1960 Topps #321 Ron Fairly (1938-2019)

Why does the death Ron Fairly warrant a card obit? For starters he was a Major Leaguer for over 2 decades and a semi-star that I remember from my youth.

Secondly he was a SABR member remembered fondly by a couple of our fellow SABR Card Collectors.

Finally as a collector Fairly means something to the staff at Phungo HQ because he is a member of the inaugural Topps Rookie All-Star (TRAS) class. As you may know the Rookie Cup cards are one of my favorite collections and Fairly was one of the outfielders selected for the 1959 season which was honored in 1960 Topps.

1960 Topps #321 Ron Fairly
1960 Topps #321 Ron Fairly

There are 10 cards in the original subset which opens with Willie McCovey at #316 and runs through #325 Jim O’Toole. This makes Ron Fairly’s #321 the sixth All-Star Rookie Cup ever produced.

Outside of McCovey the two most notable players on the team are likely Fairly and Jim Perry.

The Topps Rookie All-Star Cup Team (Sporting News 1960 Apr 20)
The Topps Rookie All-Star Cup Team (Sporting News 1960 Apr 20)

Willie McCovey is on the left followed Pumpsie Green, Jim Baxes, Joe Koppe, Bob Allison, Ron Fairly (directly above Tasby inset) , John Romano and Jim Perry. Willie Tasby and Jim O’Toole who could not make the outing are shown in an inset bottom left.

This is a picture from a New York City banquet Topps held to honor award winners. For a more in depth discussion of the banquet (1963) click here.

The 1959 All-Star Rookie Cup team has had a tough year. Starting with Willie McCovey’s death almost exactly a year ago the class has lost four members in the last 12 months. John Romano (February 2019), Pumpsie Green in July and now Ron Fairly.

This leaves Willie Tasby (86) and Jim Perry who turned 84 the day Fairly passed as the last two living members of the original All-Star Rookie Cup team.

Flip

1960 Topps #321 Ron Fairly (b-side)

I want to open the discussion of the card back to the Fairly’s vitals at the top of the card. His DOB is listed as July 12 1938. Therefore Ron Fairly was just 20 years old when the 1959 season commenced and 21 when he was named to the rookie cup team.

Moving on to the text, it opens by mentioning Fairly’s election to the TRAS team and rolls into his pre-MLB experience.  Then we get to the cartoon.

“Ron Led USC to the National Championship”

Well I checked into it and yes he did. He was a member of the 1958 USC Trojans that won the College World Series. The final game was an 8-7 extra inning victory over the Missouri Tigers.

The 1958 CWS concluded on June 19th, less than three months later Ron Fairly made his major league debut with the LA Dodgers on September 9th.

1958 USC Trojans College World Series Champs (Western Canada Baseball)

Ron Fairly can be found in the front row four from the right. Checking the names one can find a Hall of Famer in that back row. Executive HOF Pat Gillick, architect of the 2008 World Championship Phillies. Turns out Gillick was a pitcher for the 1958 Trojans and teammate of today’s card hero Ron Fairly.

Sources and Links

Baseball-Ref

Western Canada Baseball

Topps Baseball Card db

The Sporting News

Phungo 1959 Topps Rookie All-Star Index

Covering the Bases: 2018 Topps #US79

“Covering the Bases” is the title I am giving to my columns dedicated to a single card – which is most of my postings. Today’s deep dive is on a recent card that features an image I think we will see a lot this week.

IMG_20191012_101539

2018 Topps #US79 A Game for Everyone: Altuve & Judge

This picture is one that most baseball fans are familiar with even if they don’t follow the Astros or Yankees. Fortunately for collectors Topps recorded the image on cardboard. I say recorded because for the last 60+ years Topps has served as an unofficial record/history of the game and its players. There are base cards, subsets, inserts, leaders, record breakers, highlights, All-Stars and more. Each card is a photographic record of the game’s history which is accompanied by a back side that contains stats, demographic info, and if we are lucky a fun fact or two.

This is an All-Star card, however I also see it as a Multi-Player. I consider the multi-player cards a “hidden subset”. Lot of sets have them, but they are typically not sequential and rarely listed in any sort of checklist form.

These are nice to showcase any time we find the two players paired for some reason. That is the case this week when Altuve and Judge are featured players on the two teams facing each other in the ALCS.

The Topps copy team also came up with a perfect title for this card “A Game for Everyone.” This is the “size doesn’t matter” card. Baseball-Reference lists Jose Altuve at 5′ 6″ and 165 lbs. while Aaron Judge is at  6’7″ 282 lbs. The difference in height is over a foot, weight over 100 lbs.

