Committee Project

Please pardon this brief interruption.  In addition to all of the fun we have talking about or trading baseball cards, I thought it would also be fun to leave a more permanent mark upon this world, to organize all of the great work we have been doing.

Since we are a SABR Research Committee, I asked Jacob Pomrenke — SABR’s Director of Editorial Content — how we could best have and use permanent web space that is more easily found, organized and updated.  He urged me to use the SABR/Baseball-Reference Encyclopedia, otherwise known as the B-R Bullpen, for this purpose.  It is a wiki, which is perfect for us in my view.

So I wrote up a very simple skeleton.  (There was some baseball card material already there, which we will build on or around.)

Click here.

Besides the front page, I already wrote up several subset pages (All-Star cards, Season Highlights, Historical Highlights, and Group Cards), and several place holders.

I especially encourage any interested committee member to help, but it is a public wiki which anyone can update.  It is also part of a very strong and respected site, and (I have already discovered!) active editors who are on the look out for errors.

My thought is that this would grow organically based on whatever it is people want to see here.  Do you want to add a list of Police Sets?  Let’s add it.  A list of cards with people doing whimsical things (carrying snake, etc.)?  Let’s add it.  Cards of players signing autographs?  Cards that show the wrong player?  We are not going to provide the images — we just create the list.  The images are findable.

The subsets I created are all incomplete, and focus on the Topps era which is my strength.  However, my pages should be updated (if appropriate) to include all eras and all brands.  For the Group Cards page, I stopped at 1969 Topps, but obviously in the 1980s it all came back.  Let’s get it all down.

(All of this is optional of course — if its not your bag, that’s fine.  We’re still going to do all of the things we already do.)

How can you help?  Don’t think of it as “help” — which implies that you are providing assistance to me — think of it as co-efforting?  You can create content yourself (its easy) or you can send material to me (or someone else) and have them create it for you.  You can add to existing material (more Group Cards) or you can add entirely new pages.

All ideas are welcome.  1970s plastic cup collectibles?  We’ll figure out how it fits in.


No.  In fact, we will act to organize the rest of the web, and link to the best pages.  For example, we could have a Topps Flagship Sets page, and each entry “1971 Topps” would provide links to the best content related to this set, including articles on our blog. (We are not here to advertise, but to provide content).

If we had a page on “Goudey Card Sets”, it could be a list of each set with a sentence or two of text.  Right below the entry for “1936 Goudey Wide Pens” would be a link to Jeff Katz’s great article that I posted an hour ago.  Synergy!

All advice on organization (especially if accompanied by a willingness to perform the organization) are welcome.  I created pages that all look “the same”.  I can be talked into changing the look, but not the consistency.

I suspect some of you already have your own lists that you have created for your own purposes.  Share them!

So, who’s in?  If you are, please contact me.

— Mark Armour

PS: Sometimes, Topps had to try harder to find season highlights.  And I am grateful.



1936 Goudey – Wide Pens and a Why? Checklist

My set collecting these days has been a mix of the ridiculously attainable (1960’s Topps), the slightly difficult (1971 Kellogg’s) and the preposterously obscure (1952 Parkhurst Canadian minor leaguers). Then there are the 1936 Goudey Wide Pens.

For reasons I can’t recall, I once bought a bunch of Wide Pens (Type 1 – there are five types between 1936 and 1937). I must have fallen into two cheap lots in the early ‘90’s. It came as a big surprise to me last year, when I was looking for sets to finish, that I had 80 of the 120. Not a bad start for an 80+ year old set.

Thankfully the cards, 3 ¼” X 5 ½” black and white photos (portraits, posed action, real action) are reasonably priced. Even the rookies of Joe DiMaggio (along with Manager Joe McCarthy) and Hank Greenberg aren’t that expensive. (Frequent readers know I snagged a DiMag/McCarthy in a one for one swap for a 1976 Walter Payton rookie card).

It’s an odd grouping of players. Around 20% are Hall of Famers, two players get two cards each (Dick Bartell and Clydell Castleman), three cards have player/manger pairings and the rest is a hodgepodge of guys who, even in 1936, seem to be odd choices to make the cut.

“Rabbit” Pytlak was a good-field, no- hit catcher for the Indians. Tony Piet was a classic weak infielder. In 1936 he was 29 years old and the third baseman for the White Sox. Think Maicer Izturis. “Rip” Radcliff would  put in a solid year for the Browns in 1940, but in 1936 was a 30 year old outfielder in his second full season for the White Sox. For some reason I can’t fathom,  he was an All Star and finished in 16th place in the AL MVP voting.


