Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Junior Achievement

One of the weirder mysteries surrounding Topps involves the Rookie Banquet Award Programs that they issued annually from 1959-66.  Topps took their affiliation with major and minor league baseball very seriously and the rookie award winners were honored with special cards in the following year's sets (the banquet was held late in the calendar year, after baseball season had ended).

The banquet programs are prized collectibles and deservedly so as they are well designed, scarce and usually depict a large number of hall of famers. They must have been expensive to produce and their end may have been due to Topps making increased royalty payments to the Major League Baseball Players Association commencing in 1966.

So what happened?  I suspect the banquet as hosted by Topps may have disappeared but the awards did not. I am still tracking what happened from 1967 through 1980 or maybe a little earlier but Topps made programs for something called the Baseball Achievement Awards from 1981 until at least 2000.  Those dates should not be taken as gospel as I am still researching the matter but the trail really picks up in '81 and the latest one I have spied so far is from 2000.

The programs are four pagers; merely one large sheet folded in half.  Here are three examples from the various decades that are typical:

Note the Annual Rookie Award trophy is depicted on the back cover-they were still making them! Also of note is the numbering follows that of the old Rookie Banquet programs.  Next up, 1992:

That blue box in the middle is interesting-it covers the Scout of the Month Award, something I will delve into very soon.


It's amazing how many guys look like worldbeaters and might have a few good years but ultimately fade out.

The 2000 program is slicker but retains the basic format of the past two decades:

If anyone has information or scans from the 1967-80 period, please contact me.  

1 comment:

Mark Hoyle said...

These are great pieces