Post Cereal Issues from 1961-1963

I remember pieces of the 1964 season. I remember that we watched the Dodgers sweep the Yankees in the 1963 World Series. But my earliest baseball memory is being really excited about finding a Roger Maris card on the back of a box of Post cereal in 1962. Although I did not have this card in my possession for close to fifty years, its image was burned into my memory. This blog and my plans to write this post caused me purchase the card displayed here.

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Post started their brief foray into sports cards with a nine card set of oversized cards in 1960, which they put on the back of boxes of Grape Nuts Flakes. The cards were 7” by 8 3/4”. The set contained five baseball players (Eddie Mathews, Mickey Mantle, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew and Don Drysdale), two football players (Frank Gifford and Johnny Unitas) and two basketball players (Bob Cousy and Bob Pettit).

They went full on in 1961, when they issued a set with 200 baseball players, all standard baseball-card size.  The cards were blank on the back, with a color photo and biographical information on the front (with the photo on the left), along with lifetime and 1960 statistics. The name is in black, in a sans-serif font , and the phrase “BASEBALL STAR CARD No. ##” in black across the top, with a row of eight red stars below. The statistics are on a yellow background, with “MAJOR LEAGUE BATTING RECORD” or “MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHING RECORD” printed in white on a black background above the stats. The cards appeared on ten different varieties of cereals in multiple box sizes, and also on variety packs. There were 73 different box panels, affecting the variability of the various players. For example, for the Post Tens bottom tray, there were seven panels of three cards each. Only one of those 21 players appeared on any other panel. Cards were also available in team sheets, directly from Post. These cards came on thinner stock. There were four cards which were only available in this way, as well as cards that were only available on boxes. Information on some cards was updated as the year progressed. Dan Mabey, the recognized authority on the Post issues says there are 361 different box cards.

1961 Post
1961 Post

The 1962 set continued to have 200 players. Updates, card stock and other differences bring the total varieties to 543 cards. Layout is the same, but this time, the picture is on the right side instead of the left, and the player name is in a script font, written in blue ink, and the line of stars above the name is missing. The statistics title is black on the background of the stat box. The American League players (like Maris, above) have blue line around the statistics box and a white background for the player information and a yellow background for the statistics. National League players have a red line around the stats with a yellow background for the player information and a white background for the stats. Also,  100 of the cards were also issued in a Canadian set, without the color differentiation and with reduced text printed in both French and English.

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1962 Post
1962 Post
1962 Post

The 1963 set ceases the differentiation between the leagues and returns to a standard black serif font for the player names, The rest of the card uses a sans serif font, with the team name and position in all caps red. The card number is in red, prefixed by “No.”, and with three blue stars on each side, to center it above the player name. There are three blue stars on each side of the “MAJOR LEAGUE BATTING RECORD” or “MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHING RECORD” in the stat box.

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1963 Post

The “Laughing Bob” Trade

Undoubtedly following the example of my eleven year old brother Tony, I started collecting baseball cards in 1968 at six years of age. Since my brother was more knowledgeable in regards to which players were stars, he would try to hoodwink me into trading away players he coveted. For example, he was able to acquire Curt Flood and an Orlando Cepeda All-Star card for undoubtedly a bunch of scrubs. However, there is one transaction from the distance of nearly 50 years that stands out the most: Alvin Dark for Bob Tillman.

Obviously, this trade does not fall in the category of star player for scrub. In fact I’m not sure why my brother wanted the Indians manager and, since he is deceased, I will never know. The 1968 Bob Tillman features him hatless with the broad smile of someone in mid-laugh. tillman-backIn fact my brother emphasized this fact by convincing me that Tillman’s nickname was “Laughing Bob.” Also he pointed out on the back of the card that Bob had once played for the Seattle Rainiers in the Pacific Coast League. This geographical connection to the small, Central Washington town I grew in, coupled with the unique nickname, made an impression on me. But what sealed the deal was when my brother pointed out that Bob and I share the same birth date.

