Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Sign Here Kid

Happy Wednesday kids!  Back at it with some midweek cheer from Friend o'the Archive Roy Carlson.

Hobby veterans are aware that Topps used to sign up almost any and all promising minor leaguers (Maury Wills excepted!) with a contract stipulating a $5 payment to retain their rights.  Famously called "Steak Money" as the idea was the player could go buy a nice steak to celebrate, I think it's possible that term is actually a neat enhancement of "Stake Money" but no matter. Today we get a peek at one of these contracts, that of Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins no less.

Jenkins was a Barbadian Canadian from Ontario whose mother was descended from a "passenger" on the Underground Railroad. Ferguson was a tall (6' 5") righthander who came to baseball late but clearly found his path once he started playing.  His height and inexperience relegated him to first base duties initially but his arm got noticed by Gene Dziadura, a Phillies scout who roamed the province and who would work out with the young Fergie, having him throw pitches into ever shrinking targets for accuracy, chop wood to hone his delivery and heave a heavy hammer to develop his curve.

Jenkins signed with the Phillies in 1962, although his referring Scout was apparently Tony Lucadello, who also had the distinction of recruiting Mike Schmidt. His signing caught the attention of Topps of course and he signed with them on June 22nd of that year.  Here is his steak money deal; I have never seen one of these before:


Sy Berger signed a LOT of autographs on contracts over the years.  Not sure who "Parnell" was but I can advise it is not former major leaguer Mel Parnell. Perhaps a witness?

Fergie was under 21 and needed a parental signature to make it legal though:


Jenkins was actually 19 at the time - LOL!

Here is the key clause in this one:


It's a little fuzzy but in addition to the $5 Jenkins would receive $125 once he had 31 consecutive days on the active roster of a major league club. This is a phrase I have seen before in Topps contracts and it's important as it partially explains why Topps often didn't issue full cards of players who were not yet major league ready.  This applied to some degree to players that had retired but like anything else with Topps there is consistency in their inconsistency.  To wit:

1) Lou Piniella: 1964 Topps card #167 (shared with Mike Brumley as Senators Rookie Stars).  Piniella did not debut until September 4, 1964, after Washington had traded him to the Orioles. I'm assuming some rookies who had "Rookie Stars" multi-player card debuts had not yet fulfilled the 31 day requirement but must have had a side agreement to allow their premature Topps debut. Fodder for another post for sure.

2) Sandy Koufax: Retired November 18, 1966.  Team Captain on the 1967 Topps Punchout cards but nowhere to be found in the 1967 regular issue.  The Punchouts seem to have been developed and produced in late 1966, before the regular issue even.

3) Mickey Mantle: Retired March 1, 1969, Topps #500 that year. Late retirement in terms of the upcoming season but still had a card that could seemingly have been pulled given the later series it was in. Possibly the customary two year contract extension from Topps allowed this.  Too bad most other stars didn't get the career summary card. Additional fodder for the future.

Payment made:


That bank was fairly close to Topps HQ.  They used Manufacturers Hanover for their business financing but I guess the allure of a local branch of what eventually became Citibank was too convenient for them.  Note the check was issued months before he actually signed with Topps and the "pay to" field was blank. Someone (Parnell, a secretary, Berger?) other than Jenkins (see below) looks like they filled it in. I guess Sy Berger wandered around with a pile of fungible $5 checks!

Ferguson was able to endorse his own check for deposit, although I'm puzzled how he got anywhere near Williamsport at the time. I'm not positive but it looks like the local bank stamp for deposit was done on July 13th.


So the check was cut in March, paid to Jenkins upon signing in June, cashed in July but his parent didn't sign and make it legal until August-whew!

Jenkins was traded by the Phillies to the Cubs on April 21, 1966, after appearing in seven major league games the year before and one prior to the trade.  He was sent along with John Herrnstein (a scrub essentially) and Adolfo Phillips (a useful player for several years but let go in the 1969 expansion draft) for Bob Buhl (37 years old and totally shot) and Larry Jackson (three good years for the Phils, with 41 wins but still), in one of the worst trades ever in major league history.

