The best Toronto Expo yet (1971 baseball everywhere!)

The blog went dormant for a long time.  There are myriad reasons for this, most notably that I’ve been absurdly busy, but just as important is that for most of this year, I’ve been poking away at the 1971 high series and it just didn’t seem interesting to me to post a 1971, then another, then maybe two – particuarly since this blog is doing it so much better.  I hardly did any hockey this year.

The Toronto Fall Expo, though, was going to change that.  My plan was to do precisely what I had done in the spring, which was to aim for a handful of 1952-53 Parkies, see whether I could find any 1973-74 OPC dark backs to get me closer to my master set, then try for some 1960-61 Topps or maybe a couple of 1969 OPC baseball cards.  There hasn’t been a worthwhile find of 1971s there in years.

So that’s precisely what I did.  Instead of wandering around exploring like I normally do, I went straight to the Parkies guy.  He had four I needed:

Hergesheimer, Stoddard, Lund and Stanley - 1952-53 Parkhurst.

Lousy image quality due to a somewhat dirty phone lens. Still, Hergesheimer, Stoddard, Lund and Stanley – 1952-53 Parkhurst.

I was a little disappointed in that I wanted to nail down the last Hab for the first page of the set, but this was an OK start all the same.  I paid for these, then remembered that in the spring, he’d had some of the 1973-74 OPC off to the side of his booth.  That box wasn’t there.  Instead there was a binder I’d never seen him bring before.  It read:

1971 OPC Baseball

Well, that was different.  What are the odds that there are high numbers in this thing?

high numbers - lots of 'em

Oh. My.

Gold mine.

He wasn’t breaking up a complete set, but what was in there landed directly on my list.  What you see here is a stack of 1971 OPC high numbers, all in outstanding condition.

a big spread

spread out across the floor, as cards are meant to be

The price was what made it even better.  Everything was a fraction of what it normally sees on eBay.  In fairness, this means they were probably priced at around book, but “book” is kind of a fairy tale when it comes to high-numbered 1971 OPC.  In the top row, buried next to Dick Williams, is a Mike Marshall.  The high-series Expos tend to run the better part of $100 (US) online.  That card?  Less than a seventh.

Complete pages abound!

A page of high numbers!

A page of high numbers!

So the set that I once felt would never be finished, and that this year I felt might get done, just not any time soon, now needs just sixteen cards.  A couple are ugly (most notably the Baylor/Baker/Paciorek RC, one of which just finished on eBay at about $65 US for a beat-up copy), but most aren’t too bad.  This could be a 2016 accomplishment.  Never thought I’d be able to say that.

More than happy with what I’d found, I abandoned the notion of more ’50s-60s hockey.  I did grab this, though, which gets me down to 10 remaning on the ’73-74 OPC Master set.

Stackhouse, Worsley, Dupere, Collins, Bucyk - 1973-74 OPC dark backs

That’s the last card of the Gumper, second from left.

I don’t expect that he’ll have my remaining 16 in the spring, but there were a bunch of other binders labeled 1967, 1968 and 1970….



Posted in OPC, Parkhurst, Vintage Baseball, Vintage Hockey | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

The ’74 OPC Hank Aarons – how six cards became nine

1974 Topps baseball opens with a six-card Hank Aaron tribute set that displays all of his previous Topps cards and lists personal records and season highlights on the back.  Other than card #1, they’re all done exactly the same way – four images to a card.

1974 OPC, on the other hand, takes those six cards and breaks them into nine.  Cards 1,2 and 6 (which is now #9) all carry over the Topps design.  Cards 3, 4 and 5 are each broken in half.  The vertical layout is swapped for a horizontal layout, two images per card.  The yellow border is replcaed with a bunch of blue stars and the text “Collector’s Souvenir Card” is added along the base.  It looks kind of hastily thrown together and also resulted in three Topps cards being dropped from the set of 660.  Why was this done?

The answer is fairly obvious when one flips the cards over.

OPC generally got away with reusing the basic Topps layout because the backs weren’t all that wordy.  OPC could thus simply print the text in both French and English using a much smaller font.  This is also why (in my opinion) OPC always went for a lighter card stock – it made a smaller font easier to read.

