A card collector encounters many firsts in his hobby journey. First card pulled. First card purchased. First card of a favorite player. First card of a favorite team. First rookie card. First autograph card. First card with a piece of stadium seat god knows why.
This card here is a card from my first retro set. It came out in 1977, long before the retro craze of the first decade of the 21st century.
It has been a long time since I have thought about the 1977 TCMA Galasso Greats set. TCMA produced the set for card dealer giant Renata Galasso, and it was issued 45 cards at a time, every year or so through 1984.
My brother got in on the ground floor by ordering up the first set from 1977. The Newcombe card was included. Because it was my brother's set, I didn't technically own the Newcombe card or the Campanella card or any of the other Brooklyn Dodgers in the set. But you don't share the same room with someone without pawing through their card collection. The cards might as well have been mine. And so that's why it was my first retro set.
In fact I had every image in that set committed to memory. Clemente. Mantle. Musial. They are locked in my brain forever. I know this because when the Newcombe card dropped out of a package from Max, my brain said, "Holy smokes! Do you know what that IS?"
I had no idea, so my brain forced me to turn the card over.
"Holy smokes! Renata Galasso!" I exclaimed.
"No duh," said my brain.
It all came rushing back. The great black-and-white photos of the past, perfectly framed by a white border. The neat, bold-face block letters of the player's name. Simple. Classy. The blue print on the back, with two red-outlined baseballs balanced on either side of the player's name. And the giant ad on the back. The World's Largest Hobby Card Dealer. "Dad! Can we go to Brooklyn tomorrow?"
The concept of the card set fascinated us. We knew it was supposed to grow to more than 200 cards and fully planned to purchase the next set of cards when it came out. But I don't think we ever did. We grew older and moved on to other cool cards -- the players of the present were getting more interesting than the players of the past.
Many years later, Topps and Fleer and Upper Deck began to place old-timers on new cards and collectors gobbled it up. I gobbled right along with them. But the practice is still going and getting tired with all the licensing and repetition.
Back in 1977 it was new and almost intoxicating. Our first chance to collect cards of players that competed all the way back in the '50s! (It's frightening now to think that the '50s was only 20-25 years prior to when I was a kid in the '70s).
The TCMA Galasso Greats set -- sometimes it's called "Galasso Glossy Greats," although I have no idea why because the cards weren't glossy at all -- wasn't the first retro set in terms of old players on new cards. Kellogg's put out a set in the early '70s. Fleer put out sets in the early '60s. I'm sure there were many others from earlier times where my collecting knowledge grows fuzzy and disinterested.
But just like '75 minis will always be my FIRST minis even if they were issued 70 years after the first minis -- the Renata Galasso set always will be the FIRST precursor to the following cards and their ilk ...
... as far as I'm concerned.
Max sent those Fleer Greats cards, too.
As well as these cards:
These ones bring up the question:
What was my first parallel card? What was my first prospect card?
Whatever they were, they won't produce the same mind-blowing nostalgic rush that the TCMA Galasso card did.