Recently, with an assist from Ernie Montella, general manager of the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society, I was able to confirm my suspicions about a putative 1950s card issue.
I’d encountered this type of “card” several times in the past five years. I first saw them at a Pittsburgh show where a major dealer had purchased several dozen pieces, including a Mantle, Mays and other stars. A little more than a year ago, I saw them being sold on eBay, at prices that confirmed P.T. Barnum’s theorem on the birth rate of gullible consumers. A selling price of $60 for a Pee Wee Reese sticks in my mind.
In between, I’ve had sporadic contacts about them from collectors across the country.
Ernie Montella, one of the true veterans of the hobby out East, recently acquired a group of the cards and offered to send a pair of Milwaukee Braves to editor T.S. O’Connell and myself. He, too, expressed doubts about their origins.
The cards are represented as a 1955 issue. Printed in black-and-white in a horizontal format of about 3¾-by-2¼ inches, and blank backed. The cards have a small square portrait photo at top left, personal data and stats at right and a career summary.
From the first time I saw them, I postulated that these were something that had been cobbled together by cutting up a mid-1950s baseball annual from Dell, or one of the men’s magazines, and gluing the individual profiles onto cardboard.
Sure enough, within seconds of dropping the Gene Conley card that Ernie had sent into a pan of water, the image of Art Fowler, who in 1955 had been on the other side of the page, became apparent. In another couple of seconds the newsprint layer of the card had floated free of the cardboard to which it had been glued.
I don’t doubt that back in the 1950s there were kids that used this same technique to make their own baseball cards, perhaps of players whom Bowman and Topps overlooked, or who had changed teams. However, it’s my feeling this new generation of do-it-yourself cards has been created to fleece the unwary.
As evidenced by the sales on eBay, the ploy has been at least partially successful. I suppose next we’ll be seeing these cards graded in screw-down slabs.
1960s Broder PCL checklist confirmed
In the May 27 issue, we presented a partial checklist of what appeared to be an Ed Broder collectors’ issue of the 1970s, showing various former and future major leaguers in the Pacific Coast League during the early 1960s.
As provided by collector Tony Rossetto, we had a list of 26 players, and speculated the full extent of the issue was probably somewhat larger.
Confirmation of that was provided soon after publication by readers Keith Olbermann and Nelson Okino, each of whom sent a complete checklist of 40, and each of whom questioned my identification of one of the San Diego players as Sammy Ellis. That ID was based on portions of letters in the player name that was printed in black over a dark background on the card.
The complete checklist comprises:
Additionally, Olbermann pegged the date of issue to about 1977-78, rather than the early 1970s, based on his recollection of originally acquiring the set.
The most significant additions to the checklist are probably Wilbur Wood with Seattle and Norm Larker with Tacoma. Our trial checklist had players from only six teams; the full list includes players from eight teams who played in the PCL between 1962 and 1965.
Another Orphan Ashburn
Also in the May 27 column, we pictured what appears to be a Broder card of Richie Ashburn in a Phillies uniform.
We didn’t get any information about that card, but die-hard Phillies collector Fred McKie sent a scan of another card in the same black-and-white, blank-back format, picturing Ashburn with the Mets.
Perhaps these were produced in conjunction with an early card-show autograph appearance by the Hall of Famer?
Back to Byerly
For a couple of columns we’ve been going round and round about which cards Bud Byerly does or does not appear on. Now comes information from a sharp-eyed caller that it is Byerly, rather than Hal Griggs, that actually appears on 1958 Topps card No. 455.
The fact that the player on the card is wearing uniform No. 11, which Byerly wore in 1957 and 1958, seems to lend credence to the Byerly identification.
The player on 1958 Topps No. 72, which was supposed to be Byerly, is actually Hal Griggs, so it seems Topps simply switched the two Senators pitchers’ pictures. u