Here's the 1966 Topps debut of Jenkins:


1967 gives us another look at his sig ("Fergie" now), and Shea Stadium, plus his new togs:


Jenkins is a guy I would see pitch a couple of times at Shea, my dad always seemed to buy tickets for games where an opposing ace would face off against Seaver or Koosman and the Mets would zip through a game in about 2 hours and 20 minutes! Sometimes we both skipped school (he was a teacher!) to go.

I saw some memorable games in the 70's as a result. I can't quite recall but I remember the Mets dropping one to Fergie 1-0 and another where I think they won in 10 but I'd need to scour Retrosheet to figure all that out.  No matter, Jenkins could pitch with the best of them and often did!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Wood You Help?

OK, I'm going to reach out for a little help here. I am trying to disentangle two sets attributed to 1962, both made of actual wood, if you can believe it: Real Wood Plaks and Valentine Wood Plaks. They are often co-mingled and I believe between the two it's more likely than not there are groupings of distinct plaks, but what came with what is a big puzzle presently. Both sets are attributed to 1962 but I'm not sure that's right.  It could be both were from 1962 but I just don't know.

Most of the plaks between the two sets seem to lean toward insults but a handful are clearly meant to be for Valentine's Day intended's. Look at the extreme bottom right corner of this lot and I think you are seeing a Valentine Wood Plak (possibly two if you look above it):



There may be a correlation between the light and dark wood plaks belonging to a specific set but I can't say I see one presently.  I think it's highly likely some subjects from one set were co-mingled with new subjects from the other but it's not clear which one came first.

Here's what I am trying to do.  I have a list of 75 different plaks and a few have incomplete information that I would love to fill in.  Things may never progress to the point the two sets can be disentangled but I suspect there aren't many more subjects to ID.  There is supposedly at least one plak with a font variation ("Money Can't Buy You Happiness"), I would love to find out there are some others.

Once I can see if any more subjects exist, maybe a stab can be made at the composition of each issue. Incomplete phrases are underlined, so please let me know if you can add or enhance this list.  I probably have a couple of typos sprinkled in as well.

