For me, 2011 was the year of the completed vintage set. While I made a post about 1963-64 Topps being complete back in November, that was actually just one of eight different sets that got finished this year. This was not by design. Some sets I’d worked on for over 25 years, others just a couple. As it turned out, they all came to an end more or less together.
They were: Hockey – 1961-62 Parkhurst, 1963-64 Topps, 1965-66 Topps and 1966-67 Topps; Baseball – 1972 OPC, 1973 OPC, 1975 OPC and 1976 OPC.
Quite the year.
Next year won’t bear any resemblance to this. I have only two projects anywhere near being done, and after that, there’s nothing even in range.
Sets aside, there were a number of singles that stood out in my mind as being particularly cool – I wanted to go with a top five, but wound up with a top 11 and that seemed appropriate. These are the first two:
Card #11 of 2011 – 1971-72 Topps Gordie Howe
Normally, if there’s a Topps and an OPC set of the same season, I’ll pick the OPC version to collect – it suits the shameless homer in me and in hockey, at least, the sets are bigger. Occasionally, though, there was a Topps card that isn’t part of the OPC set, and this is one of them.
Gordie Howe retired (for the first time) before the 1971-72 season. OPC caught wind of this and replaced the above card with a special retirement card in its second series. The image here only ever saw the light of day in the comic book insert set.
What’s particularly cool about this card is that this was the first year that hockey cards ever had complete stats on the back. This is the only Howe card (other than the 1975-76 WHA All-Star) that show his lifetime stats. OPC went with a horizontal format on the back. I have no idea how they’d have dealt with Gordie, had he decided to play that season.
One little factoid about Gordie Howe – he was in the top five NHL scorers for 20 consecutive seasons. Another – that 100-point season in 1968-69? He was 41 years old. Truly the master.
Card #10 of 2011 – 1967 OPC Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle only appeared on two OPC cards (not counting leader cards, etc.). This is the second of them. For the first handful of seasons that OPC made baseball using the Topps license and design (they started in 1965), they only made the first few series. Anyone not in the first part of the Topps set simply wasn’t in the OPC set. There was no French text in these seasons. Other than the card stock and the “Printed in Canada” designation, there’s no real difference to these.
Of all the Mantles I’ve seen, this is one of the ones I like the best. Something about the closeup shot and the bemused grin adds a real flavour of humanity to the card. He looks very distant on a lot of his cards. Not this one. I also find that 1967 is kind of hit and miss because the text can get lost in the background of the image. It’s clear as a bell here. This card simply works. A great card of a great player.
The thing that strikes me in looking at Mickey’s stats is the at-bats column. From 1962 onwards, he’s never near a full season. One can only wonder what he might have accomplished had he been healthy.
I’ll break the best 11 into a series of five posts. Sharp eyes will have noted that 11 is prime. The last post will have three. I couldn’t break them apart.