Thursday, March 30, 2023

The John Hilton Rookie Card and a Catcher: The Conclusion of the 1973 Topps Pursuit

I think it was about a year ago that I decided to pursue the 1973 Topps complete set. I know for sure that it's been a year since I started trading on, which was a great source of cards for the set. The most credit I can give to one person, though, is Bo over at Baseball Cards Come to Life!, who helped me take a big chunk out of my want list last year. Of the final two cards I needed for the set, one came from eBay and the other from TCDB. For the past several months, I've had the following search saved in my eBay search list: "1973 Topps Mike Schmidt," with the hopes of finding an underpriced Buy It Now option. Recently, I found a match and was ready to pull the trigger. My second to last card for the set arrived Monday:

The card met my basic requirements for the high numbered short prints of the set: No major creases, little to no paper loss, and no writing (a requirement I waived for the high numbered checklist, because I'm not paying $40 for a checklist). A random thought I keep having about this card - I wonder if there are any John Hilton player collectors or Padres team collectors out there who have this card only because Hilton's on it. 

The day after I hit Buy It Now on eBay for the Schmidt rookie card, I finalized a trade on TCDB with Joe from Portland, OR for the final card I needed for the set. I had tried to track down this one on TCDB a few times before, but it never worked out. Needless to say, I was more than happy to send some 1965 Topps cards out west in exchange for this beauty:

This is one of my favorite cards from 1973 Topps, so it's especially sweet that it's the one that finishes off my set. 

I've featured some 1973 Topps-themed posts on my blog and plan to continue to do so, as a way to make myself continue to page through my first complete vintage set and appreciate it in its entirety. One that I've already promised is featuring the shortest players from the set. Look for that post coming soon.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

1973 Topps Baseball Should've Had a Basketball Subset

When I was young, I especially enjoyed the backs of baseball cards. In a pre-internet age, this was my primary source for learning about the players and their wins, losses, hits, home runs, RBI, and so much more. But there's more! Date of birth, place of birth, bats/throws, weight, and of course, height. Harkening back to my youth, I recently paged through my nearly complete 1973 Topps set to seek out an answer to a question: who were the tallest and shortest players featured in the set? It's a question I recognize that no one might care about other than me, but today I'll test that theory here by giving you a rundown of the tallest players from 1973 Topps.

Seven players are tied for 2nd at 6'6":

Dave Kingman

Kingman also played high school basketball.

Ron Reed

As the card back states, Ron Reed was an NBA player before he began his baseball career. Though he was a serviceable basketball player, Reed decided to pursue baseball after two years with the Pistons. He said, “I felt like I was one step too slow and three inches too short to make a 10 to 12 year career in professional basketball,” Ron Reed explained. “So I decided to give baseball my best shot.” 

Bill Parsons

As the card states, Parsons was an All-American high school basketball player.

Bob Veale

Steve Renko, Wayne Twitchell, and Cecil Upshaw are the other 6'6" players from 1973 Topps. Renko played baseball, basketball, and football at the University of Kansas. Twitchell played basketball in high school.

The Tallest of the Tallest:

Frank Howard (6'7")

Howard was a college baseball and basketball player at Ohio State. The Philadelphia Warriors selected him in the NBA draft, but Howard elected to play baseball instead. Check out his impressive college basketball stats courtesy of

Another great illustration of Frank Howard's height is this photo of him at the 1969 All-Star Game standing next to 6'4" Boog Powell:

Stay tuned for a list of the shortest players from the set, coming soon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

A 1955 Bowman 100th Birthday: Jim Hughes

Welcome to the second edition of my series featuring players from the 1955 Bowman set that would have turned 100 this year. The first player featured was Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst on February 2. Today's featured player is Jim Hughes (card #156), who I'm spotlighting on what would have been his 100th birthday. 

My actual 1955 Bowman card of Jim Hughes:

Date of Birth: 

March 21, 1923

First Year in Organized Baseball:

1946 with the Madisonville (KY) Miners, a Class D team in the Chicago White Sox organization. 

Link to a Really Old Baseball Guy:

Jim Hughes was teammates with Jo-Jo White on the 1950 Hollywood Stars (AAA affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers). White began his playing career in 1928.