I’ve got no quarrel with having Wally Berger in this set. Berger was a four time All-Star, garnering MVP votes five years in a row.  1936 was the last year of both runs, though decent years still ahead. George Blaeholder was a middle of the road starter who was in his last year in 1936, putting the finishing touches on an 11 year career that ended up with a 4.54 ERA (to be fair, that number equated to an ERA+ of 103, average, not awful).  Cy Blanton was, for one year, worth of his first name. Forgotten now, Blanton had a phenomenal rookie year with the Pirates in 1935, going 18-13 with a league leading ERA of 2.58 (ERA+ of 159). He’d get progressively less effective and be gone after the 1942 season; his last decent year coming in 1938. Still I get why he’s here.  Cliff Bolton, in his fourth season in 1935 finally became a regular in the Senators outfield. Why he gets a card is lost on me, especially considering who’s not in this set (thankfully, since they’d cost a ton) – Lefty Grove, Carl Hubbell , Mel Ott, Dizzy Dean, Luke Appling, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx.


It’s not that there aren’t Hall of Famers; one of every five cards has one.  Alphabetically and numerically, this is a superior run of cards with Charlie Gehringer,” Goose” Goslin and “Lefty”Gomez.  And Charlie Gelbert. Gelbert put in a nine year career as an infielder with a 9.3 WAR. Four of those years he had a negative WAR, in three others he was below 1. Sure, Gelbert over Appling in player selection, why not.


The quirky roster of players in Wide Pen Type 1 is part of why I like it. It’s rare for me to encounter so many major leaguers I know nothing about. (The backs are blank, so no help there). I’ve been steadily marching to completion; I need 11 more. Some are Hall of Famers, but I should be able to get Bill Dickey, Earl Combs and Gabby Hartnett for $15-25 each. The others are commons, some with name recognition today (Phil Cavaretta, Frank Crosetti, Bucky Walters) but they’ll likely set me back around $10 each. The demand is so low that I’ve been able to get cards regularly between $5 – 12.

It’s a great set. Look at this Gee Walker card and tell me it’s not.


Barajitas EEUUs: ’93–’00 Pacific

This is my second post featuring Spanish-language baseball cards released in the United States. The first post features an introduction as well as 1978 Topps Zest.

Before 1993 Pacific had released a number of Legends or All-Time-Greats sets. They also had a number of massive player-specific sets such as their 220-card Nolan Ryan. But it was only in 1993 that they received a license to make a set of baseball cards for current Major League players. The catch was that the set had to be Spanish-language.

So from 1993 to 2000, Pacific Trading Cards released a set of Spanish-language trading cards. Even after they received* a full license in 1998 and began releasing a umber of English-langauge sets—as well as really pushing the limits of what you could do with baseball cards in terms of diecutting and other fancy post-printing effects—they maintained at least one Spanish Language release.

*If you can say “received” to describe winning a court case against Major League Baseball (hat tip to ArtieZillante for this).

Rather than going through each set individually, I’m going do two posts. This first one will look at the “flagship” Pacific/Pacific Crown sets on a year-by-year basis. The second will cover a handful of other Spanish-Language releases.

Pacific’s 1993 set feels very much like a first set; it’s basically the 1993 version of 1981 Donruss and Fleer, i.e. kind of a generic design which hasn’t aged particularly well. The beveled edges and gradient mania fit right in with 1992 Ultra, 1993 Donruss, 1993 Ultra, and 1994 Topps and suggest that everyone had just gotten computers with which to design their cards and had succumbed to all the temptations that the graphics programs offered.

Of special note here is that this is a Spanish-only card. The position on the front is in Spanish as is the bio and statistical information on the back.* While Pacific’s license was for Spanish-language cards, 1993 would be the only year that Pacific’s cards did not have any English on them.

*The less said about the typesetting of the stats the better. 

1994 has a stronger sense of identity as Pacific introduced its crown logo but this set on the whole still exhibits growing pains. The photo processing for example is really weird. Many of the cards feature images which are very low contrast and almost faded and the typesetting of the player names is just bad.

These cards though are now bilingual and the stats are in English. Where 1993 lists things like J (juegos) and C (carreras), 1994 lists G (games) and R (runs). This is also the only year that there’s no player biography so we have a huge photo on the back.

Pacific’s 1995 set is still a bit of a work in progress. Those beveled edges return on the backs and the front isn’t exactly a cohesive design yet. But by keeping things minimal and staying out of the way of the photo these cards still look pretty good.

