Thursday, May 26, 2011


I ain’t ashamed of this card.

Yes, it’s ugly. A lowly PSA 1.

But I love it, the same way people might love a Shar Pei or the Hold Steady.

Some of these Venezuelan Topps sets are easy to distinguish from their US counterparts.

The ’62 set has Spanish-language backs. The ’64 set has black backs, as opposed to the US orange. And ’67? That one’s a dream, with narrower borders on the obverse and totally reconfigured reverses.

This ’66 set, though, hews pretty close to standard Topps in terms of design. Hell, it even carries a US copyright line.

The Venezuelan Topps cards typically show signs of having been glued into albums, and this one is no exception. There’s a bit of tell-tale paper loss on the back, but it’s nothing too extreme.

And anyway, these signs of wear indicate to me that the card lived a good card’s life before it came to rest in this slab.

Someone cared enough about it to paste it in an album, and they even added a bit of tape to the corners to make sure it would stick. Maybe they built the whole set of 370 cards, and maybe this Swoboda was that last elusive card they needed for weeks. Maybe 45 years ago this card brought someone simple and immeasurable joy.

Nope, I ain’t ashamed of this card at all…

Friday, May 13, 2011


I like to take the last names of both guys on these two-player rookie cards and make of them one full name. So in this case we end up with “Dillon Locke.” Which is a totally cool name.

Dillon Locke drives a red Camaro. He's got a Blaupunkt in there, and a 100-watt amp.

You can always hear Dillon Locke coming.

The 1964 set is rife with two-player rookie cards-- here's the roster of names:

Nen Willhite
Ellis Queen
Alou Herbel
Priddy Butters
Britton Maxie
Howard Kreutzer
Ward Oliva
Gatewood Simpson
John Chance
Brumley Piniella
Boccabella Cowan
Bowens Bunker
Grote Yellen
Allen Hernstein
Shannon Fanok
Gibbs Metcalf
Conigliaro Spanswick
Fisher Gladding
Ferrara Torborg
McCool Ruiz
Ackley Buford
Woodward Smith
O'Donoghue Williams
Haas Smith
Stewart Burdette
Knowles Narum
Skeen Smith
Garrido Hart
Parker Werhas
Charton Jones
Green Monteagudo
Norman Slaughter
Carty Kelley
Bakenhaster Lewis
Briggs Cater
Mikkelsen Meyer
Salmon Seyfried
Knoop Lee
Alley McFarlane
Horton Sparma
Arrigo Siebler
Dickson Klaus
Duncan Reynolds
Bloomfield Nossek
Elliot Stephenson
Roof Niekro
Hertz Hoerner
Schurr Speckenbach
Kelley Siebert
Bennett Wise
McCabe McNertney
Gagliano Peterson
Gray Egan
Hinsley Wakefield
Gonzalez Moore

But are any of these as golden as Dillon Locke?

Ellis Queen? I think my grandmother used to read his mystery magazine.

Priddy Butters? Wasn't she in Candy Stripe Nurses with Robin Mattson back in the '70s?

Britton Maxie? That's the pad for days what have a heavy flow it is, guv.

Bakenhaster Lewis? That was Merriwether's dim brother, who set out to claim the “Specific Northsouth for the Unitated States” back in the early 19th Century. He was never heard from again.

McCabe McNertney? Divil' a man can say a word agin' him.

Still and all, I have to stick with my man Dillon...

Friday, May 6, 2011


Sarcasm does not suit you, Topps.

“Mets Maulers” indeed. Our Maulers here combined for 24 HRs in 1966. Kranepool batted .254, and Swoboda contributed a robust .222.

But perhaps the lack of an apostrophe in the card title is telling. Maybe Eddie and Ron are looking off camera at a fast-approaching panther with a sinister blue glint in its eyes...

Truth be told, I never cared much for these posed multiplayer cards. They are the cardboard equivalent of an awkward conversation.

And the '67 set is just lousy with them. In addition to the Maulers, the set contains the following combos:

The Champs
Cards Clubbers
Tribe Thumpers
Bengal Belters
Pitt Power
Hurlers Beware
Twin Terrors
Atlanta Aces
Fence Busters
Tribe Hill Aces
Bird Bombers

The general theme here is offense, the only exceptions being the Tribe Hill Aces (Sam McDowell and Sonny Siebert) and the extremely odd pairing on the Atlanta Aces card (pitcher Tony Cloninger and “ace” shortstop Denis Menke).

Topps offered these strained multiplayer cards again in '68 and '69, but then stepped back from the abyss as the decade turned. And part of what I love about the '70 and '71 sets is their near-complete lack of gewgaws, gimcracks, and gimmickry. The sets are spartan, gray, and black, with all killer and no filler.

The '72 set has the equal appeal of being completely batshit insane, but that's a story for another day...