Game Dating

It was pretty easy to find this picture in Getty Images. The information accompanying the photo gives us the date of May 30 2018. A game the Yankees won 5-3, Altuve and Judge each went 2-4, with only Judge factoring in the scoring collecting the go-ahead run in the 5th.

Aaron Judge was on 2nd base twice in the game once in the first and again in the fifth. Judging by the fact that the outfield seating appears pretty filled in, I suspect that this picture was taken in the first.

The Photo was shot by Erick W. Rasco who has done a lot of work for Sports Illustrated including a famous cover of a lot of other “photographers” witnessing the American Pharaoh winning the Triple Crown.

I have tracked a few dozen game dated cards, An index of these cards can be found here.

Sources and Links

Baseball-Ref

Getty Images

Sports Illustrated Archive

Erick W Rasco

Phungo Index of Game Dated Cards

1976 Topps #441 Gary Carter

There are nearly to six decades of Topps All-Star Rookie Cup awards which means there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 cards in the history of the subset.

This raises the question why among all these cards does Gary Carter get the honor of his own posting on the SABR Baseball Card Blog. Well there are many reasons, but lets start with he is a Hall of Famer and…..well, I enjoy over-analyzing cards.

Over-Analysis Part 1: the Card

1976 Topps #441 Gary Carter

We have a fine photo of young Gary Carter in a classic baseball card pose. The distinctive characteristic of 1976 Topps is the position illustration seen here on the bottom left. It is a nice accent to the sets otherwise minimalist approach. On the cards other lower corner we find the reason we are here, the All-Star Rookie Cup icon. This is the second iteration of the cup, just a cup, no top hat and no batter atop that hat.

As we look a little closer the card there are a few other things I found interesting.

2) Game Dated Card?

Yes I think we have enough info here to give a time & place for this photo.

Fortunately for us the Expos wore their numbers on the front of their uniform in this era. Notice that Carter is not wearing the familiar #8, which he donned for most of his career and was later retired by the Expos/Nationals. According to Baseball-Ref for a brief period as a September call up in 1974 Gary Carter wore #57 – which looks to be the number we have here. Looking at the background on the photo it appears we are at Wrigley Field.

Turning to Carter’s 1974 Game Logs we find that he played three games across two days in Chicago. There first was the latter game of a double header on September 24th which the Expos won 11-2. The following day featured yet another double header which the Expos swept 7-1, 3-2. There is plenty of fascinating things to find in those boxes but for our limited time and space it is most important that we note that our hero went 4 for 11 with a triple and 3 RBIs in the three victories. In the last game Carter made one of his 132 appearances in Right Field (who knew). Across both double headers the 90+ Loss 1974 Cubs would draw less than 5000 fans COMBINED.

I have one dilemma with the game dating. The field is set up for batting practice. I can’t imagine the Expos had BP on the day of a double header. Perhaps these pictures are from Monday September 23 prior to a postponed game that lead to the consecutive double headers. Regardless the evidence points to one of three dates for the Photo September 23, 24 or 25 of 1974.

3) The Trophy

By Trophy I mean the real trophy not the icon on the card

Yep thanks to Heritage Auctions we have an image of a real life Topps All-Star Rookie Cup Trophy. To me this is a big deal outside of Carter’s trophy, I have only seen images of a few others Dick Allen, Tony Oliva, and Tommy Harper. Never seen one in the wild.

The Gary Carter Cup sold in November of 2016 for just under $1,800. According to the Heritage Auction website the owner of the trophy is entertaining offers for the trophy.

3b) But wait there is another Trophy!!

Topps also gives out a AAA version of the award.

And in 1974 Gary Carter won that award as well.

4) Flip

No over-analysis of a card is complete without flipping the card over.

Check the cartoon here which discusses the defense of the 1964 Orioles. Apparently this is a positive superlative. I was to lazy to confirm that the 95 errors was a record for fewest by at team (at the time), However I will note that in 1964 the second best team was the Yankees who committed 109.

This leads us to a brief point about baseball changing. In 2018 the MLB average for errors for a team was 93. That is 2 miscues less than the number that Orioles led the league with in 1964. The league average was 142 in 1964.

5) Gary Carter the collector

Finally one of my favorite fun facts about Gary Carter is he was also a card collector. As fans we learned this from a different card:

Check out the latter cartoon. I am thinking of putting this in the banner to my Twitter Feed.

