Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Oddballs

Mincher GI

The very first post I submitted focused on the variety of cards and related memorabilia featuring Don Mincher on the Seattle Pilots. One of the Mincher “cards” was from, arguably, the worst baseball card set ever issued: 1969 Globe Imports mini-playing cards.

My history with the cards dates to the early 1970s, when I bought a set from a liquidation store in Yakima, WA for 25 cents. I can’t remember if the deck was sealed or held together with a rubber band. Over the ensuing 40 years, I lost several, making me nine cards shy of a complete set.

Mcovey

These little “gems” measure 1-5/8” x 2-1/4” and are printed on thin white cardboard. The photos are more akin to photocopies than actual prints. The 52 murky, black and white images have the player’s name at the bottom, but team names are absent. Some players appear on two different suits. The backs are blank, except for a red checked variation.

The two or three of you who have read my past posts know that vintage oddball sets often have mysterious origins: Globe Imports is no exception. I could find no evidence of a location for the company. (Currently, there is a Brooklyn based battery seller with this name that has been in business since 1958. Did they once distribute playing cards?)* The cards lack copywrite information and the name Globe Imports does not appear.

 

 

Many of the photos are identical to the ones used on Sports Illustrated Posters, while some are Topps photo copies. The 2’ x 3’ Sports Illustrated posters — which first appeared in ’68 — had a promotional card corollary that were given away at stores that sold the magazine.  Additionally, a promotional poster — placed in stores –features many of the photos. Did Globe Imports simply pirate the images? Did the producer of the photos sell them to both SI and Globe Imports?

There is some credence to idea that an independent producer sold the photos. Many of the photos — along with Topps copies — are used in a cereal box set issued by Nabisco in ’69. This set has the logos airbrushed but is sanctioned by the MLBPA. The cards came on the back of “Team Flakes” and were distributed in three, eight card panels called mini-posters. The cards are less than two inches tall-suspiciously close Globe Imports size — making them a prime suspect as a copy source.

It wouldn’t be a vintage oddball set without divergent ideas on the year of distribution. The Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards uses the commonly accepted 1969 issue year. However, some collectors believe that a set with MLB logos appeared first in ’68 and the airbrushed version in ’69, while others think ’69 and ’70 are more likely.

Distribution and sales information are other aspects of oddballs that tend to be missing, convoluted or contradictory. One source maintains that the cards were sold at gas stations in the south, while another has vending machines as the source. Of course, the vending machines could have been located at gas stations. Adding to the confusion, a current eBay seller’s description states that the cards are from K-Mart. Retail price and whether the cards were sold as decks-which seems logical-is uncertain.

Honestly, the Globe Imports are so lame that only a true oddball collector of oddballs would even care about the history of this set, let alone collect them. That being said, I’m off to Mayberry, NC to see if Gomer or Goober at Wally’s “fillin’” station still have a few Globe Imports lying around.

 

*My email to the current Globe Imports, inquiring about company history, was not returned.

Sources:

1969 Globe Imports Playing Cards, keymancollectibles.com/baseballcards/miscellaneoussets/1969globeplayingcards.htm.

“1969 Globe Imports Playing Cards.” Zistle, www.zistle.com/library/sets/14520-1969-globe-imports-playing-cards#_overview.

Glidden, Matthew. “Number 5 Type Collection.” 1969 Globe Imports Playing Cards Baseball #5, Willie McCovey, Earl Wilson, Bud Harrelson, Met Stottlemyre, www.number5typecollection.com/2012/06/1969-globe-imports-playing-cards.html.

“Oddball 1960s/70s Pete Rose Cards–Any Info?” Collectors Universe, forums.collectors.com/discussion/956534/oddball-1960s-70s-pete-rose-cards-any-info.

Mueller, Rich. “1969 Nabisco Team Flakes Baseball Cards Kept Kids Crunching.” Sports Collectors Daily, Sports Collectors Daily, 13 Jan. 2018, www.sportscollectorsdaily.com/1969-nabisco-team-flakes-kept-kids-crunching/.

