Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Forget father time

Normally, I enjoy trade packages that have a little of everything.

Some of this, some of that, and maybe a little of the other. It's a rather simple formula that always seems to produce a mean batch of cardboard. And I've received countless numbers of them during my time around here.

Sometimes, though, I'll receive a trade package with a common theme to it. One that doesn't include a seemingly random group of cards.

Bert, author of the awesome blog "Swing and a Pop-Up", dropped one such mailer onto my doorstep last month. That particular array carried a heavy Stadium Club theme.

And, just a short while after that, he bestowed another "themed" trade package upon me. This time, though, it took the form of the 1991 Pacific Senior League set, a checklist that documented the short-lived Senior Professional Baseball Association.

I've mentioned my interest in Senior League cardboard a few times around here before. The topic was the basis for one of my earlier posts on this blog, in fact.

In that time, Bert must've taken notice. Amazingly, he sent me four huge stacks of cards. And, yes, every single one was from the '91 Pacific Senior League checklist.

While not the most popular set around, it certainly held its fair share of treasures.

First, let me give you the cliff notes version of this whole Senior League business.

Started in 1989, the league was designed to be a 35-and-over winter league for former big leaguers. Not surprisingly, almost all of the clubs struggled mightily with attendance. (With team names like the Orlando Juice and West Palm Beach Tropics, one can certainly see why.)

The St. Petersburg Pelicans captured the league's first (and what would be the only) championship trophy. Even after an attempt to shorten the season to 56 games, the league still folded halfway through its 1990 season, never to return.

That's where these Pacific cards come into the picture.

I'm not sure I'd even know of the Senior League's existence without the few companies who documented it on cardboard back in the day.

This page alone carries quite a few gems. I can't help but love the ad-plagued outfield wall behind catcher Marv Foley. And this page's centerpiece is the most action-filled "coach" card I've ever seen.

Plus, with useless baseball trivia nugget #10,354, I now know that current Texas skipper Ron Washington was the only MVP in Senior League history.

And, don't look now, but we have a Pete LaCock sighting!

Whoever was in charge of this set's photography certainly had an affinity for the bat barrel.

But, hey, you know me.

I can't complain.

On the backs of these, Pacific listed the major league service time of each individual player.

From what I saw, most only had a couple years of MLB experience. Quite a few Senior Leaguers never played a single game in the bigs.

Still, the checklist did feature quite a few recognizable names from the annals of baseball history.

Former Yankee great Clete Boyer managed the Bradenton Explorers. Even Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers and Fergie Jenkins joined in for the Senior League festivities. As did personal favorites Mike Norris and Vida Blue.

For me, though, one particular card stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Most baseball fans know of Bill Lee's love affair with the game of baseball.

Heck, the "Spaceman" was still picking up wins in an independent league as of last year.

Until Bert sent this one over, though, I had no idea Lee was ever affiliated with the ill-fated Senior League. (As this card shows, he hurled for the champion St. Petersburg Pelicans.)

In hindsight, though, it certainly makes sense. The man just loved the game too much not to play.

Baseball is in Bill Lee's blood.

Although it's not one of the flashiest or most appreciated sets in hobby history, this Senior League trade package was still an absolute blast to dig through.

It certainly made for an awesome blast from the past.


petethan said...

Nice catch! That's something I still need to pick up myself. I had a real Senior League fetish going, given my love of veterans. I've got three SL sets, Topps, Elite and T&M. But I only have a few of these Pacifics, and they look nicer than anything but the Topps set. I wish the league could have held on, but there's no way even the worst-paid big leaguer these days would feel motivated to participate in his "old" age.

The Junior Junkie said...

That set has your name all over it.....