If you don’t believe Topps we also have this photographic evidence.

Check out all those binders!!

And yes He is holding the card that is the subject of our posting:

Gary Carter will always be the Kid.

Sources and Links

Baseball-Ref

Heritage Auctions

Getty Images

Phungo 1976 Topps All-Star Rookie Cup index

Phungo Gary Carter Index

The Topps Archive

Of Myths and Men (pt 1)

I have really enjoyed perusing SABR’s Eight Myths Out Series. Jacob Pomrenke and the rest of the many historians involved have done terrific work and it is a tribute to what a bright and meticulous team can accomplish.

The title of the project is a nod to the book and subsequent film “Eight Men Out”. As a promotion for the movie a trading card set was produced. It is a fun 110 card set that I enjoy because it falls at the intersection of two of my hobbies, baseball and film.

1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #5 The Black Sox Scandal

Since the eight myths are responses to ideas introduced in “Eight Men Out” the book and further propagated by the film several of the cards are also connected to these myths.

Today we will look at some of the myth cards. I envision this as a three column series covering four myths in each of the first two postings followed by a  non-myth set summary/highlights closer.

Myth #1 Comiskey as Scrooge

1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #80 Charles A Comiskey

Myth #1 is covered on card #80 – if this was a Topps set it would be a Hero Number! OK, maybe a low-level star number. While this is a nice era appropriate profile picture of Comiskey when we flip the card over we start talking Scrooge…

1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #80 Charles A Comiskey (back)

The text opens discussing Comiskey’s Hall of Fame credentials but things turn in paragraph 3. “Tightfisted” and “Dollar-Pinching” are the two adjectives used to describer Comiskey. The card also mentions Dickey Kerr who is discussed in one of the further reading bullets for Myth 8.

Myth #2 The Cicotte “Bonus”

1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #6 Eddie Cicotte 29-7 in 1919

I love the statistical reference which is given as the sub-line on this card. The 29-7 record of Cicotte is a subtle / not-so-subtle nod to the 30 wins that the pitcher did not achieve in 1919.  There are 110 cards in this set and this is the ONLY one that has stats on the front.

Interestingly…

1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #6 Eddie Cicotte 29-7 in 1919 (b-side)

The back of the card does not mention the benching of Cicotte at all.

Myth #3 Gamblers Initiated the Fix

1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #19 The Key is Cicotte

Cicotte is mentioned by name on our myth #3 card as well, but it features gamblers “Sleepy” Bill Burns and Billy Maharg. Turns out the card (book and film) has the facts reversed. It was Eddie Cicotte along with Chick Gandil that approached the gamblers.

Myth #4 The Hitman: “Harry F.”

1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #60 Lefty is Threatened

For legal reasons Eliot Asinof created a fictional character, Hitman “Harry F.”. According to “Eight Men Out” the hitman threatened Lefty Williams. The mythical threat is mentioned on card #60 above.

Once again I urge you to check out “Eight Myths Out” to further understand the facts/myths involved, I have only touched upon each bullet here as a connection with the related card.

This concludes part one of our series dedicated to Eight Men/Myths Out. Hopefully in the next week or so we will cover the bottom half of the myths.

Sources and Links

SABR: Eight Myths Out

Baseball-Ref

Imdb

Eight Men Out set index (Phungo)

SABR48 Gets a Baseball Card

For the second consecutive year the official SABR convention baseball game (June 22, at PNC Park) was awarded a Topps Now card. A year ago Topps honored Jacob deGrom for the 2017 SABR47 game, and you can read our posting on that game here.

For SABR folks fortunate enough to go to Pittsburgh this past summer you may remember that the game was a pitcher’s duel between the Diamondbacks and Pirates. This did not go unnoticed by Topps

2018 ToppsNow #355 Nova Corbin SABR A

2018 ToppsNow #355

The card features both starting pitchers in a game that went into the 11th inning scoreless. The combined line for the two pitchers was 15 innings pitched, 6 hits, no walks, and 20 strikeouts. While the card does honor an MLB record – the record is in the opinion of Team Phungo a bit dubious. Mostly because of the volume of caveats involved.

7+Scoreless IP AND

8+ Ks AND

NO BBs AND

Less than 3 Hits

… For each starting pitcher

Talk to a probability nerd and that is something like EIGHT conditions that need to be met – no wonder it is the first time it ever happened. With this in mind, rather than research previous comparable games I will simply summarize each of the starts featured in the dual photo on the card.

