ATM Cards? Who Needs ’Em!

Paul Simon tells the story about how pissed off Joe DiMaggio was at him about “Mrs. Robinson.” Simon says he’d heard that Joltin’ Joe was bothered by the song, maybe even to the point of legal action.

“What I don’t understand,” DiMag said, “is why you ask where I’ve gone? I haven’t gone anywhere.”

Maybe it was that sense of being forgotten, if even symbolically that pushed Joe into hawking product. Nationally, in 1973, The Yankee Clipper became Mr. Coffee.

Locally, the year before, DiMaggio started doing TV for the Bowery Savings Bank in New York City.

Smartly, the Bowery issued a baseball card, just one. Simple front, 1971 Topps knockoff design (in pink!) on the back.

I’d always wanted this card, never got it, forgot about it, but was jolted (yup, I’m using that word) back in time when I saw it at a show last year. Since then I’ve been looking for it. It’s not too hard to find, but the prices run from a reasonable $10ish to unreasonable factors of 10.

At the big Shriner’s Show this past weekend, I was going through a stack of 1955 Bowman Football, and, immediately after paying, saw a scattered stack of cards. There it was! And for $5!

The 1972 DiMaggio Bowery card has always been my favorite bank card. And, while it doesn’t get money, it didn’t take much either.

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.

9 thoughts on “ATM Cards? Who Needs ’Em!”

  1. In “things I never really thought about” I noticed that DiMaggio is listed as “Threw: Right, Batted: Right” on the card back, despite the fact that in the 1970s DiMaggio could still throw right and bat right. So I was wondering what the current practice was given that there are many retired or deceased players who appear in current products. It looks like they are all “bats” and “throws,” even guys like Johnny Mize and Babe Ruth who, if they’re playing, are playing for the Cosmic All-Stars.

    Looking further at the Mize and Ruth cards (both in 2019 Topps Archives) there is a reference to “Home” which just seems to be their birthplace repeated. Not sure if that is true for everyone. Mize’s final resting place is the same as his birthplace, so “home” kind of works in that case, but Ruth’s is not.

    The Ruth card is really interesting. If his transaction dates were not listed (signed by the Red Sox in 1914, acquired by the Yankees on 12-26-1919) it would be difficult to determine what information the card was actually portraying. His birthdate is listed as 2-6-95, which would be the exact same birthdate Zack Collins would have listed if he had a 2019 Topps Archives card, only separated by 100 years, though that wouldn’t be evident by the card itself. Ruth does have stats listed from (19)21 through (19)35, but without proper context one might wonder if those are just really fantastical projections on the part of the card manufacturer (they really do look like video game numbers – who “only” strikes out 51 times in 534 ABs while hitting 46 HRs with a .373 average in today’s game?) The DiMaggio card Jeff posts about is similar in that it uses a two-digit date for his birth year, but mentions that he led the Yankees to numerous championships from 1936-1951 which clarifies the birth year.

    I’m not sure what all that means other than the card manufacturers (or at least Topps) are only preserving history in relation to what we already know. Or that Y2K has crept into the baseball card world unnoticed. Or I should stop thinking about these things and go back to work now that I’ve finished lunch.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great find! Joe became Mr. Coffee to a generation that never saw him play. But at least it was a useful product and not some infomercial schlock. The drip coffee make was a great leap forward for the world’s coffee drinkers. Joltin’ Joe made a fine cup of “joe.”

    Liked by 1 person

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