Saturday, March 24, 2018

Woody Tells A Whopper Or Two

Picking up from our last post, the fourth issue of The Card Collector was a more varied affair then the previous number. A prominently featured reader's letter pointed out that issue #3's 1959 Baseball checklist had two errors.  The checklist had #482 as Art Houtteman, a hard luck player who had last pitched in the majors with Cleveland in 1957 and was washed up by age 27.  To be fair, he debuted with the Tigers at the age of 17 in 1945 but in 1959 was pitching in the PCL. The actual card issued at #482, as pointed out, was of Russ Meyer (sic).

And #489 John Powers, who while nondescript, would be appearing in the middle of a personal three Topps card run. But he wasn't Jake Striker, who was listed by Woody. Striker appeared in a single, late September game with the Indians in 1959 (a win!) before his more extensive two game outing with  the White Sox in 1960 and his only Topps card would come when he was with the Pale Hose.  At 10.1 career innings pitched, he must be at or near the top of the heap for a MLB win with fewest innings pitched.  Two pitchers have managed to appear in 80 games without a win, but Striker did the opposite the easy way.

Here is Mr. Striker, who it must be admitted, had an awesome name for a flamethrower:

The observations on Basketball are, frankly, hysterical given the resounding failure of the sole Topps issue at the time for that sport (in 1957-58).  Nice to see Jack Davis get some props though, even though they came from Woody Gelman's teen protege -- and Topps employee at the time -- Len (Lenny) Brown:

Obscurity seems to be the theme in issue #5.  Interesting comment about the bulk of Bowman's 1949 PCL cards being destroyed.  Topps would have had access to Bowman's records, so it's possible, although as we shall soon see, TCC was not always truthful in explaining why some cards or sets were scarce:

OK, nobody "forgot" about pictures for four semi-high's in 1958.  Instead, they pulled them to make room for the overprinted Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle All Star cards that year, after signing Stan the Man following a period of Rawlings exclusivity.  My guess is that one half sheet of 132 on the semi high press sheet had the triple printed AS cards while the other had the four "missing" numbers.

Armour coins get a nice write up by hobby legend Buck Barker, as Woody started featuring more guest columnists.  1959 Bazooka Football also gets its due, as does the regular issue set as the promotional tie-ins with Topps continue unabated. Nice detail on the Canadian only status of 1960 Hockey cards as well and some competitor's products also get a nod:

All in all, the best issue yet.

Issue #5 led off with a pitch for The American Card Catalog and notice about an office move for Card Collectors Company. This presumably was when Woody moved all the old inventory from his late father in law's office in Manhattan to his storage or warehouse facility in Franklin Square, which I suspect was a couple of rooms in a friend or relative's house or space in a garage (Woody lived one town over in Malverne):

1952 Topps high number scarcity has been covered ad nauseum over the years, here and elsewhere, but it's worth pointing out that by 1959 Card Collectors Co. had run out of them but would restock at some point in 1960, right around the time of the alleged dumping at sea of two truckload's worth.  Hmmmmm....

I'll skip page three, which is all '52 Topps checklist and get right to the good stuff on page four, namely the 14 cards in the second series of Bazooka Baseball, seemingly issued after the Football Bazooka's!

Lionel Carter joined the newsletter for 1960 as Woody's somewhat erratic publishing schedule  indicates he must have been very busy at Topps (production of all sets at Topps probably peaked in 1959-60) but kudos for going back to pre-war issues:

Regional issues look like they are hitting the radar:

A full page of letters from early hobbyists covered a lot of different sets:

While page four gave yet another checklist, albeit one mentioned on the main letters page:

It appears this issue also came with an insert offering the 1960 Baseball cards and a bonus.

1960 would bring a few changes to The Card Collector, which we will get into next time.


night owl said...

These posts are fantastic. Love the letters to the editor from late '50s collectors!

Brett Alan said...

I hope Ken Doney is still out there collecting, because both things he asked for are true of Topps these days.

So I can still get that 1960 Topps set for $14, right? B^}