Ivan Nova’s 8 innings, 3 Hits and 0 runs were all season superlatives for the veteran starter. His game score of 84 was also a personal best for 2018. It was one of two starts where Nova went 8 scoreless and did not get the win. The Pirates had a similar game on April 26 against Detroit which they won 1-0 on a walk-off home run by Corey Dickerson.

The Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin had a breakout season in 2018 which resulted in the southpaw placing 5th in the Cy Young voting. During his June 22nd outing he matched a career high with 12 strikeouts. By games score (83) the start ranked in the top 3 for Corbin in 2018.

The Topps Now card features photos of both pitchers, a description of the record in the text at the bottom, and the date of the game.

2018 ToppsNow #355 Nova Corbin SABR B

2018 ToppsNow #355 (b-side)

The back of the card goes into a little more depth on the game including the 2-1 final score and also mentions Ketel Marte, who recorded the game winning hit for the Diamondbacks.

Circulation

ToppsNow cards are only available for a limited time and have limited print runs. There were 169 copies of this particular card that were released. Topps created five cards for games played on June 22, 2018 and this card finished in the middle of that group:

353 Nelson Cruz – Seattle Mariners : 2 HRs, 7 RBI in 4-Hit Offensive Outburst (print run=161)
354 Franklin Barreto – Oakland Athletics : Pair of 3-Run HRs Power Win in 6-RBI Performance (print run=137)
355 Ivan Nova, Patrick Corbin : Starters Set MLB Record with 7+ Scoreless IP, 8+ Ks, 0 BBs, and Less than 3 Hits Each (print run=169)
356 Jesus Aguilar – Milwaukee Brewers : 1st HR Ends No-No, 2nd Powers Walk-Off Win (print run=199)
357 Manny Machado – Baltimore Orioles : Go-Ahead, 2-Run HR in the 15th Inning Fuels Victory (print run=173)

The biggest shocker here is that 2019 Free Agent darling Manny Machado warranted only 4 more copies than Nova/Corbin.

Snapshots

Both images used on the card were taken by Pittsburgh based freelance photographer Justin Berl. Both pictures reside with Getty Images: Ivan Nova Patrick Corbin. It is kind of impressive that Berl got both shots as they are taken from different sides of the diamond.

Sources and Links

SABR Baseball Cards Committee (2017 Game)

Phungo Game Dated Cards Index

getty images

Justin Berl

Baseball-Ref

Cardboard Connection

The Andy Warhol Triple Play “Pete Rose” (1985) Extra Innings

Last month I gave a presentation titled “The Andy Warhol Triple Play” at the SABR48 conference in Pittsburgh. The name refers to the three major baseball artworks that Warhol painted during his prolific career.

Most importantly for members and fans of this blog the idea to research this topic began with a baseball card.

Or more accurately a silkscreen based off of a baseball card design.

When I saw this image the geography synapses somehow connected Warhol to Pittsburgh and continued to SABR48 which was held at the home of the Pirates. I then vaguely recalled seeing “Tom Seaver” (1977) at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown a few years prior and started wondering about Warhol & Baseball.

I quickly found that Kristin Spangenberg of the Cincinnati Art Museum had previously curated an exhibit of Warhol’s baseball art in 2015 to coincide with the city hosting the MLB All-Star Game. It tuned out there was a third Warhol painting simply titled “Baseball”. All of the sudden I had an idea: Three Baseball Paintings + Andy Warhol = Andy Warhol’s Triple Play.

I have chronicled each of the pieces separately on my own blog Phungo. Here are links to the related pieces

Extra Innings

Twenty minutes may seem like a long time to talk about anything but when it comes to baseball most of us can drone on for hours. This was the case with the Andy Warhol baseball paintings and myself. I ended up cutting about 100 slides down to a few dozen, and I had to race to get through those.

When this happens something inevitably has to get dumped. This includes some very good stuff – after doing the research and living with the subject for a while it is similar to seeing a favorite player get released.

I am referring to this leftover information as “Extra Innings”. I have written columns on these missed subjects over at Phungo. So far postings have discussed the original photo Andy Warhol used for “Pete Rose”, A few of Andy’s Tom Seaver Polaroids, and the various flavors of the “Tom Seaver” portrait.

For various reasons I ended up purging the best Pete Rose anecdote.

Originally there was supposed to be a Pete Rose sitting, similar to what Andy Warhol did with Tom Seaver. Unfortunately in 1985 both Andy and Pete were pretty busy – and to be honest, I don’t think Rose was much of a sitter.

