Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'm a sucker for vintage (A team-by-team look into everyone's favorite, VINTAGE!) , Pt. 1: Angels

I'm excited to finally get started with this concept. It's been jumping around in my head for a while but haven't been able to create a post about it until now.

I've decided to discontinue my binder posts in order to salvage some writing material for posts down the road.

Instead, "I'm a sucker for vintage" will feature my top five favorite vintage cards from each team binder. (Some more recent teams will obviously not have posts for these.) For the purpose of these posts, I'll consider "vintage" to be any pre-1980 cards, even though the technical term for vintage is cards from 1973 and before. But what fun would this be if I were to leave out all the '74s and '75s? Also, no player will be represented more than once per team.

So without further ado, here is the inaugural "I'm a sucker for vintage" post. Comments or suggestions are more than welcome. Enjoy!

Honorable Mentions:

1967 Topps #265 Lou Burdette
1970 Topps #485 Jay Johnstone
1976 Hostess #18 Bobby Bonds

The Countdown:


1973 Topps #597 Mickey Rivers

Fun Fact: "Mickey is a recreation director in the off-season."
This is just Rivers' second Topps issue; he made his Topps debut in '72. 

I was debating for a few minutes on whether to include this one or the '76 Hostess Bobby Bonds in the countdown. The backdrop on this card is what won me over. The 1970's Angel Stadium background has been featured on many cards, and it makes all of them ten times better. There's just something about that big scoreboard in the background (with the haloed "A" towering over the field, although it's not completely visible in this one).


1969 Topps #653 Aurelio Rodriguez

Fun Fact: "In 1966, Aurelio led the Mexican League with 16 triples."

You knew it was coming.

This is the classic baseball error card. Rodriguez played a prank on Topps; the photo is actually of sixteen year-old Angels batboy Leonard Garcia. I guess guys had to do something to keep themselves amused during the long seasons. Apparently, pulling pranks on Topps photographers was right up there with hot-foots and dugout razzing. I've mentioned the classic 1959 Topps Lou Burdette error-o-rama card before. 

Any serious baseball card collector should have this one somewhere in their house.


1971 Topps #105 Tony Conigliaro

Fun Fact: "Tony has had success as a writer and rock-n-roll singer."

1971 would be the only year Conigliaro would spend in California during his brief but memorable career. He'd possibly be a Hall of Famer right now had he not gotten hit in the face with a pitch in 1967, which pretty much smashed any of his HOF hopes. He hit 84 homers in his first three major league seasons, all by the age of 21. He'd have a nice year in 1970 (36 HR's and 116 RBI's), but he could never get over that horrific injury and was pretty much done by '71 (he made a brief comeback with the Red Sox in '75).

This is Conigliaro's final Topps issue. One can only wonder how many more he would've had if everything had worked out the way it was supposed to.


1965 Topps #172 Jim Piersall

Fun Fact: "One of Jim's top thrills was cracking six hits in six at bats in a game played in '53."

Jim Piersall is one of my all-time favorites. I've had this card for as long as I can remember

1965 is my favorite non-'50s Topps set. I love the pennant with the team name in the bottom-left corner. I can't wait for the Topps Heritage remake of this set in 2014. Topps got really lazy with a few of Piersall's phots, though. His 1964 and 1967 cards look like they're from the same photo session as his '65 issue. 

Piersall paired with the 1965 Topps design was almost my favorite Angels card. After thinking about it, though, my favorite Angels binder card is...


1966 Topps #505 Jose Cardenal

Fun Fact: "Jose homered in his first big league at bat off Whitey Ford."

A pre-Afro Jose Cardenal plus the famous Topps rookie cup equals the number one card on my Angels countdown.
Some of the "fun facts" on the back of cards are way better than others. I'm not sure what could beat homering in your first at bat off a future Hall-of-Famer. (It sure beats Aurilio Rodriguez hitting 16 triples in the Mexican League.) 

I liken Cardenal to a cult film. Among baseball card collecting circles, he's pretty popular with all his iconic cards from the '70s. But as far as stats go, he's not widely talked about in hardcore baseball circles. My dad surprised me at the last card show we went to together in November, buying a 1964 Topps Brooks Robinson for me. He was going to buy this Cardenal card for me too, but the guy he bought the Robinson from threw in the Cardenal for free.

Not a bad deal for the my favorite vintage Angels card, huh?

Heck, who doesn't like vintage? I guess we're all "suckers" for it.