Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tony was right


Almost two months ago, The Angels In Order posted that he had completed the entire run of Angels cards in Kellogg's 3-D sets. I don't know how he could have known that I was attempting the same thing for the Dodgers at that very moment, but he mentioned me in that post and the fact that I was trying to do just that.

Several weeks later, I finally pulled the plug on the last few Kellogg's Dodgers cards that I needed and I now have all of the Dodgers from the Kellogg's sets from 1970-83.

This is fantastic news.

To me, this is the king of "oddballs," those 3-D cards that I pulled out of boxes of Frosted Flakes and ordered through the mail off the side of those boxes during the 1970s. In fact, I don't even consider them oddballs. Back then, they were an alternative to Topps. The only alternative. There were Topps cards you bought in packs from the drug store or the corner store and there were Kellogg's cards you fished out of boxes of flakes. It wasn't "oddball", it was "another set."

The only other cards we knew about then were Hostess, but what were those but pictures you had to cut off a cardboard slab? Make your own cards? I could do that in my own home with index cards and some crayons. Give me something that's already finished, please.

So that was it -- Topps and Kellogg's (oh, and there was TCMA, but let's not complicate this).

I've written about Kellogg's a number of times, so I'm hoping that I'm not repeating myself. Kellogg's was the weird, exotic, smaller version of Topps. We would tilt and turn those cards in an effort to "find" the 3-D effect. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. I remember looking mesmerized at the background of one of the cards, drinking in the blurry, orangey stadium. Innovation? We didn't know anything about that. Xograph? Hell I didn't read the tiny type at the bottom of the cards.

But cool? Yeah, Kellogg's cards were very cool.


By 1977, my brothers and I were ordering the cards off the side of the box, accumulating however many box tops were required, waiting the agonizing 6-to-8 weeks for delivery and then very carefully splitting up the 57-or-so cards evenly on the carpeted floor in the basement.

This was how I completed my first Dodger Kellogg's team set, the four Dodgers contained in the 1977 set. The box above was probably in my home that year.

Prior to ordering that set, the only Kellogg's cards we saw were whatever card or two we could pull out of a box before the baseball card promotion disappeared off of the front of Frosted Flakes. But between 1977-80 we conducted the same order-through-the-mail ritual each year.

After that, Kellogg's seemed to disappear. Obviously, they were still making cards (the 1981 version you couldn't find in cereal though), but I just stopped caring. Or stopped eating cereal, I don't know.

But now, today, I've completed another aspect of my childhood in cards. And just like The Angels In Order, I am going to feature the cards year-by-year. I encourage you to do the same when you complete the Kellogg's set for your favorite team (if you like the Rockies or Rays, well, that's your own damn fault).

Let's begin:


1970 Kellogg's

Cards in set: 75
Dodgers in set: Don Sutton, Bill Singer, Tom Haller, Willie Crawford

The very first Kellogg's set -- man this thing must have blasted boring ol' gray-border Topps out of the water. The design is very similar to 1969 Topps, but other than that, a very forward-looking set, almost space-aged.

The Bill Singer card displays the biggest complaint about Kellogg's cards, the cracking. I didn't see those cracks at all when I ordered the card online. These kind of 3-D cracks aren't as severe as some others, an example of which you'll see later.



That's what the back of the first Kellogg's 3-D set looked like. Kellogg's introduced me to several card-back features: card numbering at the bottom of the card, listing of a player's hobbies, and lengthy bio write-ups. Also, Kellogg's let you in on how many cards were in the set. It was listed on every card. With Topps it was always a mystery until you got that last checklist card.



1971 Kellogg's

Cards in set: 75
Dodgers in set: Willie Davis, Don Sutton, Billy Grabarkewitz, Claude Osteen

The '71 set is notorious for being difficult to find because you couldn't order the entire set. They arrived one per box and that was it. These were easily the costliest cards to find and I paid the most for the Osteen card, of which there are a couple different variations (I refuse to chase Kellogg's variations). The Sutton I found cheaply, otherwise I would have paid the most for that. The look on Sutton's face always freaked me out.

This is the first Kellogg's set with blue borders, which I think of as the default border for Kellogg's cards. Also, you can see a big fat star on Kellogg's card several years before Topps did the same for its all-stars.

By the way, the Willie Davis is the coolest Kellogg's card I own.



Before Fleer, before Upper Deck, Kellogg's was featuring pictures of the player on the back, too. The 1971 set was the first. Also, good golly, look at the size of that write-up. And I'm just finding out about the quiz right now.