Smile! You’re on Candid Camera (Part 2)

kaat

The 1962 Topps parade of men with goofy expressions and inept airbrushing is too vast for one post. Like Jim Kaat, you are probably thinking: “what the fu## is going on here?” Unperturbed, I plunge ahead with a look at more of the “curling bills” posted on the wood grain paneling.

chacon

Poor Elio Chacon was plucked off the defending NL champion roster by the Mets in the expansion draft. Topps crack airbrush specialist attempted to change his red sleeves to Mets blue by adding blue paint. This results in one green sleeve. The fact that the great Frank Robinson is in the background rendered the whole charade moot anyway.

Craig

Based on his wry smile, Roger Craig probably came up with the phrase “hum baby,” just as this shot was snapped.

The editors couldn’t decide whether Lee Walls had a “good side,” so they went with both left and right gazes.

Tebbetts

Birdie Tebbetts appears to be saying: “Hold it, what happened to my uniform lettering?

Gernert  

Dick Gernert’s age was calculated in dog years. In his ten-year career to this point, Dick aged from 20 to 65. This happened to many players who toiled for the Red Sox in the ‘50s.

koplitz

The oldest rookie in Major League history was Howie Koplitz. The only thing the 70-year old lost more of than teeth was games.

chiti

Harry Chiti is not amused as a fan loudly pronounces his name as “shitty” for the umpteenth time.

The second-year LA Angels needed their own “uni-browed” player to compete with the Dodgers beloved Wally Moon. Ken Hunt fit the bill.

minoso

In a case of complete shock, Minnie Minoso discovers that he is now in the NL with St. Louis.

woodeshick

Without comment, I leave you with Hal Woodeschick.

 

Smile! You’re on Candid Camera (Part 1)

Every Topps set from the ‘50s to the ‘70s is filled with questionable photo selections.  Many of the photos are so bad that one wonders if the editors selected them as an inside joke. More likely, the cost of film and processing meant photographers needed to conserve shots, resulting in a limited selection. Another explanation could simply be that baseball cards were for kids to collect and not thought of as works of art. In any case, the result is many memorable, quirky photos that will never again be part of the hobby.

1962 is loaded with “head shots,” due partly to the need to depict players on the expansion Mets and Colt .45’s. Channeling my inner Allen Funt, I will use this set to take a two-part look at some cardboard from the year of my birth.

Mantle

Apparently, the early ‘60s photographers decided that “head shots” would be more interesting if the players weren’t looking directly at the camera. This artistic approach worked spectacularly well in the case of this iconic Mickey Mantle pose (which is used on the ’68 game card as well).

62 craft

This concept didn’t work so well when the subject failed to grasp the need to turn the head, not just the eyes. Harry Craft, manager of the newly minted Colt ‘45s, appears not quite grasp the concept in this shot taken while coaching for the Cubs.

Ashburn

Future Hall-of-Fame inductee, Richie Ashburn, was already suffering the indignity of joining the ’62 Mets when Topps piled on with this beauty.

“Paranoia strikes deep” in the minds of Don Lee and Sam Jones. Apparently, something might be gaining on them.

Don Cardwell and Dick Stigman decided that somnambulism is the way to go for the most photogenic effect.

A bad hair day for George Whit and John Anderson was no impediment for the photographer.

The great Rocky Colavito and Bob Oldis appear to be experiencing confusion or angst. Perhaps “Trader” Lane walked by.

Existential sadness or clinical depression grips Barry Latman and Tracy Stallard. Latman is undoubtedly melancholy over having to play in Cleveland, while Stallard’s sadness stems from having recurring dreams of some guy with a crew cut and the number 61.

Thomas

Since the prospect of part-two is probably generating great anger in some of you, I’ll close with the pent- up rage of George Thomas bubbling to the surface.

 

 

 

 

Name Game

Whether intentional or not, my blog posts tend to bring down the intellectual level of discourse to disturbing depths. Continuing in this vein, I present a “cardcentric” look at players whose first and last names rhyme.