Warhol agreed to do the portrait from a series of photographs.

Andy got the pictures and he was perplexed. He called Carl Solway, the man who had commissioned the artwork with a question:

“In some photos he has the bat on his left shoulder and in some photos he has the bat on his right shoulder, and I am wondering why that is,”

Solway told Warhol “It’s because he’s a switch-hitter”

What happened next was described by SI scrbe Kostya Kennedy in “Pete Rose: An American Dilemma

When Carl Solway related the story to me he mentioned that after finding out that “Switch-Hitter” was a baseball term the artist became significantly more interested in the project.

Kostya Kennedy used this story to promote his book in various forums and you can see him discuss the anecdote on Seth Meyers show if you have hulu.

#WarholBaseball

I plan to do more Extra Innings postings in the future. Most of the columns will appear at Phungo, but I expect to author the trading card related items here. From time to time I will Tweet items under #WarholBaseball.

Acknowledgements

I have always had a significant fear of public speaking – I am perfectly comfortable in a social setting, but yeah never had a desire to speak in front of a roomful of people … until I joined SABR and saw some great presentations.

I then realized I wanted to contribute something to the community.

I would like to thank the Connie Mack Chapter for putting up with my various presentations over the last couple of years, they got to see the raw minor league me. Also I would like to thank the facilitators at the SABR conference. In my case it was Bob Sproule, these folks are great for calming the nerves of any novice presenters like myself.

If you’re a true amateur as I am, I recommend trying out a Speech/Communications group. I joined Toastmasters in advance of going to Pittsburgh. I only went to perhaps a dozen meetings prior to going to #SABR48 but the experience was very valuable.

Sources and Links

Andy Warhol Index at Phungo

Pete Rose: An American Dilemma – Kostya Kennedy

Carl Solway: e-Mail interview

CityBeat – various issues

Cincinnati Art Museum

#SABR48 Warhol Triple-Play audio

#SABR48 Warhol Triple-Play slides

Topps 1963 All-Star Rookie Cup Team: Part 3 – the Banquet

Ok I lied.

This was to be the final installment in our three part series covering the 1963 Topps All-Star Rookie Team.  Well you know how movie companies break up the final film of blockbuster trilogies into two parts so they can bring in more coin, well that is happening here – minus the money.

Yes this was to be the final installment of my 1963 Topps Rookie All-Star (TRAS) series, but I had to much for one post so I am breaking the banquet into two parts. Okay enough prologue, onward…

The 1963 Topps All-Star Rookie Banquet

I don’t know this for a fact but I am guessing that today’s players don’t even know if they make the Topps All-Star Rookie team.

Things were different in 1963, During the early years of the Topps Rookie All-Star team the winners were rewarded with a trip to New York City for a trophy presentation at the Waldorf Astoria!

November 9, 1963 article by Carl Lundquist in The Sporting News chronicled the event. Tommy Harper was among the nine Rookie All-Stars that attended the banquet and there are pictures to prove it. Of course the pictures are likely only out there on the interwebs because Harper’s teammate happened to be the NL Rookie of the Year and would go on to become quite infamous…

Tommy Harper and Pete Rose at the Topps Rookie All-Star Banquet (1963 OCT 24)

Check out Tommy & Pete and look in front of them, those are the Topps Rookie All-Star trophies. Before I got interested in the TRAS I didn’t realize that there was a real trophy involved. And hey the icon featured on the cards looks like the trophy. Except that I never realized that the trophy includes a top hat for some reason. There appears to be a larger version of the trophy behind Harper and Rose’s hands. I imagine that is either there as a Topps centerpiece or to honor Pete Rose as NL Rookie of the Year. The hat on that trophy looks like it would big enough for Pete to wear. I am guessing that the two were photographed together since they were Reds teammates at the time.

The rest of the All-Stars can be seen here.

1963 Topps Rookie All-Stars (1963 OCT 24)

Front Row (L->R): Billy Cowan (minor league player of the year), Jimmie Hall, Pete Rose,  Jesse Gonder, Tommy Harper. Back row (L->R): Rusty Staub, Gary Peters, Ray Culp, Vic Davalillo. Not pictured Al Weis.