Biographies return on the card backs and while the back design has both English and Spanish in the same size font, the English translations omit a few words like “tambien/also” which appear in the Spanish and as a result are much smaller blocks of text.

1996 is the first set that looks like a Pacific™ set. Pacific’s design in the late 1990s is like nothing else in the card collecting world and their Spanish-language cards have designs which feel akin to boxing posters—especially for lightweight or welterweight fighters.*

*Yes we’re talking boxers like Julio Cesar Chavéz.

On the backs we can see that the font for the English translation is now smaller than the Spanish translation. But we’re still seeing things in their own boxes rather than being a cohesive design on the back. I do have to call out how the position abbreviation is also in English. Pitchers are P instead of L (lanzador). Catchers are C instead of R (receptor). Outfielders are OF instead of J (jardinero). etc. etc.

1997 though is peak Pacific™ and peak boxing poster. We’re getting into cards now that are not many people’s cup of tea but I appreciate how much this one commits to the design. On the back we’ve finally lost the multiple text boxes for each language and the the English text continues to get smaller. Stats though remain in English as do the positions.

I really like the 1998 set. It’s not as over-the-top as 1997 but it retains a lot of the character. This is the first year since 1993 that Pacific put positions on the front of the cards only this time they’re are in English just like in 1996 and 1997.

Not much has changed on the backs. They still emphasize Spanish and continue to have a more cohesive design.* And I’m happy to see bilingual positions return here even if it makes English-only choice for the front design even more mysterious to me.

*Although this one is kind of a train wreck for my taste.

1999 continues the retreat in terms of design. Where the previous three years had a lot of character this one verges on boring. This is the first year since 1993 without full-bleed printing too. The backs are a huge improvement though and the English-text has gotten even smaller.

The most-noteworthy thing about 1999 is that the set size has decreased to the point where there are only 11 cards per team. From 1995–98 there were 16 cards per team, still not a lot but enough that you had most of the starters as well as a handful of Latino players.

In 1999 and 2000? Just the stars and then the rest are Latino players. This is both a good thing in that it allows some more fringe players to have cards—especially given how few players got cards in many of the other sets in the late 90s—but it also means that Pacific didn’t think that Latino baseball fans cared about anyone other than Latino players.

Pacific’s last year of Spanish-language cards was 2000 and I find this set to be kind of boring. The only change of note from 1999 is that the English-language text continues to decrease in size—something that is no doubt easier to do when it’s black text on a light background instead of reversed text on a black background.

Outside of the Spanish-language stuff in these sets, I also have to call attention to how Pacific handled horizontal images from 1995–98. One of the most interesting things for me is seeing how flexible Pacific’s designs were with accommodating both vertical and horizontal images.

1997 and 1998 are the clear standouts here in how the design elements are basically just rotated with the card layout. In 1997 the Pacific logo and the Giants logo rotate 90° and everything else stays the same. Pacific could’ve (should’ve) done this in 1995 as well but instead kept the design exactly the same for vertical and horizontal cards.

In 1998 the logos rotate 90° and the name/position graphic rotates 180°. 1996 is very similar except that instead of rotating the name graphic 180° it rotates 90° and shifts to the corner of the card instead of staying centered on the side.

The end result is that when these cards are paged on a sheet there’s much less visual jarring in the design of the cards. This is something that many card designs don’t do particularly well and it kind of amazes me that Pacific seems to have figured it out so quickly.

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


Topps Baseball Card Database



1914-1915 Cracker Jack Baseball Cards

(Ed note: John McMurray is the chairman of SABR’s Deadball Era Committee. This article recently appeared in the wonderful committee newsletter.)

The accessibility of the Deadball Era derives, in part, from the many existing images of players from the period. It is worthwhile to recall that some of the most vivid and enduring player portrayals are on contemporary baseball cards. The most famous Deadball Era cards are from the T205 and T206 sets, which are large, comprehensive, and relatively available tobacco issues (with some notable exceptions). Still, many collectors prefer the 1914-1915 Cracker Jack cards even if these cards are more expensive and difficult to locate, as they likely are the most impressive baseball cards issued during the Deadball Era. The Cracker Jack cards (sometimes known by the E145-1 designation for the 1914 set and E145-2 for 1915, with caramel cards having an ‘E’ set designation rather than ‘T’ for tobacco) are a wonderful window into the Deadball Era in the middle of its second decade.

