I recently acquired several cards that have long been targets of mine, but I wouldn’t call them “white whales” because their acquisitions weren’t preceded by an Ahab-like obsession… Especially given that my last few years of collecting have been more “Bright Shiny Object” than “steely determination”. Given that the cards in this post have been long-term objectives that I pursued only when I remembered to, I refer to them as White Koi instead of White Whales.
I’ll start off with a card from 1970 that I didn’t realize was a need for the longest of times… As a Mets fan, I thought I had long ago finished off the 1970 Topps subset for the 1969 playoffs and World Series. Unfortunately, getting my collection organized helped to shatter a few of my delusions, because I found – much to my surprise – that I was missing this “Mets Celebrate” card.
And then to complicate matters I found that it wasn’t a common, because one of the Mets featured happens to be a young pitcher named Nolan Ryan… and that’s probably why it escaped my attention in the first place – I didn’t expect to find these cards in the star boxes at a show. I’d been keeping an eye out for a cheaper copy to spend my COMC revenue on, and when this one popped up I grabbed it.
The second White Koi is a vintage hockey card. Now, for the most part I focus my hockey collecting on the 1970’s and some of the 1980’s, but there’s one vintage hockey set that I just flat-out love love love: 1954/55 Topps Hockey. As it’s 60 years old and didn’t sell at anywhere near the volume of baseball or football, they’re quite a bit more scarce, and more expensive. Even commons are fairly pricey. Still, I loved the look of the set so much that I made a fairly persistent search for a card or two which would fit in my budget.
…And then I found this card for under $5:
This design is so simple, yet so evocative of hockey… You’ve got the painted “action shot” with a white “ice” background and team logo, while down at the bottom you’ve got a representation of the red line and blue lines. BTW, these cards are “standard 1952-56 Topps” sized (or 8-pocket sized, however you think about it).
Here’s the equally attractive back (FYI the top was chopped off by the scanner):
I’m not a Rangers fan, but I grew up in a Rangers household… My father was a die-hard fan, my older brother followed in his footsteps, but I was the black sheep… but my father was OK with it as long as I didn’t like the Islanders either. Now that I’m older, I find that even though I didn’t root for the Rangers growing up, I’m still very aware of many of the players and the team’s history, so many cards featuring the Broadway Blueshirts score high in the nostalgia factor.
My father, were he here to ask, could undoubtedly share some stories about Mr. Ronty. Through Googling and looking at stats and images of other cards I found that he was a fast skater, an accurate shot, a two-time all-star, was the Rangers MVP in 1952/53, sold insurance during the summer (thank you, 1954/55 Parkhurst!) and was often among the league scoring leaders.
You look at his point totals for his top seasons, you see 59 points, 54 points, 46 points, and you think “That was among the league leaders?” But then you look at the Top 10 in scoring from these seasons and there’s a major “Yes, but…” involved. Case in point: Ronty was 6th in scoring in 1952/53 with 54 points, BUT Gordie Howe lead the league with 95 points (49 goals, 46 assists). Gordie’s teammate Ted Lindsay was second with 71, Maurice “Rocket” Richard was third with 61, and then the ensuing dropoff is more along the lines of what you’d expect. To put things even more into perspective, Gordie Howe’s 96 points doesn’t even get him into the top 200 all-time… A fun little discovery of how much better than most of his peers Gordie Howe was, and how much the game has changed since then.
These next two cards come as a sort of matched set, and they’re not as white koi-ish as the others because I’d only been after them for the past 2 years or so…
I don’t usually seek out parallels, but this pair intrigued me. On the left is the 2014 Heritage black border parallel, and on the right is the short-printed base card… The base card looks washed out because of my poopy scanner.
…But the black bordered card isn’t *exactly* a parallel, is it? Not only do we get an insight into the tiny bit of photoshopping that Topps did (The “t” in Mets, plus blue pinstripes), but it also makes me wonder if the parallels are printed earlier, or if they just don’t bother updating the parallels. For the record, all of Granderson’s parallels show him with the Yankees, but I opted for the non-shiny black parallel. Does anybody know of any other non-updated parallels?
The final card is one I’ve had on my want list since 1979…Although, obviously, it hasn’t been the highest of priorities.
This card is not a 1979 Topps card; that set shows Pete Rose with the Reds. Nope, this is a 1979 Burger King Phillies card; The 22-card set features a few updates to the regular Topps set, and Pete Rose is the biggest name by far among the updates. These cards aren’t excessively expensive but they’re kind of like Mother’s Cookies cards in that they don’t really show up in shows where I live. I ended up keeping a watch on COMC, and… like a broken record here… I pounced when I saw one for just over a buck.