Friday, December 16, 2016

'56 of the Month: Harry Dorish

I'm snapping out of another '56 of the Month funk to bring you the first post in this series since June. By rights, the next five posts should be '56 of the Monthers to catch up. But I won't do that to you -- as fun as 1956 Topps cards are.

This is one of three 1956 Topps sent to me by Robert of $30 A Week Habit. He's got me back into the '56 groove more than once. Out of the three, I'm selecting Harry Dorish to profile. This happens to be Harry's final card and you can see that Topps features him on the basepaths, which it liked to do with pitchers in this set. (Ah, the good ol' days of American League pitchers batting). The same Dorish goofy mug can be found in the 1954 Topps set.

Dorish spent most of his 10 seasons in the majors as a relief pitcher. He started out with the Red Sox in 1947 and his best years came with the White Sox in 1951 and 1952. He led the league in saves with 11 in 1951 and added 17 more in 1952. Dorish is also the last American League pitcher to steal home. He did so for the Browns as part of a double steal in 1950.

Dorish was most often called "Fritz" and that's how he's listed on his baseball-reference page. There is some confusion about what his actual first name is as he was not named "Harold" and a relative says he was baptized as "Gregory".

But "Fritz" sounds much more fun (take it from me), and I don't want to get away from the point of the post, which is the back of the card.

Never mind the colored-in 1 in the year 1955 on the cartoon and bring your eyes to the bottom of the card, where it is written in pen "traded to Boston Red Sox July, 1956".

I've acquired my share of vintage cards where the original collectors felt the need to physically update the card with the player's new team or position or whatever. And, I've wondered, why was this so commonplace with cards from the 1950s and 1960s?

The answer is pretty obvious unless I'm missing something much more elusive.

First, mostly kids collected cards in the '50s and '60s. They didn't think of cards as an investment or something to keep pristine. The '80s had not occurred yet. Collectors today, while no longer considering cards an investment on the scale that did during the 1980s, I think still believe cards should be in decent shape, meaning no pen marks. The sense that a card be "mint" or as close to it as possible is now inherent in most collectors' DNA. It explains the phenomenon of graded cards and also explains why some collectors won't collect black-bordered sets because they chip easily.

Secondly, there were no traded sets in the '50s and '60s. The first traded cards appeared within the 1972 Topps set. Then traded cards appeared as additions to the 1974 and 1976 sets. The first real, separate traded set appeared in 1981 and there's been update sets every year since. There are enough cards out there of players in their new uniforms (or photoshopped into their new uniforms) that updating the card yourself isn't necessary.

Kids in the '50s and '60s didn't have the internet to record the latest updates. They had a newspaper, and that got thrown away at the end of the day. There was nothing permanent to note a player transaction outside of the piece of cardboard in their collection. And permanence was important then. The virtual world was never a thought.

So those are the reasons collectors felt it so necessary to update their cards.

Credit to the updater of the Dorish card, he or she sort of got it right. Dorish did go to the Red Sox in mid-season 1956. But it was in late June. And the Red Sox did not trade for him. Boston picked him up on waivers from Baltimore.

Dorish's final season was 1956. He later became a scout and pitching coach for a number of teams, including the Red Sox and Braves. He was known as a quiet sort his entire career. He died on the last day of the 20th century, December 31, 2000.

Those are the two other cards I received from Robert. Neither of them have any penned updates on them. But Johnson's card was a missed opportunity because the White Sox traded him to the Orioles in May of 1956.

If I had any photoshop skills, I'd do it myself.

I don't have the heart to break out the pen.


  1. Sorry. I understand this post is "traded" themed... but damn that Coleman card is beautiful.

  2. I still love the old time Oriole on Harry's hat, and the fact that he's running the bases, which relievers don't tend to do very much.

    I also agree with Fuji, the Coleman card is a beauty.