Vintage Cheaper Than Heritage, May 2014, Part 1

You’ve gotta love vintage cards for a quarter a piece.  That’s what I ran into when I was at a card show recently, a bunch of 1970 Topps for 0.25 each… That works out to be $2.25 for 9 of them, which is cheaper than a wax pack of 2014 Heritage.  True, you don’t get any inserts for your $2.25, but you also don’t get any “The Sound Of Music” Flashback cards.

1970 Topps is one of those sets that I’m not really attempting to complete, but I still buy up as much as I can find within my financial limitations.  …I need to figure out a pithy name for this type of collecting.

Anyhoo, here are the first 5 cards from my lot:

I didn’t know anything about Dave Watkins before getting this card, so I looked him up.
1970 Topps Dave Watkins
Dave Watkins was the Phils’ primary backup catcher in 1969. I wasn’t completely surprised to find that Watkins’ Major League career was already over by the time this card came out. What did surprise me is that his professional career was also over… He didn’t appear in a Major or Minor league game after 1969, even though he was just 25 in 1969. I can’t find any online documentation regarding why he hung ’em up at a relatively early age… The Mystery that is Dave Watkins…


This was probably the biggest “hit” out of my cheap 1970’s.
1970 Topps Don Kessinger AS
…and I’ll admit that I can’t really think of anything witty or enlightening to say, so I’ll just move on.


To me, Hal Lanier is the guy who managed the Astros in the late 1980’s, as well as the guy who was in my 1974 Topps set as a Yankees infielder, even though I never saw him play (1973 was his last year in the Majors, 1974 was my first year as a baseball fan).
1970 Topps Hal Lanier
Lanier played 10 years in the majors, many of them as the starting second baseman or shortstop for the Giants. He seems to be the stereotypical middle infielder of the time; good fielding percentage, somewhere less than good batting average.

Hal’s father Max pitched for 14 years in the Majors and made two All-Star teams.


When I was a kid, Jim Rooker was a member of the Pirates’ starting rotation. I completely missed his time as a Royal.
1970 Topps Jim Rooker
The Yankees purchased Rooker from the Tigers in September, 1968… Two weeks later, he was taken by the Royals in the expansion draft. I wonder if the Yankees were disappointed to lose him, or if they got him looking for “draft fodder”.

A Jim Rooker story I’d forgotten about: He was a broadcaster for the Pirates, and on 6/8/89, in the last game of a short road trip, the Pirates took a 10-0 first inning lead in Philadelphia. Rooker made an off-hand comment that he’d walk home if the Pirates lost. Little did he know that the Phillies would come back to win 15-11. The next day, he found out that people remembered the comment, and a couple of days after the season ended he did a charity walk from Veterans Stadium to Three Rivers Stadium.

Additional evidence of how unusual that Phillies comeback was: Steve Jeltz hit two homers in that game. Those two homers accounted for 40% of Jeltz’s home runs over his entire 727 game, 8 year career.


The Toy Cannon!
1970 Topps Jim Wynn
Jim Wynn was the first Major Leaguer I ever saw up close and in person, and the first autograph I ever got. He seemed huge to me at the time, but he was 5’10”. He was very nice, but I was very intimidated by meeting a real live guy from one of my baseball cards. Of course, I was extremely shy at that age and I was pretty much intimidated by everyone who wasn’t a family member or friend.

Jim Wynn lead MLB with 148 walks in 1969… That’s the kind of stat that never seems to make it on to a Topps “League Leader” card.

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9 thoughts on “Vintage Cheaper Than Heritage, May 2014, Part 1

  1. I do the same thing with the 70 set . Have no plans on completing it. I have my Sox set but buy other cards when the price is right

  2. Apropos of nothing…. my younger brothers always called Don Kessinger “Cubby Cub’. I have no idea why.

    I saw a bunch of Astros games at Shea in 1969. I’d like to think I was there the day Jim Wynn posed for that card. Again, I have no idea why.

  3. I’m a Cubs fan so I’ll comment on Kessinger. Jack Brickhouse always used to talk about Don’s “boardinghouse reach”. The other thing is Kessinger’s, to me, curious absence from any current Cubs events. He seems to be the only core member of the ’69 era Cubs who’s never around. I’m not even sure he was at Ron Santo’s funeral.

  4. Pingback: Vintage Cheaper Than Heritage, Part 2 | The Shlabotnik Report

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