67 Schaal green bat  70 Schaal back

The seed for this idea was planted after receiving a Royals team-issued, 1969 photo of Paul Schaal, part of a recent card swap. Schaal has some interesting cards, starting with his ’67 “green” variation. Apparently, a printing error coupled with poor quality control led to Topps issue some cards with a “greenish” cast. In Paul’s case, the tip of the bat is green. The back of his ’70 card features a cartoon showing a player being beaned. Topps seemed to find humor in Schaal having sustained a skull fracture in ‘68. You will find him “in action” in ’71, ’72 and ’74.

70 Tovar   73 Tovar

Cesar Tovar is another rhyming name with a few unique cards. His ’70 photo appears to show his glove with a hole in the webbing. Perhaps his anguished expression resulted from this discovery. After starting–primarily in outfield–for the Twins from ’66-’72, Cesar was dealt to the Phillies in ’73. This resulted in one of the ineptest airbrush jobs of the era. Of course, I must mention that he played all nine positions in a game in ’68.

Lu Blue 1

This spectacular 1922 American Caramel E120 card of first “sacker” Lu Blue was distributed with candy. Lu was a serviceable starter for the Tigers, Browns and White Sox from ’21-’32.

Batts

Although not quite a perfect rhyme, Matt Batts must be included even if it is just to show this gorgeous ’55 Bowmen.

Parnell 53

One of the premier hurlers of the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, Mel Parnell is featured on several classic ‘50s cards. On this ’53 Bowman Color, Mel strikes a unique pose with the glove hanging from his wrist.

Green

Some lucky kid probably cut this ’62 Post Cereal card of Gene Green off a box of Grape Nuts.

Sherry

1959 World Series Hero Larry Sherry probably needed the windbreaker in this ’62, considering the photo was taken at Candlestick Park.

braun

Being paired on the ’65 Braves Rookie Stars card with the Alomar family patriarch, Sandy, didn’t bring any luck to John Braun. He pitched in one MLB game for the Braves posting two innings, allowing two hits and recording a strike out.

Hahn

Quick. Who was the original Expos centerfielder in their first ever game (played at New York’s Shea Stadium) in 1969? The answer: Don Hahn, of course. After starting the first three games in New York and getting but one hit, Don was benched and eventually sent to the minors for the rest of the year.

Charboneau

Who can forget one of the most celebrated flops in baseball history? “Super” Joe Charboneau was AL Rookie of the Year for the Indians in ’80 and out of baseball by ’84.

Clark

A “rhymer” of more resent vintage is ’90s journeyman pitcher Mark Clark. No relation to the WWII general of the same name, I assume.

macdonald

I will conclude this “drive through” look at poetically named players by presenting Mets farmhand, Ronald MacDonald. This ’80 card shows him on the AAA Tidewater Tides, which was his highwater mark in baseball. Alas, “Big Mac” “clowned around” in the minors for six years, never to see his dream of crossing under the “golden arches” and into the big leagues come to fruition.

I will create a list on SABR Encyclopedia so additional rhyming names can be added.   I’m certain this will prove to be an invaluable resource for scholarly research.

 

On Deck(le) in 2018 Heritage

Judge

Last year, I posted a piece on the 1969 Topps Deckle Edge inserts-which I’m sure everyone committed to memory. In case you flushed my masterpiece from your brain pan, I focused on the dated and poorly airbrushed photos, expansion team players, variations and the idea that kids would have been familiar with deckle edged prints from family photos. This post will compare the ’69 originals with the 2018 Topps Heritage Deckle Edge set.

The obvious difference between the two sets is size. The ’69 cards are 2-1/4 X 3-1/4, while Heritage is standard card size. Topps did the same thing last year when they produced the ’68 game card insert in the standard format. The decision to not use the same size as the originals is interesting considering there is a mini variation set in 2018 Heritage. Plus, Topps did produce deckle cards in the correct size in the 2012 Archive. Standard size does work better for 9-pocket pages, but authenticity should have been the driver.

Betts

Topps veered away from the original set as well by not including a least one player from each team. The 30 card set features players from only 18 different teams. Of course, the Yankees and Red Sox have three players each. This east coast bias results in no Mariners being “deckled.” I’m sure lack of winning seasons and a small national following had nothing to do with the decision.

