The Firsts Shall Be Last (Or, At Least, Most Recent)

Interesting that Jason, our Committee co-chair, should highlight this card in his recent post of cards on cards.

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Interesting, because the post hit right as I was acquiring two lots to get close to finishing the set. It’s the 1974 Fleer Baseball Firsts set, a 42-card issue of R. G. Laughlin’s great work.

I’ve written before about Laughlin sets. I’ve been able to complete some that I had a head start on (1972 Famous Feats, 1973 Wildest Days and Plays). Others I had – 1971 World Series and 1974 Pioneers of Baseball. One I picked up super cheaply – 1972 Great Feats (red). Still more are pricey as hell, but I’m playing a long game.

I knew I had some of the Baseball Firsts cards from buying packs. I dug them out and found I only had 17 of 42. Not enough to really work with, but I started checking out some lots. I found one with 7 cards I needed and, in a co-bid with Mark Armour, picked up 37 of 42. (20 are headed to Mark, 17 stayed with me).

Here they are (sorry for the sheet glare):

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I find it amazing that, in 1974, the earliest days of intense labor strife in major league baseball, Fleer would issue a Players’ Association card. Brave, and maybe a big middle finger to MLB and Topps, who kept Fleer at bay (and would for 7 more years).

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The Carl Mays card is creepy AF, capturing Mays’ delivery, shrouded in black, with the Grim Reaper peeking out behind the pitcher’s mound. On a lighter note, the Helmet card seems to feature scrubbing bubbles.

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None of these cards should really run more than $1-2, and having a somewhat anonymous Jackie Robinson helps. I have no doubt that if the front of the card had his name, it would cost $10.

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The Farm System card looks like a scene from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The empty spot on this page is reserved for Landis, on reserve at COMC.

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The one I need, #6, is this:

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If anyone has it, or an extra, let me know. I’ve got its final resting place already prepared:

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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.

7 thoughts on “The Firsts Shall Be Last (Or, At Least, Most Recent)”

  1. I had the Night Game one. I’ve always wondered what the heck it was or where it came from. Now I know! Always drove me crazy to have that one oddball with all my normal Toppps………

    Like

  2. Once again this site has spurred me to purchase things not currently on my lists. I had two 1974 Fleer Pioneers of Baseball cards and two 1973 Fleer Wildest Days cards. The Pioneers set is already here while some Wildest Days lots are on their way.

    The back of the Pioneers cards are quite interesting in that there is more business of baseball talk than regular cards have. There are a few mentions of early Player’s Associations on some of the cards.

    Liked by 1 person

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