Perhaps my brother’s smug reaction or my realization that he continually took advantage of my naiveté in any number of situations soon brought on trader’s remorse. After pleading with him to reverse the deal, our confrontation turned physical. The resulting beat-down sent me running to my mom in tears. She didn’t know Al Dark from Harry Bright, but mom knew I had been cheated in some manner. Channeling her inner commissioner, she voided the trade in the best interest of household peace.

When my brother entered high school, he gave me all his baseball cards. I finally completed the 1968 set a few years ago and upgraded the condition of many of the cards including Dark and Tillman. But I specifically set aside the original two cards to serve as a reminder of that long ago transaction.

Incidentally, I had to smile when I purchased a 1961 Union Oil Seattle Rainiers set and discovered that Bob Tillman was amongst the featured players.

tillman-rainiers
1961 Union Oil Bob Tillman

 

 

Vada and Felipe

Mark Armour recently challenged us to write about our favorite common cards. For me, two cards from the 1971 Topps set immediately came to mind.

vada-pinsonGrowing up in Sacramento, the 1971 cards were really the first I collected and, as an Indians fan, my favorite player was Vada Pinson. To this day he remains one of my favorites. The 1971 Topps card shows him sliding into home against one of the greatest catchers of the era — Thurman Munson of the Yankees, wearing his Yankee cap, not a helmet, on his head. Totally old school. Plus I loved action shots as a kid and seeing your favorite player in that shot keeps it ingrained in your mind.

That year was Pinson’s second with the Indians and he had a small resurgence in his base stealing, nabbing 25 that year after stealing in the single digits the previous two years. Vada came up with the Reds, and in 1959 at age 20 led the National League in runs scored and doubles. He followed that up two years later by coming in third in the MVP voting, part of a decade-long run of stardom in Cincinnati. He ended his career with 2757 hits, just short of the magic number of 3000. 

I loved those old simple Indians uniforms. This card I think about more often than I probably should.

felipe-alouAnother card from that set I loved was this Felipe Alou, taking a full swing in those beautiful Oakland A’s uniforms, his number 8 showing for the camera. Just the color of that card was, and still is, mesmerizing. Alou moved around a lot when I was a kid, and he eventually landed with another of my favorite teams — the Montreal Expos — in 1973, their first decent team. Felipe will always have a special place in my heart, but this card is just flat out gorgeous.

The 1971 Topps set was the first that showed action photos as part of the regular player cards. There are many in this set I could choose, but Pinson and Alou are my choices. Both cards will remain in my memory forever.

1950s/1960s Oddballs: Spic and Span Milwaukee Braves

When the Milwaukee Braves moved to the midwest from Boston for the 1953 season, the local populace was ecstatic. From 1947 through 1952, thanks to the Milwaukee Brewers serving as the Triple-A affiliate for the Braves, the locals had already had the opportunity to learn the names of many of the Braves prior to their promotion to Boston. The move was an immediate financial success for the club — attendance went from 281,278 in Boston in 1952 to 1,826,397 in Milwaukee in 1953. It didn’t hurt that the Braves went from doormat to a second place finish.

As that attendance jump shows, the Braves captured the hearts of Milwaukee immediately that initial season. As detailed in the September 16, 1953 issue of The Sporting News, the players themselves received outpourings of monetary support from the fans. Wisconsin native Andy Pafko, for example, was quoted saying:

We never knew a player could have it so good. You know, the only thing we have to buy in the way of food is meat. The rest we get free–milk, cheese, butter, eggs, frozen vegetables, cookies and even bread.

These people just can’t do enough for you. The other day the fellow at the parking lot where I leave my car overnight came over and said: ‘I understand you’re Andy Pafko of the Braves. Park here any time you want to and it won’t cost you anything. I’m sorry I didn’t know who you were sooner.

