What Were They Thinking: The This Just In Edition
July 12th, 2011 by slangon

This series of posts is dedicated to examining the numerous design details from the Topps art department that leave me scratching my head. They’re the types of things that could just be one time instances that are the result of someone overlooking them, or they could have been a conscious decision on the part of Topps designers. It’s always kind of hard to tell. They always make me wish that I could sit down with someone who was involved with the creative process and ask them “What were you thinking?” In the mean time, I’ll just sit here pointing out weird little things that I notice and coming up with my own theories, or more likely just pointing them out and not coming up with any answers at all. Who knows? Maybe someone out there who is smarter and better versed in the ways of the hobby will know the answer to some of these queries. Or maybe they’ll just go down in history as some weird thing that Topps did way back when.

I figured today would be a fitting day to take a look at this, being that tonight is the All-Star game and all. A while back I had posted this 1970 Denny McLain All-Star card that I got from Chris of Project 1962 in exchange for making him a custom relic card.

In that post, I made a passing mention of the newspaper background and wondered aloud if that was actually a real newspaper. I decided to investigate a little further. You can see pieces of a couple of headlines.

On the Top left there’s some mention of a forfeit and some sharks. This is just conjecture, but I’m thinking that says “Forfeit Overruled, Sharks Win”. In the first line there is also mention of Venezuela, which does have a winter baseball league of which a team called The Sharks is a member. As a matter of fact, The Sharks, or Tiburones de la Guaira, were the Champs in the 68-69 season and the 70-71 season. The Navegantes del Magallanes were the Champs in the 69-70 season, though.

Then on the upper right, we have something about the Caribbean Series and the Champs are planning something. I have no idea what the first word might be, other than it ends in “ter”. Maybe it’s “Winter”, as in the “Winter Champs”? In the smaller copy, there’s some mention of January 11. Hmm. The bottom left has a few things that can be made out, but not much.

There’s something about Robinson enjoying a leisurely winter, and “He pops into his sporting good store three or four times a week and makes occasional banquet appearances.” Apparently, he was also working out at the YMCA in preparation for spring training. I’m not sure which Robinson the article is referring to though. Doing a search for Robinson on Baseball-Reference comes up with 3 guys named Robinson who were playing in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Bill, Brooks and Frank. A quick Google search indicates that Brooks Robinson did indeed at one point own a sporting goods store in Baltimore. The bottom right corner has a couple of nuggets of info as well.

The fact that this has The Sporting News and a specific date is telling. There’s actually even a page number. That’s helpful. There’s also some mention of All-Star Rico Petrocelli. Another quick Google search indicates that there was indeed a January 24, 1970 edition of The Sporting News, although nothing I found had anything except the cover. That is enough to convince me though that the back ground of these cards was actually taken from a real newspaper. Now the question becomes why that particular issue?

Does something on that page or in that issue have to do with Denny McLain specifically? I only have 2 other 1970 All-Stars and both have the same exact background, so my guess would be no.

A jaunt over to Check Out My Cards verifies that all the All-Star cards do have that same background, including Brooks Robinson and Rico Petrocelli. So what’s with that particular page? Is it just purely random? Did the Topps designers decide they wanted a newspaper background and that just happened to be the issue that was laying around? Considering the January date on the newspaper and the fact that I would assume that January might indeed be when they would be working on Series 5 cards, that would be my guess. I would further surmise that there probably wouldn’t be too much baseball news in a January newspaper, which would account for all the talk of Caribbean Series, which was coming up in early February of 1970.

By the way, although I do not personally own any All Star cards from the 1961 set, which is basically the same exact design as this sans the gray border, I found a high resolution image of one of them and there does not seem to be any date on that newspaper background.

If there’s any chance that anyone happens to actually have the January 24, 1970 issue of The Sporting News, I’d love to see a scan of page 35.


This just in from the It’s Good to Have Friends Department –

Mark from Mark’s Ephemera has done me a solid and sent along the page in question – or should I says pages.

The Sporting News
Saturday, January 24, 1970
page 35

You can see down there in the corner is the date and there’s the article about Brooks Robinson. But wait. Where’s all that hubbub about Sharks and forfeits?

The Sporting News
Saturday, January 24, 1970
page 47

Apparently those tricky S.O.B’s over at Topps stitched 2 different pages together to form the background of those All Star cards. It’s really awesome to see the actual pages, but this just makes things even more confusing. I mean, I get picking a random page to make up the background, but why would you go through the trouble of using 2 different pages. WHY TOPPS?!?!?

By the way, a big thanks to Mark and to PaperofRecord.com, which is where Mark got them from.


8 Responses to “What Were They Thinking: The This Just In Edition”

  1. Just so people don’t kill lots of time, I’ve sent Sean that page. Thanks for playing.

  2. You know you’re dedicated to the Hobby and blogging when you take time out of your day to explore something as random as this to completion. Great story.


    JayBee Anama

  3. Wow, great work! You collect cards for decades and yet puzzles remain to be solved.

  4. I’m amazed…….great research everyone!

  5. can you do the same check on the 1961 Topps All-Stars cards? they have a similar theme.

  6. I think the problem with trying to track down the page(s) for the ’61 All-Star cards is that it doesn’t seem like they have the date visible on the card. That was really the biggest factor in tracking down the particular issue and thus the particular pages on the 1970 cards.

  7. I’m a couple of days late on this but that’s great detective work. I love the little details about these vintage cards and card designs. Nicely done!

  8. I go on vacation and come back to investigative journalism! Nice work, Sean and Mark!

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