirates," and others. They also make the "Action Clix" games, but I have not bought any of those as of yet.

For the purposes of this post, as mentioned above, I will examining a pack of "Pirates" cards. I do have a "Nascar" pack that will appear at a later date on "A Pack to be Named Later" as well.

Each pack is a complete Pirates game (with two ships, a die, rules, etc). In order to really show these off, I scanned both sides of each playing card and then combined those into a "Side 1, Side 2" picture.

Each card is about the size of a regular/standard trading card, but is the thickness of a credit card. That's a good thing, because the assembly is a TINY feat, and anything thinner would tear like toilet paper.

First up, we have a "Firepot Specialist." The card comes with a punchout square 'special piece' and two punchout smoke-thingies:

Next, we have our first ship, Dark Fox, which bears something akin to an oldtime US Flag. Before you ask, YES, you have to punch out everything and assemble the ship. And, YES, after you punch out the pieces, they are TINY:

Here we have the booty: a series of coins (worth the amount printed on the back) plus a special coin to be used during gameplay (assuming you make it that far):

Next, is part two (because Blogger loads pictures in reverse order and I didn't realize this was #2 until writing this), of our second ship, Hangman's Joke. Why part TWO? Ah, you see, some ships are more complex and require two playing cards to complete. See? Aren't we having fun?

This is part one of the Hangman's Joke ship. The little brown wavy things are little flags that go on one of the masts. I assume they give you three because they know kids are going to lose these and come crying to their parents...

Assembling the ships not only requires you to punch them out of their cards, but to also be able to line up and insert tiny tabs into tiny slots (please reserve all crude comments for the tavern). Because these are pirate ships, they are also curved, making it that much more fun to assemble.

The little flags that hang off the back of each ship is very small, and will most likely be the first pieces lost after a few rounds of play.

Here is a special card, "Trogs." If you play this card, you get all the booty from a plundered ship. Very nice! I need to find some of these guys for a project I have around here...

And the last card in the pack is the island, because you can't have pirate treasure without an island to bury it on, right? Er, well, more accurately, to DIG IT UP from...

But, WAIT! There's more! In addition to the cards, each pack a set of "Quick Rules." These give you enough to play a scaled down game without concerning yourself with things like Trogs.

The Quick Rules provide a picture-based step-by-setp guide for assembling the ships and for playing a beginner's (or basic) game. It's pretty easy to follow.

Included in the pack is a mini-poster advertising the upcoming (back then) online PC game based on the cards (or vice versa, does it really matter?)...

We also have a copy of the Full Rules for the Complete Game. I was tempted to open this thing up and show it to you, but if you really want to know that badly, go buy a 99-cent pack at your local Target. This game can get seriously complicated. I'm not sure how many kids will stick around for a full game...

The full rules are much like reading a recipe in which you have an idea as to what you are making, but really, you've never heard the ingredients written out quite like this. A quick looksie, and this game is like "Axis and Allies" in a wax pack...

And here we have the die that comes with the game. I used the ubiquitous US Quarter for sizing reference. It is "Small... esS... emM... All... Small!"

There is also a foldout checklist, in case anyone in their state of insanity wanted to collect every piece of the game. What you see here is page 1 of 4, and it is the size of a baseball card.

And, in the name of integrity, or something, I punched out and assembled the game pieces. There was no good way to get a picture, so I set up a mock game with the instruction books serving as backdrop...

My sincerest condolances to any parent out there who had to endure putting these things together for their child. And if you bought these yourself, then you got what you deserved. In all honesty, though, the game DOES look kinda fun...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"But is it art"? (2007 UD Masterpieces)

Upper Deck did a nice turn in 2007 with these pastoral, brushed-up cards. Available in slim packs of 4 (corrected from 6), UD Masterpieces captured memorable moments on roughened, canvas-like stock with gold foil framing. Loaded with parallels and other inserts as modern sets often are, I see its artful look as competing with Topps' 2006 resurrection of Allen & Ginter.

2007 UD Masterpieces (Ryan Howard and Chipper Jones):

2006 Topps Allen & Ginter (Ryan Howard auto & Chipper Jones):

My handful of cards came from a Wal-Mart repack, but I enjoyed the artistic style enough to consider buying more. (As a 99% vintage collector, not many current-day sets grab my attention.) People willing to pony up for a hobby box can score unusual cards like 5"x7" inserts, black borders, and other curiosities. Back in 2007, A Pack A Day blogged their box break live and included a number of nice scans; the affecting "Lou Gehrig Day" is my favorite.

2007 UD Masterpieces reverse:

OK, there's one obvious weakness, the repeated back photos. I assume the painting "treatment" came from a reusable series of Photoshop filters, so why not pick out a nice player profile shot and run them again? Adding more variety would nail it and could even be superior to A&G's "foggy nostalgia" look.

