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.

2 comments:

intoleftfield1 said...

Quite possibly the most anal collector of all-time did this little update. Nice!

Tom said...

The kid that "redesiged" the Marshall card probably went on to art school. Very clever! I have a lot of old cards (late '60s and early '70s) that had the old team scratched out and the new team added above in blue ink.