It should come as no surprise, then, that multiple local companies sought to capitalize on the good feelings engendered by the team. One of those companies was Spic and Span Dry Cleaners. As checklisted in the 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, edited by the late Bob Lemke, Spic and Span issued multiple sets of photos and cards featuring the hometown Braves beginning in 1953 and ending in 1960. Included in this cavalcade of items were cards, photos, and postcards of various sizes and shapes. Here is a list of those issues:

1953 to about 1955: 3-1/4″ x 5-1/2″ cards, 29 total issued

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1953 Eddie Mathews, Courtesy of Bob Lemke’s Blog dated May 5, 2011

1953 to 1957: 7″ x 10″ black and white photos, 14 total issued

1954: 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ set of 13 cards

1954 to 1956: 4″ x 6″ postcards, 18 issued

1955: 7-1/2″ x 7″ die cut standups (the rarest set) of 18 total players

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1955 Die Cut Lew Burdette, from an auction on the Mears Auction Website, where a complete set sold in 2015 for $7,243

1957: 4 ” x 5″ cards with a total of 20 cards issued

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1957 Hank Aaron, from an auction in 2015 on the Greg Bussineau Sports & Rarities Website

1960: 2-3/4″ x 3-1/8″with a total of 26 cards issued

In addition to these cards, Spic and Span also used Braves players on other ephemera around their business. Specifically, in 2013, a paper dry cleaning bag came up for auction at Mears Auctions, and it sold for $92.

mears-auction

As the Braves started their decline in the 1960s before they bolted for Atlanta, Spic and Span and other local retailers lost their taste for being involved with the team. Though Milwaukee spent just four seasons without a major league team of its own — really two years if you count the games in 1968 and 1969 that the Chicago White Sox (with help from eventual Brewers owner and Commissioner Bud Selig) played in Milwaukee — Spic and Span was pretty much done with the baseball endorsement business.

As a postscript, despite being a national dry cleaning chain into the 1970s, Spic and Span barely exists with that name today. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cracked down on the dry cleaning industry because of its pollution of groundwater. The solvents that dry cleaners used were loaded with trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene — known, potent carcinogens that dry cleaners often just dumped out the back door. Today, Spic and Span is nearly gone, but its legacy lives on both in baseball memorabilia and far less exemplary areas.

My favorite common

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I have been contemplating writing a post on my favorite baseball card, thinking that it would lead to other people writing a post about their favorite baseball card, and so on.

The risk  of such an exercise is that every time someone runs a poll asking what the best baseball card is, the winner is the 1952 Mantle or the T206 Wagner or something. That’s well and good, but not what I am talking about. I not talking about the card you most want to own or most want to show off, I am talking about a card that reminds you of why you started collecting cards. So I thought I would restrict my criteria to “common” cards, or at least cards that you love for reasons other than their value. A card you can stare in order to teleport back to your childhood.

As it  happens, I have a lot of cards that meet this criteria. I will choose one, understanding that I might choose another next week.

Mike Andrews was the second baseman on my beloved childhood team, the late 1960s and early 1970s Red Sox. He was a very good player, a guy who got on base, had some power, and could field his position. He was not my favorite player, but he was one of them. There was a kid in my Connecticut neighborhood whose name was Mike Andrews, so this was *his* favorite player. Mine was Yaz, which was admittedly the safe choice.

This card though. My favorite cards then and now depict a player posing with a glove or bat under a bright blue sunny sky. Andrews is wearing the bright home uniform — because so many photos in this era were taken in New York, most players (other than Mets and Yankees) tended to be photographed in road grays.  (Happily, there were a handful of Red Sox cards that year taken at Fenway Park — George Scott, Joe Lahoud, Dick Schofield, a few others.  Those were always welcome.)

More than that, Andrews’ expression exudes confidence. As he was getting ready to embark on another season for my team, I needed to see this expression. It heartened me. He looked ready to take on all comers, even those overrated Orioles.

Just so I am not accused of being a Red Sox fanboy, another example I could have chosen is this beauty of Jerry Grote. I love posed catcher cards, and this again has the beautiful spring day thing going for it. And when I look at Campy, who always took beautiful cards, I am transported back to the summer I was six years old and fell in love with cards and the game.

grotejerry
1969 Topps
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1967 Topps

Electronic Checklists

Jeff Katz’s post a couple of days ago stirred me to my first blog here because he touched on a problem I’m facing: Organization.