1963 was the fifth time Topps held TRAS banquet. The event was held on Thursday October 24th 1963 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. There also happened to be another noteworthy baseball event that happened that day in NYC:

1964 Topps #21 Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra got hired as Manager of the New York Yankees. The Yankees made the official announcement at the Savoy Hilton on the South East corner of Central Park. Immediately following the press conference Yogi trekked across the park to the Waldorf and appeared at the Topps Rookie All-Star banquet as a surprise guest.

His remarks included:

“The greatest thrill of my life happened today when I was named manager of the great New York Yankees.”

It would take less than a year for that statement to turn from Bold to Sad as Yogi would be relieved as manager despite leading the Yankees to an AL pennant and pushing Bob Gibson and the Cardinals to 7 games in the World Series.

Other luminaries that attended the banquet were Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg and Frankie Frisch, Topps executives Sy Berger and Joel J. Shorin, and organized baseball representatives such as Frank Shaughnessy, Ed Short, Joe McKenney, and Dave Grote.

Baseball Ambassador Joe Garagiola served as emcee for the event.

In addition to the honoring the Rookie All-Stars, Topps also bestowed the Minor League Player of the Year award to Billy Cowan (Salt Lake City Bees / Cubs). Elston Howard was designated a “Most Value Fellow” by Topps who gave the Yankees catcher and 1963 AL MVP a giant trading card. The card contained the caption “Nice Guys Finish First.”

This is Tommy Harper’s first solo card, he appears on a 4-up in 1963 Topps falling at #158. Solid representation of the 1964 Topps Set, this appears to be a shot taken at Spring Training.  If I was going to complain I would mention that the nameplate at the bottom of the card cuts off Harper’s glove. Otherwise a decent shot, featuring Tommy Harper in the great sleeveless Reds Jersey of the era.

Flip

1964 Topps #330 Tommy Harper (b-side)

The back copy mentions Harper’s TRAS selection along with his minor league run scoring crowns. There is also a general trivia question: Who was the Twins HR King the previous season?  It is exactly who you think it is, Harmon Killebrew who had 45 Homers in 1963. In fact Killebrew has the top 6 Home Run hitting seasons for the Twins and is also tied for 7th: 42 in 1959 (Senators) with Roy Sievers (1957 also Sens) and current Twin Brian Dozier (2016)

1963 Topps Rookie All-Stars

As mentioned this is part 3 of our short series on the 1963 Topps Rookie All-Star team. To see the remainder of the series click the links below:

Part 1: The Cards (Rusty Staub)

Part 2: The Voting (Jesse Gonder w/ Phantom Trophy)

Sources Links

Phungo 1963 Topps Rookie Cup Index

The Sporting News 1963 Nov 9 (Carl Lundquist) and other issues.

The Topps Archive

Baseball Card Database

Getty Images

Baseball-reference

Heritage Originals: 1969 Topps All-Stars

The annual release of Topps Heritage is always a good time to take a look back at the original set. If time permits I would like to create a series dedicated to the different aspects of 1969 Topps/2018 Heritage. I hope others will also contribute to the series. I know that @SplitSeason1981 has been building the original set and is sure to have some thoughts.

Today we are tackling the All-Star Subset.

1969 Topps #426 Curt Flood (ASG)

Topps has chosen many ways to honor All-Stars, One of my favorites is via a dedicated subset. This is how the first All-Star set appeared in 1958 and periodically throughout the 1960s.

The Sporting News

The cards were often cross promoted with a magazine, in 1969 it was the Sporting News. The TSN masthead was present on All-Star Cards in 1959, 1961 (love these), 1962, 1968 and 1970.

Sport Magazine got the billing on the original All-Star Subset of 1958 followed by 1960,

After 1970 the All-Star subset disappears for a few years, returning unsponsored in 1974.

The All-Star subset remains present in contemporary Topps issues typically appearing in Update/Series 3.

The Baseball

1969 Topps #540 Curt Flood

Often Topps ties designs in consecutive years by keeping an aspect of the previous release. Some folks may think this is redundant or lazy – for me it gives a sense of continuity from one year to the next. The 1968 -> 1969 retained flair is the circle. I think of it as “The Baseball”, it was best executed on the 1964 Jumbos which had the player name in the center with position and team above and below the stitching respectively. The circle on 1969T ain’t no baseball, but it does conjure the image for me.

The circle is also the element of 1969 Topps that carries through from the base cards to the All-Star cards. For the subset the team name has been moved from the bottom of the card to within the circle.

The Wire Photo

There are 2 photos on each All-Star Card. I give a nice try to Topps on these, to punch up the cards they added a black and white action shot. However for the most part I can’t really tell who the player is in the photo. I mean take a look at the Curt Flood Action shot – he looks like a headless outfielder, which he clearly was not.

