The Show Wasn’t The Best, But The Cards Were SUPER!

A little over a month ago I went to a regional card show… now, in an ideal world I would’ve bought a weekend pass and spent much of my Saturday and Sunday there.  For a number of reasons, I was limited to just the one day, and about 3 hours in total… which might seem like plenty to you, but it’s a pretty good sized show and I only get to go once or twice a year, so 3 hours isn’t much.

On top of that, my favorite dealer, who has a very fun bargain vintage box, wasn’t there.  I didn’t achieve the goals I went in with, but I still did OK, because I found two different dealers with 1970 and 1971 Topps Super Baseball cards!

I got enough Super cards that I decided to split them into two posts;  this time around it’ll be cards from the 42-card 1970 set, starting with Tigers 30-game winner Denny McLain:

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Supers, they were issued for two years and are roughly double the size of a standard baseball (3 1/8″ x 5 1/4″).  They’re also many times the thickness of a regular baseball card, which makes them feel substantial in your hand.  They were sold in wax packs that – if I remember correctly – contained 3 cards and a stick of bubble gum for the price of 10 cents.

The backs  were largely identical to the same player’s standard-sized cards, but with a different card number and spaced a little differently.

Since these cards are oversized, they’re not everybody’s cup of tea… but I love oversized cards, and the dealers at this show were selling these Supers for a buck or two each.  As you would expect for that price, none of them are candidates to be sent into a grading service, and there weren’t any Roberto Clemente or Willie Mays cards, but for $1 or $2 a pop, I will buy these all day.

It takes a giant-sized card to feature 6’7″ Frank Howard!  I wonder if he was bigger relative to the players of his day than Aaron Judge is to current players…  I mean, shortstops were still short back then…

Ron Santo shows off the Cubbies sleeve patch in use at the time (one which needs to be brought back).

Tony Oliva strikes a pose… In 1970 Oliva was nearing the end of a string of 8 consecutive All-Star appearances, starting with his 1964 A.L. Rookie Of The Year season.

The recently departed Willie McCovey, who at the time was coming off his MVP 1969 season.  In that season, Stretch accomplished something you don’t see these days:  In addition to leading the league in homers (45) and RBI (126), he also lead the league with a .453 on-base percentage.  Sure, that was aided by a league-leading 45 intentional walks, but he also struck out just 66 times.  Sixty-six! It’s too much for me to take in… Oh my, I do believe I’m getting the vapors.

Bill Freehan might only get appreciated by Tigers fans these days, but he was an 11-time All-Star, 5-time Gold Glove winner and a 1968 World Champion.

The card is not missing the lower-left-hand corner;  that was a scanning issue that I didn’t catch until I was writing this post, and by then it would’ve been too much hassle to rescan.  I hope you can forgive me.

Wrapping up with Carl Yastrzemski posing in the Yankee Stadium batting cage.  Yaz was just a couple of years removed from winning the Triple Crown in 1967 and like McCovey he also lead the league in OBP while leading the league in traditional power stats.

These cards, like the 1970 Topps Super Football set, are casual pursuits for me;  I’m content to just acquire them as I run across them, and maybe some point in the future I’ll turn it into a full-blown set chase.

Fast Five: Seattle Pilots

I was already behind in just about everything hobby-related I’m trying to do, and just to complicate things further, I got my Black Friday shipment from COMC two days ago… You’ll see those before too long, but for now it’s five arbitrarily-chosen cards featuring everybody’s favorite one-and-done franchise, the Seattle Pilots.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Pilots, here’s a quickie-quick history:  They were a 1969 expansion team which had financial difficulties which got so bad that the team was entertaining offers from groups in Milwaukee and Dallas.  Towards the end of Spring Training the team was sold and became the Milwaukee Brewers.  Because of the last-minute nature of the move, the team appears in the 1970 Topps set as the Pilots, even though every 1970 regular season game was played as the Brewers.

Diego Segui is famous for having been the only player to suit up for both the Seattle Pilots and the Seattle Mariners. He pitched for three ‘extinct’ teams: The Pilots, the Kansas City Athletics and the Washington Senators.

Although this 1970 card shows Segui with the Pilots, he wasn’t among those who made the move to Milwaukee; he had been traded to the A’s in December, 1969 and would lead the league in 1970 with a 2.56 ERA.