1934-36 National Chicle Diamond Stars (R327) #45 - Jo Jo White

Link to a Much Younger Guy:

Hughes played with Harmon Killebrew on the 1958 Indianapolis Indians (AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox). Killebrew retired after the 1975 season. 

1975 Topps - Harmon Killebrew

Interesting Facts: 

  • Served in the Marines during World War II
  • Became a firefighter in Chicago after his baseball career.
  • Died August 12, 2001.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

A Funny Hat, An Oversized Glove, and More Random: My Frankenset Top 5

Over the past couple of weeks, I finished uploading all of the images of the pages for my Frankenset, and decided to do a recap of my favorite cards from the set. I've already revealed my honorable mentions as well as cards 6 through 10. That leaves the top 5, which I hope you'll enjoy. 

#5 - 1988 Iowa Cubs Procards #538 - Paul Noce

This card has several things going for it. It's a minor league issue, it's a Cubs card, and it's something fun and different (though there's actually another card in my set of a minor leaguer hitting a golf ball). 

#4 - 1984 Fleer #495 - Jay Johnstone

Jay Johnstone was a funny guy. I've read a couple of his books, and this card encapsulates his personality perfectly. Bonus: a Cubs card, again! 

#3 - 1990 CMC #139 - Paul Noce

Hey, it's Paul Noce again! I believe this card was staged using velcro or tape of some sort. See above for reasons for its inclusion. It takes the #3 spot despite the fact that Noce was no longer with the Cubs organization. The Nashville Sounds were a Reds affiliate.

#2 - 1986 Fleer #396 - Mickey Hatcher

Though not the only card to feature Hatcher's oversized glove, this was the original. Fleer does it again with a card that appears on most "funny card" lists. 

#1 - 1994 Collector's Choice #249 - Nolan Ryan

This might be my favorite card of all time. Some of the reasons why:
  • I first got this card as a kid, I believe out of a pack.
  • It is the "rarer" silver signature version of the card, and just looks awesome.
  • It features my first favorite baseball player.
  • It's beautifully framed.
  • The back has 27 seasons of easily readable stats (27!!!) 

So even though it doesn't fit one of the quirky categories found in my Frankenset, it still is #1 to me. It's one of a few "generally awesome" cards from my set, and it just had to be included. 

Do you have a favorite of this group? Any cards you hadn't seen before? 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

My First Frankenset: The Top Cards (#10 to #6)

With all of the pages from my first Frankenset finally uploaded (view them all here), I decided to do a recap of my 10 favorite cards from the set. I recently recapped the cards that just missed the top 10. Today, let's take a look at the bottom half of the favorites.

#10 - 1993 Stadium Club #257 - Oscar Azocar

This card appears on many "funny card" lists and for good reason. This classic sneaks in at #10 of my favorites from the Frankenset.

#9 - 1973 Topps #530 - Jim Kaat

An American League pitcher batting became a rare occurrence this season (1973), with the designated hitter coming to the AL. As of last season, the DH is now universal across MLB, a rule change that I dislike the most out of the Manfred Mess (and there's a lot of bad ones to choose from). The fact that this card features an all-time great, an AL pitcher, and an action shot secures its spot at #9.

#8 - 1976 Topps #564 - Kurt Bevacqua 
(Bubble Gum Blowing Champ)

Another notable "funny card". The back of this card is great, too, as it gives us the full championship bracket from the bubble blowing competition. Ralph Houk's Tigers and Danny Murtaugh's Pirates did not send a player to compete. Kurt Bevacqua beat out Johnny Oates for the title in a competition I wish would return.

#7 - 1994 Stadium Club #400 - Orel Hershiser

Someone unfamiliar with baseball would likely be surprised to learn that this card depicts one of the most dominant pitchers of the mid to late 80s. And that this man's nickname was Bulldog. 

I once knew what precisely was occurring in this photo, but couldn't track it down for this post. The only reference I found was behind an LA Times paywall. 

#6 - 1994 Topps #705 - Jose Rijo

One of several mid-90s cards showing Jose Rijo with a squirt gun (Super Soaker brand perhaps?), this one is great because it appears Rijo is taking aim at someone in the crowd. I have one or two other Rijo squirt gun cards in the Frankenset. 

Do you have a favorite from this group?

Coming soon: the top 5 cards!