  • ALWAYS LOVE THY NEIGHBOR, DEFEND HER NEAR AND FAR, IT'S EASY IF YOU LIVE, NEXT TO A MOVIE STAR
  • AS ELI WHITNEY ONCE SAID - GET YOU COTTON PICKIN' HANDS OFF
  • BE KIND TO YOUR ELDERS - THEY CAN'T HELP IT IF THEY'RE STUPID
  • BE TRUSTWORTHY, LOYAL, FRIENDLY, KIND, BRAVE AND CHEERFUL - AND PEOPLE WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU
  • BOOKS ARE GOOD FRIENDS - LIKE CHECK BOOKS, BANK BOOKS, ETC.
  • BORED OF EDUCATION - HO HUM
  • DO NOT DISTURB
  • DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS - THE TEACHERS HAVE THEIR OWN LUNCH ROOMS
  • "DON'T CRY OVER SPILT MILK" IS A SAYING I LIKE BEST
  • DON'T GO AWAY ANGRY - JUST GO AWAY
  • DO SOMETHING FOR YOUR COUNTRY TO MAKE IT STRONG AND GRAND, GATHER YOUR BELONGINGS, AND MOVE TO ANOTHER LAND
  • DO UNTO OTHERS AS THEY WOULD DO UNTO YOU - ONLY DO IT FIRST!
  • DRIVE CAREFULLY CHILDREN AT PLAY
  • EDUCATION IS WONDERFUL, IT'S JUST SCHOOL THAT'S MISERABLE
  • FOOD IN THIS SCHOOL IS UNTOUCHED BY HUMAN HANDS - MONKEYS MADE IT
  • BATHER YOUR BELONGINGS AND MOVE TO ANOTHER LAND - OUTER MONGOLIA
  • GRADUATE OF ALCATRAZ
  • I DID WELL ON MY TEST, I WAS THE FIRST TO LEAVE, IT'S EASY WHEN YOU HAVE, THE ANSWERS ON YOUR SLEEVE
  • I'D LIKE TO TAKE A WALK WITH YOU - WHERE'S YOUR LEASH?
  • I'D LOVE TO VISIT YOU - WHAT TIME DOES THE ZOO OPEN?
  • IF TROUBLE COMES ALONG, AND PULSES BEGIN TO QUICKEN, THE SMARTEST THING FOR YOU TO DO, IS IMMEDIATELY TURN CHICKEN
  • I'LL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER - AFTER YOU LEAVE THAT IS
  • I'LL NEVER LEAVE YOU - UNLESS YOU GET OFF MY FOOT
  • I'M AVAILABLE - THE LINE FORMS AT THE RIGHT
  • I'M SEEING
  • IN GOD WE TRUST
  • IN OUR CLASSROOM YOU'RE QUITE THE RAGE - YOU'RE THE ONLY GIRL WHO SITS IN A CAGE
  • IT IS SAID THAT ONE GOOD TURN, ALWAYS DESERVES ANOTHER, AT LUNCH YOU TURNED MY STOMACH, AND DID THE SAME TO MOTHER
  • IT'S BETTER
  • IT'S EASY
  • IT'S FUN TO SEE YOU HAPPY, I'VE TOLD ALL MY CHUMS, IT'S FUN TO SEE YOU SMILE, CASUE ALL I SEE IS GUMS
  • I WISH I HAD 10 FRIENDS LIKE YOU - CAUSE I HAVE 20 FRIENDS LIKE YOU
  • KEEP SMILING AND YOU'LL BE KNOWN AS THE GRINNING IDIOT
  • KISS ME DARLING
  • KISS ME, YOU FOOL - ONLY A FOOL WOULD KISS ME
  • LET'S GO TOGETHER - YOU GO EAST, I'LL GO WEST
  • LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP, THEN LEAP, THEN LEAP
  • MARRIAGE IS
  • MONEY CAN'T BUY YOU HAPPINESS - BUT IT MAKES MISERY MUCH MORE FUN
  • MOTHER PLEASE - I’D RATHER DO IT MYSELF
  • MY GROUP HAD 32% FEWER CAVITIES - BUT WE HAD OUR GUMS REMOVED
  • MY TEACHER BENEATH HER TOUGH EXTERIOR - HAS A WORSE INTERIOR
  • MY TEACHER LOVES ME, SHE THINKS I'M A DEAR, SHE'S KEPT ME WITH HER, FOR THE FOURTH STRAIGHT YEAR
  • MY TEACHER TAKES UGLY PILLS
  • NEVER HIT A MAN WHEN HE'S DOWN - KICK HIM
  • NEVER PUT OF TILL TOMORROW WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY - PLAY HOOKEY NOW
  • NO DOGS ALLOWED - SO HOW'D YOU GET IN?
  • PLEASE SHUT THE DOOR FROM THE OUTSIDE
  • PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES SHOULDN'T TAKE BATHS
  • REMEMBER THE IMMORTAL WORDS OF GENERAL CUSTER - OUCH
  • SIT ON MY LAP, SHOW ME YOU CARE, I'M SITTING RIGHT NOW, IN THE ELECTRIC CHAIR
  • SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH OR I'LL KILL YOU
  • TELL ME
  • THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD - IF YOU KNOW WHERE TO STICK IT
  • "THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME", A POET SAID WITH GRACE, I WONDER WHAT HE'D SAY, IF HE LIVED AT MY PLACE
  • THEY SAID IT COULDN'T BE DONE - AND THEY WERE RIGHT
  • THIS HOUSE CONDEMNED BY THE BOARD OF HEALTH
  • THIS PASS PLUS THE PRICE OF ADMISSION ALLOWS BEARER TO GO TO THE MOVIES
  • THREE IS A CROWD - SO YOU TWO GET LOST
  • TO THE MEMORY OF IRVING GLOTS, PUBLIC SCHOOL 6 - WHO DIED WAITING FOR THE BELL
  • TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE - I WAS TOLD BY MY DAD BUT IT WON'T HELP ME MUCH BECAUSE BOTH OF YOURS ARE BAD
  • WE HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT - WE'RE TOO BUSY RUNNING
  • WHEN THINGS LOOK BAD, DON'T HOLLER OR CURSE, THINK OF THE FUTURE. WHEN THINGS WILL GET WORSE
  • "WHERE THERE'S SMOKE THERE'S FIRE", IS A SAYING QUITE COMPLETE, CAUSE WHEN I'M CAUGHT SMOKING, THERE'S FIRE IN MY SEAT
  • WITH YOUR LOOKS YOU'LL GO FAR - BUT NOT FAR ENOUGH
  • YOU ARE REAL SOLID, ALL THE FELLOWS, SAID, I KNOW THE REASON, YOU GOT ROCKS IN YOUR HEAD
  • YOU GO TO MY HEAD
  • YOU MAKE ME THINK
  • YOU MAKE MY HEART
  • YOU NEVER GET PUNISHED FOR SOMETHING YOU DON'T DO - SO DON'T DO YOUR HOMEWORK
  • YOU SHOULD GET AHEAD - YOU NEED ONE
  • YOUR FACE IS YOUR FORTUNE, OF THIS YOU ARE SURE, JUST LOOK IN THE MIRROR, OH BOY ARE YOU POOR
  • YOUR PRETTY BLONDE BRAIDS, ARE YOUR MOM'S PRIDE AND JOY, BUT PEOPLE HAVE MENTIONED, YOU'RE A STRANGE LOOKING BOY
  • YOU'RE SO DIFFERENT, SO VERY DIFFERENT
  • YOU'RE THE PRETTIEST GIRL IN THE COUNTRY - BUT IN THE CITY, YECCH!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Trading Spaces