Jerry McNertney spent 11 years in the White Sox organization before being taken by the Pilots in the expansion draft.  I’m thinking those black and red shin guards he’s strapping on are White Sox leftovers, and this photo is from 1969 Spring Training (I think the fairly basic “PILOTS” jersey is another indication of that)

By my own quickie research, McNertney was one of only three players to appear in both 1969 and 1970 Topps in a Pilots uniform (rather than airbrushed, capless or with another team). The other two were Marty Pattin and John Kennedy.

1970 Topps Super card! Tommy Harper lead the league in both stolen bases and caught stealing in 1969.

He also put in time at 2nd, 3rd and all three outfield positions. In 1970 with the Brewers, he’d make his only all-star team.

Ted Kubiak never played for the Pilots in a regular season game, only in 1970 Spring Training. He came to the team in the trade that sent Diego Segui to Oakland.

In 1970, Kubiak played 158 games splitting time between second and short for the Brewers.  After stops with the Cardinals and Rangers, he’d make his way back to Oakland and appear in the postseason in 1972 and 1973.

Joe Schultz was the manager of the Pilots in the 1969 season, but he would be replaced by Dave Bristol for the 1970 season.

Schultz would be a coach with the Royals and Tigers, and in 1973 would manage the Tigers for 28 games after Billy Martin was fired. One of these days I’m going to figure out just how many people there have been who held the job title “Interim manager after Billy Martin was fired”.

Hope Everyone’s Having A (Topps) Super Weekend!

The oversized Topps Super cards from 1970 and 1971 were on my shopping list the last time I went to a show, and also during a couple of COMC shopping sprees. I love oversized cards, and these can be found cheap, especially if condition isn’t a major concern.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Topps Super cards, these cards were issued in 1970 (baseball and football) and 1971 (just baseball). They are 3.125″ x 5.25″ in size and as thick as several baseball cards.

One of my favorite recent Supers is a well-loved 1971 Tom Seaver I got. The card has a bit of damage on the front, but it ain’t no big thang. The backs, as you can see below, are very similar to the regular Topps cards of the same year.
1971 Topps Super Tom Seaver
1971 Topps Super Tom Seaver back

This Rusty Staub is from 1971; Rusty is one of the players who made it into both Super sets.
1971 Topps Super Rusty Staub
Rusty played in 2,951 games in his career. The only players to play more games and not be in the HOF are Pete Rose, Barry Bonds and Omar Vizquel.

This Reggie Smith, also from 1971, was just over a buck; I couldn’t say “no” to that!
1971 Topps Super Reggie smith
Reggie is an often-overlooked player from that era;  he was a 7-time All-Star, won a gold glove and played in four World Series…  100 RBI in 1974… .489 career slugging percentage… I could go on, but you get the idea.

1970 Tommie Agee
1970 Topps Super Tommy Agee
Tommie was a 1969 Miracle Met, and that’s all the introduction he needs in my book. He was also the 1966 A.L. Rookie Of The Year, two-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove.

This last card was the first 1970 Topps Super Football card I’d bought intentionally. My other 5 cards were unexpected surprises in a box of cards I bought last year, a box I called “The Unholy Mess”. I wrote about those 5 cards here.
1970 Topps Super Football Tom Woodeshick
When I saw the jersey worn by Tom Woodeshick, I thought he played for the Jets, but it turned out he was a Philadelphia Eagle. I don’t remember the Eagles having those “UCLA stripes” on their jersey, but I was just a wee little Shlabotnik in 1969 when this photo was likely taken.

Woodeshick played 10 years in the NFL and is in the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame, but what really caught my attention was the fact that he had an uncredited appearance in the movie M*A*S*H as a football player for the 325th Evac.

According to, there are a lot of uncredited football players in that movie, including two other guys I have on 1970 Topps Supers:

Johnny Unitas…
1970 Topps Super Football Johnny Unitas

…and Fran Tarkenton…
1970 Topps Super Football Fran Tarkenton

Someone with a better vintage football collection than I could make a really interesting post about the professional football players who were in M*A*S*H.


The full cast list, including uncredited football players, can be found on IMDB here.


Biggie Biggie!

Back when I still lived on Long Island, I was on a bowling team with an older woman named Olivia.  Olivia had a very bubbly personality and I have no doubt that she had been a cheerleader in high school, because at key moments of a game, she’d say encouraging things like “Big frame, Joe!  Biggie Biggie!”  I haven’t seen nor heard about Olivia in years, but “Biggie Biggie!” still pops in my head at certain times.

