This is the latest in a series on an ongoing project, a “Dead Parrot” Frankenset which features cards of NHL and WHA teams which are no more, which have ceased to be (as in the line from the Monty Python “Dead Parrot” sketch). The Frankenset consists of a binder containing 44 sheets and the goal is to have it filled with cards numbered from 1 to 396, with each slot filled with a card featuring a hockey team that has gone to meet its maker.
This one is a “Special Edition” post which is about revisiting hockey cards which are already in my collection.
This post came about because Joe13, a regular commenter on this blog, asked why he never saw any Cleveland Barons cards in my Dead Parrot posts.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the NHL’s Cleveland Barons, I wrote up an overview of the team’s brief history several years ago. For this post, I’ll give you a quick summary: The NHL Barons came into existence when the California Golden Seals moved to Cleveland during the summer of 1976. The move did not get officially approved until August, which was too late for Topps to work into the 1976-77 hockey set.
At the time O-Pee-Chee went to print later than Topps did, so that set listed players as the Cleveland Barons… but the photos either show a player in their Seals uniforms or airbrushed into plain white jerseys.
1977-78 Topps and O-Pee-Chee hockey were the only set to feature the Barons and their uniforms.
The team struggled in Cleveland and merged with the also-struggling Minnesota North Stars after the 1977-78 season. This time around there was time to airbrush players into North Stars uniforms and that was the end of the Barons for Topps and O-Pee-Chee.
OK, so let’s get back to the Dead Parrot binder…
When I started this Dead Parrot project, it was one of five hockey projects I’d hoped to work on. The other four were my “Photobombing Capitals” project, which features cards where my favorite childhood team made an appearance on other players’ cards, as well as set builds for the three Topps hockey sets I’d chased as a kid… 1977-78, 1978-79 and 1979-80. My intent was to keep these projects separate, so I initially didn’t include cards from those three sets in the Dead Parrot binder.
I eventually abandoned the 1979-80 chase because I am missing the Wayne Gretzky rookie and the idea of completing the set isn’t anywhere near important enough to me to drop a large chunk of change on that bad boy.
After Joe13’s question, I looked through my binders and started to re-think the effort to complete those other sets. I almost never see vintage hockey at card shows; Where I live there’s just no interest in them. Chasing a set completely through online resources isn’t as much fun for me. At any rate, I’m having much more fun with the Dead Parrot project than I would chasing sets.
I finally decided that I would keep chasing after the 1978-79 set and keep those separate from the Dead Parrot binder – at least for now – but I would give up on the 1977-78 set and see which cards might move into the Dead Parrot binder.
A fair chunk of the Barons from this set were just head shots and you can’t see much of the uniform, so many of them weren’t as interesting as the cards already in the Dead Parrot binder.
A fair number of cards from several teams *did* move over, and I decided to share them here. Just to be clear, this post is not going to be the typical “Challenger/Defender” format. All of the cards which moved over either faced a weak defender, or none at all. I’m just going to list the cards new to the binder and make some comments about them.
1977-78 Topps #109 – Gilles Meloche
Although this isn’t a great photo by any standard, it’s one of my personal favorite Barons cards. This one replaces a 1974-75 Topps head shot of the Seals’ Jim Neilson.
1977-78 Topps #183 – Barry Dean
This card replaces a 1990-91 Topps Whalers card
1977-78 Topps #204 – Alex Pirus
This card replaced a 1992-93 Upper Deck card of the Whalers’ Pat Verbeek
1977-78 Topps #238 Steve Jensen
This card went into an empty slot (but did not complete the page)
1977-78 Topps #252 Nelson Pyatt
This card replaces a 1990-91 Pro Set Nordiques card
1977-78 O-Pee-Chee #343 – Dave Hudson
This Dead Parrot with a photobombing Capital bumps a 1984-85 Topps card, also with a Photobombing Capital, from one project to another.
1977-78 O-Pee-Chee #384 – Len Frig
A checklist would show this card’s team as the St. Louis Blues, which is not a “Dead Parrot” team, but the photo shows Len Frig in a Cleveland Barons uniform. This card replaced a 1990-91 Topps card of Joe Sakic; despite Sakic being a far better player than Len Frig, trust me, there was no competition here.
This card also updated Page 43, which is dominated by 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee Winnipeg Jets.
And so, to wrap up… We added one card to the total, completed no new pages and that puts us at 327 out of a possible 396 cards (82.6%) and 17 completed pages out of 44 total pages (38.6%).