In this case, Topps had loaded the backs with so much information that there was no way to put it all in two languages and keep everything legible. (Card #2, for example, is kind of ridiculous.) To get all of Hank’s myriad accomplishments in the set, they had to add three extra cards to the subset.

I have no idea why they didn’t work with the existing Topps border.  It would have looked a lot better.

Note – as per Oh My OPC, cards 7-9 in the Topps set (Jim Hunter, George Theodore, and Mickey Lolich) were moved into the slots formerly occupied by the Brewers Leaders, Royals Leaders and Jim Fregosi, all of which were dumped out of the OPC set.

Posted in Card Design, OPC, Uncategorized, Vintage Baseball | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A successful spring expo

A week ago today, the Toronto Spring Expo started.  I only get to two card shows per year – this one and the Fall one.  They’re excellent shows but I attend them specifically for two reasons: they are accessible (not too far away) and they open on Friday rather than Saturday, so I can get there for an hour or so after lunch.

I’ve taken to going there with general purposes in mind rather than aiming for specific cards.  This year, my goals were to

  • knock off a few of the remaining cards from my ’73-74 OPC master set
  • get 3-4 of the all-time greats from 1960-61 Topps.  These ones are always a pain online.
  • find one or two really nice 1952-53 Parkhursts
  • serendipity

Note that I set no baseball goals anymore. For the largest of the Canadian shows, one would think that OPC baseball would be a reasonable find.  It’s not.  I think most of the baseball dealers are from the States and the one guy who has older OPC rarely has them in a state I want to pay for.

So my serendipty find was a bit of a shocker:

Bunch of 1969 OPC baseball

1969 OPC baseball.  The guy I dismissed had a bunch that were just fine and dandy, thanks.  I was particularly happy to find the leaders card, as it had eluded me and gives me a complete first page:

first page - 1969 OPC

Hooray!  1969 OPC set status: 192/218.  Getting there.

So with those safely in my pocket, I set off to tackle item 1.  The 1973-74 master set is two complete sets, one each in the light and dark backs.  Everything I still need is a second-series dark back, which seem difficult.  Nailed a few:

bunch of '73-74 opc hockey

The Mahovlich was a dupe because I couldn’t read my own list.  Still, only $3 misspent. Set status: 507/528.  Also getting there.

Got my 1960-61s from the same dealer.  This got me enough of a discount to account for the second card bought in error:

1960-61 Topps hockey

The second one is #10, Bill Cook. I needed #10 in 1959-60, not 1960-61.  Got too excited. Not sure what I will do with this.  I may use it as trade bait in the fall.  Set status: 33/66. Exactly half.

I was looking for one particular vendor for my ’52 Parkies as he always has a few, his prices are decent and he always knocks off a bit.  Couldn’t find him.  I ended up making three circuits before finding him at precisely the same table he always has.

Another person was wading through the ’52s already, so I had to wait.  I spent my time repairing stacks I kept absently knocking over.

Finally, it was my turn.  Remember, I wanted one good one – two if I got lucky:

A bunch of 1952 parkies

Glory be!

I was particularly happy with the Butch Bouchard (bottom right) because a card in that shape will always run at least $40 online.  This, with my discount, was less than half that amount and in the local currency, to boot.

Set status: 84/105 – precisely 80% of the set.  This one may yet get done.

A good day, all in all, and $10 under budget.

Posted in Parkhurst, Uncategorized, Vintage Hockey | Tagged | 1 Comment

May you live in interesting times (and ’71 ball!)

“Interesting times” means things like blogs fall by the wayside for a spell.  I’ve got scans of all the great things Fuji sent me, but can’t write any of them up yet because I need to research them to sound like I have a vague sense of what I’m talking about.

However, this happened, and it speaks for itself, mostly:

1971 OPC baseball - cards 676-684

Yes, complete pages from 1971 baseball are not uncommon.  What’s the deal?

Well, it’s this:

1971 OPC baseball - cards 676-684 backs

This is the first page of the OPC high numbers I’ve managed to complete, almost six years after starting to build the set.  If one wants to get really pedantic, it’s the second, since I also have the last page done, but this is the first 9-card sheet of highs I have.  Jack DiLauro was the straggler.

