Monday, January 29, 2018

1981-1986 All-Star Game Program Inserts

INTRODUCTION TO THE SET

Major league baseball was probably the first sports league to hold an All-Star Game. That first All-Star Game was not in 1933, however, but rather it was held on July 24, 1911 when a team of American League all-stars took on the Cleveland Naps in a game put together to benefit the widow of future Hall of Famer Addie Joss.

Joss had died from tubercular meningitis on April 14 after falling ill and fainting prior to a scheduled exhibition game against the Chattanooga Lookouts. Joss was a very popular player around the league, with the Baseball Almanac linked above quoting Walter Johnson as saying, "I'll do anything they want for Addie Joss' family." The All-Stars included Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford, Home Run Baker, Hal Chase, Walter Johnson, and Clyde Milan, among others.

Perhaps thinking that the fans deserved something a little extra in their $3 program in Cleveland for the 1981 All-Star Game, someone made the decision to add small cutouts -- 180 in total -- of all the players for whom the fans could vote. The foldouts were repeated in the programs through 1986.

EXEMPLARS

All of these photos were downloaded from eBay auctions. Finding intact programs with the inserts is not difficult, though not every program for sale shows the inserts. And, I could not find a 1983 version quickly that showed the photos, so you're stuck seeing the backs there.

1981


1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

DETAILS

Each program contained fold-out pages containing the 180 players whose names appeared on the All-Star Ballot -- and representative pitchers -- during the years 1981 through 1985, and 260 in 1986. When separated, each "card" is about 1.25" x 2", assuming that the photo was cut out while leaving a thin white border.

Obviously, to get these cards first hand, you had to purchase the program. I have memories of seeing ads during certain games where one could send money to a P.O. Box and receive a copy of the program in return. I will admit that I don't know if the ad shows up in this televised version of 1982 All-Star Game -- a very good quality version from Montreal's Olympic Stadium with a very young Al Michaels on the call. 


I had to link to this wonderful version of the game, which is worth watching almost as much for the Montreal montage at the beginning as anything, but almost more for the brief interview of Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow. Also fun -- this game actually has all the advertisements included. There's nothing like watching 36-year-old Wendy's ads.

Another aside from that 1982 game: I'd completely forgotten about the fact that Robin Yount almost did not make the All-Star Game thanks to the fact that those damn Yankees fans thought Bucky Dent should be in the lineup ahead of him. Finally, I appreciate the fact that the Montreal fans booed Reggie Jackson.

Anyway, there is nothing I could find easily that provided information regarding how many programs were printed each year such that we could figure out how many of these inserts were printed.

Interestingly, these sets are not included in the Standard Catalog, though PSA includes them in the Player Collection sets in their registry.

HALL OF FAMERS

Considering that these inserts represent the starting lineups and the top pitchers from each team, the number of Hall of Famers is pretty high.

1981 (27)
Rod Carew, Tony Perez, Eddie Murray, Alan Trammell, Robin Yount, George Brett, Carlton Fisk, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Paul Molitor, Jim Rice, Dave Winfield, Carl Yastrzemski, Rollie Fingers, Rich Gossage, Willie Stargell, Ozzie Smith, Mike Schmidt, Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Bruce Sutter, Don Sutton

1982 (25)
Bench, Brett, Carew, Carlton, Carter, Dawson, Fingers, Fisk, Henderson, Jackson, Molitor, Joe Morgan, Jack Morris, Murray, Tim Raines, Rice, Cal Ripken Jr., Schmidt, Smith, Sutter, Sutton, Trammell, Winfield, Yastrzemski, Yount

1983 (28)
Carew, Murray, Yaz, Ripken, Trammell, Yount, Wade Boggs, Brett, Molitor, Fisk, Henderson, Jackson, Rice, Winfield, Bert Blyleven, Dennis Eckersley, Morgan, Ryne Sandberg, Smith, Schmidt, Carter, Dawson, Raines, Carlton, Fergie Jenkins, Ryan, Seaver, Sutter

1984 (24)
Sandberg, Smith, Schmidt, Carter, Dawson, Tony Gwynn, Raines, Gossage, Ryan, Carew, Murray, Ripken, Trammell, Yount, Boggs, Brett, Molitor, Fisk, Henderson, Jackson, Rice, Winfield, Blyleven, Morris

1985 (26)
Carew, Murray, Ripken, Trammell, Yount, Boggs, Brett, Molitor, Fisk, Henderson, Jackson, Kirby Puckett, Rice, Winfield, Morris, Seaver, Sandberg, Smith, Schmidt, Carter, Dawson, Gwynn, Raines, Eckersley, Gossager, Ryan

1986 (25)
Blyleven, Boggs, Brett, Carlton, Carter, Dawson, Fisk, Gossage, Gwynn, Henderson, Jackson, Molitor, Murray, Puckett, Raines, Rice, Ripken, Sandberg, Schmidt, Seaver, Smith, Sutter, Trammell, Winfield, Yount

ERRORS/VARIATIONS

The only error in any of the sets actually comes in 1982, and it affects a recently named Hall of Famer. Rather than picturing Jack Morris, the photo is actually of Kevin Saucier. It's an easy mistake to make -- you know, all those white guys with mustaches all look alike, even if Morris threw right-handed and Saucier threw left-handed.

