The very first post I submitted focused on the variety of cards and related memorabilia featuring Don Mincher on the Seattle Pilots. One of the Mincher “cards” was from, arguably, the worst baseball card set ever issued: 1969 Globe Imports mini-playing cards.
My history with the cards dates to the early 1970s, when I bought a set from a liquidation store in Yakima, WA for 25 cents. I can’t remember if the deck was sealed or held together with a rubber band. Over the ensuing 40 years, I lost several, making me nine cards shy of a complete set.
These little “gems” measure 1-5/8” x 2-1/4” and are printed on thin white cardboard. The photos are more akin to photocopies than actual prints. The 52 murky, black and white images have the player’s name at the bottom, but team names are absent. Some players appear on two different suits. The backs are blank, except for a red checked variation.
The two or three of you who have read my past posts know that vintage oddball sets often have mysterious origins: Globe Imports is no exception. I could find no evidence of a location for the company. (Currently, there is a Brooklyn based battery seller with this name that has been in business since 1958. Did they once distribute playing cards?)* The cards lack copywrite information and the name Globe Imports does not appear.
Many of the photos are identical to the ones used on Sports Illustrated Posters, while some are Topps photo copies. The 2’ x 3’ Sports Illustrated posters — which first appeared in ’68 — had a promotional card corollary that were given away at stores that sold the magazine. Additionally, a promotional poster — placed in stores –features many of the photos. Did Globe Imports simply pirate the images? Did the producer of the photos sell them to both SI and Globe Imports?
There is some credence to idea that an independent producer sold the photos. Many of the photos — along with Topps copies — are used in a cereal box set issued by Nabisco in ’69. This set has the logos airbrushed but is sanctioned by the MLBPA. The cards came on the back of “Team Flakes” and were distributed in three, eight card panels called mini-posters. The cards are less than two inches tall-suspiciously close Globe Imports size — making them a prime suspect as a copy source.
It wouldn’t be a vintage oddball set without divergent ideas on the year of distribution. The Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards uses the commonly accepted 1969 issue year. However, some collectors believe that a set with MLB logos appeared first in ’68 and the airbrushed version in ’69, while others think ’69 and ’70 are more likely.
Distribution and sales information are other aspects of oddballs that tend to be missing, convoluted or contradictory. One source maintains that the cards were sold at gas stations in the south, while another has vending machines as the source. Of course, the vending machines could have been located at gas stations. Adding to the confusion, a current eBay seller’s description states that the cards are from K-Mart. Retail price and whether the cards were sold as decks-which seems logical-is uncertain.
Honestly, the Globe Imports are so lame that only a true oddball collector of oddballs would even care about the history of this set, let alone collect them. That being said, I’m off to Mayberry, NC to see if Gomer or Goober at Wally’s “fillin’” station still have a few Globe Imports lying around.
*My email to the current Globe Imports, inquiring about company history, was not returned.
1969 Globe Imports Playing Cards, keymancollectibles.com/baseballcards/miscellaneoussets/1969globeplayingcards.htm.
“1969 Globe Imports Playing Cards.” Zistle, www.zistle.com/library/sets/14520-1969-globe-imports-playing-cards#_overview.
Glidden, Matthew. “Number 5 Type Collection.” 1969 Globe Imports Playing Cards Baseball #5, Willie McCovey, Earl Wilson, Bud Harrelson, Met Stottlemyre, www.number5typecollection.com/2012/06/1969-globe-imports-playing-cards.html.
“Oddball 1960s/70s Pete Rose Cards–Any Info?” Collectors Universe, forums.collectors.com/discussion/956534/oddball-1960s-70s-pete-rose-cards-any-info.
Mueller, Rich. “1969 Nabisco Team Flakes Baseball Cards Kept Kids Crunching.” Sports Collectors Daily, Sports Collectors Daily, 13 Jan. 2018, www.sportscollectorsdaily.com/1969-nabisco-team-flakes-kept-kids-crunching/.