The Quest for the 1960 Topps Set, Part XXIV
May 19th, 2011 by slangon

As a set collector, especially a collector of a vintage set, the bane of my existence is the dreaded high series card. Although I have become quite the vintage-o-phile over the last year or 2 of my collecting career and I understand perfectly well that vintage is not cheap, I can never quite get the bad taste out of my mouth when shelling out a lot (or at least what I consider a lot) of scratch for cardboard. I guess that explains my reliance on moldy old dinged to hell cardboard. With all that in mind, I do however, know the reality of trying to put together a vintage set and don’t mind too much paying good money for certain cards. When I threw my hat into the ring to try and collect the 1960 set, I knew there would be some killer’s in there and was prepared to do what I had to to acquire them. I was able to get both the Yaz and McCovey rookies for relatively cheap, but still more than I would like to pay for a baseball card. In the end though, they were 2 old Hall of Famer rookie cards, so I was okay with spending a bit.

When it comes to the high series cards, it gets a little muddy in my penny pinching, cheapskate brain. The high series starts with card #507 and, like a lot of those older Topps sets, contains all the All-Star cards, which not surprisingly, consist of many star players who would be sought after whether they were high numbered or not. Because of the aforementioned cheapskate brain of mine, I can easily justify shelling out a stack greenbacks for, say, a high numbered Hank Aaron All-Star card, but when it comes to shelling out those same greenbacks for a high numbered Charley James or John Buzhardt, I have trouble with it. Nothing against those guys. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have a great affinity for lesser know everyday players. I just can’t justify spending big for their cards.

And before anyone accuses me of being ignorant to the ways of economics, I am well aware of the scarcity of these high numbered cards and how that affects their value. It all makes perfect sense to me from a business stand point. Kids were just not as interested in buying baseball cards around the time of year that these high series typically were released, which in turn meant that the store owners were ordering less of them, which meant that Topps would either produce less of them or risk being stuck with huge overstocks. I get it. I also get that because their is less supply, the demand is greater, thus driving up the price. All that is perfectly logical. As a matter of fact, is much more logical than today’s practice of producing short printed cards for the sake of producing short printed cards.

So, with all of that being said, Although I understand why high series cards are so damn expensive, it doesn’t mean that I have to like it. Nor does it mean that I have to get sucked into paying what The Man says I should. Thanks to the fact that I am not dissuaded from acquiring a card just because of a few wrinkles or pen marks, I can track down some well loved examples of high priced cards that others would turn their noses up at for pretty cheap.

In the case of this quartet of high numbered cards, I didn’t really have to settle for anything all that bad. I just happened to find someone selling them as a lot on eBay and was able to grab that lot for about $6 with shipping. $1.50 per card is certainly over what I usually pay for scrappy-type players from this set, I’ll bite on that price for a couple of high numbers.

#516 Marty Kutyna

Marty Kutyna was a middling middle reliever for the Philadelphia Athletics and the expansion Washington Senators and played from 1959 to 1962. Aside from his 14-16 record and 3.88 ERA, he does have one thing that the Baseball Hall of Fame has been trying to get for years. Everyone knows how for years, the President would throw out the first pitch at the Senators home opener. Well, apparently on Opening Day of 1962, JFK threw out the first pitch and somehow Marty ended up with the ball. He afterwards had Kennedy sign the ball and steadfastly refuses to give it up, even for Cooperstown.

#524 Bill Henry

Sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up. In August of 2007, a local Lakeland, FL paper, The Lakeland Ledger, printed the obituary of former Major League pitcher Bill Henry. Or so they thought. After reading about the passing, baseball historian Davis Lambert tracked down Bill Henry’s wife, Betty Lou, and called to offer his condolences. Her reply was “Bill didn’t pass away in Florida. He’s sittin’ right next to me.” Apparently, the BIll Henry who dies in Florida had been telling everyone he knew that he was former one-time All-Star pitcher Bill Henry for years. And everyone bought it. They had no reason not to. The Florida Bill matched all the physical stats on the back of Bill Henry’s baseball card and he seemed to have a stockpile of stories about his career as a ball player. He would even attend old-timer events during Spring Training in Lakeland and mingle with guys like Sparky Anderson and Ralph Houlk. Even his wife of 19 years had no idea. The funnest part of this to me was that nobody knows why he did it. He had a good career as a salesman, was in a seemingly happy marriage and was plenty popular. By all accounts it didn’t even seem like he had any particular love for baseball. What did the real Bill think about it? “I’d congratulate him. If that’s what the guy needed to do to help his career, it don’t bother me….I just hope they don’t stop my Social Security.”

#535 Whitey Lockman

Whitey Lockman is one of 3 Whitey’s to appear in the 1960 set, and coincidentally, the only Whitey in the set who is not enshrined in Copperstown. With the acquisition of this card, I have completed the Whitey Triumvirate. Whitey played his final game on June 24, 1960 and immediately started the next phase of his career as a coach for the Reds.

#551 Ed Rakow

Before being signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers just before they jumped ship to Los Angeles, Ed Rakow played for a semi-pro football team in his native Pittsburgh named the Bloomfield Rams. He spent the entire 1955 season playing quarterback and defensive end for $5 a game. He lost his job in the 1956 season though when the Rams hired a new QB who had just been cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Some sources say this new quarterback also made $5 a game, some say he was worth $6 a game. Either way, poor Ed lost his job as quarterback and soon after also lost his job as defensive end when somebody accidentally stepped on his hand and broke it. After that, he was reduced to trying his hand at semi-pro baseball where he caught the eye of Dodger scouts. Oh. That guy who got cut by the Steelers and stole Ed’s job? Johnny Unitas. I guess that means that Ed has something in common with Todd Helton. Goddamn Colt’s quarterbacks.

2 Responses to “The Quest for the 1960 Topps Set, Part XXIV”

  1. you got a good deal!

  2. I have a few of these I obtained through Diamond Giveaway codes. If youre interested Email me eyelucky711[at]me[dot]com..


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