UPDATE: As noted in the comments, I assumed incorrectly--the pictures used are real paintings and thus closer to "art" than one might suspect. What to do about the backs, then? They still seem unnecessarily repetitive. How about a painting of the home park for all members of a given team?

More UD Masterpiece links!

Monday, June 22, 2009

2007-2008 UD Chronology Stitches In Time

In the grand scheme of things, baseball is my favorite sport of the big four in the United States. Basketball is a distant second, followed closely by football in third. Hockey is in last place. Although, I'll admit, I've watched more hockey games this past season than any other time in my life. That probably has something to do with the Blackhawks finally televising home games.

When it comes to collecting, I just stick to baseball. I do look around for interesting cards in other sports. Mostly, this is for trading and my eBay store. This Ben Gordon card will probably end up in my store, but it will still be a small struggle to keep this out of my collection.

I'm a Bulls fan and Ben Gordon was the start of playoff basketball in Chicago, after a long drought. If I keep it, I will be going down a collecting path that I don't want to get into; basketball cards.

So let's look at this card. Stitches In Time - Veteran. Can you really be considered a veteran for the 07-08 season, if you were the Rookie of the Year in 2004-05? Apparently so. But wait... didn't Emeka Okafor win the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2004-05? But the card says that Ben Gordon was Rookie of the Year. I'm confused.

2004-05 NBA Sixth Man Award Winner is also listed among his achievements of the front of the card. That one is correct. Ben did make the 2004-05 NBA All-Rookie First Team, but that's not mentioned anywhere on the card. Maybe that's what Upper Deck meant to list on the front. That's a pretty big mistake though. I wonder what Emeka Okafor or Ben Gordon would have to say about this card if they ever saw the final product.

Despite that major error, the card is limited to 99. I guess that if you are going to commit an obvious error, it's best to limit the number of cards with that error. Not that it justifies the mistake or makes it any better.

Even the back of the card is a bit confusing.

You have received a Ben Gordon Game-Used trading card. On the front of this card is a piece of memorabilia that has been certified to us as having been used in an NBA game. We hope you enjoy this piece of basketball history, as we continue to keep you as close as you can get!

According to the text on the back, this is a Ben Gordon Game-Used trading card. Also according to the text, this piece of memorabilia just been certified to having been used in an NBA game. Nowhere in that part of the text does it specify Ben Gordon as being the person using this Game-Used memorabilia. This could have been worn by Benny the Bull on the sidelines during the game. I have no idea.

I could take it on faith that this was used in a game by Ben Gordon, but the text on the front of the card says that Gordon was Rookie of the Year. Can I assume one thing, while having a glaring error smack me in the head on another part of the card? Sigh. It's all in the wording, I suppose.

Still, it looks like a nice card until you really start scrutinizing it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Red Pen Alert!!

I would love to peek inside of the mind of a child. It should be filled with fantastical ideas and wonderment. I'll bet that all the world's problems could be solved by looking at everything through a child's eyes. Only then, might I be able to appreciate the added artistry of this card to its full potential.

If an adult did this butchery, I would think that they were either, drunk, high, Forrest Gump or extremely bored and distracted. What did poor Al Weis ever do to the person responsible for this masterpiece?

As you can tell by the scan, someone really loves the red pen. The words "White Sox" are helped along by a red ink stripe that isn't quite level. The "Sox" logo on the hat is filled in with red ink. The Topps 1963 All-Star Rookie trophy has changed from a yellow to a somewhat carefully lined red ink.

Al's eyes are mostly reddened and he's sporting a wonderful loopy red five o'clock shadow. He almost looks like the caricature of an old timey robber. Completing this outfit are streaks of red on each sleeve. The right side of Al gets the broad strokes of red ink, while the left side seems to suffer from a smudgy transfer.

Tiny red dots make an appearance just below the H in White Sox, under the newly red banner. There appears to be red across the field behind Al, but that is not red ink, that is actually part of the picture. The dirt between the field and the stands just shows up in a reddish hue.

Lest red be the color of choice here, blue ink makes a subtle appearance. There is a mostly vertical straight line coming down onto Al's left shoulder. Curiously, the puzzling part of the blue ink comes just underneath Al's belt line. Can this be a clue into the mind of the inking artist?

It looks like "ISJ" written in blue ink over Al Weis' lap. What does it all mean? One can only speculate the meaning of this. Perhaps this was the artist's initials? Maybe it is a crudely written infinity sign. Could Al Weis be infinity? Since Al was on the White Sox and the 1969 Mets team, could this be a Cubs fan's revenge on Al?