MY TAKE

I never had any of these when I was a kid, and I really did not know anything about them at the time. If I had, perhaps I would have come up with the $5 or so to get one of these programs. 

Of course, these were the good old days when voting for all-stars involved real ballots and potentially ballot-box stuffing.  That ballot-box stuffing was a legitimate enterprise -- when fans would talk their friendly ushers into giving them dozens of the punch-card ballots. Once obtained, poking out the chads of the players you voted for was like a kids version of the 2000 election in Palm Beach County -- you had better be sure you didn't leave any hanging chads! You'd end up with a ton of little rectangles of cardboard covering yourself. 

I can only speculate how these got to be listed on the Trading Card Database as "oddballs." It's probably the result of their inclusion in the registry sets for players with Beckett. After all, you have to have some more difficult to find items to make things interesting, right?

As I mentioned above, finding programs with these in them is not difficult. The programs will vary in cost, so shop around.
It's also not difficult to find these little slips of glossy paper for sale in team sets either on eBay or elsewhere. 

So, what do you guys and gals think -- are these "baseball cards" or are they just photos cut out of a magazine? Do you include them in your collections?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

1980 Nostalgic Enterprises 1903 NY Highlanders

INTRODUCTION TO THE SET

First off, welcome back.

To start back into the 1980s Oddball world, let's start with an oddball that seems to be relatively known yet little is written about it.

According to the Standard Catalog, Nostalgic Enterprises was a pseudonym for a collector issuing the cards in 1980. It is unclear whether this collector had plans to expand his/her brand into additional sets, or if they just had a hankering to have cards of the first team to represent New York in the American League.

The team itself was nothing special -- finishing in fourth place with a 72-62 record. According to Wikipedia, the team started off being called the Invaders due to invading the Giants' territory in Manhattan. The Highlanders played their games a few blocks north and west of Coogan's Hollow [where the Giants played at the time] and at one of the highest points of Manhattan Island called The Hilltop. The name Highlanders referred both to the team's location and to its team President Joseph Gordon. Around the turn of the 20th Century, one of the world's most famous infantry units was a British unit known as the Gordon Highlanders.

The back of the card notes that Nostalgic Enterprises is located in Wayland, Massachusetts, which is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, of just over thirteen thousand people in 2010 located about thirty to forty minutes outside of downtown Boston. I searched the Massachusetts Secretary of State's Corporations Database just in case this was either an existing company or that some other record would show up, but nothing turned up.

EXEMPLARS



DETAILS

Each of the seventeen cards in this set are the standard size of 2.5" x 3.5". From the other exemplars that I have seen online, it appears that the photos were all drawn from this team photo of the members of the 1903 New York "Americans":



As a family website dedicated to the life and photos of Kid Elberfeld notes (as does the back of the card), this team photo was a part of the Boston Public Library's collection. Oddly enough, the collection it is drawn from is the McGreevey Collection -- a large collection of photos and memorabilia put together by the leader of the Boston "Royal Rooters," Michael T. "Nuf Ced" McGreevey. Perhaps McGreevey added this to his collection to commemorate the year that his Boston Americans won their first World Series in 1903?

In any event, I have no information about how many sets of these were printed, how many were distributed, or how they were distributed. The Standard Catalog notes that the cards are unnumbered and originally sold for "about $2.50."

HALL OF FAMERS

Out of the seventeen cards in the set, four of them represent Hall of Famers: Jack Chesbro, two cards of Clark Griffith (the team manager, which I would assume includes that all-words card above), and Willie Keeler.

ERRORS/VARIATIONS

I'm guessing it is an uncorrected error on Elberfeld's card that the word "tabasco" was misspelled. The Trading Card Database does not have anything listed.

MY TAKE

I know so little about this set that I really can't say too much. So, what do I know? Well, it's not the easiest set to find, for starters. Nothing on eBay as best I can tell, and the only auctions/sales of these cards that I've found are from years ago. A complete set of these sold in November of 2013 on "Kevin Savage Cards" for $10. Another complete set sold as part of a much larger Yankee lot back in 2006.

And somehow, somewhere, the Dimebox champion Nick was able to unearth two of these cards and send them to Zippy Zappy of Cervin' Up Cards/Torren' Up Cards about two-and-a-half years ago.

I have never seen any of these cards myself in the wild. In fact, I never knew this set existed before today.

If you have information on this set, please comment below about it.