Saturday, August 25, 2018

23 Who You?

More original Topps artwork this week folks.  The Lelands auction that gave us the 1969 Baseball Player Posters artwork has also offered up another treasure. This time it's the original artwork for the 1970 Baseball wax box:

The team name is not shown on the uniform but that's clearly a New York Mets player looking like he's about to bunt.  The Mets were a hot item of course, with their "Miracle" win over the Orioles in the 1969 World Series capturing the attention of much of the country.

That's also clearly Norman Saunders artwork, which is confirmed by the website maintained by his family.  It's a really impressive painting if you ask me.

The sharp-eyed among you will note the number 23 in the "cup" of the bat:

It could either be some type of manufacturer's identifier or a uniform number. I checked both the 1969 and 1970 uniform numbers for the Met and it was never assigned in either year. In 1968 though it was assigned, according to to the immortal Bob Heise, but the pictures I have found of him in a Mets uni show him as #3, which belonged to Bud Harrelson before Heise even joined the team. So maybe he borrowed Bud's uniform for a picture or two in Spring Training. So, my guess is that the painting is of a player for another team and adapted by Saunders to show ersatz Mets duds.

Here is the finished product, from an old REA auction:

I opened a ton of packs in 1970, which was my first heavy year of buying cards but to my memory most of mine came from Rak Paks. I don't remember buying much wax until I re-entered the hobby in 1981, preferring the Raks and Cellos but must have bought quite a few in '70 as I had a zillion inserts from that year and also 1971 back in the day. Memory is a funny thing!

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