The Puzzle

1969 Topps #426 Curt Flood (b-side/ASG)

For the second consecutive year Topps used the All-Star subber to do something fun – create a puzzle. Above we have the back of Curt Flood’s #426 card. I have already oriented the card so we can tell this is a top right hand corner to the puzzle, beyond that it is pretty tough to tell what we are seeing. Fortunately we have an image of the completed puzzle which involves half of the 20 All-Star cards.

1969 Topps All-Star Puzzle Pete Rose (image swiped from 1969 Topps Blog)

The other 10 All-Star card backs create a picture of Carl Yastrzemski – for a look at the puzzle check out the 1969 Topps Blog.

Topps chose the two League Batting Champs as the puzzle subjects in 1969 (Rose .335, Yaz .301). As of this writing we don’t know the subjects for 2018 Heritage but if Topps follows the 1969 originals, the honorees will be Jose Altuve (.346) and Charlie Blackmon (.331)

Curt Flood

I picked Curt Flood to represent the 1969 All-Star cards because we hear so much about what he meant to baseball and free agency that we forget how great a baseball player he was. I believe 1969 is the only year that Flood made the All-Star subset. Flood’s two 1969 Topps cards are also his last two issued with the Cardinals. After that his playing career was pretty much over, He had a handful of ABs with the Senators but a year off clearly hurt the All-Star Center Fielder. Progress often has victims – Curt Flood took the punch for free agency.

1969 Topps / 2018 Heritage Series

If anyone is interested I would love to see a group project dedicated to comparing and contrasting 1969 Topps with this years Heritage release. If you are interested, leave a note in the comments with a topic you would like to cover. Some of the items I came up off the top of my head were:

  • Base Cards
  • Deckle Edge
  • Bazooka
  • Posters
  • Rookie Cups
  • Manager Cards
  • League Leaders
  • World Series
  • Checkers

Sources and Links

The 1969 Topps Baseball Card Blog

2018 Heritage / 1969 Topps Index @ Phungo

Baseball-Ref

Topps Baseball Card Database

 

 

Topps 1963 All-Star Rookie Cup Team: Part 2 – the Voting

Today in the second installment in our three part series dedicated to the 1962 Topps Rookie Cup All-Star team we are going to take a look at the voting process. For more on the team check out Part 1.

The Topps All-Star Rookie team has been selected a number of different ways over the years. Originally they were selected via a vote by “the Youth of America” . I am not positive but I believe currently Topps has MLB Managers vote on the squad.

In 1962 that responsibility of picking the team was the belonged to a fairly complete roster of the players coaches and managers of Major League Baseball. Thanks to the Sporting News we have a record of that vote.

1964 Topps #457 Jesse Gonder

1964 Topps #457 Jesse Gonder

We will get to Jesse Gonder in a minute, for now I will just mention that he did not lead the voting, nor did NL Rookie of the Year Pete Rose.

According to an article published in The Sporting News (1963 Sep 21) There were 563 players, coaches, and managers involved in the voting. During the 1963 season there were 20 MLB teams, this means that an average of more than 28 people voted for each team.

On September 15th 1962 Topps Sports Director Sy Berger announced the All-Star Rookie Team and the overall vote winner was…..

White Sox Pitcher Gary Peters who received 522 of those 563 votes or 93%.

A solid selection, Peters was Rose’s AL ROY counterpart. The rest of the voting went as follows:

1964 All-Star rCup Voting

I broke the Rookie All-Stars into two groups, Position Players and Pitchers just to make the the MLB Stat columns a little clearer. Both tables are sorted by the Number of votes received in the All-Star Rookie tally.

The hitters break down into two groups the first 5 that all received at least 2/3 of the vote. The final 3 players were more contested and all finished at 50% or less.  Both pitchers won their positions easily. It appears the “eye test” worked in 1963, The five hitters chosen had WAR numbers of +2.0 or better while the final 3 were all +1.0 or below. One cannot question the selection of Gary Peters and his +7.0 WAR.

Jesse Gonder

We chose Jesse Gonder as cover card for a couple of reasons. To start off Catcher was the most contested position of the voting:

Jesse Gonder Catchers

Nice to see Twitter favorite @JohnnyBateman7 on the board. As we can see Freehan won the WAR however in 1963 that was obviously not known. Gonder won the vote, likely due to his .304 batting average. Of course voting for him meant ignoring the fact that he had less than half of the plate appearances of either Freehan or Bateman.

