Thursday, January 30, 2014

The pipeline

One of my regrets from last weekend's card show is holding 1970s Kellogg's cards in my hands and not buying any of them.

Normally, when going to a card show I note that if I find '70s Kellogg's cards, I will make certain that they are captured, tagged, bagged and strapped to the top of the car for the long trip home.

But I had them in my hands and then I let them get away. I can only hope that they will be fruitful and multiply.

I had an excuse of course. When I'm surrounded by deeply discounted 1950s cards even Kellogg's can't compete with that.

The other excuse was I had just received a bunch of '70s oddballs from Scott Crawford On Cards! Exclamation points!!!

The reason I love '70s oddballs so, and prefer them vastly to any other kind of oddball, is because they are part of the pipeline. I've written about the pipeline before, many times. The pipeline is cards from the '70s. Specifically cards from 1974-80, but I'll allow 1972, 1973 and 1981 in there as well. These cards are the pipeline to my childhood.

Maybe you have to reach my age or maybe I'm just super nostalgic, but my collecting life would be a hollow shell if I couldn't access the pipeline. In fact, sometimes I wonder, what will I do when I've accumulated all the cards from the '70s? All the 1975 minis. All the TCMA cards. What. Will. I. Do? I know what some people will answer -- there's always something else to collect -- but will it provide the thrill of the pipeline?

Fortunately, I don't have to face that kind of horror right now, and won't for years.

Instead I get to take a ride in the pipeline right now! Courtesy of Scott (who, by the way, has the most spot-on review of 2014 Topps that I've read so far).


Look at all of that. You, sir, have just arrived in 1979. Please adjust accordingly. There are lines for gas. Donna Summer is a bad girl. Ricardo Montalban is welcoming randy couples to his island. Also, please memorize this:

"Even if we win, even if we play so far above our heads that our noses bleed for a week to 10 days, even if God in heaven comes down and points his hand to our side of the field, even if every man, woman and child held hands together and prayed for us to win, it just wouldn't matter because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk because they've got all the money! It just doesn't matter if we win or we lose. It just doesn't matter!"

In 1979, my brothers and I had progressed beyond the point of fighting each other for the one Kellogg's card that was in the one box of Frosted Flakes that we would get that summer (I swear Kellogg's put its cards in cereal boxes for exactly 6 weeks and cackled the whole time as they watched us from a giant camera in their tower in Battle Creek, Michigan). We realized fighting for one card was uncivilized behavior and, hell, we were working men now with menial chores around the house that paid us approximately 50 cents a year. Why not put that cash to use?

So we'd pool our money and cut out the order form on the side of the box and buy an entire set of 1979 Kellogg's cards. Then we'd wait until ... oh, 1983, and one day those cards would arrive in the mail.

God, they were glorious.

We would take them out of the package -- I'm sure there was a fight over who got to pull them out of there -- and then we'd spread them out on the red shag rug in our basement (don't ask) in neat little rows. Then we'd take turns picking cards until the were all divided up.

Each of us would come away with about 20 cards and we'd have those memorized in about 24 hours.

One thing I noticed when we were dividing up the cards was that each of the cards said "3-D Super Stars" on the front. Super Stars. The best of the best. The guys we read about in the sports section every day.

OK, Kellogg's, explain this:

Granted, all these guys played baseball better than I could -- even when I was 13 -- but I knew what was up in '79. The Oakland A's SUCKED. The Mariners were an expansion team and they definitely SUCKED. The White Sox had weird uniforms and guess what? They SUCKED. Collective record for the three in '79: 194-290.

You couldn't tell me -- even when I was 13 -- that these were among the best 60 Super Stars in baseball.

I didn't have the brainpower then to search for who was left out of the set. I have the brainpower now, but not the time. Trust me. People got left out. Lawsuits were filed.

But that's a small thing to me these days. I just want to see that 3-D action.

I still have those select '79s, which is why I agreed to receive some more from Scott. Completing this Kellogg's set and several others will keep that pipeline going for years.

Here is another thing that sends me through that pipeline:

Yep. Junk food oddballs.

These are Hostess cards from 1977, which happens to be the very first year that I obtained a Hostess card. Outside of Dodgers, I never had another one until now.

Your eyes don't know where to look do they? McBride's Spirit of '76 cap? Alexander's mustache? LeFlore's prison record?