Happy Hump Day folks!  Today's midweek peek features the 1974 Topps Baseball set-- and I do mean "set" --as Sleuth o'the Archive Roy Carlson has sent along his findings after a neat bit of detective work involving two players who were traded for each other on November 7, 1973: Glenn Beckert and Jerry Morales.

This Cubs-Padres trade was, I'm sure, quite a big deal in Chicago and certainly less so in San Diego. Beckert was the Keystone part of a longstanding Double Play combo with Shortstop Don Kessinger for the Baby Bruins, although he was at the tail end of his career at the time the trade was made. Morales was more of an up-and-comer for the Padres, a corner outfielder with enough speed to sometimes get the nod in center but essentially a replacement level ballplayer as it turned out.

As we all know, 1974 brought some uncertainty to the Padres franchise and a planned sale and move to the nation's capital began a slow and tortured path in April of '73, as DC area supermarket mogul and prospective Owner Joseph Danzansky became embroiled in various lawsuits, ultimately resulting in Ray Kroc--of McDonald's infamy--becoming the new owner on January 25, 1974 and allowing the team to stay in America's Finest City after coughing up what was then a whopping $12 Million.

Things got so far as a potential new name: the Stars, although Nationals (a keeper methinks) and Pandas also were being bandied, the latter due to the recent arrival at the National Zoo of Hsing-Hsing and Ling-Ling, two Giant Pandas sent by China as a thank you gift to the United States as the result of a diplomatic thaw.  I was a ten year old lad when they arrived on our shores in 1972 and can tell you they were a major story and attraction at the time and for several years thereafter.  A prototype Stars road uniform was even created and modeled by Pitcher Dave Freisleben (he of the three variations in the '74 set) and you can get the vibe from the cap:


Nothing says class like having an electrical outlet in your promo shot, but I digress. Topps, of course, printed up about half the 1974 set with Washington "Nat'l Lea." showing as the team name for Washington before correcting things back to the San Diego Padres and allowing 15 variations to live on as a result (16 if you count the two varieties of the aforementioned Freisleben rookie card's font variation on the Padres version of card #599). Considering the NL Owners had approved the DC move on December 6, 1973 and Kroc ended up buying the team a mere six weeks later, you can see how Topps would have been embroiled with the Padres/Washington NL card changes.

Here's the Beckert variation:



You will note that despite the rewrite of the franchise information, Beckert is still in his Cubs togs on the corrected card:


It was easier to change text than a photo but putting that aside, unless they had a good head shot on file, there's no way they could have gotten a picture of Beckert in a Padres uniform in time to further update the corrected card.

