Friday, August 31, 2012

Post #400

(Today, this blog passes 400 posts. Not bad for a pursuit I'd be afraid might run out of gas by now. But, as long as I keep getting inspiration, I'll keep showing up and posting.)

Today's post shows a couple of cards I recently received from a trading buddy:

One of the things that really makes the 1956 Topps set stand out for me is the way it used an additional action photo along with the head shot. And the action shots were sometimes interesting: a player is shown running the bases, or grabbing a fly ball, and a lot are shown in plays at the plate. Since Lou Berberet was a catcher, he was a natural for a play at the plate. However, the Topps artist appears to have cropped out the he looks to be showing a dance move to the umpire.

And now for the other card in that package...a "Wow" if there ever was one:

This picture is almost a commercial. If you told most people that RC Cola was a sponsor of Nolan Ryan's 1971 Topps card, there'd be little argument. I know it was a sign at Shea Stadium at the time, but Ryan's positioned so well in the shot (and we are so predisposed to seeing commercialism anyways) that it just looks a little too nice.

As for the card? Yes, it's off-centered to the point of being considered a miscut. And yes, there's a crease that runs right through the middle that extends to the back of the card. But if you've bothered to pay attention to this blog, you know that I don't care about that stuff as much as others do. The card was the right price -- free -- and the sender figured it would have a better place in my own collection than it would in his dupes box.

And he'd be right. It's a great addition.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hey...There's Some Residue Here...

Here's a card I picked up at the National. Actually, it's an intact panel:

While it looks like a 1977 Hostess, there is a slight difference on the back:

The black strip shows that it's a 1977 Hostess Twinkie card. Both the Hostess set and the Twinkie set have the same 150 cards. However, the Hostess set was distributed in 3-card panels of various types of snack cakes, and the Twinkie set was distributed in single panels. Despite the name, the cards were found in packages of Twinkies and Hostess Cupcakes as well.

This one was distributed with Twinkies. How do I know for sure? Those stains on the card offer pretty convincing proof.

Monday, August 27, 2012

More National "Type" Cards

When I went to the National earlier this month, I picked up some items with future blog posts in mind, and also to add some interesting items to my collection. These items fit both of those criteria.

I've mentioned here before that I have some interest in vintage Japanese cards. While in Baltimore, I picked up a few type cards to add to the collection, all are from the 1948-'50 time period and all are different types of Menko cards. 

This is a die-cut Menko from the JDM 14 set. They are distinguished by a bat/ball/glove at the top on the reverse. It features Tamotau Uchimori, which I figured out simply by the uniform number...I am still not able to read the characters on the card. There are 12 cards in the complete set, and this is one of the commons.

With 11 cards to go here, I might be interested in going after the other 11. Maybe.

This card is a rectangular Menko. The cards were designed with a number of games for kids to play. While there was the "card-flipping" aspect familiar to American collectors of the era, Menkos also featured other games, such as the rock/paper/scissors game represented in the fist on the reverse. This is one of the cards in the JDM 119 set, also known as Maruman cards from 1950 (Maruman is a company; their logo appears on the reverse next to the player's cheek). From what I understand, the league designation -- Central League or Pacific League -- runs along the top and the player's name appears in the circle. The name on the back is obscured by a number, which lets me identify it. This is Shissho Takasue.

Now, I'm still trying to determine this one. It's a round Menko and is thicker than the others, presumably so it can be thrown down by its owner in a game. According to my reference book, this design should be a JRM 17 except for two major things: the borders should be red and there is no "533-71" card listed in that set.

If you know, chime in in the comments. This one is beginning to get under my usually thick skin.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Q&A -- Gus Triandos Card

Today's question comes to me through my position in OBC as the "card identification guy":


"I have a Gus Triandos card with plain cardboard back done by Post the year is 1961. I have never seen a card like this. Do you have any info on this card?"

(There was no scan with the email, so I cribbed this image from the Orioles Card "O" the Day blog. Hope that's OK, Kevin.)


Post cereal placed cards on the backs of various cereal boxes in the early 1960s. If your year shown on the card is 1961, then it's the 1962 Post set that your Triandos card is from. He is featured on card #33 in that set, and #69 in the '61 set. Here's a link to an explanation of the set, as well as a neat TV commercial about them.

