The Quest for the 1960 Topps Set, Part XIX
November 30th, 2010 by slangon

I’m not sure how this happened, but I have a giant stack of manilla envelopes sitting on my desk, all containing cards that I’ve been meaning to post about before I file them away into their respective spots in my collection. I guess it’s sort of good that I have that backlog of cardboard, seeing as I’ve gone into a bit of an unintentional card buying hibernation. With the holidays quickly rolling up on us, I don’t see that hibernation being lifted any time soon, so I’ll have to content myself with writing about those cards until that stack of envelopes is all gone.

This particular batch of cards is another step forward in the seemingly eternal chase of the 1960 Topps set. It is a little bit of a departure though in that there’s not really any commons in the bunch.

First up is a couple of Yankee stars from the day. Actually, I suppose “semi-star” is a more accurate description, but for some reason, I’ve never really liked that term. I mean, I guess it is true that they’re not Stars with a capital S the way that Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays are, but they were fine players back in their day.

#65 Elston Howard

Elston Howard, aside from being a 9 time All-Star and winning the 1963 MVP Award, was the first black player to wear Yankee pinstripes. It’s funny, I always think of him as a catcher, so I was initially a little surprised to see his extended list of positions on this cards. I guess I never thought about the fact that if you were a catcher on the Yankees in the 1950’s, you had better learn to play some other positions, or else get used to the view from the bench.

#370 Moose Skowron

Bill “Moose” Skowron was a 6 time All-Star who played the majority of his career in the Bronx, but was traded to Los Angeles just in time to help the Dodgers sweep the Yankees in the World Series. Of course he played in 7 World Series with the Bombers, 5 of which they won. On a personal note, I think this card would’ve been much cooler if they listed him as Moose, rather than Bill.

The remainder of this batch of cards are not as well known as Elston and Moose, but are all part of the high numbered 7th Series. I’m always a little torn on the whole high number short print thing. In my Scroogian, cheap-o mind, I don’t mind shelling out a couple of bucks for an old card when it’s a star player, but it always sort of irks me to have to do it for a player of average ability and renown. In the end, though, I understand why the high number series were less common and therefore more expensive. I’ll take that over just arbitrarily deciding that certain cards are going to be short printed for the sake of having short prints any day.

#521 Mike Lee

This might sound messed up, but when I look at this card all I can think of is corn pone. And since I could not find a lick of information about Mike Lee, outside of his statistical record, I thought I would mention that.

#540 Jerry Walker

The year before this card appeared, Jerry walker was an American League All-Star and actually was the youngest pitcher to ever start an All-Star game at 20 years old. He does not have an All-Star card in the 1960 set, however.

#546 Hank Aguirre

According to Hank Aguirre’s BR Bullpen page, he’s considered one of baseball’s worst hitters. I don’t know about Hank Aguirre, but I’d imagine that if I were lucky enough to play in the Major Leagues, I’d take a certain amount of pride in that. If you can’t be the best, being known as one of the worst is slightly more attractive to me than just being mediocre.

#548 Don Mincher

There’s 2 interesting things that I found out about Don Mincher in my travels about the interweb. First off, In the seventh inning of a game against the Kansas City Athletics on June 9, 1966, Don was one of five Twins to hit home runs. This still stand as the major league record of home runs in a single inning. Three of the home runs were hit off starter Catfish Hunter, the other two off of reliever Paul Lindblad. Mincher’s was the 4th, so he got the party started against Lindblad. The other interesting thing, in a weird Elias Sports Bureau sort of way, is that Don is the only player to have played for the original Washington Senators, the expansion Washington Senators and both teams that they eventually became, the Twins and the Rangers.

#552 Walt Bond

Rounding out the handful of high numbers is Walt Bond. Although this is technically his rookie card, in 1960, 1961 and 1962 combined, he played a total of only 90 games and he didn’t play in the bog leagues at all in 1963. He did have a cup of coffee with the Indians that is still talked about to this day. Over the span of 2 weeks in late September of 1962, he put up a line of .380 / .426 / .800. You read that right. He slugged .800. How’s that for a September call up?

I also remembered something looking at the back of Walt’s card. One of the custom cards that I made for Thorzul’s Nightmares on Cardboard contest last year was a 1960 card of The Fly. To refresh your memory, here’s the front.

(And yes, that is a real fly in there. It’s a DNA relic)

And here is the back.

Notice what it is that I noticed?

Anyway, that’s the batch. It may not sound like much, but I’m pretty pleased. Since I’ve been chasing this set, I’ve begun to notice that at times it seems like tracking down reasonably priced cards of guys like Elston Howard and Moose Skowron is almost harder than tracking down reasonably priced cards of Hall of Famers. Weird. Also, I don’t know if anyone out there is currently trying to collect a vintage set, but sometimes those high numbers can depress you a bit, so being able to knock off 5 in one shot is a pretty sweet feeling.

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