We may never know the answers to this doctored card, but we can appreciate this as an interesting artifact from (hopefully) a child's mind.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Duo-Tang Topps Sports Shots Binders/Portfolios

I know what you're probably thinking... "What a horribly off-center 1989 Topps Strawberry you have there, Tribecards!" Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. You see, what you have here is a scan of a Duo-Tang Binder/Portfolio (like they sell to kids at Wal-Mart at the beginning of school to keep papers in). And the photo above is the best fit I could get the thing to stay on my scanner. To see how this ginormous 'card' compares to a standard-sized card, take a look at the next scan:

If you look very closely, you will see a standard-seized baseball card in the upper left corner. See it way up there, looking like some kind of "Fan Favorites Mini" card? Yeah, these binders are BIG, though flat with pockets in them.

Duo-Tang and Topps teamed up before with a 1988 set as well, as seen above. The binders/Portfolios measure 9-1/2" by 11-3/4" and are cardboard.

The 1988 set featured 130 players total. Some of them include Joe Carter, Robin Yount, Nolan Ryan, Tony Gwynn, Carlton Fisk, etc.

In addition to Molitor and Strawberry, the 1989 set featured players such as Doc Gooden, Mark McGwire, Ozzie Smith, George Brett, etc. The set was greatly reduced from 130 players down to 39 that year.

If there is great interest, I can post the checklists for each year, but you can find singles and 'sets' on eBay. Most of the sets you find for sale are actually compilations that someone else has assembled. The originals were sold in 50-piece boxes for retail stores to sell for $1 each. I don't even remember how I ended up with the ones I have... They will eventually be given away during one of my free-for-alls.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

1988 Leaf Awesome All-Star Stickers

There's a recently-revealed blog called, "A Pack to be Named Later" upon which I am a contributing member. I bought four of these packs to post over there, and each pack will be displayed on a random date in the future. In the meantime, I thought it was an appropriate set for inclusion on this blog! After all, we're talking VERY weird cards and baseball. It's a match made in... Well, let's just get to the set, shall we?

The first thing we see when we open a pack is the gum:

I can honestly say I have no desire whatsoever to put this 21-year old gum anywhere near my mouth. The powder is still very fine and very messy. I'm sure I'll be cleaning my scanner for weeks to come.

There are 99 cards in the set, and in one of the packs I opened, I pulled the checklist - yay me! So, for those of you keeping score at home, here are the cards you'll need to complete your very own set of stickers:

The cards themselves feature various characters sporting relevant (or opposite of what one might think) names. Also, Leaf writers evidently had a hard time coming up with names to go with certain alliterations, as seen in the two cards here:

Larry Line Drive and Long Arm Larry... I guess they couldn't have very well used "Luke," now could they?

They also had no "Political Correctness" back in the late 80's, either:

You couldn't get away with a character named "Contra" nowadays, I don't think.

And in honor of Carl Crawford's recent accomplishment, I thought I would include his predecessor:

The backs of most of the cards include little write-ups about the player on the front. But, some cards have puzzle pieces on them:

Collect all the pieces and have yourself a big-ol' time completing the puzzle.

As I said, at least it's RELATED to baseball, right?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

1953 Topps Traded!

In 1981, only my third year of collecting, Topps did something astounding, groundbreaking, nay, unprecedented in the history of baseball. Not content with their "normal" 726 card set, these Brooklyn-based wizards audaciously published a full 132-count expansion of rookies, tradees, and previously overlooked vets. This 1981 Topps Traded set picked up at #727, proceeded in sensible alphabetical order, and closed out with new Mariner Richie Zisk! The 9 year-old me practically wet my pants at the thought of owning such a prize.

OK, it wasn't long before my collection delved back into the 1970s and I realized "traded" sets were old news. Unfortunately, the disco-era cards featured awful airbrushing and questionable player selection, so Topps probably shelved them in search of a better business plan. I do like 1972's "TRADED" cards (including HOFers Steve Carlton, Frank Robinson, and Joe Morgan), but their high-series placement sticks modern collectors with high-dollar prices. My weekly 25-cent allowance afforded a single weekly pack as it was.

The pictured card shows the work of a real pioneer, probably a youngling like myself with a favorite team, sharp scissors, and rubber cement. They cared enough about Willard Marshall, a decent WWII-era right fielder, to track his move north from Cincy to Chicago after 1953. An unlucky "extra" donated his team logo, cap sigil, and team name to this Machiavellian task.
  1. Obscure Cincy logo with flyin' White Sock
  2. Cover Reds team name with "CHICAGO WHITE SOX"
  3. Revise cap with sans-serif "SOX"
There's a twist to the team name. In 1953, Topps printed National League team names with yellow-on-black text. The "update" black-on-red combo can only come from the 1954 Topps set. Based on the hat logo, it's almost certainly #39 Sherm Lollar. Sorry, Sherm!

My 1953 set includes a dozen of these "traded" versions. Maybe a bunch of kids did this back in the day, or maybe a few did it to all of their cards. In any event, they're nice to have in a low-grade collection and add a little pizzazz to what's already a beautiful set.