Here's the link to the other Post set checklists, if you've never seen this type of card before.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

These Have Kept Better Than the Dairy Products

Here's an issue that many don't get to see that often:

This is from a 1933 issue called Butter Creams. It's a 30-card issue that is identifiable by the relatively thin size (1 1/4" by 3 1/2", or the size of a modern card cut in half) as well as the text on the back:

There are actually two backs for these cards. This was the second variation, which has an Oct. 1st date and includes the address of the company on it. There may have been some confusion that necessitated this change, as the original -- dated Sept. 1 -- failed to include the address. The contest was to have fans estimate the statistics of the player on the front by the listed date.

Monday, August 20, 2012

More 1969 Issues...The Old Teams

I was mentioning earlier about how Topps handled the four expansion teams in 1969, but they had some issues with some of the other teams, as well. One had moved, while the other was problematic for a few years.

The first team was the Oakland A's. 1968 was the first year they played in Kansas City, but due to the ongoing issue that Topps was having with the players' union, many of the cards still showed them in 1967, which meant that the "KC" logo was still on their hats and needed to be airbrushed.

Here's an example of a hat that was altered, even when a coach in the background didn't get the same treatment:

Card #217 -- John Donaldson, Oakland A's

The hats were either given a black block or had green to cover the newer insignia with an "A" on it. This one shows the "ghost" of that logo:

Card #68 -- Dave Duncan, Oakland A's

However, by the end of the year, the legal issues with the union were resolved and the logo was used on the cards for all to see:
Card #655 -- Mike Hershberger, Oakland A's

This issue presented itself on the leaders card as well, as Danny Cater has a picture showing him in an obvious White Sox uniform even though he'd been with the A's since 1966:

Card #1 -- American League Batting Leaders

Other teams were bothered as well. Here's Ken Harrelson, listed as a Red Sox player but clearly wearing a Washington Senators uniform:

Card #5 -- American League Home Run Leaders

Now for the team that had been presenting Topps with problems...the Houston Astros. Originally called the Colt .45s, they were simply called the Colts on their early cards. When they changed the team name to Astros before the '65 season, Topps referred to the team as simply "Houston" in the early series and changing things up later; they were called Astros but all the cap were airbrushed, except for the one rookie card. In '66 and '67, there seems to have been some trouble with the name, as they were once again called "Houston."

In 1968 and '69, the team was still referred to as "Houston" but all the traces of the cap logo were eliminated from the photos. The blogs 1968 Topps and The Fleer Sticker Project delve a little deeper here.

So this was continued in 1969:
Card #76 -- Norm Miller, Houston Astros

The logo returned late in the season, but the name "Astros" would have to wait until 1970 before it was back for good:

Card #656 -- Dan Schneider, Houston Astros

By the time the 1969 season came to a close, things returned to normal...Topps was back to making its own mistakes on cards, such as using a picture of a 14-year old batboy of the card of a legitimate major leaguer:

Card #653 -- "Aurelio Rodriguez," California Angels

And only blacking out the logos of traded players:

Card #565 -- Hoyt Wilhelm, California Angels

Friday, August 17, 2012

Adding To the Stack...1954 Bowman

Now that I have a scanner, let me resurrect a feature I really enjoyed...commenting on the careers of players whose cards I recently picked up...this time from the 1954 Bowman set:

Card #2 -- Jackie Jensen, Boston Red Sox

Somebody was nice enough to pencil in "Pitcher" at the top of the card, which was somewhat wrong...Jackie Jensen was an outfielder, even though he did pitch in college. However, the 1954 date scribbled in at the bottom was correct.

Jensen benefited from the GI Bill. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he went to the University of California and earned All-American recognition in two sports there. Not only was he a standout baseball player who helped Cal win the first College World Series, but he was a star halfback on the team that played in the 1949 Rose Bowl. After his junior year, he left college to play baseball.

In 1954, he was just beginning with the Red Sox. He had been with the Yankees, where he was expected to replace Joe DiMaggio in center field until the arrival of Mickey Mantle changed the team's plans, and then the Senators, who didn't have another "big name" to help. Boston had Ted Williams, so that wasn't an issue. He thrived in Boston and won the 1958 MVP award. However, his aversion to flying made him walk away from the game while he was still at his peak.
Card #60 -- Fred Baczewksi, Cincinnati Reds

The same previous owner who penciled in "Pitcher" did so here as well. This time, Fred Baczewski was a hurler. In fact, when this card came out the southpaw had just completed a terrific rookie campaign, where he went 11-4 after a midseason trade with the Cubs. However, he was unable to sustain that success and was back in the minors by 1955.