Morales had a similar name/uniform mismatch in the other direction:


Now the reason I am dragging you down this particular garden path is that on the retail and full set boxes, whether through fate, serendipity or dumb luck, both players are featured on the graphics but on their pre-trade teams.  Here's Beckert, in splitsville so to speak (all scans hereafter are courtesy of Roy Carlson):


Morales is in the mix too:


In addition to the much more pleasing color coordination, you get a look at what must have been proofs of Beckert and Morales. and, I assume, all the other cards shown as well).  I imagine Topps could have updated the graphics but it seems like a classic "why bother" scenario, as you could not see their given or team names on the boxes.

Topps also went from a ten to fifteen cent pack at some point in 1974, the latter price point a significant departure from the practice of having their wee consumers pay no more than a penny per card, which had been in place since 1948 but was impossible to maintain post 1973 Suez oil crisis. (UPDATE: It does appear ten cent packs held eight cards only, plus a team checklist in some instances-thanks to gogosox60 and John Moran for that tidbit).

Here's all three boxes with the aforementioned graphics:


And the all important indicia:


Topps had a lot going in in 1974 for what was their first year of true "all 660" packaging, so it's understandable not everything was worth changing.  They came up with the idea of a "separate' set of Traded cards in '74 and then for some odd reason not bothering with such a thing in 1975 before they ran it back up the flagpole in '76.  That was it for being up to date until the boxed 1981 Update set was released to much criticism (due to no retail option) five years later.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

In The Year Of '49

An almost 72 year old oddity is upon us today campers, as we look at some very early Bazooka comics that are among the biggest obscurities ever issued by Topps.

I've posted previously on R414-1, the essentially unknown one-cent Bazooka comic dubbed Spalding Sports Show (SSS) and featuring artwork from Willard Mullin that was issued, per Jefferson Burdick, in 1949.  That set may or may not be complete at 25 subjects and I'll be damned if I can find a full checklist anywhere.  Well another, similar comic from it has turned up and is intriguing.

I'll show our new comic first, it's kinda batty:


Compare that to a SSS subject:



Not the same issue, nor are the foil outer wraps quite the same.  This is the foil overwrap for our newbie:


It's close to but not quite a match for the SSS foil:


Ignore the differences in albedo, which is just a result of different scan settings, and look near the top.  These wrappers seem identical except for the lack of a white background behind "Young America's Favorite" on the Spalding Sports Show wrapper. There may be a slight difference in the indicia but things are too reflective on the new one to tell for sure..

This points to the next round of comics likely issued just after the initial runs of SSS comics (Topps would print two series at once sometimes for Bazooka comics through 1954 or so but I believe the outer wraps would be consistent when they did so as these were copyrighted).  There is a set known colloquially as Sports Oddities that fits the bill though. I've got a boxing example from what I think is the same set as our 'batty" example above that I have attributed to that name.  This is scanned along with its foil wrapper, which is a match for our newly found treasure:


I think this issue is related to 1949's Know Your Sports, which appeared with the five cent Bazooka rolls of the time.  The penny version just appropriated single panels of the nickel's:


As penny Bazooka tabs started appearing in the late summer or fall of 1949, Sports Oddities seems like a 1950 issue to me but that is up in the air presently.

I'm working on cataloging as much as I can about the very early Bazooka issues for the second edition of my book detailing the early Topps days through 1956.  Other projects are also in the works but this one will likely happen first, so if you have any examples from the pre-Bazooka Joe era, please contact me. I have some but am looking for a larger collection of images to pick from.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

How'd They Manage That?

Happy almost tax day buckaroos!  My returns are done but maybe some of you have held out.  Speaking of holding out, Friend o'the Archive Roy Carlson has sent along some more treats for this week's Wednesday "Pandem(ic)onium" installment that we will get to momentarily.  But first, a brief history of some tiny bits of Topps artwork.

Cartoon illustrations on the back of Topps Baseball cards goes back to 1953's "Dugout Quiz" and the following year's "Inside Baseball" feature. They were still pretty lifelike at that point and would make annual appearances thereafter until 1971 brought a photo instead.  By 1956 they had evolved into something a little more "cartoony" in appearance before Jack Davis came along in 1959 and started off a more humorous and caricature heavy style, although sometimes his works (and that of others) would veer into "more serious looking" again.  I may show the progression someday but right now we are quantum leaping to 1970 and a couple of cartoons you probably haven't seen.

