I recently completed a vintage team set, something which had not been an intended project of mine until Sir Nick of the Dime Boxes sent me a 1960 Topps Brooks Robinson. Completing a 1960 team set frankly hadn’t been on my radar because… well, I’ll just come right out and say it, I’ve never been a fan of 1960 Topps. But, once I was handed the key card to a vintage team set, well, that just gave me a fun, achievable vintage projects to work on. Now that I’ve completed this team set, I will say I have a more favorable opinion of the set… but I’d still rank it towards the bottom of the 1960’s sets. Take what you can get, 1960 Topps fans.
When I write up these team set posts, I like to give an overview of the team itself, and this 1960 Orioles team turned out to be more interesting than I’d imagined. What was intended to be a single post kept getting longer and longer… and took more and more of my time… until I gave up and decided to break it in half and use the rest in a post early next week.
After six seasons of finishing in the bottom half of the American League, 1960 was the year that the O’s franchise turned a corner. The team lost 100 games in 1954, their first year in Baltimore, and during the following five years the best the team could do was finish with a .500 record (and still 21 games out of first).
In 1960 the young team, nicknamed the “Baby Birds”, surprised many by remaining in contention for the pennant for most of the season. After sweeping the Yankees in early September the Orioles had a 2 game lead over the Bronx Bombers, and they were in first place as late as September 9th, but a 4-game Yankee sweep in the Bronx in mid-September was the final straw. The Birds finished 89-65 and in 2nd place, 8 games behind the Yankees.
Paul Richards managed the O’s from 1955 to 1961 and put in two stints as manager of the White Sox, with over 20 years in between. He managed the Chisox from 1951 to 1954, and then again for a single season in 1976. On top of that, he was the original GM of the Colt .45’s. Lum Harris would replace him a the Orioles manager on September 1st, 1961
I’ve mentioned this before, but I like the design of the managers subset much more than the base player cards.
…And speaking of the players, the best on the team was, of course, Brooks Robinson. 1960 was the first of 15 consecutive seasons where Brooks was an All-Star and the first of 16 consecutive seasons where he won a Gold Glove.
Brooks lead the team in Runs (74), Hits (175), Doubles (27), Triples (9) and Batting (.294).
Some of you may be cringing a bit at the fact that this HOFer’s card has scotch tape on the front, but I honestly found it kind of liberating. It meant that condition wasn’t a huge concern for me, as long as the cards are all intact. You’ll see that some of these cards are creased or have pen marks on them… and I don’t care. I won’t be upgrading any of these unless nicer cards fall into my lap.
There was an Oriole in the starting lineup for the two 1960 All-Star games, but it wasn’t Brooks Robinson. That starting player would also be the 1960 A.L. Rookie Of The Year… I’ll let you chew on that for a minute while I run through the other Orioles All-Stars.
22-year-old Chuck Estrada went 18-11, pitched an inning in one of that year’s two all-star games, was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team and was the Sporting News’ AL Pitcher Of The Year (there was only one Cy Young Award given back then, and it went to the Pirates’ Vern Law). Estrada also tied for 2nd in 1960 Rookie of the Year voting in a year where all three players who got votes were Orioles.
Estrada would lead the A.L. in wins and would lead the team in innings pitched (narrowly beating out Milt Pappas) and Strikeouts (144). Estrada’s career was eventually derailed by elbow issues.
The 3rd Orioles All-Star was Jim Gentile, who had been acquired from the Dodgers during Spring Training. Gentile was the player who tied with Estrada in ROY voting.
With the Dodgers, Gentile had been blocked by Gil Hodges at first. Once he was able to play full-time, he showed that he belonged by leading the team with 98 RBI, a .500 Slugging Percentage and a .403 On-Base Percentage. In 1961 Gentile would have a monster year and lead the league with 141 RBI.
That Oriole who started for the American League in the two All-Star games? That would be the 1960 A.L. Rookie Of The Year Ron Hansen, who lead the team with 22 homers and became one of the key players on the team.
Hansen would have a solid 15-year career, but after starting those two 1960 All-Star games, he’d never be named to another All-Star team as a starter or a reserve.
Hall-Of-Famer Hoyt Wilhelm appeared in 41 games, had an 11-8 record and got 7 saves to lead the team in the unofficial stat. Something I didn’t know: He’d received a Purple Heart for injures he sustained during WWII, and played with a piece of shrapnel in his back
37-year-old Wilhelm was used mainly as reliever, yet also had one of the team’s 10 shutouts.
Outfielder Willie Tasby would not last the year with the Orioles, being traded to the Red Sox in June for outfielder Gene Stephens, but I like the All-Star Rookie subset too much to leave this card out.
I’M IN AN EXPANSION STATE OF MIND…
Because of my “1961 Mets Prequel” project, I’ve become focused on guys who played for the 1962 Mets or any of the other three early 1960’s expansion teams.
Gene Woodling was selected from the Orioles by the “new Senators” in the late 1960 expansion draft, and in 1962 would be purchased from the Sens by the Mets.
Woodling, who played several years for the O’s, would be named to the Orioles Hall Of Fame in 2002.
Joe Ginsberg was also a 1962 Met, but in between he had been released by the O’s, the White Sox and the Red Sox.
This is the one card I’ve upgraded as part of the project; at the same time Dime Box Nick sent me the Brooks Robinson, he also sent me this card of “Poor Joe Ginsberg” (FYI, the writing is on a pennysleeve, not on the actual card).
You can’t blame me for upgrading this one, but I did hang on to the “Poor” version. It’s funny, but every time I see a card of Joe Ginsberg I think of him as “Poor Joe Ginsberg”.
COMBO CARD #1
I initially thought I’d completed the team set over the summer, but then realized that I was missing this combo card which wasn’t flagged as “Orioles” in my database because it also features Roy Face of the Pirates.
The card isn’t framed very well, because you can see that each player is demonstrating his grip, but the design of the card keeps us from seeing those grips.
Face was famous for his forkball, and Hoyt Wilhelm for his knuckle ball. Face had an astonishing 18-1 record as a reliever in 1959, and much to my surprise is my height (5’8”). I might need to start collecting sub-5’10” pitchers like Face and Bobby Shantz… But that’s neither here nor there.
Billy Gardner would manage the Twins from 1981 (replacing John Goryl mid-season) to 1985 (being replaced mid-season by Ray Miller). He also managed the Royals for most of 1987 season, before being replaced by John Wathan down the stretch.
Gardner didn’t play for the O’s in 1960, having been traded to the Senators on April 3rd.
Normally I would pick out one cartoon, but many of the cartoons in this set were drawn by Jack Davis, who is well known for his work on Mad Magazine as well as his many magazine covers, movie posters (Bad News Bears) and even album covers (One I can think of is “The Greatest of The Guess Who”, which depicted the band as a celebrating hockey team)
It’s interesting that two of the cartoons in this team set – Joe Ginsberg and Milt Pappas – highlight the player’s interest in bowling.
I like this cartoon on the back of Gus Triandos’ card just because it nicely captures how well Jack Davis does sports images. The style is very Jack Davis, but it also highlights how well he captures action.
As I’d mentioned, Hoyt Wilhelm was a knuckleballer; this cartoon illustrates that (but takes a few liberties)
This cartoon from Jim Gentile’s card is just… bizarre… But that’s why I like it.
No caption needed for this Walt Dropo cartoon… Well, in the sense that it’s a bizarre image with or without the caption.
Finally, this is the image from the bottom of the reverse of the combo cars
As I mentioned before, I’ll have more on this team set and this team in the next post.