“So THAT’S Where…”: 1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball

…Another installment in the “So THAT’S Where That Was!” Series…

When I first got into baseball and baseball cards – and for me, they were simultaneous occurrences – I was the proverbial sponge.  One of my favorite books at the time was a large hardcover book called “The Story Of Baseball”. It covered the sport from it’s beginnings through 1973, and I learned a lot about the sports early days from that book.

I also learned a fair amount from a card set that I now realize was my first oddball set:  1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball.
1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball Jake Daubert
Pioneers of Baseball is a small set of slightly oversized cards, each featuring a notable figure from baseball in the 19th century and early 20th century. There are 28 cards in the set, and while the cards are standard width, they’re a half-inch taller than standard… Just big enough to be a problem.

The fact that they were just slightly larger than standard was part of the reason mine were misplaced for 20-30 years… I put them in a particular box because I didn’t know what else to do with them, and over the years I forgot about that box.
1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball Buck Ewing

My scanner makes the cards seem a little lighter than they really are… The borders look sort of bronze in the scans, but they’re closer to milk chocolate in color.

The backs of the card featured a write-up on the “Pioneer’s” career.
1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball Buck Ewing back

These cards were part of a long-running mystery for me. Being that they were in my collection from very early on, I knew I wouldn’t have gotten rid of them… And yet I had no freakin’ clue where they were.  I had faith that they’d show up sooner or later, but in terms of organizing my collection, it ended up being more “later” than “sooner”.
1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball Roger Bresnahan

…But with one mystery solved, another one presented itself.  When I was researching the set for this post, everything I saw indicated that they came in a pack that was marketed as “Baseball Patches”, and each pack contained one team pennant cloth sticker and one Pioneers card. The thing is, while I remember having these cards, I do not remember getting these cards,  nor do I remember any of my friends having any.  Neither the “Baseball Patches” wrapper nor the cloth stickers look all that familiar to me.  If your curious about the box, wrappers and stickers, you can see them over at The Fleer Sticker Project.

1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball John McGraw

I wonder if these cards might have been sold in different packaging after the fact (i.e. several cards in a pack, without a sticker), or maybe in some sort of repackaging… it did happen sometimes with unsold cards in the 1970’s, but it wasn’t like the repacks of today… it was more like “let’s repackage the unsold stuff in our warehouse and call them Baseball Fun Packs!”.

1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball Three Finger Brown

Now that I’ve found these cards, I see that they fit pretty nicely in 6-pocket sheets, like you’d use for “Tall Boy” cards (or, in my case, 1961 Topps Sports Cars).  I’m thinking I might use this opportunity to do a bit of reorganizing and create a “1970’s Oddballs” binder for this set, Kellogg’s, Hostess, Topps Supers and the like.

1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball Mike Kelly

The funny thing about this set — for me, anyway — is that even though it was one of the earliest sets I collected, I don’t love it.  It has a lot of significance for me, the photos are interesting and I like it OK… but even though I’ve got 19 of the 28 cards, I didn’t instantly think “Oh, I HAVE TO finish this set.”

…And it’s not that I wouldn’t make an effort to complete this set, more that it’s such a low priority in the grand scheme of things that the needed cards would pretty much have to fall into my lap.

1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball Ned Hanlon

I guess it all comes down to my gradually losing interest in the history of baseball prior to the Expansion Era.  I suspect that a large part of that comes from the tendency among National League fans in the New York area (I grew up on Long Island) is to compartmentalize the history of the game a bit… One doesn’t like to talk about the love that left them, only about the one in their life now.

1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball Old Hoss Radbourn

Regardless of how I feel, it’s certainly an unusual set, and it fits pretty much any definition you might have of “oddball”.

1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball Eddie Collins

Does anybody else have any of these cards? 

Does anybody remember buying these in the 1970’s?


14 thoughts on ““So THAT’S Where…”: 1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball

  1. I have a bunch of these. I also still have some of the patches. Actually have more patches then cards. I don’t remember the packs thou. I do remember I got them at the pharmacy my mother worked at ( my source for cards as a kid ).. So they must have been packs. They never had any kind of rack. Have a few football ones too

    • I have never done this before so i hope i am doing what i am supposed to do. I am trying to find out when these Fleer cloth team logo decals were made, etc.. I recently acquired some of these and think i might try to put a set together. I have 3 different types, banners with team banner only 1-3/4 x 3-1/4, square with non-removeable logo and square with a round removable logo 2-1/2 x 3-1/4. If anyone can shed any light on these i would appreciate it. Also, If you have any you would like to sell that i can afford i would really appreciate the help. Old, retired and tight budget. Hope you understand my friend’s. As well as football, there are basketball ones also.
      Thanks you’ll for your time.
      Henry Thomas

  2. I think I have one or two of these in my collection back in the States. Other than for my type collection, I didn’t think very much about many of the “historical” oddball sets issued in the past few decades. But lately I’ve had a growing interest in some of them. This one came up because some of the players here have pretty much no other modern cards. It would be great if a TCMA/CMC/’70s Fleer type of company came around again to revisit some of those long-forgotten stars of early baseball.

  3. I’ve always liked this set; any set that shines a light on forgotten subjects of days long gone by is a-ok in my book. However, they do kill me with the odd sizing as well; totally screws with my OCD.

  4. For those who may remember or have visited, there was a nice collectibles store located in the parking area in front of Doubleday Field in Cooperstown … In the 1970s into the 1980s this shop used to sell all sorts of these R. G. Laughlin cards along with many other oddball cards and sets for very low / reasonable prices, of which this set was one … It would be hard to find all that many who still hold these sets but they were nicely produced and were good for those interested in the early years of the game.

  5. It’s surprising that I completely missed these as a kid growing up in the ’70s. I had just about every oddball set registered thanks to various print advertising. (I’ve since acquired the Daubert card).

  6. My first non-Orioles related card project was trying to collect a card of every Hall of Famer. Withing about 10 minutes of dreaming this up I found that even at the prices of the day (1985ish) it would be impossible to acquire career-era cards of many of them. I started doing the next best thing and picking up ‘modern’ cards of the old timers…those Fleer Greats and such. I had a couple of these Pioneers cards although I can’t remember which ones. I’m sure they are stuck in a box somewhere, probably ruined by the old toxic PVC 8 pocket sheets I used for them.

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