Card #156 -- Rocky Bridges, Cincinnati Reds

The card here says Everett Lamar Bridges, but everybody knew him as Rocky. And that was an apt nickname. His 1959 Topps card appeared in a book called The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book. I'll let that book's authors Brendan Boyd and Fred Harris speak about him:

"Rocky Bridges looked like a ballplayer. In fact, he probably looked more like a ballplayer than any ballplayer who ever lived. His head looked like a sack of rusty nails, he kept about six inches of tobacco lodged permanently in the upper recesses of his left cheek, and his uniform always looked as if he had just slept in it...(he) could have intimidated Ty Cobb. He was the sort of guy who would spike his own grandmother to break up a double play.
Their book is available at Amazon, just click the link below. If you've never read the book, check it out. You'll be glad you did.

With a reputation like that, you'd think that he'd have died tragically. However, Rocky Bridges is still around fact, he's the only person in this post who didn't pass away relatively young.

Back to my post for one final card:

Card #191 -- Karl Drews, Philadelphia Phillies

Karl Drews spent a long time in the game. Signed at the age of 18 before the 1939 season, he worked his way through the minors (except 1943, when he wasn't playing at all) and finally broke into the big leagues with the Yankees in 1946. He would be demoted back to the minors in 1950 after going to the St. Louis Browns, but fought his way back. 1954 would be his last season in the majors, but he kept pitching. In 1960, he was pitching in Mexico before hanging up the glove at the age of 40.

After all that fighting, Drews was killed in 1963 after his car broke down in Florida. While getting help, he was hit by a drunk driver.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Another Cereal Box Teasure

Today's card was pulled out of a box of Kellogg's Pep cereal in 1948:

There were 18 athletes featured in the set, with five showing baseball players. Aside from the Phil Cavaretta card above, there was also Orval Grove, Mike Tresh, "Dizzy" Trout and Dick Wakefield. Since none of those were stars, it has limited the collectability of the set. Fortunately, the keeps the prices low...when they can be located.

They measure 1 3/8 inches by 1 5/8 inches and the backs feature the basic 1948-type biography:

The cards are unnumbered, which might have led collectors to keep looking for more cards. At the bottom, you can see the ad for the cereal it came in.

This just goes to show: before Kellogg's inserted 3-D cards into its boxes, they experimented with other types of cards.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A McDonald's Promo That Didn't Do So Well

When McDonald's founder Ray Kroc bought the San Diego Padres in 1974, it was only logical that a promotional tie-in between the two was only a matter of time. And on July 30, 1974, these were given to the attendees of the Padres' game against the Dodgers:

Inside the baseball were five circular Padres player cards, one that featured Ronald McDonald and a card that featured the team's home schedule on one side and the dates the rest of the team cards would be available at local McDonald's restaurants.

There was a hinge at the bottom of the baseball which allowed the cards to stay in order despite the circular design of the baseball. A hinge was placed at the bottom of each card to keep them in place...which can be seen on the Willie McCovey card below:

The set was a test to gauge a wider release in other area, but evidently it wasn't a success. No other teams were given a similar McDonald's treatment.

Friday, August 10, 2012

National Thoughts -- 2012 Edition

Now that I've returned to civilization and begun adjusting to my regular routine, here's a few thoughts on last week's event in Baltimore:

The best item of the show may not have been a purchase at all...this little item was handed to me by fellow blogger Dave Hornish (the proprietor of The Topps Archives blog).

It's an intact piece of gum from 1946, before Topps even produced cards. One of four different flavors (the others were spearmint, pepsin and cinnamon), it will remain in its present state and take a place of honor in my collection.

Dave wasn't the only fellow blogger to show up, either. Bo -- better known as Phungo -- stopped by the table where I was working and had one of his specially-made packs to give to me. Here are the contents:

Every one of the cards inside has a vintage tie to it. I don't know if that was intentional, but it was definitely appreciated.

I see in his post on The National that I ended up being the only other blogger he ran into. That's a shame, as the Blogosphere is big enough to have a bigger presence at the hobby's premiere event. But I will say this: I agree with his assessment that The National is overwhelming. This was my sixth time at one, and I'll admit that one day there just isn't enough to take it all in.

