Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cardboard appreciation: 1976 SSPC Erskine, Branca, Reese checklist

(This is post No. 1,500. I don't have anything special set aside for this post, but there IS a contest on its way. Someday. When all this high school nonsense is over. Meanwhile, thanks for reading. It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 115th in a series):

I don't think anyone has noticed that Topps did away with the Classic Combo type cards that it has foisted on collectors the last five years. At least there are none in Series 1.

Between 2006-09, Topps added these combination cards to the set. In 2010, the combo cards were still there, just not as frequent, not advertised as combo cards, but just as ghastly.

I never liked these cards. I thought they were meaningless filler, taking up space that some other player could use.

But then I realized that I DO like these cards because I can't get enough of the '50s and '60s cards that did the same thing.

So, what's the difference? What's the difference between this and this?

Well, design has something to do with it. I think some of the '60s designs go well with the combination cards.  The 1967 design, in particular, is a classic.

Secondly, I prefer posed photos on combo cards than some sort of action shot. The posed photo shows that you took the time to set up a concept for a card, tracked down the players, got them to pose, got them to smile, and, presto, you have a great card.

The action combo shot looks like the photographer had some leftover images and someone asked "what do we do with these?" and a combo card was born.

But thirdly, I think it's merely a case of romanticizing the past. We have more respect for players from the past than we do current players. We know too much about current players. The mystery is gone.

So, that is why I fell over myself to obtain the Carl Erskine-Ralph Branca-Pee Wee Reese card from Scott of Scott Crawford on Cards! A photo of three of the Boys of Summer? All on one card? Let me at it!

Who cares if they're 20 years past their playing days?

That is what a combo card should be. Maybe it's not as well-presented as the 1967 cards, SSPC is about as anti-design as you can get. But I'll take it any day over the combo cards of the last five years.

Scott also sent me some Cramer Dodgers from the early '80s. They're not combo cards, but I'll show them combo style:

Smokey and the Duke.

Leo and Lefty.

Gil and Pee Wee.

And Campy and Casey.

Aren't those great? Not the prettiest of cards, but I'll take any and all old-school Dodgers.

Scott apologized for not having an extra Sandy Koufax to send, but no problem because I already have one!

I don't consider combo cards as filler anymore. I think they have their place. But only if they're going to go through the effort to make a classic card.

We don't need to walk in on another Berkman-Hampton encounter.


  1. The Cramer cards are awesome! I need to pick up some more of them.

  2. I think you nailed the combo card concept. I agree about the vintage ones being so much cooler than the modern ones.

    I've been randomly tracking down some of the vintage ones. Often I get outbid over at sportlots for them. I don't want to spend a bundle.

    Those Cramer cards are a nice design.