Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge (Day 26)

Day 26: A favorite oddball card from the 1980s
It's all about the backs today. What is oddball, exactly? "Anything not mainstream" is the easy answer, but what is that? Is Panini oddball, since it has no logos? I don't think so. What about online-only products like Topps Now? Convention and show promos? I have an "oddball" category in my type collection, and generally they don't make it. But some major manufacturers do have oddball products in my opinion. And since I've featured non-major brands for the past few posts, it's time to look at mainstream oddballs.

The 1980s were a time of growth for baseball cards. New brands popped up, and cards tied in with products grew in popularity too - Bazooka cards made their comeback, 7-11 had Slurpee discs, and teams partnered with local businesses to give away cards at the stadium with police department tie-ins. Even K-Mart and Woolworth had their own sets. Topps helped produce many of those, but they also experimented with their own releases too. They tried mini cards again about a decade after the 1975 set, and then went the opposite direction with Topps Big.
I love the Topps Big set. The fronts aren't terrible, though the borders are quite large given that the card sizes are larger. I think they just scaled up the border. The backs are the best, though, because Topps geared this product to kids with a large part of the card devoted to a cartoon about the player. They basically highlight different events in the player's career - Smoltz was a rookie so he didn't have many MLB highlights, but Topps focused on his minor league and school day success.

It would be nice to have more personal tidbits tossed in here and there, and maybe there are some - unfortunately my set is on the other side of the planet so I can't study it to find a favorite cartoon.

Isn't it odd that a guy who never read a comic book in his life enjoys comic panel-style art on his cards?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge (Day 25)

Day 25: A favorite oddball card from the 1970s
"What is that?" you ask. "Is that a random small photo that somehow made its way onto COMC?
Well, kind of. Except the back identifies it as an actual trading card!

TCMA issued dozens of topical sets in the 1970s. And while people collect Topps because of its longevity, people look for TCMA sets for their history. TCMA is one of several brands that issued smaller sets featuring retired players who hadn't had a baseball card in years, or ever at all.

When I was a kid absorbing all he could learn about cards, I bought my first Beckett Almanac and studied all of the sets inside. I loved reading about the old tobacco and caramel sets, and dreamed of someday owning them. I knew that wasn't really possible, but a kid can dream, right?

And as I continued looking through the guide, I saw all of the sets issued by TCMA, Laughlin, Colla, and Fritsch. TCMA probably did it best, selling sets from around 1972-1987. The simple card you see above is "just" for my type collection, and is pretty simple and uninteresting on its own. But this card represents the beginning of the TCMA era, as it comes from their first set listed in my SCM guide.

I have type cards from most of TCMA's mini sets, and several of their issues have helped supply more-affordable cards of early stars for other parts of my collection. And I can see this particular set becoming very helpful for my one-of-every-player collection, too.

I think the simplicity of the card adds to its appeal. Many of TCMA's early issues have backs that appear to have been finished on a typewriter - the basic design might have been typeset with individual card information typed over a template. The most appealing of TCMA's sets are the 1952 Bowman "extension" and the other art cards they issued, mostly in the 1980s. But even with these relatively unappealing or simple designs, the other sets are great for player, team, or historical collectors.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge (Day 24)

Day 24: A favorite oddball card from the 1960s
As a kid, I had plenty of time for reading books. And when I got into baseball, I naturally started picking up baseball related literature. I read a few novels, but what I really liked were true stories. I read a biography on Babe Ruth and studied baseball statistics reference books. One of my favorite types of books were the ones full of short non-fiction tales. These were more than just simple stories of victory or adversity, instead focusing on the strange. Some books told about players like Eddie Gaedel, while others retold stories of big blunders on and off the field.

The Nu-Cards Baseball Scoops set is just like that, giving a very short look at some of the more interesting happenings in baseball, both memorable (like Gehrig's consecutive streak record) and slightly odd (like the blown call above). I would love to have a full 80-card set! Someday, I might try to put one together.
Honorable Mention today goes to the 1969-76 Fleer Cloth Patches. Team logos are art, too, and logo stickers are a fun oddball to collect. The Indians logo above probably won't be revived anytime soon.