I woke up this morning to the sound of the kids going through the packs of hockey stickers that showed up in their stockings. My seven-year-old was literally cheering that his sister had gotten Tyler Bozak. I’m kind of jaded about modern cards and I greeted Panini’s arrival into the market with ambivalence at best, but this sticker set is properly aimed at kids and it sounds like they nailed it. Gives one hope.
Card #9 of 2011 – 1974-75 Lipton Soup Bobby Orr
The stickers are a bit of an homage to an age when cards didn’t take themselves so seriously. They were the sort of thing you’d pick up at the corner store, that came free with $5 worth of gas, or were on the back of a box of soup, sort of like this Bobby Orr.
There simply aren’t enough food issues anymore. I blame licensing. It’s too bad, because these alternative sets were always kind of fun. They always had a bit of a different look and some of them were actually pretty interesting. The 1974-75 Lipton Soup offering certainly is. They came two to the back of a soup box and made up a 50-odd card set. Every image was a game action shot, which was still something Topps and OPC hadn’t gotten around to doing. They only listed three years of stats on the back, which drives me nuts when Upper Deck does it for no good reason but seems oddly acceptable when it’s done as part of a product otherwise meant to protect soup.
Since these cards were actually part of the box itself, rather than something included in the box, they’re all hand-cut. The quality of your card depends entirely on the dexterity of a seven-year-old kid from 37 years ago, and there’s something nice about that. I have seen PSA-graded versions of hand-cut cards, which is basically stupid, but there’s no real need to chase that sort of thing here. My Orr is creased, but hey, it’s part of a soup box – what do you expect?
There aren’t too many Orrs I still need. The ones that are out there are all inserts (stickers from 1968 and 1970, the deckle edge from 1969) or Topps versions of cards I have in OPC. This is one I’d wanted for a while and I was glad to find it, particularly in a lot with Bobby Clarke, Borje Salming and Tony Esposito. This might be a fun set to do.
Card #8 of 2011 – 1965 OPC Baseball Hank Aaron
I love 1965 baseball. I just love it. There’s a great blog that walks the entire 1965 Topps set and I used to read it voraciously, but he’s now down to the last dozen or so cards that he’s missing, so posting has all but stopped. What a cool design, though. (1965-66 Topps hockey is a favourite, too. Just a good year all around.)
1965 was the first year for OPC ball. There’s very little to distinguish it from the Topps set from which it was derived. There’s no French on the back, no player changes or “Now with Team X” inscriptions. The only thing you notice is that the card stock is a little greyer and the back says that the card was printed in Canada. OPC only printed the first 283 cards of the set, so there’s no Mantle, no Koufax.
There is a Hank Aaron, though, and it was one of the top cards I got in 2011.
When I posted the Gordie Howe card at #11, I mentioned that one of the things I liked about it was that you could see his entire career for the first time. With hockey, in order to really read the stats, you need to know the era you’re looking at in order to give the numbers their proper context. Gordie’s 49 goals in 1952-53 were a full 17 ahead of his closest competitor in a league in which only three players scored 30. It was an unthinkable total despite the fact that Rocket Richard had scored 50 just a handful of seasons earlier.
Baseball had full stats on cards a lot longer and I learn a lot by reading them. It sounds crazy to say it, but it was from this card that I finally realized just what a fantastic player Hank Aaron was. While I get that there are variances, park allowances and various and sundry sub-eras in baseball, these numbers stand out in any era. 11 seasons, a .320 average, 120 RBI minimum in six of seven seasons and never less than 92 over the prior ten? Not to mention 360-odd home runs (and he wasn’t even half done?)
I have some other OPC Aarons, but I love this one. This set is a real bear to find cards that are both in decent shape and not absurdly-priced. This was both.