You know how it goes. For me it was several years ago — I think it was at the Long Beach SABR event — when I came across a baseball card bearing the image of Orlando Cepeda, one of my favorite players. The card was not your typical Topps product, but I didn’t care. I thought it looked interesting, so I bought it for a few of bucks. I tucked it away in a book that I had just bought as well, and promptly forgot about it. It happens!
Not too long ago, I was sorting through a few baseball books and came across the Cepeda card. “Oh yeah,” I said to myself, renewing my interest, now with a little more clarity and frame of mind. I wondered a bit more about the card. Here’s what I got:
The Cepeda card is #24 of a 33-card Topps set distributed in 1985 exclusively by Circle K, the convenience store chain. The set reminded me of the Woolworth set I wrote about last year. This series featured all-time home run hitters, with Hank Aaron occupying the top spot, of course. Other players include Willie Mays (#3), Billy Williams (#18), Mike Schmidt (#19), and Norm Cash (#25). Interestingly, because Topps could not come to an agreement with Joe DiMaggio, who was 31st on the all-time home run list in 1985, his card was omitted from the set. Consequently, the series list skips #31, going from #30 to #32.
Aside from his photo, the card indicates Cepeda’s name and nothing else. No position, no cute graphic. Just a serious, albeit young-looking, Cepeda photo, probably in the early stages of his career with the San Francisco Giants. The reverse side of the card in blue and red ink, features a run down of his MLB career with a highlight noting his Rookie of the Year Award in 1958, and 1967 NL MVP Award. The Circle K logo is featured prominently in the upper left side, with the Topps logo and card number to the upper right.
I don’t have a lot of specialty cards such as this, so I’ll just keep this one displayed somewhere on a shelf. It will remind me of when Cha-Cha ruled the City by the Bay. And maybe if something else catches my eye at a SABR conference, I won’t forget about it for years at a time!