First up, Hall of Fame Manager Earl Weaver who, I just found out, died at sea and on the same day as Stan Musial (who expired on land).  In 1970 Topps didn't put cartoons on the Manager card backs after only having cartoons for their reverses in 1969.  Here is ol' Earl's 1970 entry:


I've always liked that shot!  Here's the back, cartoon-free as you can see:


But as detailed by Roy, Topps created cartoons for the managers in 1970:


Here's another, for Hall of Fame hitter Ted Williams:



Here's another great shot in my book.



  Unlike Weaver, Ted didn't manage in the minors before taking over the Senators squad in '69:



His repressed cartoon seems pretty vertical compared to Earl's.  I wonder if Topps was contemplating an entirely different kind of back for the 1970 manager cards before going to all text and statistics?

This was the first set I collected heavily as a kid and I had a lot of these fifty (!) years ago.  I can't even imagine a different look to the card backs for the managers at this point but these cartoons are pretty neat!






Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Magnificent Eleven

Yonks ago, I posted a combined checklist for the 1967 & 1968 Topps Baseball Discs, which also included the lesser known '67 San Francisco Giants Discs.  The two '67 sets (spoiler alert-go to the end of this post for "connected-ness")  have 24 subjects each, while the 1968 set has 28.  None of these were actually ever issued, they were all just proofs and internal materials runs for what was almost certainly an aborted set of Baseball Buttons.

There were 11 players who appeared in both the 1967 and 1968 all star sets, including Willie Mays who also was featured in the SF Giants set in addition to the two "regular" ones.  Willie in fact has more appearances in vintage Topps "oddball" sets than any other player of the time, but I digress. Other than those 11, (and Juan Marichal -- a yellow background in the SF Giants set and who was not a '68 subject) everybody else appeared in only one of the three sets, making the determination of the year of issue for the majority of subjects fairly easy.  As it turns out, there are enough differences between the 1967 and '68 common subjects to allow a further parsing of who and when.

First, let's look at this 1968 uncut sheet of 28 1968 Discs offered by Huggins & Scott some time ago-a thing of beauty is is:



Here is the rundown of differences, showing the 1967 disc for each against the '68 sheet above for comparison. Some are hard to differentiate while others are quite easy, as you will see below.

Hank Aaron 1967-No Cap; 1968-Cap:


Orlando Cepeda 1967-No Cap; 1968-Cap:


Roberto Clemente 1967-A small bit of white shows through the "O" in "Bob" and the middle and bottom bars of the last "E" in his name do not extend into the blue background, leaving a small bit of white uniform showing; 1968-No white shows in the "O" and the middle and bottom bars of the last "E" touch the extreme edge of his uniform, leaving no white before the blue background picks up. I will show a '68 (Howard Chasser's I believe) below the '67 as the difference is slight. Ignore the color differences, those are just scan-related I'd say:

Frank Howard 1967-last letter of last name "D" extends into the red background; 1968-"D" is on the uniform shoulder:

Mickey Mantle: 1967-OF; 1968-1B:

Willie Mays 1967: San Fran. Giants set (shown): bust looks straight at you on yellow background, 1967 Regular Looks Left "F" in OF is on uniform shoulder with blue background; 1968 Looks Left (same pose as '67), "F" is into blue background:

Brooks Robinson 1967-faces left; 1968-faces right:


Frank Robinson "1967-the"OF" "O" is all on the white uniform shoulder ; 1968-half of the "O" is in the red background

Ron Santo 1967-"C" in Cubs is touching his hat; 1968-"C" is clear of the hat:

Joe Torre 1967-"O" in "Joe" intersects with uniform trim; 1968-"O" is above trim


Carl Yastrzemski 1967- the "R" in "Red Sox" bleeds into the hat; 1968-the"R" is clear of the hat with red showing:













The Clemente, Frank Robinson, Santo and Torre are particularly hard to tell apart. Howard and especially Yaz are a little easier.

As for 1967, we know the Giants set is from that year (or at least the proof run) as it shares shiny space with the regular set:


Neat, huh?!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A Giant Mess

I'm going to try and post a midweek entry every Wednesday for the duration of our Spring of Discontent. Everybody can use a little distraction I'm sure.

