Saturday, July 7, 2018

Before The Buttons

Friend o' the Archive Keith Olbermann recently passed along three very interesting and enlightening scans of some Topps mockup are related to the "1967" and "1968" Baseball Discs.  You will recall, dear reader that there were three "sets"of these "produced", two of MLB All-Stars and one solely of San Francisco Giants.  In reality I think the first two were, at least in the case of the All Stars, a series of proofs produced for a set that never saw the light of Sheepshead Bay.

The dating accepted by the hobby on these is suspect and my take is that the "1967" set was begun after the end of the regular season in '66 and then the "1968" set came around not too long after in 1967, probably updated for player selection. The SF Giants set I believe is more related to the Red Sox and Pirates Stickers that actually were sold to the public in 1967. What Mr. Olbermann has sent looks like mock up art for what would have been a series of Baseball Buttons.  Remember too, that in 1956 Topps released a set with that exact name, containing 60 subjects. Ten years later it must have looked ripe for revisitation.

Check it out:

OK, left to right we have Carlton Willey, Jim Bouton, Norm Cash, Ron Perranoski and Dick Radatz. One household name and I guess Bouton was a real live one still when this was first developed, but this box art is typical mockup in that it seems like Topps used photos lying around the art den to create it. Some pictures had already been used on cards, others were fresh.  The Bouton is an example that was taken from a card:

Here's Dean Chance, a hot pitcher for awhile:

Looks a bit like a whoopee cushion, doesn't it?!

Mr. O has the artwork dated from 1963-64. Here it was enhanced with descriptors circling around Bob Veale's scowling mug. I have to think this particular one came after the Chance and other box art was created as it's closer to the (almost) finished product.

The mockup art apparently originated with Bill Haber. I think the "discs" originated from Woody Gelman.  Here's what must have been close to the finished products, from "1968":


I'm not sure why the set got killed but possibly due to US Customs duty assessments being higher for toys vs. novelties. It also could have tested poorly. I don't think we'll ever know.

As seen with other sets, the two or three year time frame from mockup to execution is not exceptional. Too bad it never got released, I love the 1956 Baseball Buttons and these would have been just as nice and apparently a little bit larger.

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