I had one of those moments at a recent card show when I saw a table with a sign that said “All items on table:  $1”.  Most of what was on the table was junk, but off on the right hand side I saw an oversized 1970 Topps Super card staring back at me, and in my head Olivia gave her rally cry: “Biggie biggie!”

I’ve recently become enamored with both Baseball and Football Supers, so I will gladly take any Supers I need for a buck.  I’m not terribly concerned about condition, and with the rounded corners and thick cardboard of the Supers, you really have to do something egregiously bad to inflict any significant damage.

The card on top of the small stack was a 1970 Jim Wynn, which I gladly grabbed.
1970 Topps Super Jim Wynn
Even if I weren’t buying up any cheap Supers I find, I have a soft spot for Jim Wynn as he’s the first Major Leaguer I’d ever met in person.

Underneath Wynn was a bit of a surprise…
1970 Topps Super Bob Gibson
Bob Gibson?  Vintage Bob Gibson?  A nice-looking vintage Bob Gibson?  FOR A BUCK?  What’s wrong with it?  Had the card been glued to the wall and the card’s reverse remains stuck to that very same wall?  Is there a 45-year-old slab of gum adhered to the back – fuzzy, black and evolving into a sentient life form?  Has the card been dipped in a vat of weaponized anthrax?

I turned it over to look, saw this…
1970 Topps Super Bob Gibson back
…and said “Magic Marker?  That’s it?!?  Pfffffft.  Like I care”.  Of all the sins committed against cardboard, writing on the edges of the back is the sin least deserving of penance.  Indeed, there is nothing I like better than a child who loved his cards enough to brand them as his own… and made them affordable to me these many years later.

I got a third 1970 Super at the same show (but not at the same table)… A lovely card of Mel Stottlemyre at the original Yankee Stadium.
1970 Topps Super Mel Stottlemyre

I don’t know what it is about this card, but it just has that “larger than life” look about …  I guess it’s the blue skies, the glimpse of the Yankee Stadium frieze, the serene, confident expression of Mel Stottlemyre.  It just proclaims “This is a baseball card made by people who know how to make baseball cards”.

I’ve got to say, 1970 Topps Super Baseball is my favorite set at the moment…

Well, along with 1970 Topps Super Football…

…And 1971 Super Baseball…

…And the 1968 Topps game insert…

…And 1966 Topps Batman “Black Bat”…

…And 1964 Topps Giant…

…And 1976 Kellogg’s…

…And 1961 Topps Sports Cars…


Ya Get Whatcha Get: 3 Vintage, 1 Faux Vintage, 1 Blogger Playing For Time

I’ll admit it;  I’ve got so many irons in the fire right now that I haven’t the time to write a cohesive post….  That’s why ya get whatcha get.

I suppose I may as well admit that I’m trying to collect the 1968 Topps Game Insert set, although it’s more of a casual pursuit than an active one.  I enjoy this oddball insert because it’s fun, small (33 cards) and affordable.  This Frank Howard card is one of my Black Friday additions.
1968 Topps Game Frank Howard
2015 Topps Archives will have an insert set that pays homage to this oddball… I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, Archives has a way of building my hopes and then dashing them on the rocks.  As it is, they’ve already pissed me off with the preview images that feature the 1976 design… They use the city & team name (“COLORADO ROCKIES”) when it should be just the team name, and they used the wrong colors for the Red Sox.  I suppose it wouldn’t be Archives if it didn’t piss off the people who love the originals.

During the end of 2014 I waxed poetic about 1970 Topps Super Football and Baseball.  Here’s another 1970 Super I got from COMC… this one features phenom-of-the-day Andy Messersmith.  I don’t know that you can see it in my scan, but in the original oversized card you can see the weave in Andy’s flannel jersey.  Most excellent!
1970 Topps Super Andy Messersmith
In 1969, the year before this card was issued, Messersmith was a 23-year-old who went 16-11 for a team that lost 91 games.  All too often people mention his role in establishing free agency or the time that Ted Turner tried to advertise his TV station by putting CHANNEL on Messersmith’s back so that it read “CHANNEL 17″… But Andy Messersmith was a fine ballplayer.  Four-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove, lead the NL with 20 wins in 1974, lead in shotouts in 1975.  There was a reason the Braves signed him to a $1M contract.