1972 Kellogg's

Cards in set: 54
Dodgers in set: Willie Davis, Wes Parker, Claude Osteen

The '72 set was slightly smaller in size and the number of cards in the set was smaller, too. Kellogg's also issued a 15-card All-Time Greats set this year, so I'm wondering if that's why the main set was trimmed. Personally, I think this is the ugliest of the '70s Kellogg's sets. The double red diagonal stripes look like an afterthought.


Kellogg's was doing the full name thing before Donruss. And when have you read "erudite" on any other card back?



1973 Kellogg's

Cards in set: 54
Dodgers in set: Don Sutton, Willie Davis, Claude Osteen

This is the only two-dimensional Kellogg's set and I don't know what the cereal company was thinking. Maybe the 3-D thing hadn't taken off like they had hoped? Maybe too many people complained that the cards were too delicate? But Kellogg's took away the one thing that made it unique. These cards are the easiest to find among the '70s items, probably because their condition holds up better, but I'm also guessing because they're not as popular.


The bottom left copyright tells you that the cards were not created by Xograph, like the others, but something called Visual Panographics Inc.



1974 Kellogg's

Cards in the set: 54
Dodgers in the set: Jim Brewer, Willie Davis, Manny Mota

These are the first Kellogg's card I ever saw. I can't tell you which card it was, the circumstances of seeing it, but I know that I saw these '74s somewhere. The design for these cards looks very much like Kellogg's 1972 All-Time Greats design.

Also, since I received this Jim Brewer card, it has cracked. And like many Kellogg's cards, I did nothing to make it crack, I just looked at it one day and the cracks were there. (A replacement is on order).



Topps changed the color to a lighter blue. It reminds me of the mimeographed copies of papers I received in grade school. Also, you can see that Willie Davis had become an Expo while Kellogg's was making the card.



1975 Kellogg's

Cards in set: 57
Dodgers in set: Bill Buckner, Steve Garvey, Mike Marshall, Andy Messersmith

The top exclamation, "3-D Super Stars," which has appeared on the '71, '74 and '75 sets so far, I remember as what made this set special. There was no similar title for Topps cards, but here it was right on every card -- these players were Super Stars. And they were in Three-Dee.

Also, this set reflects a new era for the Dodgers. I would enjoy the remnants of the Dodgers' 1974 season all the way through the early 1980s.


The mug shot on the back is made to look like a drawing this year.



1976 Kellogg's

Cards in set: 57
Dodgers in set: Don Sutton, Steve Garvey

It's the bicentennial set! I love this set because everything bicentennial reminds me of my childhood. But it's a shame that there are just two Dodgers. This set veered quite a bit in look from previous sets, but that's a good thing because Kellogg's was getting stuck in a rut.

One notable absence are stars on the front of the card. 1970 is the only previous set lacking in stars.

Also, these two Dodgers would duke it out in a famous 1978 locker room fight.



Kellogg's adds some tinting to the background.



1977 Kellogg's

Cards in set: 57
Dodgers in set: Doug Rau, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Charlie Hough

Orange! Very '70s! Very Bright! This is the set that I have seen the most as it's the first one we ordered and I shuffled through those cards over and over. It's a point of pride to me that the Ron Cey card has been handled much more than any other Kellogg's card I have (note the rounder corners), but it has never cracked except for slight notches on the edge.



Back to the mimeographed look. These are rather difficult to read.



1978 Kellogg's

Cards in set: 57
Dodgers in set: Ron Cey, Reggie Smith, Don Sutton, Burt Hooton, Tommy John

This is the pinnacle of Kellogg's sets for me. Not only were there more Dodgers in the set than ever before (and would be equaled only once), but I saw these cards so often that they began to represent to me what Kellogg's was all about. Normally, I dislike yellow cards. But not these.

This is the first time that Kellogg's squeezed its name on the front of the card. All that stuff on the front kind of diminishes the 3-D effect.


And, here is one of those cracked cards that I just can't handle. First it cracks and then it seems like it spreads like some sort of card disease. It's like the card has a skin problem. I try to replace cards when they get like this.



The mug shot on the reverse was replaced in '78 by a drawing of Tony the Tiger. This both amused and confused me.