As is obvious, by the last couple of series, OPC had given up on the redesign of the back and abandoned the French text.  I’m not sure whether they got in trouble for this, but I note that in 1972. they didn’t bother with the high series at all and stopped the set at 525 cards.  Most likely (IMO) they were knee-deep in hockey and didn’t want to spend the effort on the baseball anymore.

77 cards to go.

Posted in Joy of Completed Things, OPC, Vintage Baseball | Tagged | 6 Comments

More tinkering with the 70-71 customs

Bobby Orr - 1970-71 OPC hockey

I have a nicer version of this card. I really should scan it.

Fixing the 1970-71 Topps/OPC hockey set is becoming a minor obsession.  All the way back here (images on the link are dead, so it’s of limited use until I fix them) I noted that the set was basically an inverted 1971 baseball and in this post I got it into a nice looking card (in my opinion, anyway), but my inability to fix the text of the team name really irritated me.

The problem with the text is that either the ink isn’t 100% evenly applied or the process of compression the image into a jpg muddies the borders.  Either way, those letters can’t be selected in a photo-editing tool in such a way that the lines actually wind up straight.  When I tried it in the past, what I wound up with was this:

Bobby Orr - 1970-71 OPC custom

It feels so much better, but it’s not quite right.

It took quite a lot of effort to get the letters even to be that good and it became clear when I went after it again that no amount would ever get it looking quite right.  I was stuck with trying to find an appropriate font and making the best of it.

After some trying, I hit on this.  The font is “Lucida Bright” in a demibold, 30-point.

Bobby Orr - 1970-71 OPC custom

Cleaner, anyway

It’s cleaner and not inappropriate.  I was almost happy with it, in fact.  It just lacked a little, I don’t know, call it pizzazz.  I monkeyed around a little bit before hitting on something called “Informal Roman.”  It’s kind of arty and wispy and I like it.

Bobby Orr - 1970-71 OPC custom

Now, we’re cooking

Is ti to everyone’s taste?  Dunno, but I like it.  To test the design, I took another ’70-71 of some prominence:

Gordie Howe - 1970-71 OPC

Again, I have a better one and should have scanned it, but no matter.  All it was doing was donating some text.  Gordie, reworked, gives me this:

Gordie Howe - 1970-71 OPC custom

I like it.

This is why I like the Informal Roman.  For whatever reason, I think “DET. RED WINGS” looks awful in the Lucida Bright.  It works OK for Boston, but not Detroit.  This, I like.

And one more for the moment.  I didn’t have this scanned at all, so I scooped one of the internet.  This works well, too:

Gerry Cheevers - 1970-71 OPC custom

I like this better than any card Cheevers ever had, actually.

I think I might end up trying to make a bunch more of this set.  It’s kind of cool, really. These cards desperately needed action shots.



Posted in Card Design, OPC, Vintage Hockey | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Christmas comes early – Fuji-style

When I finished off the last post, I mused that I needed a new project – something that shouldn’t be a bank buster and something that feels a little different than what I’ve been doing lately.

That very day, an envelope arrived at the house.

It was a large envelope from California, and I cringed a little at this because I know what happens when one combines large envelopes with international postage.  I’ve tried to become adept at maxing out the little mailers that don’t (yet) count as packages.

I remembered that when Fuji had asked me what I was interested in collecting, I mentioned that I had virtually no basketball at all, so any commons would be cool. I mused that this package might have some 80s Fleer or some such.  That would be neat.

Then I opened it:

lots od old stuff

Oh, my

Now, this is awesome.

That first block of four? 1972 Topps.  The next two? 1978.  The third? 1975.  I had a few of these from Mark Hoyle a few months back and thought they were neat and worth pursuing, but this brings it to a whole ‘nother level.

Part of the reason I’ve always liked old cards is that they offered a chance to learn things about people I never saw play.  This gives me a whole new sport!  I mean – the top of the second package is a player from the “Tams!”  What on earth is a Tam?  I have no idea!  It’s wonderful!

Given the sorry state of my hockey team and the fact that the local basketball club is actually competent again, I’ve been meaning to give this sport more attention.  This gets me going.

I had to resist my normal urge to tear everything open.  I am rationing myself with these. One per week, and then I will be able to post some highlights.

Thanks so much, Fuji.  I will scour around for more Padres and A’s and so forth. :)

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Joy of a completed set: 1957-58 Topps Hockey (Part 4)

This is the last part of the set and is made up of the balance of the Rangers team.