I picked this up at a table for the outrageous price of $1:

This opened wrapper is from 1979, the first year of baseball cards I collected. I remember opening the yellow wax for what was inside, but it never occurred to me to actually hold on to one for my collection. So that was rectified with this wrapper.

By the wasn't the very first thing I collected. That honor goes to Star Wars, which I mentioned here a couple of years back. I even managed to find an unopened item for that part of the collection, too:

That will join my other unopened that I've completed the base set, I'm no longer tempted to see what is inside these.

On Thursday, I attended the Topps "meet and greet." In the process, I answered four trivia questions and received two boxes of new product and two new specialty cards. Since I really had no use for the newer stuff, they went to kids in the audience (which surprised the Topps execs who watched me do it; they had just asked me nicely if I could keep it off of eBay until the next Wednesday). I did keep one of the items, though:

As a Steelers fan, I wasn't about to get rid of this one. Especially something that reminds me that even the Topps executives can get jaded by the actions of hobbyists, and can also act surprised to see a hobbyist just give away a whole box of cards to a kid who might enjoy it more.

I picked up several more cards last week, and I will show them later as I cover some of the sets I feature in the future. If you went and I missed you, hopefully we can cross paths in Chicago next year. If you didn't make it this year, I'd be glad to see you in the future. The National is like's a place that every collector needs to see at least once.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ballad of Another Forty Bucks

Last month, I featured the details of a deal that I recently completed and promptly had the most successful post on this blog in a long time. Well, here's hoping the iron strikes again...

The opportunity to make another "dealer scum" deal arose with the same trader (Ed Schott of Baltimore). For another forty dollars, Ed sent the following cards:

1961 Topps #200 -- Warren Spahn, Milwaukee Braves

 At first glance, this card looks really nice. However, the bottom edge is uneven, showing that it's been trimmed. The condition was made clear before the deal was made, which is important whenever money changes hands. As you can see, the condition presents well but little things like trimming need to be brought up ahead of time to head off future problems when (not if) they are discovered. As a seller, you really don't need to get a reputation because you don't notice details. Even if it isn't your fault.

I say that now, because the other card from 1961 is certainly trimmed:

1961 Topps #226 -- New York Yankees Team Card

There's no question this card was trimmed, as all four edges show uneven borders. However, this type of card makes some collectors a little squeamish. Personally, I'd rather have a hole in the card than one in the binder. I can always upgrade later.

Trimming is about the only thing that isn't apparent on the next card:

1958 Topps #351 -- Braves' Fence Busters

In 1961, three of these players -- Aaron, Mathews and Adcock -- would team with Frank Thomas (on the Pirates in 1957) to become the first tandem to belt four straight home runs, in a game against the Reds. The mark has been equaled six times since, but has never been broken. Topps was noting their power three years earlier.

Not only that, but it was a chance to add a card featuring two Hall of Famers into my 1958 Topps binder.

1954 Bowman #154 -- Don Newcombe, Brooklyn Dodgers

I also enjoy sliding another 1950s Brooklyn Dodger into the binder as well. And this one cuts my 1954 Bowman wantlist to 92 cards, but a quick count shows I still need 10 of the 14 Brooklyn Dodgers including Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese and Roy Campanella.

Fortunately, I'm not a fan of the Bums (even though I respect their impact on the game). The fact is, I'm a fan of this guy's team:

1954 Topps #50 -- Yogi Berra, New York Yankees

The flip side to being a Yankees fan is that I really need to adjust my expectations about how much I spend on the cards of the players who wore pinstripes over the years. This card -- beat up as it is -- accounted for about half of my $40 purchase.

So I ask again: would you have made this purchase? Or would the trimmed cards have made you reconsider?

Monday, August 6, 2012

More 1969 Issues...The New Teams

I've been focusing on 1969 lately, and since today's a travel day for me, I'll simply feature some more cards from the set. There were 4 new teams in the 1969 season.

The American League added the:

Seattle Pilots and the:

Kansas City Royals. Over in the National League, they brought the Montreal Expos:

As well as the San Diego Padres:

This continued the expansion of baseball outside the relatively condensed region that existed prior to 1958. For the first time, baseball expanded into Canada and (temporarily) the Pacific Northwest. Another team was added to California and the Midwest, to replace a departed team. The Southeast benefited from an earlier expansion (Houston) and the move of the Braves to Atlanta in 1966.

