Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Flying under the radar

I've read dozens of baseball books throughout the course of my life.

From fantasy baseball to baseball cards, they've all been fantastic. I think that's because...well, is there even such a thing as a bad book about baseball?

While it's hard to definitely say what my single favorite book is, I'd have to say Ball Four is one of the strongest candidates. To think that I hadn't read it until about a year ago is absurd.

I couldn't help but wonder what exactly Jim Bouton had to go through after Ball Four came out. I knew that there was some type of backlash, but I wanted to know specifics.

A couple weeks ago, my dad told me he'd seen the above book at a couple places online. It was the answer to all my questions. I bought it last week.

I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally primarily deals with the very thing I wanted to know, what happened to Bouton once Ball Four hit the shelves.

I'm a little ways into it, and I can already say that it's almost as good has Ball Four. I just can't believe it flew under my radar this whole time.

In a way, this got me thinking about my collection. (Of course.)

I can guarantee you that 99 percent of all the baseball card blogs out there have had their vintage moments. After all, everyone likes vintage, right?

While all of us gush over some of the fantastic Topps designs of the '60s and '70s (and for good reason), we sometimes forget about some of the smaller, primitive "inserts" that not many people probably knew about at the time.

For instance, we have these 1965 Topps Embossed cards.

According to my Beckett, these were "distributed as inserts in packages of the regular 1965 Topps baseball series". One of the earliest insert sets, I'd bet.

While they're not all that flashy, I always wanted to pick one up for my collection, just to say I owned a copy.

I'd struck out...until last month. (Another joyous quarter box find.)

Then we have these, simply titled "1968 Topps Game".

There were quite a few of these game-centered cards in early Topps sets (as you'll soon see).

Back in 1968, you could buy the complete 33-card set of these for 15 cents. A set which included the likes of Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente, and Hank Aaron.

How I wish I could go back in time.

I'm a huge fan of the 1969 Topps Deckle Edge set.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the days of photo albums and/or scrapbooks is coming to an end. Every time I see one of these cards, it makes me feel like I'm looking through one of those old-time photo albums.

Even though this particular shot of Mr. Wilhelm scares me a bit.

Before Strat-o-Matic became popular, this was the kind of "tabletop" baseball game kids played in 1970.

They'd scratch off individual black boxes on the fold-out portion of the card, revealing the result of that particular "play".

If they went in order from left to right, it looks like this "game" featured a leadoff homer.

I only have the front of the Allen card. The original owner must have torn off the "scorecard" and kept it as a keepsake.

I'd really like to find one of these with the scoreboard filled in and everything. It would almost be like going back in time, recreating the actual game that two kids played with these.

I'll have to keep searching.

Lastly, we've got the ever-popular 1975 Topps Minis.

I've talked about these with my dad a couple times (his first big collecting year as a kid was '75), and he said he'd never seen or heard of them until I picked up a few for my collection.

Which leads me to ask, did anyone who collected in 1975 actually have any of these then? Or did you only find out about them later?

I thought it would be cool one night to see if I could pick up a mini-version of the famous Herb Washington card seen above, arguably the most iconic card of the '70s.

I found this battered copy on Sportlots for about 80 cents. It might be the best eighty cents I've ever spent.

In this day in age, I don't know that very much can go "under the radar". I've already pulled or at least seen a picture of about every 2012 Topps base card and insert, and those have only been out for about a couple months now.

I guess that can be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it.


night owl said...

1975 was the first year I bought packs of cards and, yes, there were mini cards available in cello packs, and we bought those, too.

I lived in Binghamton, N.Y., at the time. According to card histories, '75 minis were a test issue that were only sold in parts of Michigan and California. But, obviously, that's wrong, because I still have about 100 minis that I bought in N.Y. in '75.

Mike said...

Hurry up and finish that book so you can loan it to me!!....nice collection of early inserts,wish I had some of those minis in 75!.....

arpsmith said...

I was up in a card shop in Seattle a few weeks ago and the owner said Seattle was one of the test markets as well. He said they didn't even sell the "regular" sized cards in the area and when he was younger he got mad thinking Topps had gone cheap to save on the cost.