1957-58 was a good year for New York.  They made their third straight playoff appearance and their winning percentage of .550 was their best since 1942.  They had some good young talent, a legitimate star in Andy Bathgate and a pretty sound goaltender, so I don’t know why they fell off so bad in subsequent years.  That .550 would be their last season better than .500 for nine years and their best effort until 1967-68.

Their results with Worsley in goal were significantly better than with Marcel Paille, so it’s possible this season’s results were really a result of Gump carrying the team.  Bathgate was also excellent.’

There are only twelve cards in this post, but some really interesting people.

Page 7 – cards 55-63

1957-58 Topps Hockey - cards 55-63

#55: Jack “Tex” Evans was a tough, veteran blueliner who was pretty well-regarded.  He was up and down with the Rangers almost every season between 1948-49 and 1954-55, but then stuck and only missed five games over the next eight seasons.  A low-scoring banger out of Alberta (via Wales), he won his only Cup with Chicago in 1961.  Out of the NHL after 1962-63, he played in the minors until 1972.  He also coached eight seasons in the NHL with the Seals, Barons and Whalers.  His prairie drawl earned him the nickname “Tex.”

#56: George “Red” Sullivan started in the Boston system but struggled to stay with the big club.  A 119-point season for their farm club in Hershey caught the eye of the Black Hawks, who traded for him in September 1954.  Sullivan would remain a regular until 1960-61, peaking at 63 points in 1958-59.  After a couple years in the minors, he would return as the Rangers’ coach in the middle of the 1962-63 season, remaining there until 1965-66.  He would also coach Pittsburgh and Washington in the NHL.

#57: Gerry Foley (RC) would dress for 68 games on the wing this season, but presumably only in spot duty, as he only scored 2 goals and 5 assists.  It would be his last NHL action until a single game with the LA Kings – eleven years later in 1968-69.  In the meantime, he spent eight years with Eddie Shore’s Springfield Indians – the team Don Cherry often called “the Siberia of Hockey.”  They were unaffiliated and not easy to get away from and Shore was “interesting” to play for.

#58: Andy Hebenton would record his third consecutive 20-goal season in 1957-58 and would pot 33 the next season.  Hebenton was in the middle of what would become a record-setting iron-man streak of 630 games.  Like current record-holder Doug Jarvis, he never missed a game in his entire career.  He played every game of the 9 seasons he saw NHL action.  His streak ended when he was sent to the minors for the 1964-65 season.  In the minors he was just as durable, missing just two games (both in 1967-68) over the next ten seasons.  He retired in 1974-75 at age 45.  Overall, starting in 1952-53 in the WHL, he played in 1562 of 1564 possible games, and his total streak is at minimum 1054 games. Assuming the games he missed in 1951-52 and 1967-68 weren’t right at the end and start of the season, the real total is likely somewhere beyond 1100 consecutive games.


#59: Larry Cahan played just 34 games in 1957-58 (no Andy Hebenton, our Larry) due to an injury I can’t find documented.  He was a good-sized defender who came to the Rangers in 1956 from the Toronto system.  He would remain with the Rangers, though up and down with their various farm clubs, through 1964-65.  The Oakland Seals would rescue him from the minors in 1967-68, and he would play in the bigs with the Seals, Kings and the Chicago Cougars of the WHA into his 40s.  Larry was one of the two Seals (Ron Harris was the other) who hit Bill Masterton of the North Stars in 1968.  Masterton hit his head on the way down and died of his injuries.  It is now suspected that the helmetless Masterton was suffering from a serious concussion already and had no business being in the game (this was undiagnosed at the time and wouldn’t have been accounted for anyway).  The jolt from this collision rendered him unconscious before he hit the ice. Neither Cahan nor Harris was ever considered culpable for the death – the only death directly resulting from NHL play.

#60: Andy Bathgate was the brightest star on the Rangers.  He’d lead them in scoring this year with 78 points and would place second in Hart (MVP) voting.  An great skater and creative offensive force, he would win the Hart in ’58-59.  He led the league in assists twice, tied for the scoring lead once and had at least 46 assists and at least 74 points every year between 1955-56 and 1963-64 – all done with a steel plate in one knee (result of an injury in junior).  He scored the Cup-winner in 1964 for Toronto, but a 1965 wrist injury hampered his performance and started him wandering around the league, with stints in Detroit, the minors, then Pittsburgh.  He retired in 1971, though returned for 11 WHA games in 1974-75.

