There were a number of more longwinded topics I had in mind for today, but time is not particularly on my side. As such, the holes in hockey’s extended stats have to wait for another day.
I did have a little accomplishment a while back, though, and never posted it (not that it’s really that relevant). I managed to finish off a number of vintage sets. I hadn’t really been planning it that way, but a whole bunch of projects ended more or less together (which has also given me a very significant “now what” kind of moment). When the last Toronto Expo came around, nine cards would have finished off four different vintage hockey sets. I was only able to snare a few of them, but it still knocked off a couple of sets that I’ve been working on more or less forever.
1961-62 Parkhurst has always been one of my favourites. It’s not that big – there’s only 51 cards in it, but finding them in good shape is kind of dicey and there are always a bunch of people after them. I still have a few to upgrade, but these two were the last two empty spaces in the binder. The stain on Al Johnson is made more apparent by the scanner. You really don’t see it in person (at least I don’t – and didn’t).
Aside from being bright and colourful, 1961-62 Parkhurst is notable for having pretty much the entire back given over to a cartoon with a scratch-off punchline. They’re never particularly funny. They have a Reader’s Digest level of humour, if that.
The Gumper All-Star was the last card of ’66-67 Topps. This is the set made out to look like an old wood-grained TV. It’s miserable. If the corners have ever been breathed on, it’ll show. The centering is typically lousy. Cards that have good corners and good centering will routinely sell for three times the book price. As a result, I don’t think I ever thought this was going to be complete. As with the Parkhurst, there are still a few cards that need upgrading (maybe 10), unfortunately including both checklists (ecch). One card that will not be upgraded is the Orr. I have no need to lay out three grand for something perfect.
Also getting finished at the same time were a pair of old baseball sets. They aren’t as old as the hockey, mainly because I’m not doing much with that era yet. One of the most irritating things about old OPC baseball is the way you see them described in eBay listings. It’s always “OPC IS RARE! THERE WERE ONLY 5% AS MANY OPC CARDS AS TOPPS CARDS.” This leads some seller with dollar signs in his eyes to list, say, a 1973 Luis Tiant graded PSA 8 for $70. Laughable normally, but when a 1973 Luis Tiant is the only card you need, it’s supremely irritating. I finally got one for about $7 – still too much, but it beats the tar out of $70.
Another set I got absolutely hooked on was 1972. 1972 Topps is a set beloved and reviled by many. It’s a great design, but has murderously difficult high-numbered cards. There is no such problem with OPC. For whatever reason, they never bothered with the last couple of series, so the set ends at #525. You still have to deal with all the “LOOK, IT’S SOOPERDOOPER RARE” sellers, but the lack of high numbers balances the whole thing out.
Three cards eluded me forever until I found one place that had them all:
Finishing these sets led to an even bigger “what now?” moment that I still haven’t really solved. I have a pair of really long-term projects in ’71 OPC and ’74 (which for some reason is really, really tough in OPC) and there aren’t too many others left that are quick hits. I’d love to pick away at ’65, but if people see dollar signs for ’73, it’s 100X worse in ’65, which was the first OPC season. Even at only 250-odd cards, it’ll be nasty.
I’ve even mulled over trying for the ’72 Topps high numbers to flesh out the OPC set.
That’s probably just insane.
Suggestions are welcome, though.