The new teams presented a problem for Topps at the time, because the players weren't in their new uniforms. However, Topps did what they did in the 1961-'62 expansion: they simply used "hatless" photos that made players look more like your Uncle Phil or the family tax preparer than an athlete, or they simply airbrushed the hat to remove the logo.

Adding some complexity to the problem, many players refused to sign new Topps contracts on the advice of the player's union. In many cases, the photos used were from 1967 or earlier.

However, a deal was struck before the season was over, so players in the last series of 1969 were able to be featured in their uniforms. 

The Seattle Pilots altered their uniforms after the preseason...but this photo beats one with a "hatless" pose.

The Royals weren't much early on (and aren't today), but there was a 15-year stretch where they were one of the roughest teams in baseball.

I'll say it here: the Montreal Expos may have been the first major league team in Canada, but the red, white and blue uniforms were more American that any U.S. team had.

Finally, I had to include this card even though I had others to illustrate my point. Who better to have on a team called The Padres that a man whose last name was the similar-sounding Podres? As Wile E. Coyote would put it: "Genius."

I'm catching a plane...see you on Wednesday.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thurman Remembered Again

(This was a newsletter article I wrote in 2004, commemorating anniversary of Thurman Munson's plane crash. Yesterday marked 33 years and I feel it should be shared again:)

On August 2nd, 1979 a two-engine Cessna Citation with the number 15NY approached the Canton-Akron airport in Ohio. It was a Thursday afternoon and most people were just finishing their workday, but the pilot was Thurman Munson of the New York Yankees and Thursdays were often off-days for the team. Thurman was spending his day off at home as he often did; in fact, he had begun flying in 1977 to spend more time at home and avoid moving his family to New York for six months a year. Munson had just built a family home and conducted business and real estate deals in his native Canton.

Munson had only recently bought the plane and it was an upgrade for him, so he needed some additional lessons to fly it. His flight instructor David Hall and friend Jerry Anderson joined him on this particular flight.  Munson was having some issues with the plane and wanted Hall and Anderson to check them out while in the air and also to get some practice taking it off and landing it.

As they approached runway 19 at 3:02 PM, Thurman came in too low.  The plane hit some trees a thousand feet from the runway and lost its wings. It crashed just past Greensburg Road, rolled to an embankment near the airport and caught fire. Once the plane came to a stop, Hall kicked open the side door and Anderson followed him out. Both men noticed that Thurman was still in the plane, motionless, head tilted sideways.  They tried to pull him out of his harness until a fuel tank caught fire and the flames forced them to move back. Their clothes singed, they were found exhausted and gasping for air when the first police officer arrived five minutes after the crash.

(Munson's final card...1979 Burger King, which was issued after the Topps cards that year.)

Yankee captain Thurman Munson was thirty-two years old. The official cause of death was given as smoke inhalation, and the coroner determined that he had died even before his friends tried to pull him out. He left behind his wife Diana -- his high school sweetheart -- and three young children, Tracy, Kelly and Michael. He also left behind 24 teammates, several coaches, the entire Yankee organization and a legion of fans.

Though Thurman was known for having the stoic and unemotional makeup often attributed to many of those who share his German heritage, the news of his passing caused a lot of emotion to spill over among his teammates and friends. George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin had spent much of the 1979 baseball season feuding in the press, but both broke down crying over the phone when Steinbrenner told Billy the news. Bobby Murcer had been Munson's closest friend on the team and immediately flew to Ohio to help comfort the Munson family.

Steinbrenner had longtime clubhose superintendant Pete Sheehy clean out Munson's locker. Sheehy left Thurman's uniform and catcher's mask on the hooks, a Yankee cap on the shelf and a metal plate above the stall with the number 15 on it. Sheehy died in 1985, all Thurman's teammates have since retired and George Steinbrenner, Catfish Hunter, Bobby Murcer and Billy Martin have also passed away, but the locker remained that way in the Yankees' locker room until it was demolished. When the Yankees moved to their new home in 2009, Munson's locker was moved there and remains to be a permanent reminder of what he meant to the club.

