This blog post is going to be a series of ‘mini-posts’ without any kind of theme or attempt to tie the cards together in any way other than “I acquired these cards these within the past year or two”.
We’ll start with this “1967 National League Home Run Leaders” card from 1968 Topps. Wanna guess why I got this?
It’s not because of Hank Aaron, although this did become my oldest standard-sized card to feature Hammerin’ Hank (only my 1964 Topps Giants card is older).
It’s not because I’m chasing HOFers or League Leader cards
It’s not even because I got bonked on the head and decided to collect cards which could easily be unlicensed (except for the slightest glimpse of the logo on Ron Santo’s cap).
Nope, this card is here because I decided I need to get serious about my Jim Wynn collection. Wynn was, you see, the first Major Leaguer I ever met… even though this painfully shy 11-year-old barely said two words to him.
And to be honest, I say that I’m getting serious about collecting Jim Wynn, as well as a few other vintage player collections I’ve started… but to be honest I don’t even know what else of Wynn’s I need at this stage. It’s not a problem right now because I have no shows or card shops to go to and I’m doing almost no card shopping online. Maybe later in the year I’ll get back to that, right now it’s all about organizing.
My collection includes 172 cards from the 1969 Topps Baseball set, which is the most of any vintage set I’m not actively chasing. A decent-sized chunk of that is my complete Seattle Pilots set, my nearly-complete Mets team set (curse you, Nolan Ryan!), three-quarters of an Orioles team set and assorted other cards that I’ve acquired over the years.
One thing I’ve noticed that’s odd about my 1969 accumulation is that almost every team is represented… but the only Detroit Tiger is this one:
“That’s really odd,” I thought, “I don’t have a single Tigers base card?” So I went and looked and yep… There are no Tigers cards which fall into any of various wantlists in any way at all, no cool photos, no interesting names, no former or future Mets – well, that’s not entirely true, there is Mickey Lolich who pitched one season for the Mets and who I will eternally resent because the Mets traded Rusty Staub for his washed-up ass.
As it is, this checklist hasn’t been in my possession all that long… I got it when I bought the small collection belonging to my friend’s brother-in-law.
So anyway, I started out thinking “I should go out and find a 1969 Tiger just to have one”, but I’m so underwhelmed by the options that I’m now taking an approach of “Eh, something will come my way sooner or later”. But I’m in no rush.
I generally don’t set proper goals for my collection, and its even more rare that I actually publish any… but I’m declaring a sort of anti-goal right now in that I’ve decided that I’m going to, for the most part, swear off online exclusive cards like this 2020-21 Topps 582 Montgomery Club card of the Mets’ Dominic Smith.
Well… OK, I might continue to collect a few that fall into the category of “Topps designs which were never used” just because that concept is pretty interesting… but I’m frankly good owning just the one card.
As for the design, it’s pretty undeniably Topps. I would guess it was an early version of what would become 1979 Topps, but that’s just a guess.
OK, one last vintage card… One modest goal I’ve added going forward is to pick up cards of those New York Mets who appeared on a 1960s card with another team during a season where he played for the Mets. A good example is this Harry Chiti card from 1962 Topps. Harry was purchased from the Indians early in the 1962 season and appeared in 15 games for the Mets.
He was sent back to the Indians in June and would spend the rest of his career in AAA. I’m tempted to put this card in my Mets binder as the plain black hat would fit right in with the cards of the expansion Mets, who were largely depicted without caps.
Chiti’s card lists him with Cleveland, but all of his time in the Cleveland organization was spent with AAA Jacksonville. The back of his card makes note of his November 1961 trade from Baltimore to Cleveland, but the Orioles kept him in AAA as well. I can’t even make a decent guess as to what uniform he’s wearing on this 1962 card. Probably the Tigers, as he appeared in 1961 Topps with Detroit, but it could also be the Kansas City Athletics.
It looked like catcher Harry Chiti might challenge Bob Oldis for most Topps cards produced with fewest At Bats in a big league career. But as it turned out, Chiti amassed 1495 major league ABs and Topps cards in six different seasons, while Oldis racked up less than 300 ABs despite having a Topps card in six seasons as well. For what it’s worth, Chiti made token appearances with the Cubs as a teenager (1950, 51 and 52), then spent two years in the military. Coming back in 1955, Chiti had no card until the following year, and was represented on a Topps card every season from 1956 thru 1962 — EXCEPT for the 1957 season, which was entirely spent with the Yankees’ AAA Richmond team. I guess having both Yogi Berra and Elston Howard to play catcher that season was sufficient for the Yankees as they made it to the World Series, losing to the Milwaukee Braves in seven games.
Thanks, Jeb! Very interesting stuff! I would think that Topps would be comfortable leaving Chiti out of the 1957 set knowing that he was blocked by both Berra and Howard
I can’t remember the first baseball player I’ve ever me. Actually… can’t even think of any ballplayer I’ve met. I’m sure I have, but my mind is blank. If I ever figure it out, I might have to create a small PC for them. Very cool that you remember your meeting with Wynn and you have a collection of his cards.
It would be years before I came close to another pro athlete, but it also helps that I have a photo of me with Jim Wynn. 😀
I’m assuming too then, that Jim didn’t disappoint that shy kid, hence the interest in collecting him?
Jim was very nice, I got his autograph and had my picture taken with him