Topps went all out in 1964 with the Major League All Star Game being played at brand spanking new Shea Stadium, right next door to the World's Fair (which I attended as a wee lad). In addition to innovative bright red packaging for the ten cent cello Baseball packs (with two coins no less) in '64, they issued two extensive and well thought out "extra" sets: Baseball Stand Ups and Giant-Size Baseball All-Stars (the latter colloquially referred to in the hobby as Giants), the latter of which came out after and referenced events from the All Star Game which was held on July 7. The Giants had three players per team represented within, some of whom were not necessarily participants in any All Star Game ever but Topps has always made some curious choices with their secondary sets. There was also a Photo Tattoo offering in '64, which was standard fare and likely not issued due to the local presence of the ASG.

The Giants are one of the nicest sets ever issued by Topps in my opinion and I know a lot of hobbyists concur. They are also available to this day in abundance.  There was a massive 70's west coast find of these and I believe a couple of notable east coast dealers had hoards as well.  I have read of attempted sales of these at several ballparks (Dodger Stadium sold packs of 25 through the mid 70's) and imagine the World's Fair concessionaires got a crack at them too but the set came out sometime in August and just didn't sell. Topps did a massive overstock dump for sure and I've seen reference to colossal amounts of these being essentially given away by them for what amounted to freight costs.

Here's a Baseball Card News article from January 1986 that succinctly sums up the state of play at the time:


You will note the mention of seven short prints that are seemingly not as abundant as the other 53 subjects:

  3 Sandy Koufax
28 Bob Friend
42 Dick Stuart
45 Wayne Causey
47 Galen Cisco
51 Willie Mays
60 Bill Skowron

All well and good I suppose but here is an uncut sheet (likely complete despite appearances to the contrary) from an old Huggins & Scott auction and it has 49 short prints out of 72 slots on the array:


Yes, there are three Mantle's visible and that is important because if you look at the other seven cards below him on the left edge of the sheet, they represent the "short printed" subjects,which are no lesser in printed number than 42 other players.  They are instead "edge" prints and with three Mantles on the sheet, he doesn't feature as an SP. Topps must have had major issues with that left side edge when cutting these. The Koufax is a toughie in nice shape but based upon the PSA population report he is not the hardest subject in top grade-that would be Bill Skowron.  Check out these PSA 9 and 10 numbers for the SP's:

  3 Sandy Koufax  38/6
28 Bob Friend  61/8
42 Dick Stuart  76/6
45 Wayne Causey  63/13
47 Galen Cisco  63/0
51 Willie Mays  96/4
60 Bill Skowron  29/0

UPDATE 5/29/20: I just realized I left out a whole paragraph on the Double Prints-yikes:

The fifth and ninth columns repeat as do the players in the three slots to the right of the Mantle cards in the first and fifth columns. So the Double Prints are as follows:

  4 Bob Bailey
  6 Ron Hunt
12 Al Kaline
16 Dean Chance
33 Pete Ward
36 Johnny Callision
38 Harmon Killebrew
39 Luis Aparicio
40 Dick Radatz
58 Ron Santo

Friend o'the Archive Roy Carlson (you will be seeing quite a bit of stuff from him going forward on these Wednesday posts) sent along this key bit of Topps internal messaging that shows the dire sales of the set:


The collation summary above was for five cent packs; a ten cent cello version may also have been configured but I can't really find anything on that and I think there may have instead been a cello version of the five cent pack. I would have to think vending boxes were made up as well, maybe to suck up whatever oxygen was left by the last gasp of the Exhibit Supply Company.  

Look at this, a Heritage Auctions offering of a wax pack first, then a shot of a slight variant from the Lifetime Topps Project blog:





It does not seem like cello packs exist and Anthony Nex, a pack guru of utmost repute, has never seen one. Here is a regular 64 cello, not sure if it ever got mistaken as a Giant Size pack:




Two boxes of Giants did not come close to yielding a full set of 60 according to their own notes, no surprise as this was typical Topps collation at the time for most of their sets and you only got three of these big boys at a clip.  Great set, lousy sales!