1976 SSPC: Three Cool Set Filler Cards

One of the things that’s unusual about the 1976 SSPC set…

Wait a minute, let me rephrase that…

One of many things that are unusual about the 1976 SSPC set is that the checklist is organized by team from card #1 (Buzz Capra, Braves) up through card #586 (Danny Murtaugh, Pirates). From #587 to #630, the cards are all over the place, and it’s not hard to imagine that they just filled out the set based on what photos they had available when they got to that point. There are combo cards which have checklists on the back, veterans who for some reason aren’t included with their teammates, managers and better-known coaches, and younger players (and Mets manager Joe Frazier) pictured in their minor league uniforms.

Anyone following along with my SSPC posts probably haven’t noticed, but I’ve been selecting players to feature based on their team’s position in the set. The last post featured members of the Indians, Mets and Pirates, and now we’re at the “free for all” at the end of the set, before I swing back around and chose players from the Braves, Reds and Astros at the beginning of the set.

Erskine Thomason is pictured with the Toledo Mud Hens, which at the time was the Phillies AAA team. This photo was taken at MacArthur Stadium in Syracuse (You can see the scoreboard behind him has “CHIEFS” as the home team). Someone associated with SSPC/TCMA was taking pictures in Syracuse, because my 1978 TCMA Tidewater Tides set features photos taken in the same ballpark.
Thomason made it to the Majors with the Phillies in 1974 and pitched just one scoreless inning… And that was his MLB career. He pitched against the Cubs and got Steve Swisher, Steve Stone and Rick Monday out in order. Thomason didn’t pitch after this card came out in 1976; he retired to spend time with his family after he was dropped from the 40-man roster.

You might be like me and wondering if Erskine was named after Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine.  I’m guessing the answer is “no”, given that Thomason was born during Carl Erskine’s rookie season, and Erskine is Thomason’s middle name (his first name is Melvin), so I think it’s more likely a family name than homage to a former 20-game winner.

Speaking of 20-game winners… Harvey Haddix was the pitching coach for the Indians in the 1970’s, but in the 1950’s and 1960’s he was a pitcher for the Cardinals, Phillies, Reds, Pirates and Orioles.
Haddix won 20 games in his rookie season of 1953 and lead the league with 6 shutouts… and yet finished second in Rookie Of The Year voting to the Dodgers’ Jim Gilliam.   On May 26, 1959 Haddix, while pitching for the Pirates, hurled 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves, only to lose the game in the 13th.  Lew Burdette pitched 13 innings for the Braves, gave up 12 hits with no walks and got the win.

Card #590 is a checklist card which features Keith Hernandez and Lou Brock hanging out at the batting cage.
Keith Hernandez is wearing #18 in this photo, which is a number he only wore in 1974 and 1975. In 1976 he switched to #37, which he wore until he was traded to the Mets.

As mentioned, Thomason is in Syracuse.  You can see the Shea scoreboard over Harvey Haddix’ shoulder, and the batting cage setting of the combo card is similar enough to Lou Brock’s solo card that I’ll go ahead and label that as Shea as well.
Shea: 69
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 12
Can’t tell: 20
Not Shea: 9

1970’s Census: Keeping track of all the instances of 1970’s trends
Sideburns for Thomason and Brock, long-ish hair for Hernandez… not a damn thing 1970’s about Harvey Haddix (except the uniform).
Total Cards: 109
1970’s Sideburns: 62
Fu Manchu: 4
Mustache other than Fu Manchu: 36
Afro: 2
Perm: 2
Aviators: 8
Long Hair: 27


5 thoughts on “1976 SSPC: Three Cool Set Filler Cards

  1. I thought I knew a bit about the SSPC set but I’m very surprised at the Hernandez/Brock card with the ‘name/number’ box on the front. I don’t recall seeing this style previously.

      • OK, makes sense. I looked the set checklist online. I wasn’t aware of some of the goofier cards in the higher numbers. I decided to bid on a few complete sets being offered.

  2. Wow, Hernandez looks young, which shouldn’t surprise me because he was. And here’s another stupid comment–my first reaction to Erskine Thomason was, he looks like Andy Kaufman:

    I mean a less maniacal Andy Kaufman.

  3. Pingback: 1976 SSPC #594: Carl Erskine, Ralph Branca & Pee Wee Reese (Checklist #6) | The Shlabotnik Report

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