1979 Topps

Cards in set: 60
Dodgers in set: Davey Lopes, Doug Rau, Rick Monday

The dastardly skinnier Kellogg's card. When these first arrived, I hated them. I now appreciate them as the various sizes of Kellogg's cards are part of their charm. But I was also peeved then because the Dodgers made the World Series for the second straight year in '78 and THIS is what the Dodgers get in '79? Sure, I was happy with Lopes' first 3-D card, but where was Cey, Garvey, Sutton, Baker, Smith? And poor Bill Russell. He never got a Kellogg's card.

On the good side, the stars are back!


Smaller card, but Kellogg's still crammed in a lot of words.



1980 Kellogg's

Cards in set: 60
Dodgers in set: Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Dave Lopes

Kellogg's stuck with the smaller size for a second straight year, but added star power with three-fourths of the Dodgers' acclaimed in field. These would be the last cards my brothers and I ordered through the mail.


Tony the Tiger was gone, replaced by the Raisin Bran sun. I only remember Frosted Flakes advertising baseball cards. I suppose it's possible Raisin Bran did, too, although it was viewed as an "adult" cereal. It was odd that Mr. Two Scoops was on the back of a baseball card.



1981 Kellogg's

Cards in set: 66
Dodgers in set: Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Reggie Smith

The only Kellogg's set to match the size of an average Topps card, Kellogg's super-sized and refused to include the cards in boxes of cereal. You could only get them through mail order. Booo!

I would go decades before I realized that Kellogg's was issuing cards after 1980. So these are still relatively new to me.


Yay! Tony's back! These cards seem freakishly big.



 1982 Kellogg's

Cards in set: 64
Dodgers in set: Fernando Valenzuela, Burt Hooton, Dusty Baker, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey

Kellogg's goes old-school, drawing comparisons to its sets from the mid-1970s. But the space devoted to the photo just seems to get smaller.

I should probably address something that was a staple of Kellogg's cards: they refused to mention the player's first name on the front of the card. Remember how strange it was when Topps did the same in its 2005 flagship set? Kellogg's was doing it for 14 years.


No more Tiger. No more Sun. Just another Kellogg's logo across a baseball. Kellogg's was getting very corporate.



1983 Kellogg's

Cards in set: 60
Dodgers in set: Fernando Valenzuela, Pedro Guerrero

The final Kellogg's set of current players returned to the size of the 1979, 1980 cards. With the white borders, this might be the blandest Kellogg's set.


The only vertical card back issued by Kellogg's (aside from the '72 All-Time Greats set). Look at how much they had to write about Valenzuela!! No phoning it in like Fleer did during the 1980s.


Here is the rundown on which Dodger had the most Kellogg's cards:

Garvey - 6
Sutton - 5
Cey - 4
Davis - 4
Lopes - 3
Osteen - 3

There really was or is nothing like Kellogg's 3-D cards. One day I probably will start attempting to complete full sets for some of the '70s Kellogg's sets.

Because of when they came out and the look of them, I won't be able to stop collecting them. Tony was right. They're no oddball. They're not merely "good". They're grrrrrrrrrrr-eat!


(P.S.: This is the post that I was referring to in this post. Ebay is a wonderful thing).

11 comments:

  1. Holy crap! Is that Lopes dropping a bunt on the '79????

    (heads to ebay)

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  2. Congrats on the completion. Two of my prized possessions are the complete 70 and 72 sets. With no cracks.

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  3. I love the old Kellogg's cards. I'm a little bit younger than you (like 2 or 3 years) so the first set I got by rotting my teeth on Frosted Flakes was the 1979 set. I also ran my sugar highs through the 1982 and 1983 sets.

    I want the 1976 type to come back as a Topps insert.

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  4. It's a shame Kellogg's didn't continue to produce sets beyond 1980. After having recently read "Card Sharks" I suspect the reason was a substantial increase in their licensing fee from the MLBPA at which point Kellogg's likely opted to discontinue the sets. That's purely speculation on my part, but it's probably no coincidence that Ralston Purina picked up the license for 1984 when Kellogg's didn't.

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  5. Topps seriously needs to hire whoever wrote the bios for these Kellogg's cards.

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  6. Nice post. I understand why you wouldn't want to collect the variations, but not even the Ron Cey variation in 1977?

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  7. Awesome post and congrats on completing!

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  8. I have a run of complete sets from 1973-1983 and I also have all of the Giants separately from 1972-1983. It will be a while before I get the 1970 and 1971 cards -- those are tough! The 1976 set is my favorite. Frank Tanana seems to just jump out of the card.

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  9. I am VERY proud of you for completing this collection (there is a tear in my eye).

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  10. what a cool collection. I can't pick a team. No, I have to have them ALL!

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