The Quest for the 1960 Topps Set
March 29th, 2010 by slangon

As I mentioned before, as part of my quest to complete the 1960 Topps set, earlier this week I had received a Sportlots shipment and and eBay shipment that helped me in my quest. Today, I will highlight some cards that I got as part of the Sportlots haul.

As I talked about in the above link, part of the frustrating thing about trying to collect a vintage set is the expense of nailing down the cards of the star players. In a set like the 1960 one, a very good number of the star players from that year eventually were enshrined in the Hall of Fame, which just exasperates the expense involved in trying to track down their cards. Luckily, the seller that I got this particular bunch of cards from had a fairly good number of cards that, how can I put this…  have lived a rich life. True to the name of this blog, I was able to grab a handful of star cards in less than perfect condition for a very reasonable sum. I also grabbed a bunch of common cards, but for today, we’ll focus on the big guys.

Here’s a couple of guys who may not have necessarily been stars in their day. One is in the Hall of Fame now as a manager and one probably has a pretty good number of folks who would argue for his inclusion as well. I, however do not belong in that group unless the Hall of Fame opens up a Characters wing. In that case, by all means Don Zimmer is probably one of the biggest characters to be involved in baseball ever. Also, since these are probably the least big out of all the big names I got, these cards are probably in the best shape out of all the big names.

Next up is a group of more legit stars.

I don’t remember ever hearing anyone arguing to get Frank Thomas into the Hall of Fame (at least not this Frank Thomas) but the dude had a pretty handy career. He also has a special spot in my heart since 2 years after this card came out, Frank became an original Met. I was actually a little bit surprised to learn that the Mets were actually the 2nd longest stop in his career. For some reason I always assumed that he only made a short stay in Queens, but after the Pirates (925 games), the Mets were the next longest tenure of all the teams he played for with 342 games over the course of 2 1/2 seasons. The Cubs, who he is pictured with on this card were 3rd with 155 games. It would also seem as though I need to add the Cubs to the list of teams that had confusingly similar uniforms during the 60’s.

Here we have the second Hall member of the bunch. It’s funny the way you perceive the history of certain players based on one or two specific events. I was always under the impression that Maz was a prolific power hitter based solely on the home run he hit off of Ralph Terry during the fall of the year that this card came out. The reality is that he was always much more known as an excellent defensive second baseman. I’m actually a little impressed that someone would actually get voted into the Hall based on those credentials. I also find it hilarious that the 13 year old fan who caught the ball traded it to Bill in return for two cases of beer.

Here’s another star player from the set that I’m able to cross off my list. Like Maz, Kaline was a defensive specialist who won 10 Gold Gloves over his 22 year career. Interestingly, he won 3 in a row (’57-’59), didn’t win one year, and then won 7 in a row (’61-’67). Unlike Maz, Kaline was very much an offensive threat as well, finishing his career with a .297 BA, 3007 hits, 399 homers and 1583 RBI. I always wonder if it eats at guys knowing they ended up just one homer shy of a milestone, or one hit, or one strikeout, or whatever stat it happens to be. As you can see, this card, like most every other card that makes up my 1960 set thus far, is far from perfect. It’s a little hard to see in the scan above, but there’s something weird going on in the top left corner. Here’s a blow up.

First off, you can see much better just exactly how sharp the corners are, but there’s also those weird lines, which I’d guess were printers registration marks. For those that don’t know, cards, and any other printed materials for that matter, are printed one color at a time. Therefore the printer usually incorporates a set of marks so that it’s easier to line up the different printing plates correctly. Usually, they’re put in a spot where they get trimmed off once the card is cut down to it’s final size. I was able to find this post on the blog of Bob Lemke, who is the editor of the vintage card sections of the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards. In it, he links to another collectors blog who first pointed out this flaw and wonders if it should be listed as a distinct variation. Personally, I’m not really one for variations. In the ’08 and ’09 Allen & Ginter sets that I’m collecting, if I have a mini version of a card, that counts. I never go out of my way to track down short printed parallels. Some people therefore say my sets aren’t officially complete, but whatever. Needless to say, I’m not going to be running out and getting the non-printer marked version of Al any time soon. I just though it was interesting that with all the study that goes into this hobby, things like this just come to light now, especially as it doesn’t seem like the printer marked version is any rarer that the non-marked one.

This was the big score in this particular purchase. Whenever I try and justify my love for beat up cards in my head, one of the things I always come up with is that it’s nice to think that I own a banged up copy of a 1960 Ernie Banks that is banged up because whatever kid originally owned this loved Ernie Banks. He loved him so much he carried the card back and forth to school every day so he could take it out and look at it at recess. He loved him so much he brought the card with him to Wrigley on day hoping to get it signed by Ernie himself (sadly that never happened). He loved him so much he played card games with his friends using Ernie as his star player. I guess that just makes me feel a little better than figuring it’s beat up because that kid lost interest in his cards eventually and just carelessly threw them into a box one day.

So there we go. I’ve still got a long way to go, but now I’m just a few steps closer.

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