#61: Danny Lewicki was a great Ranger find in 1954-55, when he came out of nowhere to score 29 goals.  He had been a Leaf prospect and part of the 1951 Cup winner, but his style (little attention to defense) wasn’t to Conn Smythe’s liking and he was stuck with the AHL’s Pittsburgh Hornets. By 1957-58, his production was waning and he’d score just 11 goals and 30 points.  His last NHL action would come in 1958-59 with the Black Hawks. He’d retire from the AHL’s Quebec Aces in 1963.

#62: Dean Prentice always strikes me as an unsung hero.  He was a very good winger who had an excellent 22-season career in the NHL, but most of it was spent with iffy teams.  He only got to the playoffs six times in 22 years and out of the first round just once. As a Bruin on December 27, 1964, Dean was tripped up on a breakaway and slammed into the boards.  Taunted by Bobby Hull to get up, he did and scored on the resulting penalty shot.  On the bench, he lost feeling in his legs and it was determined that he’d scored the goal with a broken back.  It cost him the rest of the season.  He retired in 1974 after playing for the Wings, Penguins and North Stars.

#63: Camille Henry was rather small and not particularly fast, but had a knack for getting open and scoring lots of goals.  He scored 32 of them in 1957-58 and would peak at 37 in just 60 games in 1962-63.  A Lady Byng-winner once and finalist six other times, Henry only had 88 minutes in penalties over parts of 14 NHL seasons and only had double-digits twice.  He retired as a St. Louis Blue in 1969-70.

1957-58 Topps Hockey - cards 55-63 backs

Page 8 – cards 64-66

1957-58 Topps Hockey - cards 64-66

#64: “Leapin’ Lou” Fontinato was the first player ever to hit 200 penalty minutes in a season (202 in 1955-56) and would lead the league in 1957-58 with a comparatively tame 152.  As the policeman on the Rangers, he was as feared as anyone through the mid-to-late 1950s.  A 1959 fight with Gordie Howe left him extremely bloodied, though it cost him hardly any time.  Playing for Montreal in 1962-63, his career was ended by a broken neck received as the result of a hit into the boards.  He would walk away, but never played again.

#65: Bill Gadsby was, for a long time, the gold standard for a great player who never won a Stanley Cup (this probably now falls to Marcel Dionne). Gadsby broke in as a teenager in Chicago in 1946-47 (same season as Gordie Howe) and was either a first or second-team All-Star seven times in his 20 seasons.  A high-scoring defenseman in an era where there weren’t many who topped 30 points, he managed it nine times and topped 50 twice.  He placed ninth overall in NHL scoring in 1955-56.  Physical as well, he hit Tim Horton in open ice in 1955 hard enough to break both Horton’s jaw and leg.  He retired in 1965-66 with Detroit at age 38.

#66: Dave Creighton was a decent centre who could score if given ice time.  He had a career-best 52 points for the Rangers in 1957-58, but would be left exposed in the 1958 Intra-League Draft and wound up with Toronto.  Seeing only spot duty the next two seasons as he bounced between Toronto and Rochester, he scored only 18 more NHL points.  He continued to play in the minors until 1968-69, but wasn’t one of the veterans to gain a second life via expansion.  This card, as the final one in the set, tends to get bashed up and is thus somewhat pricey.

1957-58 Topps Hockey - cards 64-66

That does it for this set.  It was a favourite of mine in the 80s and it’s kind of hard to believe  that I won’t be getting another one unless I luck into a Howe on the cheap (there is Kelly to upgrade as well, I guess).  For the record, the last two I needed to finish it off were Vic Stasiuk and Dean Prentice.

The next set that’s near to completion is 1961-62 Topps, of which I only need four.  I need to upgrade the checklist, though, and that’s rarely fun.

I also need a new project that won’t be prohibitively expensive.  Not sure just what that will be.


Posted in Joy of Completed Things, Uncategorized, Vintage Hockey | Tagged | 4 Comments