With a clean presentation and bright red backgrounds, the Cracker Jack cards had the most eye-appeal of any card issued to date. Today, some collectors still consider them to be the most attractive baseball card design ever produced. These 2-1/4” by 3” cards were also nearly twice as large as most of their tobacco card counterparts and included the most biographical detail of any baseball card yet manufactured. But it is the detailed artwork and many action poses which make this set a perennial collector favorite. In some sense, these are baseball cards doubling as art.

Here, among the Cracker Jack cards, are the best baseball card images of Shoeless Joe Jackson’s swing, of Walter Johnson’s pitching motion, and of Ty Cobb’s glare. The action shots, too, are magnificent: Chick Gandil reaching for a ball at first base is a beautifully done horizontal image, as is that of Ray Keating pitching. Then there are the catcher poses, with Hick Cady, Ted Easterly, Les Nunamaker, Frank Owen, and Wally Schang shown in action in full catcher’s gear. The portraits of Charles Comiskey and Connie Mack seem to capture their respective professional reputations. If you would like to see a commanding picture of John McGraw, a side view of Gavy Cravath at bat, or a pensive pose of Honus Wagner, these sets are the place to look. Surely, no better card of Smoky Joe Wood has ever been produced than in the Cracker Jack sets, and there is a sometimes-overlooked card of Branch Rickey as manager of the St. Louis Browns. As many have noted, what is missing is a card of Babe Ruth in either set, a real incongruity since so many lesser names are included. But, except for Ruth, there is really nothing missing from these relatively small sets.

Magee1915The 1914 Cracker Jack cards are significantly more scarce than the ones issued in 1915. “While collecting complete sets from either year is tough, there is no question that the 1914 set is infinitely more difficult to acquire, and it all comes down to the way the cards were distributed,” wrote Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) and PSA/DNA, in a chapter about the origins of the cards in The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball’s Prized Players (Peter E. Randall Publisher, 2013) by Tom Zappala and Ellen Zappala. Orlando said that the 1914 cards were distributed only in packages of Cracker Jack, making the cards more susceptible to damage, while the 1915 cards were available both in packages with the candy and also through a mail-in redemption where the entire set could be acquired for “either 100 coupons or one coupon plus a whopping 25 cents!” Add to it that the 1914 cards were printed on thinner card stock than their 1915 counterparts, and it is clear why so few of the former exist in top condition.

As Orlando outlines (see Zappala and Zappala, pp. 163-173), the 1914 set has 144 cards, while the 1915 version has 176. For most part, the first 144 cards are identical between the sets, as they have the same players and poses. Two players have different poses from the first year to the second: Christy Mathewson and Del Pratt each have an action pose in 1914 and a portrait in 1915. The 1914 Mathewson card, is, by far, the most popular and expensive Cracker Jack card, but it is very difficult to locate. The PSA website notes that one in excellent condition sold for $95,000 in 2012. Four players (Harry Lord, Jay Cashion, Nixey Callahan, and Frank Chance) have cards in the 1914 set but not in the 1915 edition. The final thirty-two cards of the 1915 set (Nos. 145-176) are not included in the 1914 version. A few cards from 1914, as Orlando notes, were replaced from 1914 to 1915: Rollie Zeider’s standing pose (he had two cards in 1914) was removed for Oscar Dugey, and Hal Chase would take the place of Frank Chance. The easiest way to tell the 1914 and 1915 cards apart is that the backs of the latter were printed upside down “so the card information could be read while mounted in the specially-designed albums (available by mail order for the 1915 set only),” wrote Orlando. He notes, though, that some 1915 cards show some staining from glue, likely used to keep the cards in these albums.

The backs of the cards are succinct, usually outlining each player’s basic biography and how he got to the major leagues, occasionally capped with understated praise. Cobb “is noted as a marvel for speed and batting.” Wagner, his card says matter-of-factly, “has batted over 300 (sic) for ten years.” Rabbit Maranville with Boston “has been a great success.” At the bottom, the card backs in 1914 note that the company’s first issue is “15,000,000 pictures,” while the 1915 backs detail the offer for the complete set and to acquire what the company called the “Handsome Album to hold (the) full set of pictures.”

An oft-forgotten component of these sets is their Federal League players including Rube Marquard who is erroneously identified as being with the Brooklyn Tip-Tops, and Artie (Circus Solly) Hofman, whose surname is misspelled as ‘Hoffman’. George Suggs’ uniform as a member of the Baltimore Terrapins stands out, while Bill Rariden is shown in his Boston Braves uniform in spite of having joined the Federal League’s Indianapolis Hoosiers, as his card notes. Rollie Zeider’s standing pose clearly shows the word ‘Feds’ on his Chicago uniform, and the bold word ‘Buffalo’ across Walter Blair’s chest is a clear indication that things were different in baseball during 1914 and 1915.

