The Quest for the 1960 Topps Set, Part XXXV
November 21st, 2012 by slangon
Geez. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. I guess that’s the thing about chasing sets, especially vintage ones. You invariably end up hitting a wall where you’re just not finding any cards that you need in the price range you want for a while. Well, I recently was able to dredge up a few 1960 Topps cards that were lurking on my wantlist in that great virtual Quarter Bin known as Sportlots.
#54 Mike Fornieles
One thing I really love about doing these little “Did You Know…” write ups about the 1960 cards that I’ve been accumulating is that 9 times out of 10, I end up learning a lot myself. For instance, other than the fact that I knew his name because he’s been sitting unchecked on my 1960 Topps wantlist for ever, I didn’t know doodly squat about Mike Fornieles. But it turns out that he was the most dominant reliever in the American League the year that this card came out. He racked up 14 saves in 70 appearances, both stats which led the League.
#63 George Strickland
This card represents George Strickland’s final year in the Majors. His final game as a Major Leaguer came on July 23, 1960. He was sent in with 1 out in the bottom of the 8th inning to replace Bubba Phillips at third base. Why was he replacing Phillips when there was already 1 out? Did Bubba get injured? No. He was moved to left field to replace Jimmy Piersall. Why was Bubba replacing Crazy Jimmy? Did Piersall get hurt? No. He got ejected. How does one get ejected from a game when you’re all the way out in left field? Apparently he was distracting the hitter, Ted Williams, by employing a new “shift” that he came up with. Rather just play to the extreme right side of left field, James thought it would be more effective to just run back and forth across the outfield during Williams’ at-bat. Apparently, that defensive strategy never quite caught on.
#76 Bill Fischer
Baseball is a game built on a foundation of statistics. Where there are statistics, there are records. Of course, we all know the big ones. For pitchers, wins, strikeouts, earned run average and saves are some of the sexier records. There’s also a whole gaggle of records that may not be as talked about, but are impressive in their own rights. For instance, there is the record for most consecutive innings without issuing a walk, which stands at 84.1 innings. I’ll give you 3 guesses who holds that record.
#83 Tony Kubek
I was pretty happy to score this card especially. Pretty much since I started chasing this set, I had never seen this card for less than around $1.75. Thanks to all them creases and a goodly amount of paper loss round back, this beauty ran me a mere $0.24. And look at how much chin you get for that. I reckon that Tony’s 1957 Rookie of the Year, 3 All-Star appearances and 6 World Series appearances in his relatively short, 9 year career has a lot to do with why I hadn’t seen this card for cheap.
#102 Kent Hadley
This is one of 3 cards in the 1960 set that has a “proof” version, the other 2 being cards #9 Faye Throneberry and #58 Gino Cimoli. The Cimoli “proof” lists him as a member of the Cardinals where as the common version lists him as a Pirate, even though he is in a Cardinals uniform. The Throneberry “proof” has him in a Senators uniform and lists him as Senator, but shows a Yankees logo, whereas the common version has the Washington logo. The “proof” of this card lists Kent as a Yankee, but shows an A’s logo. As you can see, I have the common version, which is a real bummer since copies of the A’s logo version have sold for $14,000. Actually, there is some debate as to weather the three cards are true proof’s or just variations. Most other proof versions of Topps cards feature a blank back, whereas all known examples of these extremely rare cards have a full back.
#157 Rocky Nelson
I don’t know what it is about old timey ballplayers named Rocky and gigantic lumps of chaw but it seems to be an epidemic.
#169 Jake Striker
Jake Striker is the only player from Heidelberg College (now University) to reach the Major Leagues. That’s about the most interesting thing I could find about him. And I couldn’t find anything interesting about Heidelberg University.
#209 Ron Blackburn
Ron Blackburn made his Major League debut in the bottom of the 9th on Opening Day of 1958. I can imagine that being a pretty never wracking way of making your debut. You know what would make it more nerve wracking? If the first batter you face as a Major Leaguer was Hank Aaron.
#311 Raul Sanchez
On July 11, 1957, Raul Sanchez started a brawl at Ebbetts Field when he drilled Jim Gilliam with a pitch in the 7th. He started another one on May 15, 1960 when, with the Reds losing to the Phillies 9-1 in the 8th inning, he proceeds to plunk 3 out of 4 Phillies batters. He pissed the Phillies off so badly that it was the manager Gene Mauch who finally charged the mound and tackled him. He has more hit by pitches in his career than he does wins.
#363 Gene Stephens
Seeing as this card is so miscut that you can see a pretty good amount of the card that was under it on the sheet, I was trying to figure out what card it might’ve been. As you can see by comparing it to the orange color block that houses the black and white action shot of Gene, the red is too wide for it to be a base card. The red is also on the wrong side. I initially thought it might’ve been one of the World Series highlight cards from this set, since they all have a red block next to a action photo from the Series. The red on those are even thinner than the color blocks on the base cards though, and are also on the left side. Then I realized that the All-Star Rookie cards from this set have a wider solid color block on the right. Out of the 10 All-Star Rookie cards, 3 of them have a red block. Pumpsie Green, Johnny Romano and Jim O’Toole. The background of the photographs on the Pumpsie Green and Johnny Romano cards are really dark, though. Which just leaves the Jim O’Toole card, which of course is the only one that I don’t have. A quick peek on Check Out My Cards, however, confirmed my hypothesis.
#382 Ted Bowsfield
Ted Bowsfield’s rookie year was in 1958. He went 4-2 in 10 starts that year. Interestingly, 3 of wins came at the expense of the New York Yankees. This is what I love about baseball cards, especially commons. Here you have a guy who was only able to stick in the Majors for 7 years and had a lifetime record of 37 wins and 39 loses. Nothing to write home about, right? But as a rookie, he beat the New York Yankees 3 times, including 2 complete games (he only managed 7 innings in that other start). We’re talking about the team that would go on to win the World Series. A team with the likes of Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Moose Skowron, Hnak Bauer, Andy Carey and Tony Kubek. It got to the point where Casey Stengel would just refer to him as “that fella that throws them ground balls”. I love stories like that.
So that rounds up my latest acquisition of 1960 Topps cards. For those of you counting at home, with the addition of Mike Fornieles, George Strickland, Bill Fischer and Tony Kubek, I am officially finished with Series 1 of the 1960 set. That may not seem like a huge accomplishment to you, but honestly, when I first decided to undertake this little project all them years ago, I didn’t really expect to make that much progress, so I’m pretty happy with it.