Saturday, August 9, 2014

What A Hoot!

Boy I go away for a week and return only to find out a 60 year old hobby mystery has been solved and that said solving was accomplished over 40 years ago...sheesh!

Mired in legal salvos with Bowman, the 1953 Topps Baseball set is infamous for having six missing high numbers.  In addition, it appears five numbers were withheld from the first series of 80 cards either by reason of court order, cease-and-desist demand or intentional skip-numbering (which could have been planned either to account for anticipated legal problems with player contracts or to keep the kiddies looking for cards that did not yet exist).

Keith Olbermann, in late July, devoted a short segment to the six missing high number cards.  In it he featured a letter from Topps mailed in 1973 to an inquiring mind wanting to know which numbers had been dropped from the fourth (and last) series. The answer was close to what I had guesstimated a while back but I got two names wrong and it turns out one of them was the subject of a painting that has not yet surfaced.

The six missing players were:

Joe Tipton
Ken Wood
Hoot Evers
Harry Brecheen
Billy Cox
Pete Castiglione

Of these, the Evers painting remains MIA.  Topps did include him in the "extended" series of their 1953 reissue but it's clear they did not have the painting in their possession:

Here is KO's amazing piece:

As you can hear, he was given the skinny by Bob Lemke, although the information is over four decades old now.  One mystery still remains, namely that of the five possible pulled subjects from series 1, resulting in skip numbering that was essentially carried through the first three series runs. Paintings of Max Lanier, Richie Ashburn and Andy Pafko are known and while Jim Suchecki is also known, non-established players were generally not first series subjects as a player needed 31 consecutive days on the roster from the start of the season to receive full pay (Lanier just made it, he was released on May 15th, Wood lasted another week in the bigs).

Looks like there is still a little legwork to be done on this set.

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