I began collecting cards in 1968, which was the year Topps featured the 33-card, game insert set. Our “Founding Father,” Mark Armour, detailed this wonderful set in a past post. My older brother and I played the game using our regular issue cards to represent the lineup. We would position the cards in the proper positions on defense and have the card of the batter next to the catcher. If the player registered a hit when the game card was turned over, his card was moved to the correct base. Of course, this movement damaged the cards, which is why I have replaced most of them over the years.
For my brother’s 30th birthday in 1987, I had a photo mat cut to represent the nine positions. I had the frame shop insert the Cardinals’ starting line up using 1968 cards. This set up was like the card arrangement we used as kids. I even included manager Red Schoendienst, as if he were in the dugout directing his charges.
In side note, my brother could never get Tim McCarver in a pack, and Lou Brock was in the seventh series-which never made it to our small town. Thus, his lineup always featured Dave Ricketts at catcher and Bobby Tolan in left field.
My brother was a lifelong Cardinals fan, probably the result of my family hailing from Missouri. Of course, St. Louis beat Boston in the World Series in ’67 and won the NL pennant in ’68, losing to the Tigers in the fall classic. The card collection represented two of my brother’s favorite Cardinals teams.
Honestly, I have always been disappointed in the appearance of the framed cards. There is too much green space and the shortstop would have looked better not angled. In any event, my brother liked and appreciated the gift. Over the years, he added a team picture and the World Series celebration cards by taping them to the glass in hard sleeves. (Pilot sighting! Joe Schultz’s bald head and smiling face is clearly visible on the “Cardinals Celebrate!” card.)
After my brother’s death in 2015, I inherited his vast memorabilia collection-including the framed ’68 Cardinals cards. Unfortunately, the glass broke during shipping, but the rest remained intact. Since I have a curator’s soul and a hoarder’s mindset, I was compelled to fill in the unused green space. Using mostly the original cards from ’68 and ’69, I added most the players who appeared on the ’67 World Championship team. A $0.79 Larry Jaster card was the only one I had to acquire.
Also, note that the two Cardinals from the game insert are included as well. Orlando Cepeda is from the deck we used to play the game, back in the day.
Since I have maxed out the available wall space in my memorabilia room, I do not have a place for this piece. It sits in the card closet and serves as a frequent reminder of my brother. We didn’t connect on many levels, but we could always find common ground with sports, memorabilia and most importantly, cards.