These sets distinctively capture the individuality of many players. Though the artwork can vary in its quality (Max Carey’s card, for one, is not the sharpest), it is fair to say that the portrayals often capture the essence of well-known players, and particularly of the top stars. Fred Clarke’s sitting pose gives an air of focused effectiveness, and Sam Crawford’s throwing motion offers a contented, carefree style. The grit and crustiness of the era also come through in Doc Gessler’s swing or in Sherry Magee’s throwing pose. Eddie Cicotte’s easy smile on his Cracker Jack cards, alas, is reminiscent of a time before scandal hit the sport. In the Cracker Jack cards, no two poses or portraits look the same, making the set stand out from those which often repeat similar images.

A card of a common Cracker Jack player in very good condition, which is to say, showing considerable wear, will likely cost between $150 and $200. Because of the demand for these cards and their relative scarcity, a star player will likely cost more than $500, with steep increases in price as condition improves even marginally. Cards issued in 1914, of course, almost always command a higher price. It speaks to the endurance of the Deadball Era and its players that desire for these cards remains so solid and strong more than a century after they were produced.

Many vintage baseball card collectors begin with the T205 and T206 sets because those sets include more players, and most cards are available for about half of the price of the Cracker Jack cards. That is a fair approach. At the same time, while very different in appearance from traditional tobacco cards, the Cracker Jack sets include artwork that is at least as good, if not better, as well as an array of player poses and biographical detail not found in other contemporary card sets. These cards justifiably play a part in the telling of the story of the Deadball Era.

The ’87 cards at 69¢ a pop

1987 Topps box

The summer’s treasure trove of baseball cards continues:  Among the shoeboxes I was gifted, there was a baseball card pack box full of over 750 loose cards.  When I saw the box, I had a bit of fantasy that inside I would find wax packs.  There’s something special about opening a pack of cards, especially an old pack.  Would I find 17-card packs with sticks of gum?  Alas, the box was full of loose cards.  Oh well.  A boy could dream.

Pile by pile, I picked up each stack and quickly flipped through the familiar names making note of the card design as well.  The 1987 Topps set (792 cards) was touted as a “blast from the past” giving collectors memories of the 1962 Topps set with its use of a border with its simulated wood-grain finish.  The card features a large player photo with the team logo at the upper left corner and the players name in bold font inside a colored box next to the Topps logo at the bottom of the card.  The player’s position, however, is not indicated, which is the first time since 1972 that Topps did not include this detail.

1987 Topps inside.jpg

As I flipped through the cards, I thought about the 1962 counterpart and about what I didn’t like about this card design.  The wood border is fine, yeah, another flashback that Topps has done before.  What bothered me was the missing player position, and the team logo.  I like the uniformity of other card sets depicting the team name in the same font.  To me, the logo sort of throws the uniformity of the card off.  I believe this set is the first time since 1965 that a logo has been added to the card, though in that set, the logo was incorporated with the team name in the same font imposed on a pennant.

I knew that noted “rookies” of interest in this set included Ruben Sierra (#261), Mike Greenwell (#259), Wally Joyner (#80), Barry Bonds (#320) and Mark McGwire (#366), who had first appeared on a card in a 1984 U.S. Olympics Topps subset issued in 1985.  Among this box, I found a Greenwell, couple of Joyners and a McGwire.  These cards, like the rest of box, are in tip-top shape.  Sharp corners, no wear, vivid pictures, like the previous owner never played with them at all.  It’s amazing to me that of all the thousands of cards that were gifted to me in this summer collection, they are almost all in pristine condition, save for the dozen vintage cards I wrote about earlier.

I realized too, in thinking about the 1987 year, that I didn’t spend time at all collecting baseball cards during most of the 1980s because I was in college spending my extra funds on girls and beer.  Some 20 years or so later, I was able to go back and start collecting those years I had missed.  This 1987 set isn’t my favorite, but I did enjoy seeing all the familiar names and certainly appreciate opening the box and making yet another great discovery.

Of Syndergaard and Sasquatch


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.


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.”


Mueller, Rich. “2018 Topps Allen and Ginter Baseball Cards Include Usual Quirkiness.” Sports Collectors Daily, Sports Collectors Daily, 13 Feb. 2018,

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