The Yankees played again on August 3rd against the Orioles in Yankee Stadium. As the Yankee players ran out to their positions before the top of the first inning that evening, eight took the field and the catcher position stayed empty. Thurman Munson's face was shown on the scoreboard and the fans applauded for eight minutes. Once the tribute had settled down, rookie catcher Jerry Narron quietly took his position as the game began.

The entire team traveled to Canton the following Monday for a memorial service. For many of the players, it was the first time they had to deal with the death of somebody so close to them. For Graig Nettles, his way of dealing with it was through humor. Remembering that Thurman loved junk food, he quipped, "only Thurman would be buried next to a Burger King and a pizza parlor" when they approached the cemetery.

Now that several years have passed, there are still a few vocal fans who want to see Munson enshrined in Cooperstown. They point out Thurman's resume: 1970 A.L. Rookie of the Year, 1976 A.L. MVP, three pennants, two World Series championships and the fact that he was the acknowledged "heart and soul" of those teams. However, in retrospect the Rookie of the Year award doesn't help Munson any more than it helped Fernando Valenzuela, Fred Lynn or Lou Whitaker. The MVP award is nice for a trophy room, but it didn't help Keith Hernandez, George Foster or (again) Fred Lynn get in the Hall of Fame either. Each award is given for an exceptional season, but to get in the Hall of Fame a player needs to put together an entire career.

Thurman played in the 1970s and was a contemporary of two catchers who are among those immortalized in Cooperstown -- Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk. Bench was the best catcher of his generation and deserved the first-ballot election he received once he was eligible. The one time Bench and Munson met in the postseason was for the 1976 World Series, and the Reds swept the Yankees. If you compared the year-by-year stats of Fisk and Munson for the years 1970-'79 they look comparable, but the fact of the matter is that if Fisk's career ended in 1979, he wouldn't have gotten into the Hall of Fame either. Fisk's decade with the White Sox was just as much a part of his induction as his decade with the Red Sox. By '79, Munson was playing designated hitter and first base (where he played his final game) because his legs were too tired to allow him to be an everyday catcher. In his autobiography, Munson wrote that he was hoping to play for the Indians by 1981, but he likely wouldn't have been able to supplant Bo Diaz or Ron Hassey as their regular catcher.

Of the resume items mentioned earlier, that leaves the fact that his teams won three pennants and two World Series. If that were all a person needed to enter the Hall, then other catchers with Series rings -- guys like Bill Freehan, Gene Tenace or Bob Boone -- would get more consideration. Besides that, playing for multiple championship teams didn't get earlier Yankees like Bobby Richardson, Roger Maris or Mark Koenig into the Hall, nor did it help another Yankee catcher with similar credentials as Munson...Elston Howard. A '63 MVP award, four Series championships, eight pennants and an ability at his position that caused Yogi Berra to be switched to the outfield surpassed his trivial status as the first black Yankee. If those achievements aren't enough for Elston Howard, then perhaps Munson's omission wasn't an accident.

None of those issues should detract from Thurman Munson as a player or as a man. He was a gifted catcher with a strong arm and surprising speed. He was an agressive player and a quiet leader. Off the field, he was a devoted family man. In person, he came across as moody, but his teammates insisted he was very sensitive and needed time to warm up to others. Whatever the viewpoint, Thurman Munson's passing more than thirty years ago was a loss for all who knew him, and he's still missed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

2012 National Week...A Look Back, Part 2

Today marks the beginning of "The National," the annual sportscards convention. This year's event is being held in Baltimore and runs through Sunday. Unlike 2010 in Baltimore, when I missed it, I'll be there this year, helping Irv Lerner at table (#317). If you're at the show, stop by and say hello. But don't ask me to give you a discount...because I can't.

The National has been held every year since 1980 and has rotated through several cities. The '80 show was in Los Angeles and would travel to Detroit, St. Louis and Chicago after that. The rules in place allowed several dealers to "bid" on the next year's show and the election would be held at the convention. The prospective sponsors would make their case before the assembled dealers and officers of the committee. Once the votes were tallied, the winner would be announced. For the fifth show in 1984, the event would be held in Parsippany, New Jersey. It was just across the river from New York City and widely hailed as the "New York National."