Trout

The Heritage deckle edge cards are one of the most plentiful of the subsets with 1 included in every 10 packs. This makes collecting the 30 cards doable from packs. In ’69, every wax pack of 3rd and 4th series cards had a deckle edge insert. Obviously, the odds were better 50 years ago of collecting all 33 cards from packs. The two variations (Joe Foy and Jimmy Wynn) were short-prints, thus more difficult to obtain.

The 2018 Heritage and the 1969 deckles share the same back format as well: white with a blue, rectangular box containing the players’ names card number and the total number in the set at the bottom. The Topps trademark information appears beneath the box on both. The 2018 version contains the players team name in the box, while ’69 does not.

 

Topps Heritage mimics a unique aspect of the ’69 set: blue ink facsimile autographs. The blue ink was supposed to give the cards the look of an authentic autograph written with a pen. I discovered that Topps did a test run for deckle edge in ’68 that was never distributed. There are uncut proof pages and singles with blank backs that have blue, black and red autographs. Apparently, Topps wanted to see which color looked the most realistic. By the way, the O-Pee-Chee deckle cards used black ink for autographs.

 

Interestingly, the proof sheets contain nine images, only one of which was used in ‘69: Carl Yastrzemski. The rest of the players (Dave Adlesh, Hank Aguire, Sandy Alomar, Bob Johnson, Claude Osteen, Juan Pizzaro, Hal Woodeschick and Sonny Jackson–who is depicted on the Colt ‘45s–appear to have been randomly selected. Only Osteen could have reasonable been considered a star in 1968.

The Heritage base set does include players without caps and headshots that harken back to ’69. Why not include at least one deckle edge card that has badly airbrushed cap and uniform? Giancarlo Stanton is a prime candidate for this treatment.

I’m pleased that Topps included deckle edge cards, but disappointed in the sizing decision. As I’ve been telling my wife for 28 years, small is better.

 

Sources

“2018 Topps Heritage Baseball Checklist, Set Info, Variations, Boxes, Date.” The Cardboard Connection, 5 Mar. 2018, www.cardboardconnection.com/2018-topps-heritage-baseball-cards.

Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards

Sending a Transogram

Betts

Those collecting the 2018 Topps Heritage are aware of the subset featuring yellow boarders and blank backs. This format is an homage to the 1969 and 1970 Transogram cards. The fact that the original cards were distributed on the boxes containing toy player statues puts an examination of the topic squarely in my wheelhouse.

In ’69, Transogram-a long established toy and game company-decided to resurrect the baseball figure or statue concept. The figures have movable parts with team names and logos. No attempt was made to make the toy resemble a specific player except for skin tone. Each figurine is accompanied by a 2-1/2” x3-1/2” card on the back of the package featuring a black segmented line on the boarder, serving as a cutting guide. Sixty different players comprise the set.

Staub

Interestingly, Rusty Staub’s card has him still with Houston without an obscured cap logo. The early series of the Topps ’69 base set had the emblems airbrushed out, due to a licensing issue.

Gibson Trans Gibson 68 Base

As with so many of the oddball sets, production origins are murky. However, it is almost a certainty that Topps produced the cards for Transogram. This is obvious since so many of the images and the font are identical to Topps’ ’68 base set. In a March 2015 article on the “Sport Collector’s Daily” website, Adam Hughes wrote that Dave Hornish–referred to as a Topps expert–believed Topps was the producer, since they didn’t typically include the font rights when licensing their images to other companies. The fact that Topps included the design in the Heritage set may confirm this supposition.

3 card panel

Of course, when it comes to toy-related baseball cards, nothing is ever simple. Transogram returned with statues in 1970 but issued three players to a box. The three cards form a panel, much like the Hostess cards. Additionally, the cards have slightly larger dimensions (2-9/16” x 3-1/2”) if cut out individually.

Powell

The boxes are labeled AL or NL All-Stars, with five different sets for each league. Most of the 30-card set is identical to images produced in ’69, apart from Joe Torre. Boog Powell, Sam McDowell and Reggie Jackson are unique to ‘70.