I started buying Cal Ripken cards as a way to help my wife understand my hobby – she’s a huge fan of Cal’s.  Although she doesn’t enjoy baseball cards the way I do, she likes to look at cards of her favorite players, and she does appreciate what makes one card nicer than another.
2013 Topps Archives Cal Ripken
Even though there’s really no hope of converting her any further, I still buy Ripkens.  Force of habit, I guess.  This card is from the 2013 Archives set  (and nit-pick, nit-pick, nit-pick, the action shot shows a completely different Orioles uniform than is in the portrait)

One made-up subset of 1969 Topps that I’m collecting is high-#ed cards of guys in the brand-spanking-new uniforms of that year’s expansion teams.  Here Moe Drabowsky shows off his new KC Royals uni – which is pretty much like the Royals uni from any point in the last 40+ years, but still…
1969 Topps Moe Drabowsky
Moe was the answer to a number of trivia questions… Who gave up Stan Musial’s 3,000th hit? Who was the losing pitcher for Early Wynn’s 300th victory? Who was the first pitcher to get a win for the Royals? Moe, Moe, Moe. He also was born in Poland and played for both the K.C. Athletics and the K.C. Royals.

Super Aaron And Red Man Lemon

A friend of mine swears he saw “Super Aaron And Red Man Lemon” open for Parliament Funkadelic when they played Madison Square Garden in the 1970’s and they were AWESOME!

OK, fine, I made that up.  Within the context of this post, “Super Aaron” and “Red Man Lemon” refer to two beautiful, oversized cards I recently picked up from COMC.

“Super Aaron” is my 1970 Topps Super Hank Aaron (or “A-A-Ron”, as Key & Peele now have me thinking). One thing I’ve noticed about COMC is that their scanners highlight every flaw on a card… which is a good thing, since you want to be able to see those flaws… but I’ve found that it often makes a non-mint card look worse than it is.
1970 Topps Super Hank Aaron
This card is obviously miscut, but it looks a lot worse in scans than it does in person. In person, it’s still a nice card that I’m very happy to add to my collection.

Like the football Supers, the back is generally the same as the regular 1970 Hank Aaron, but with a different card number.
1970 Topps Super Aaron back

Here’s “Red Man Lemon”… more specifically, a 1953 Red Man Bob Lemon.  Whenever I’m doing a shopping spree on COMC, I always look to see if there’s anything relatively inexpensive in the Red Man section, and this was the acquisition this time around.  Any Red Man cards in my price range is missing the redemption tab at the bottom, but ask me if I care.
1953 Red Man Bob Lemon
I grew up thinking of Bob Lemon as a manager with the Yankees, White Sox and Royals, but he’s far better known as a Hall-Of-Fame pitcher. What I hadn’t known is that he started out as a position player… In fact, he was the centerfielder for one of Bob Feller’s no-hitters. Lemon lost time to World War II, and that combined with his start as an infielder meant that his pitching career was fairly short for a HOFer.  However,  he had an impressive run from 1947 to 1956. During that 10 year period he went 197-111, struck out 1,185 batters, threw 31 shutouts, pitched complete games in more than half of his starts, was a 7-time All-Star, a 7-time 20-game winner and no-hit the Tigers in 1948.

Here’s the back of the card, which is all about the promotion that Red Man was running.
1953 Red Man Bob Lemon Back

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Where Topps Got The Design For The 2013 Archives Wrapper

1971 Topps Super Baseball WrapperDon’t be deceived by the image; this is not a review of 2013 Archives… well, not entirely.

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that one of the the best things about this year’s Archives set is the wrapper. It reminds me of a line from a Beach Boys song:

I threw away my candy bar and I ate the wrapper
And when they told me what I did, I burst into laughter

Obscure pop culture references aside, I got to wondering where Topps got the wrapper design from. I mean, it’s Archives, it’s supposed to be pilfered from somewhere in Topps’ stockpile of designs.

A quick bit of research turned up the above image of a 1971 Topps Super Baseball wrapper. For those who aren’t familiar with the set, they’re oversized cards a little bigger than 3″x5″, and much thicker than a regular baseball card. The corners are rounded and the back is similar to the regular 1971 cards.

I don’t actually have any 1971 Supers – lo siento –  but I do have a couple of 1970 Supers, like this Rusty Staub.

1970 Topps Super Rusty StaubFor me, both years of Topps Super fall into the category of “Why don’t I have more of these?”

I suppose I should say something about 2013 Archives, shouldn’t I?  Well, I appreciate that they made the cheap card stock  more cardboard-like this year, but the set still leaves me a bit cold.  Maybe if they used designs that resonated more with me, emotionally… If 2014 Archives uses designs from 1974, 1976, 1983 and 1991, and if they’re done reasonably well, then we might be on to something… but again, that’s just me.