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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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?