Ryan

Mets Box

But wait, there’s more! Transogram also produced a 15-figure set comprised of five different boxes titled: “The Amazin’ Mets: 1969 World Champion Collector Figures.” It will come as no surprise that the Nolen Ryan card or panel is the most valuable.

To further “muddy the waters”, each box had a small, head shot photo on the top flap. Kids often cut the image off the box to form a miniature card. These sometimes turn up on auction sites misidentified as Transogram cards.

Does anyone own Transogram cards or have figures?

 

Sources:

Hughes, Adam. “Guide to 1969-70 Transogram Baseball Figures, Cards.” Sports Collectors Daily, Sports Collectors Daily, 25 Apr. 2015, www.sportscollectorsdaily.com/transogram-baseball-figures-and-cards-an-amazin-mystery/.

keymancollectibles.com/baseballcards/miscellaneoussets/1969transogram.htm.

Trading Card Database

 

Of Syndergaard and Sasquatch

Syndergaard

Recently, “Sports Collectors Daily” offered a preview of the upcoming, July 2018 release of Topps’ Allen and Ginter set. Most of you are aware that Topps began issuing cards in the style of the 19th century Allen and Ginter tobacco cards in 2006. As with most modern card issues, there is a dizzying array of parallels, relics, autographs, original “buy backs” short prints, and subsets. I am enamored with the parallels and non-sports subsets that are issued in “tobacco size” (1-7/16 X 2-5/8).

Altuve mini

It seems strange to mimic the style of tobacco cards while producing them in standard size. The traditional tobacco card format with an advertisement on the back is the logical size, thus my affinity for the parallel sets. Of course, the mini-parallels have numerous versions such as metal, cloth etc. I try to ignore these distinctions and just enjoy the cards.

Allen and Gintar provides a mixture of current and former players, not to mention subsets of other sports figures. For instance, in 2017, Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano could be pulled from packs.

Peppers

I realize that “purists” may scoff at the idea of mixing non-sport cards with baseball. I say “pshaw” to this “fuddy-duddery.” The non-sport cards are interesting on a historical level and the quirky subject matter amusing. The 2018 set has the following mini subsets: “World’s Hottest Peppers,” “Indigenous Heroes,” “Postage Required” (maybe a Manama stamp is included), “Flags of Lost Nations” and “Folio of Fears.” The backs have narratives that explain the topics.

Mayor Murray

In 2016, Allen and Ginter produced 35 mini US Mayors. Seattle’s now former Mayor (sex scandal), Ed Murray, shows up along with many other big city leaders. Topps dropped the ball by not including Jeff Katz in this set. Come on, Topps! What is more apropos than including the Mayor of Cooperstown?

DB Cooper    Sasquatch

Other notable non-sport minis of personal interest include legendary Northwest high jacker, D.B. Cooper, in the 2011 “Mysterious Figures” set and the Sasquatch in the 2014 “Larger than Life.” By the way, all Northwest residents have encountered a Sasquatch at least once. I usually see one after having a few drinks. Coincidence?

Ferocious Feline Tabby

Man's Best Friend Husky

The original Allen and Ginter tobacco cards of the 1880s often featured animals. Some card anthropomorphized the subject, while others depicted animals in nature. Topps has kept this tradition alive by creating such subsets as: 2011 “Man’s Best Friend,” 2016 “Ferocious Felines” and “Mascots of the Wild” and 2017 “Horse in the Race.”

If you haven’t purchased Allen and Ginter before, I encourage you to buy a few packs when they come out in July. I’m hoping the “The Folio of Fears” subset has a card depicting the fear of non-sports cards mixing with baseball- “nonludusbasisspheracardboardiaphobia.”

Sources:

Mueller, Rich. “2018 Topps Allen and Ginter Baseball Cards Include Usual Quirkiness.” Sports Collectors Daily, Sports Collectors Daily, 13 Feb. 2018, www.sportscollectorsdaily.com/topps-allen-ginter-returns-for-2018/.

Trading Card Data Base