Attendees of that show were able to pick up this program:

While the artwork featuring the '56 Topps cards is neat, the rendering of the two brothers sitting on a wooden crate and looking at their cards is awesome. I especially like the way they have the opened wax wrappers and extra cards tossed about the ground. For collectors like myself who were told to be extra careful with our cards to avoid damaging them, the picture is a glimpse into a different era.

The group that won the right to sponsor the '84 National are assembled in this photo from the program:

Standing are Tom Reid and Mike Gordon (a former contributor to The Trader Speaks and the man who sold me this program at a later National in Chicago). The two men seated are Mike Aronstein (the "MA" in TCMA, a company that printed collector cards in the 1970s and '80s) and Lew Lipset, author of The Encyclopedia of Baseball Cards and publisher of The Old Judge. (The program didn't give any photographer credit...but I've since discovered that this photo was taken by Frank Barning of Baseball Hobby News.)

For those who haven't been to a National, it's worth going just to see the stuff on display. Along with the cards, memorabilia from sports and entertainment are available, autograph guests sign throughout the weekend and many hobby names will be on the floor. While attending other Nationals, I've met Penny Marshall and Dr. Jim Beckett walking the floor as collectors and even Howard Bedell, who was on a 1962 Topps card as a player.

In the case of Howie Bedell, he walked up to a table, looked at a binder with some 1962 Topps cards in it, found the one with him on it and asked the seller, "is this one even real?" The seller assured him that it was authentic, especially for a "no-name" player. Bedell handed over his business card and said something about how that was certainly not a "no-name" player. Perhaps noticing that I (standing 4-5 feet away) was chuckling to myself over what I just saw, Bedell have me a slap on the shoulder and asked me how I was doing. Meanwhile, the seller was asking him if he'd do the honor of signing his card but Bedell politely declined. I actually enjoyed being there for that, if only to see a seller get reminded of the importance of not automatically downgrading a player on a card.

One thing that I wish would still be a part of the convention is a series of seminars. For one day, many subject matter "experts" would discuss a topic for an hour. The '84 National program had a list of the schedule:

The schedule shows a wide range of interesting topics that could hold somebody's interest. While "Collecting and the I.R.S." doesn't seem like it would be good for anything besides catching up on some sleep, Bill Henderson is always good for some stories about the way things used to be in the hobby (I always seem to hear something new from him each time I speak with him). An oratory about prices by Dr. Jim Beckett -- remember, this was before he had started his price guide -- also had potential. My introduction to 19th century baseball cards was a book co-written by Keith Mitchell; that would have been a neat discussion to sit in on. I'll also mention that Rich Klein is still active with The National and posts on Net54. He often has a table near the show entrance; if you can get to this year's show, stop by and chat with him for a moment.

Another feature of the National was a luncheon. In recent years, there have been several groups that have luncheons and dinners with interesting speakers from auction houses and grading companies, but none are officially recognized by the National committee. In most cases, you need to belong (or know somebody who belongs) to a group to know about them. However, here's an event that was listed in the '84 program:

Having lost that very 80s-vintage mustache long ago, Keith Olbermann is known today as a national political commentator and former ESPN Sportscenter host. As a teen in the 1970s he was quite active in the hobby. He wrote the text that shows up on backs of the underappreciated 1976 SSPC set (printed by TCMA, mentioned earlier) and even took some photos that wound up in the 1981 Donruss set. At the time of the '84 convention he was the sports guy for the nightly TV news in Boston. Jean Potvin was likely added to help skew the baseball focus that most hobbyists had; however, he was a member of the Islanders teams so popular in the New York area at the time and likely had some colorful insights.

As for autograph guests, the list is rather short and includes mainly players who were local:

While many of these former players are now deceased, there's a definite lack or "star quality" that marks shows like this today. For an example, compare this list with the schedule of autograph guests at this year's show. That might be due to the fact that in '84, these autographs were included in the admission price. Today, all autographs are a separate fee and even the VIP package sold to collectors only includes a limited number of free autographs.

Another thing missing from current National programs that should be there are articles. Fortunately, the 1984 program has several, like this one:

This article explains the battle between Topps and Bowman, both in the candy stores and in the courtrooms. Other articles cover Barry Halper's collection, the first National in '80, World Series rings, collecting nonsports subjects and different methods of collecting. Compare that to the program for last year's National in Chicago, which consisted of a directory of sellers and advertisements from sponsors but no reading material. I kept a program for my collection, but was disappointed to see what wasn't included.