I’ve been collecting since 1958, have almost all the cards of the Topps era, (until 1994 anyway) and some earlier material. However, I had always kept them in a giant map case I’d bought at a former British naval base in Singapore. The depth of the drawers was perfect for a standard-sized card laid on its side. More problematic at this point, I had decided to keep them in alphabetical order, with all the Henry Aarons first and all the George Zuverinks last. Each players cards are kept in chronological order.

Now, I feel the need to reorganize them into sets and to insure I still have everything. Thus, I’ve been wondering about electronic checklists and thought I’d ask this group about their experiences and recommendations with the various products available. I’d like to know about

  1. ease of use
  2. whether it is cloud-based or can be downloaded to my hard drive
  3. whether the checklists are complete as to errors, variations and updates
  4. Whether they contain regional issues as well as Topps, Donruss, Bowman and other national issues
  5. Whether any contain checklists for minor league sets
  6. Are any flexible enough for me to draw out sub-lists, such as all Henry Aarons, or all NY Mets cards
  7. Do they offer the ability to record condition as well as whether I have a card.
  8. Do they contain pricing info, and is it regularly updated?
  9. Any other features or problems you are aware of.

Thanks in advance,

Andy McCue

So you want to be a full-time sports card dealer?

The net 54 message board has been my go-to site for story ideas for years. In the past 15 years or so, many leading hobbyists have posted and often they have the best thoughts about this card collecting hobby.

This is an adaptation of one of the threads and discusses what you do when you are working full-time in the card-collecting business. At this point, we should stipulate there are more ways of being full-time in this business than as a card dealer. Those positions include helping to run a show such as the National, being involved in working at a grading company such as BGS or PSA, working for a card company or even working as a PR rep or other card-related position at an auction house.

But for approximately 99 percent of us, when we discuss being full-time in this business, we mean as a full-time card dealer. And frankly, what could seemingly be more fun that playing with, sorting, cataloging and selling sports cards on a day to day basis? Who among us would not want to be our own boss and set our own hours? Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but in reality, the existence is nothing like the dream.

Here are some of the aspects one has to consider in today’s world: Make sure you are active on eBay and prepare properly and ship all packages almost immediately. Make sure you are reasonably into technology so that you can scan those cards for posting.  Make sure you get financial advice from a trusted accountant or bookkeeper about keeping track of your finances.  Also remember, unless you live in a few selected areas such as New York, there are not many chances of setting up almost every weekend at a trade show.

To people such as me, one reason I loved starting the shows I run in Dallas-Fort Worth is being “old-school” — there is nothing quite as much fun as interpersonal communication in buying, selling or trading cards. And there is something special about building a rapport with people buying from you who share your interest.  I frankly enjoy discussing things like: What can you discover about 1960’s cards from tracing all the Cleveland Indians, or which Rangers player do you think has the best chance of becoming a Hall of Famer.

meyerAh, but nearly 30 years ago, the world was much different. In New Jersey, where I was at the time, there seemed to be a show or an auction almost every single day. I knew of at least 4-5 auction houses and a few dealers who ran weekday shows,  and there were a plethora of shows on most weekends.  In addition, the standard way of introducing yourself to potential mail-order customers was through publications such as Sports Collectors Digest (SCD) or Baseball Hobby News (BHN).

And. in those days, the definition of a “hit” was certainly different than today. In those days. our hits were usually the key Rookie Cards and if you opened 1985 or 1987 packs you were almost guaranteed of walking into a profit. Remember all those great rookies in those years? Heck, even rookie cards of people such as Mike Dunne or Joey Meyer had their day in the sun. So in those days, there were a lot more people in contact than there are 30 years later.

While I could write a lot more, the basic premise is that being full-time is an interesting proposition but not for everyone, especially those who prefer having a guaranteed income. No income is ever guaranteed when you run your own business so unless you are willing to take a risk, then just staying as a part-timer is the best way to go.

Rich Klein lives in Plano TX with his wife and 2 dogs and can be reached at Sabrgeek@aol.com