The '70s were great, I'm telling you. May they live forever.

Scott also sent me one card from the 1978 Hostess set.

You'll need to take a deep breath for this one.

Holding it?

OK, let it go:

Dig it.

You could play an existential game of "What's real and what's not" with this card. Real: Gamble's chain. Not real: that fool cap on his head. Real: Gamble's crestfallen look. Not real: The Padres uniform colors. Because they are not to be believed!

I am so privileged that I got to collect cards at this time.

Scott wasn't done as he also sent three 1979 Hostess cards:

That's three 1970s characters right there.

This is the final year of Hostess, in its '70s format anyway.

I didn't even know Hostess existed in 1979 for a number of years. I was too preoccupied with Kellogg's that year. That and aliens bursting out of people's chests.

Oddballs were never the same after the '70s.

I can appreciate some '80s oddballs, but others I kind of shrug off. Most 1990s oddballs are too fancy for me to consider them oddballs.

Here is what oddballs look like today:

I like the Panini Hometown Heroes set a lot. It's about as good as oddballs can get now. These also came from Scott. (Please note that Lasorda is not too pleased that his number 2 is blue).

I also received some regular old cards from Scott:

Several Dodgers team set cards from 2011, but I'm showing just this one because it's the only one different from the main set.

A shiny 2013 Finest of Hyun-Jin Ryu.

And a mini version of the best Dodger card from 2013 Topps.

None are as exciting as the Kellogg's and Hostess cards.

Because none can take me through the pipeline.

It's the best amusement park ride in this hobby.


  1. LA kinda sucked in 1979 too. Should there be no Dodgers in the Kellogg's set either?

    1. I think the '79 Kellogg's Dodgers -- Dave Lopes, Rick Monday and Doug Rau -- fared a little better in their careers than Wayne Nordhagen.

    2. The set was basically the All Star team. You had to put someone in there from each team, and it was a crap shoot who made it in their career. Some players did well while others did not.

    3. I think by 1979 everyone knew that Wayne Nordhagen wasn't a Super Star.

    4. Who in the hell is Wayne Nordhagen?

  2. For better or worse being a child of the 90's means that there is a near infinite supply of those "pipeline" cards for me to chase. But I can already relate to waxing nostalgically about those childhood favorites.

    I'm very jealous of the Kellogg's find. They seem to be pretty difficult cards to come across around here for whatever reason.

    1. I have a couple of extra 79's if you want them

  3. The 70's were definetly the hey day of oddballs.topps also had many great inserts in their sets back in the 70's. I too remember mail ordering the 70 and 74 kellogs sets. The 72 alltime greats set also. Still have the complete sets,no cracks just a little cupping. I think the pipeline will just lead back to some of the 60's oddballsMonday. Monday.

  4. My pipeline goes all the way back to...1999 Topps. Between Kellogg's, Hostess, and Oscar Gamble, I sometimes find myself wishing I grew up when I could finds cards in cereal boxes or on the panels of sugar-filled snacks.

    And, though I can't imagine many people my age have seen it, that Meatballs quote made my day.

  5. Thanks for alerting me to that Ross Grimsley oddball. Ross is a pitching coach in the Eastern League and an awesome signer, great guy. He's signed every one of his base cards from the regular issue sets so I try to hit him with oddities like that. He signed an '80 Kellogg's for me last year, came out better than I'd expected. Hates his '75 Topps with the horrid airbrushing, BTW. All the cards I pulled from packs when I was a kid are cherished keepsakes. We all have our pipelines!

  6. Might have been a stretch to call a couple of those guys super stars, but the cards themselves are super stars for sure. Great additions!!

    Love the Bill Murray speech, haven't watched that movie in a while, but I do have it on DVD so....

    I also get a kick out of how everyone calls Harvey Atkin's character "Mickey". Mickey is also an early teaser for my post tomorrow....(big grin)

  7. You're right, that tower in Battle Creek is darn spooky. I think it was in The Lord of the Rings movies.

  8. Great, another mess of Hershisers to collect. I do like how Fernando's glove melds into Orel's.

  9. Man... can we trade pipelines? My pipeline is from 1983 to 1989... which sucks compared to yours. Oh well... it's my parents' fault... not mine ;-)