Sunday, June 6, 2010

Playing the Slots

Before I go into the vagaries of the last pre-expansion baseball set Topps would produce in 1960, I thought I would take a fond look back at the cast of characters in the 1958 high numbers once more.

The 1958 checklists, you may recall, were designed to describe five series of 88 cards apiece and end at #440, which I believe was to have been the full set as intended by Topps. Then when the Stan Musial signing gave them the opportunity to rush his All Star card, they jury rigged a quick 55 card high number series that contained the All Star cards and a bunch of players either just starting out their MLB careers or who were journeymen ending theirs, that let them get the cards to market before the football card season kicked off.

I had theorized previously Topps had triple printed the Musial AS and also Mantle's on at least one side of the sheet but am rethinking that a little.

Assuming the extra rows were each on a separate half sheet then any given card, other than the Musial and Mantle AS cards and four pulled commons, would appear at least four times on the 264 card master sheet, while 16 players (the eight leftmost in each "extra" row) apiece would have two additional slots. The Musial and Mantle AS cards would also appear have six additional slots apiece in this scenario while the four pulled commons would stagnate at four appearances.

So the four DP's would be printed 40% as often as the Musial and Mantle All Star cards but so would the rest of the other cards at a minimum except for 16 overprints which would appear 60% as often as the triple prints. You either appear four, six or ten times under this scenario if my math is correct. Pulling two cards per extra printed row does not a short print make! I get this distribution on this assumption:

-33 cards appear 4 times
-4 cards also appear 4 times but are in the two triple print AS rows and are not short prints even though they were pulled for the triple prints
-16 cards appear 6 times (the 8 leftmost in the two triple printed AS rows)
-2 cards appear 10 times (Musial AS and Mantle AS).

That's (37 x 4) + (16 x 6) + (2 x 10) = 264 card full press sheet.

You could have other arrays as well but I like this one the best of all the potential print runs.

Here's a look at the "no-name" commons, some of whom would become household names before long, were as a group mostly inexperienced in 1958. Here's a look at the their major league playing time prior to then:

#441 Jim Marshall - Zero games
#442 Phil Paine - 49 games sporadically since 1952
#443 Billy Harrell - 35 games over two seasons
#444 Danny Kravitz - 96 games over three seasons
#445 Bob Smith - 27 games over two seasons. Shown with the Red Sox but a Pirate in 1958
#446 Carroll Hardy - Zero games
#447 Ray Monzant - 62 games over four seasons
#448 Charlie Lau - 3 games in 1956
#449 Gene Fodge - Zero games
#450 Preston Ward - 557 sporadic games with eight teams over 10 seasons and 10 played in '57
#451 Joe Taylor - 51 games over two seasons but four years
#452 Roman Mejias - 159 games over two seasons
#453 Tom Qualters - 7 games over two seasons four years apart
#454 Harry Hanebrink - 57 games over two seasons also four years apart
#455 Hal Griggs - 36 games over two seasons and the card actually pictures veteran Bud Byerly who debuted in 1943
#456 Dick Brown - 34 games in 1957
#457 Milt Pappas - 4 games in 1957, 516 thereafter
#458 Julio Becquer - Zero games
#459 Ron Blackburn - Zero games
#460 Chuck Essegian - Zero Games but a future World Series Hero in '59
#461 Ed Mayer - 3 games in '57
#462 Gary Geiger - Zero games
#463 Vito Valtentinetti - 63 games over three sporadic seasons
#464 Curt Flood - 8 games but only 4 AB's over the previous two seasons
#465 Arnie Portocarrero - 94 games over four seasons; he would have 15 wins in '58
#466 Pete Whisenant - 252 games over four seasons on four teams spread over six years
#467 Glen Hobbie - 2 games in '57
#468 Bob Schmidt - Zero games
#469 Don Ferrarese - 50 games over three seasons
#470 R.C. Stevens - Zero games
#471 Lenny Green - 19 games in '57
#472 Joe Jay - 31 games over four seasons and all of one in '57 for this "bonus baby"
#473 Bill Renna - 317 games over four seasons; not in the Majors in '57
#474 Roman Semproch - Zero games

Not exactly a bunch of world beaters! And you could get them a penny at a time:

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