The second reason we decided to focus on Jesse Gonder is his card. Take a look, notice anything odd for a rookie cup card? Yep, no Rookie Cup. Not sure why it happened but the Trophy icon was missed on Jesse Gonder’s 1964 Topps card. Of the Ten cards in the All-Star Rookie subset it is the highest numbered, one of two on the series 6 checklist which runs from from 430-506. Perhaps by the time Topps got to their penultimate series the quality control had slipped a tad.

Pete Rose

I would like to close by discussing Pete Rose who won second base but did not garner as many votes as either Gary Peters or Vic Davalillo.

Pete Rose 2nd Base

This may be due to the fact that Pete Rose likely had competition from HBP specialist Ron Hunt. TSN did not publish the Topps voting results for all the positions, it is notable that the only player to garner Rookie of the Year votes yet not receive an All-Star Rookie Cup was Hunt.

I am a little stunned how much better Rose did in the ROY vote considering how similar his and Hunt’s numbers were in 1963. Apparently Hustle counts.

Once again I will mention if you want to read a fine article on the 1963 Topps Pete Rose card check with Wax Pack Gods.

Sources and Links

The Sporting News (1963 various issues)

Baseball-ref

Baseball Card Database

Cardboard Connection

Phungo 1963 Topps Rookie Cup Index

Wax Pack Gods

TRENDY: South Korea Winter Olympics

The Olympics being held in PyeongChang is a good opportunity to discuss some WBC/South Korea cards.

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2009 A&G National Price #NP39 Shin-Soo Choo

Shin-Soo Choo is probably the most prominent Korean MLB player. The 34 year old outfielder has put together a pretty nice career including a couple of playoff appearances and 168 Home Runs. Choo will be entering his 14th season, four of which have been with the Texas Rangers, in a few weeks,

Topps noted the 2009 World Baseball Classic by giving the Allen & Ginter’s common (or decoy) insert an International flare. Each of the 75 subjects in the set is presented on a card that represents the players home country. In the above Shin-Soo Choo card you can see the a small flag atop the interior frame along with a flag background for the player image. The player name banner also references the home country.

2009 A&G National Pride #NP39 Shin-Soo Choo (b-side)

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The backside features both the player team and home country. The write-up mentions South Korea’s 10-2 WBC victory over Venezuela in which Shin-Soo Choo hit a first inning home run. The blast came against former Phillies pitcher Carlos Silva who did not make it out of the 2nd inning.


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2005 Topps #UH199 HR Derby Hee-Seop Choi

2005 was also a WBC year and as part of the events promotion MLB gave the Home Run Derby an international flair. You can see the Korean flag patch on the upper left of Hee-Sop Choi’s uniform.

The 2005 All-Star game was held in Detroit with 8 players representing seven different countries and the US territory of Puerto Rico. At the time of the event Choi had the lowest career Home Run total among the participants with 38. The South Korean First Baseman was eliminated in the first round when he hit 5 Homers, 7 were needed to advance. The final was won by the Phillies Bobby Abreu (Venezuela) over Ivan Rodriguez (Puerto Rico) by an 11-5 round score. Abreu had 41 Home Runs on the night boosted by an impressive 24 spot in the opening frame.

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2005 Topps #UH199 HR Derby Hee-Seop Choi (b-side)

The back side of the card discusses Hee-Seop Choi’s Home Run Derby first round. Much debated 2018 HOF Nominee Andruw Jones (Netherlands) is mentioned alongside Choi.

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Phungo WBC Binder South Korea Page

One of the MANY minor collections in the Phungo collection is the WBC binder which includes players paged by home country. There are several card sets that contain feature players representing their native countries. This is the Korea page which currently houses 7 cards with slots 1 & 2 open. Hee-Seop Choi earns center square for a combination of his stature and the fact that he is facing my preferred direction for a center square on a Right Hand Page.

2018 Winter Games

For more info on an interesting baseball connected Olympian check my column on Topps 2014 Olympic cards which features Skeleton athlete Katie Uhlaender. The original Posting from four years ago can be found here.

Katie’s father was an MLB outfielder and we briefly discussed him in 2014 as well. That column including his RC along with a discussion of his 1969T card in the Uhleander family can be found here.

Sources and Links

Phungo Game Dated Card Index

Phungo WBC Index

Cardboard Junkie

TeamSets4U

MLB

NBC Olympics

LA Times

Baseball-Ref