Yay Team?

I see a lot of team collectors out there – Orioles, Pilots, Red Sox obsessives (an endless number of Red Sox obsessives). It’s not my thing. I’ve been a man without a team for 40 years. Some of you know the story.

I was a die-hard Mets fan.  Like the team, my first season was 1962 (though I was a mid-September call up). It couldn’t have been any better – World Series win at age 7, another World Series appearance at age 11, and Tom Seaver, always Tom Seaver. Until….

When the Mets traded Tom Terrific on June 15, 1977, it broke my heart and I realized I loved Tom Seaver way more than I loved the Mets. I was liberated from team based rooting, appreciated the game without the emotional swings that are the fun, and the noise, of being franchise bound in one’s reactions. I instantly had a player-centric point of view that created a straight line that led to the writing of Split Season:1981. Better still, I got to tell both Nancy and Tom Seaver my story and how his trade changed my whole outlook on the game. They both approved.

seaver

Still, there are teams that pique my interest. The Indians always seemed to need fans, so I kept an eye on them, starting in the late ‘70’s. I always had a soft spot for the Giants and Dodgers.  But there are some clubs that never make me feel much of anything. So how did I end up with their cards?

Here are a few sets you may not know about. I don’t know why I know about them, and it’s even more confusing why I have them.

1970 McDonald Brewer panels

If you’ve ever beheld the gorgeousness of Volpe prints, then this set isn’t for you. Like the hastily repurposed Pilots uniforms made Milwaukee when the team moved, this 6-panel set is a cut rate job.

It’s pretty damned ugly, though certainly worth having. The whole thing is easily gotten for less than $20. If you have first year Brewer sentiment, or one year Pilot grief, these cards serve a purpose.  Not so much for me, though I do love a good Max Alvis card.

 

1970 Washington Senators Traffic Safety

Distributed by the D.C. DMV, this is one of the first police sets. The pictures are black and white, basic enough, but come in two tints. Pink, used in the first run, is much harder to get than yellow, used for the second and third printings. Of course, I have yellow

While the cards are 2 ½” X 3 7/8”, my set is an uncut sheet, not a particular area of interest for me. (In fact, I’m looking to unload a beautiful uncut sheet of Michael Jordan cards from 1994). It’s not a very attractive group of cards, and the checklist is what you’d think, though it would be a bit more exciting if Manager Ted Williams were included. (Then I would’ve been fending off those Red Sox maniacs).

 

1977 San Diego Padres Schedule cards

I still firmly believe that Mike Champion and Billy Almon are the double play combo of the future, just not in this dimension. In this chaotic set, they get a lot of attention.

94852-9865663fr

A team issue, this set contains 89 cards, some with promo information on the back, some with blank backs. I’m sure I bought it because, back then, there weren’t too many card issues in a given year. I thought I had the whole set, but I learned that maybe I don’t, and now I’m annoyed.

Several Winfields make it desirable, and there’s a Dave Friesleben card in a Washington uni years after this was a dead story, but it’s quirky, in a way the Padres have always been quirky – in a dull, frustrating kind of way.

I have other team sets that are inexplicable to me. I’ve got no interest in the team or the players on the team, and the designs are lackluster. Still, you know, they’re cards. What are you gonna do?

Author: Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.

12 thoughts on “Yay Team?”

  1. As one of those Redsox collectors I have that Milwaukee set. Many of them ended up playing for the Sox at some.point. Also have the 71 Rangers police Set which features Joe Foy. 1967 Impossible Dreamer 3rd basemen.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s only guys who played for Sox when I first became interested. Basically 70-74. Don’t chase everyone who ever played for them. My 67 binder is different. Chase everything from every player

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jackie Moore wearing the turtleneck and sweater is reason enough to own this set! It must be nice to pull out photos taken with practically every legendary ballplayer of the last 50 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s not baseball but…I was football teamless when the Colts left Baltimore. I tried the Ravens but they were just someone else’s stolen franchise. I tried the Oilers but I knew too many obnoxious Oilers fans and didn’t want any part of that bandwagon. I even tried the 49ers but by then I was tired of trying. Then the Texans were conceived and I was in on the ground floor. I have to have a team, a rooting interest, to make any sport worth my time.

    Liked by 1 person

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