Stardom “Staehled”

68 Bench                          

Topps’ ability to project stardom for young players has always been mixed. For every Nolan Ryan and Johnny Bench who appeared on the “Rookie Stars” cards of the ‘60’s and ‘70s, there was a Mike Brumley or a Ron Tompkins. Of course we all know baseball is the most difficult sport to project success beyond potential. Nonetheless, the talent evaluators in Brooklyn could be decidedly dogged in their insistence that some youngsters had star potential. Thus, there are several instances of the same players featured on multiple “Rookie Stars” cards.   I included the ’63 version-which is not team specific- in the survey.

64 Piniella

69 Staehl

In most instances statistical evidence did not back up Topps’ talent appraisals, with a few exceptions. The most well known is “Sweet” Lou Piniella who appears on three cards for three different teams. Lou vindicated Topps loyalty by emerging as a solid player for the Royals and Yankees. Darrell Knowles is another multiple card rookie who had a good but not spectacular career. One of the “Miracle Mets” chief “linchpins,” Tommy Agee, was another excellent player who-like Piniella- earned Rookie-of-the-Year honors.

63 Simpson

64 Simpson

65 Simpson

66 Simpson

However, the majority of the guys who appear two, three or four times never lived up to Topps’ lofty expectations. For instance Dick Simpson is on four different cards starting with in ’63.  He bounced around with five teams before his potential ran out in ’69 after a stint with Seattle. Bob Davis shows up three times and Ron Stone has a “triple” as well. The before mentioned Ron Tompkins, Roberto Rodriquez, Darrell Osteen (who appear together in ’68 for Reds) and Richie Scheinblum (paired with Lou Piniella as ’68 Indians) all had “doubles.”

65 Staehl

66 Staehl

69 Staehl

Marv Staehl is a classic example of overhyped potential. He appears on the White Sox “Rookie Stars” cards in ’65 and ’66 and for the Pilots in ’69. Marv played a total of 47 games for the “Pale Hose” but never played with Seattle, having been optioned to AAA Vancouver at the end spring training. He does hold the distinction of being the first player with major league experience signed by the Pilots.

After being dealt to the Expos, Marv finally exceeded his rookie status in ’70 by playing in over 100 games. The Expos are not impressed and cut him in April of ’71. He latches on with the Braves but is released after 22 games and a .111 average. Though his major league career ends, ’71 is not all bad for Marv. Topps finally gives him a card of his own, even if the cap emblem was inexpertly airbrushed away.

71 Staehl

Several months ago erstwhile blog contributor and Mayor of Cooperstown, Jeff Katz, informed me that Marv Staehl was once his insurance agent in Illinois. Marv had to be an All-State agent since he was known for having “good hands” around second base.

If I missed a multiple “Rookie Stars” player, let us know.


Author: Tim Jenkins

Sports memorablilia collector with Seattle teams emphasis. HOF autographs, baseball cards and much more. Teacher for over 30 years. Attended games at 35 different MLB parks.

13 thoughts on “Stardom “Staehled””

  1. The key to understanding these cards, I think, is that Topps put *everyone* on a Rookie Stars card who (a) had a reasonable chance to play in the upcoming season, and (b) still had rookie eligibility. This is not a criticism — I wish Topps still did this, in fact. They weren’t really making a “star” judgment call, they were saying “hey, Joe, any chance Marv Staehle could stick this year?” “Its possible I guess.” “Great, we need someone for the Agee card.”

    By 1969, with the four expansion teams, there were 100 new roster spots. For me, these cards were not about Bench and Seaver, they were about dozens of guys who had one and only one card in their career.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am not familiar enough to say. But Topps would never put a guy on a card if he didn’t think he might make the team. Some phenom two years away had to wait two years to get his card. Eventually, of course, Topps began photographing middle school kids for cards.


      2. I get the sense that “make the team” has changed from “securing a spot on the active roster” to “a possible September call-up.”

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Wow you can almost field a team with the players Dick Simpson shared rookie stars cards.

        I agree on both above comments. Topps was just trying to get as many major leaguers into the set as possible. To me Current Bowman is sort of where 1960s Topps Rookie Stars live now, but I think it is an even wider net which includes a lot of minor leaguers that likely will not make the show.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It looks like all of these players had some MLB experience, though it may have been very little. Piniella played in 4 games and had 1 PA in 1964, so he had “some” MLB experience. Dick Simpson played in 6 games in 1962.

        By and large I think Topps kept to that standard, though I certainly haven’t checked every player in every set. By the late 1980s that was changing (the introduction of Bowman helped things along, as did draft pick cards – competition from other companies was likely also a contributing factor), and by 1993 more players than not had “rookie cards” that predated their MLB arrival. While not really the point of the paper, you can scroll down to Figure 2 (pg. 34) to see the evolution of the percentage of players who have “rookie” cards prior to “MLB experience” (our definition – with midseason product releases “MLB experience” gets a little murky). For instance, Jeter’s RCs are all in 1993, and he didn’t make MLB until 1995.

        Click to access WP_web_Burge_Zillante_RC_Race.pdf

        Note that the definition of RC is fairly broad. If you remember the 1980s Becketts, there were RC, RC*, RC**, XRC, first cards (FTC, FFC, FDC, FSC, FUDC – for those that had a card in another product in an earlier year, because it was important back then to note that 1982 was Raines’ first Fleer card, whereas he had true RCs in 1981 Topps and Donruss), and I think something like XRC* and XRC**. I think there were about 200-250 players who had rookie cards between 1986-1993 who had not made the majors 17 years later (which means they probably didn’t make the majors). An obvious one is Brien Taylor.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Most 1960s “Rookie Stars” had experience because most prospects debuted in September in those days, compared to now — some clubs had agreements with their affiliates that they would not interrupt their minor league teams until the season was over.

        Some players began their careers in April. Carew and Seaver debuted in April, and their rookie cards were that year.


  2. Oh man as I’ve been collecting Giants cards I’ve been noticing and wondering about this exact thing. Both Jack Hiatt and Dick Estelle appear on 1965 and 1966 Giants Rookies cards—two different cards in 1965, the same card in 1966. Bernie Williams is on a 1970 Giants Rookies card, a 1971 NL Rookie Outfielders card, and a 1972 NL Rookies card.

    And while not Giants, Dale Murphy is on both 1977 and 1978 Rookie Catchers cards (Gary Alexander is also on the 1977 card and I ran into some confusion when looking into Dale Murphy rookies to gauge price)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Phil Niekro had a multi player rookie in both 1964 and 1965. I’m pretty sure they even used the same picture…except that the 65 was a reverse image of the 64.


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