In 1986, one could head to the local True Value hardware store to buy a box of nails or a toilet plunger and emerge with a folded, sealed, four-card panel featuring three players from the “True Value Super Stars Collector Series.”
The oddly packaged set features a fourth card on the panel that serves as a sweepstakes entry form with a picture of a True Value product on the opposite side. This advertisement card forms the back of the pack while one of the player cards comprises the front.
The cards are perforated to allow for each card to be individually detached. Of course, the panel could be kept intact, but one of the cards would be separated by the advertisement. Furthermore, the panel size is too big for a three-pocket, Hostess style page. An obsessive purist could leave the cards sealed, content in knowing two more cards reside inside, but the most logical thing to do is detach the cards.
This is exactly what I did this summer after purchasing the 10 different card folios at a local card shop. After 33 years, the adhesive beneath the back flaps was firmly set. I needed to use a putty knife to detach the flaps. Once opened, the 2-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ cards had to be carefully separated to prevent tears. The front card must be at least 1/32 of an inch wider than the cards from the inside, since it fits very snugly in a standard 9-pocket page.
It goes without saying that once you have the 30 cards separated you are left with a crappy set. These cards were produced by Michael Schechter Associates (MSA), who only had a MLBPA licensing agreement. If MSA sounds familiar to you, you may know the name from these ubiquitous discs of the mid-1970s.
The lack of an MLB license results in mostly “head and shoulder” shots without cap logos. (Andre Dawson is shown from the waist up.) The same images are used on numerous odd ball sets of the era. The photos are small and the red, white and blue framing is overwrought.
The set does contain many all-time greats. There are 15 Hall of Famers including Tom Seaver on the White Sox, Reggie Jackson on the Angels, and Gary Carter with the Mets (but wearing an Expos cap). Fans of the Indians, Rangers, and Giants will not find a home team hero in the set.
My collection of “junk wax” era, odd ball sets continues to grow, which begs the question: Why do I continue to add these unattractive cards with recycled images? Perhaps I’m genetically predisposed to own every known image of “Mr. Mariner,” Alvin Davis. Or, perhaps my essential cheapness won’t let me turn down bargain priced cards. Both could be true, but I believe the answer lies in my slow but steady descent into hoarding syndrome.