I’ve been spending the past month or so getting my hobby ducks in a row. In addition to organizing and cleaning up my physical collection, I’ve also been organizing and cleaning up the various scans of cards on my laptop. In both cases, I had spent too long in a constant headlong rush into everything, leaving disorganization and clutter in my wake. This post is one which has been planned for months, and I’m just now organized enough to get to it.
Back over the summer – July, I think – I went to a regional card show, and what ended up being the highlight of the show for me was a dimebox that didn’t look like much at first glance, and which smelled to high heaven like someone’s dank basement. I’m a bit sensitive to mold, and I’ve been known to just walk right past boxes of cards if they’re overly musty, but once I started poking through this one I realized it was a form of ODDBALL HEAVEN and I plowed right through it with a smile on my face, smell be damned.
So what kind of oddballs are we talking about?
We’re talking TCMA… a lot of TCMA, to be honest. There were cards from the 1979 “The 1950’s” set… This card features former Yankee great Tommy Henrich.
Henrich just barely qualifies for a set called “The 1950’s”, as the five-time All-Star played his last game in 1950.
The bulk of my purchases came from the TCMA “The 1960’s” set, which is much more in my ballpark, pun slightly intended. This one is of slugger Mike Epstein in his glorious Washington Senators uniform.
I know that emulating the 1953 Bowman set was a recurring thing for TCMA, with both of these TCMA sets and the 1976 SSPC set going in that same direction, but I have to say I prefer having some sort of visual clues on the front regarding which player we’re looking at and what set this is… which is clear enough from the back of the card, but I like having a design on the front.
…but despite that, I’ve really grown to appreciate these cards over the years. I used to think of them as little better than filler, but now that I’ve gained a better appreciation for the players of the 1950’s and 1960’s – not to mention the uniforms and ballparks as well – and these cards have become a much more appreciated part of my collection.
…And the funny thing is, it’s not about the HOFers. Oh, sure, it’s fun to get an affordable Roberto Clemente, but I get just as much enjoyment out of cards featuring some obscure New York Mets player or anyone wearing a Houston Colt .45’s uniform.
While TCMA did make up a large percentage of the cards, there were also the similarly-themed Pacific Legends cards.
…and who doesn’t like cards of Don Mossi? I have to admit that I sometimes feel a bit guilty that I collect Mossi solely because of his distinct appearance.
There were also cards from Action Packed, but only a few. I scoffed at these in the 1990’s, and I still think the embossing is too gimmicky, but I like the photos they use. In my scan it’s a little hard to read the name on the bottom, but this is Cesar Cedeno.
Between the Colt .45’s, the “Shooting Star” Astros uniforms of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, and the “Tequila Sunrise” uniforms as shown here, the Astros had a tremendous sartorial start to their existence… It’s a pity that nothing they’ve had since then has been quite as appealing or memorable.
There were also a couple of cards from the short-lived Ted Williams Card Company. I find those cards to be a mixed bag, but as a long-time fan of the book “Ball Four”, I can’t bypass any cards of Jim Bouton.
One interesting thing about this photo is that it appears that the digit on his back is either an 8 or a 3… but Bouton famously wore #56 for most of his career. If I remember correctly – it’s been a number of years since I last re-read Ball Four – he was assigned 56 going into Spring Training and even when he made the team he kept the number to always remind himself that he wasn’t expected to make the team. I suppose this photo could be from a prior Spring Training when he was assigned a different high number and didn’t make the cut.
I’m going to feature one last card, and one which is of a pair that greatly surprised me. Now paying a dime for a 1973 Topps card is a pretty decent bargain to start with, and I collect Bill Virdon anyway, but this card is potentially even more of a bargain.
It’s relatively small, but check out Virdon’s jersey: This card is autographed! I’m far from an expert on this type of thing, but in comparing the signature to authentic ones out on the internet, it at least looks like it could be legit. Like I said, I’m a Virdon collector anyway, so even if it’s a fake it’s still a fun addition to my collection.
I’ve got another Pirate autograph on a 1974 Topps card, but I’ll save that for another post.
…And obviously, since I called this post “Part 1”, there will be more of these. I had so much fun going through this dime box that (hopefully) I’ll be able to express my enjoyment for a while. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.