Once every so often I flip through the vintage Topps cards I was gifted last year (greedily wishing for more – is that bad?!?), just looking at the cards and appreciating the artwork and the style, perhaps feel a bit nostalgic. There’s a 1957 Luis Aparacio, 1965 Zoilo Versailles, 1959 Hector Lopez, among others, and then there’s the 1963 Mike Fornieles.
In all my readings and various research projects, I must admit I had
never heard of Mike Fornieles. Even as I had flipped through these cards at least a few times over the past year, he was such an anonymous player to me that I had failed to notice one bizarre feature of this 1963 “treasure” until the
other day. I was working on my annual SABR Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration posts looking for ideas, and thinking about recent discussion on the SABR Baseball Cards page about whether or not people liked the idea of Topps “recycling” their vintage designs when applying them to modern players. I wrote that I hoped the idea encourages others to appreciate the vintage style as I do, and I’m sure as many of you do, as well.
So, flipping through the cards I come across the Fornieles card (#28) and realize of the first time that something is amiss. You might recall that the 1963 Topps series was a 576-card set featuring a large player photo with a smaller photo in the lower right size, about the size of a postage stamp. Well, my card features half the guy’s body missing in that lower right section. Take a look at the photo. There’s some kind of pencil marking, I think, that separates the larger photo and the player identification section. Further, while the card has a gloss or sheen to its face, the section where Fornieles’ smaller photo would be, is more of a matte finish than glossy, like someone took an eraser and rubbed out the poor guy’s face. It’s a mystery as to how the card wound up this way. The card is otherwise in impeccable shape. Nice corners, no creases, excellent condition, I’d say.
As for the player Mike Fornieles, the Cuban-born pitcher broke in with the Washington Senators as a 20 year-old in 1952, throwing in only 4 games going 2-2 towards the end of that season. Over the next 11 years he spent time on the mound for the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, and was traded to the Minnesota Twins to close out his career in 1963. Over his 12 year-career, he went 63-64 with a 3.96 ERA in 432 games with over 1156.2 innings pitched.
I don’t know if this 1963 Mike Fornieles #28 Topps card is worth anything in this condition, but it does make for an interesting story. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised to find yet another treasure in the gift that keeps on giving. Fornieles’ story is an interesting one. I would certainly encourage you to read his SABR biography by Thomas Ayers: https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/5889829b
2 thoughts on “It doesn’t make you any less of a man; or One picture is worth at least 500 words”
Instead of a “head shot,” Topps went with the “headless” shot. This card was part of the Ichabod Crane” subset.
Kind of surprised no mention of the one thing Fornieles was probably most remembered for. I believe he was the first American League pitcher to pitch in 70 games in a season. Obviously that mark is now frequently passed but I think when he did it, only Jim Konstanty had done so in the NL and he won the MVP for his efforts.