Friday, March 17, 2017

'56 of the month: Dick Groat

During a rare, blissful moment of free time early this week, I took a peak at my PayPal account. It read "$3.68."

"Great," I said to myself. "Let's see what 1956 card I can get for less than three dollars and 69 cents."

I ventured on to ebay and started looking at 1956 Topps cards. I've never really conducted this particular search before and it was kind of an eye-opener for me, just because I've always assumed that people were selling '56 Topps cards -- all of them -- for outrageous prices online.

But I guess I just had to get serious about chasing the set. Because what I found during that search is there are lots of cards in the set, maybe around 60 or more, that can be had for less than 5 bucks. And they're in pretty decent shape, too.

That's what I was looking for: I wanted a '56 card that was in decent shape, something that fits into my collection. I wound up narrowing it down to three cards. One was a Billy Pierce card that wasn't in the greatest condition but good enough. Another was a card of Phillies catcher Andy Seminick, who was good pals with my late buddy, pitcher Frank Smith. The other was the Dick Groat card you see here.

Obviously, I chose Dick Groat.

I liked the Groat for the sweet sharp corners. The fact that it is off-centered doesn't bother me. I pulled off-center cards out of every pack I opened as a kid. I'd rather have the nice corners.

I also liked it because the action shot appears to show Roy Campanella in a play at the plate. You can't go wrong with a Dodger in the background.

Finally, I liked it because Groat is one of those stars from that time period who is almost completely overlooked.

Groat was an integral element of the Pirates teams that pulled themselves out of despair during the 1950s and formed a potent team that would eventually win the World Series in 1960. Groat was the National League MVP that year and led the league in batting.

He was also part of one of the best double-play teams in baseball at that time, combining with second baseman Bill Mazeroski.

I enjoy obtaining players' cards that were issued just a few years before the player broke out big. This is one of those cards, created four years before his MVP season.

As you can see by the center cartoon, Groat was one of those old-time guys who played major league baseball and in the NBA. He played one season for the Fort Wayne Pistons.

Groat was a star basketball player for Duke University and has been an announcer for the University of Pittsburgh's basketball team for decades. Just last month, he announced a Pittsburgh game against his alma mater, Duke, for the first time at Cameron Indoor Stadium. At the age of 86.

But getting back to baseball, that 1960 Pirates team was pretty good, with Groat and Mazeroski, Clemente and Skinner, Virdon and Stuart, Law and Face. Their third baseman was former Dodger Don Hoak.

I recently received this card of Hoak from Tom of The Angels, In Order. He said he had three 1956 cards for me.

As you can see, they have not held up quite as well as the Groat card. The Bob Miller card has scribbles, the Larry Jackson card has creases and the Hoak card, well ...

... the Hoak card was glued into something, because you know kids back then and their glue.

You can see by the note that Tom fully expects these to be place-holders and that they will be. It's nice to get a look at 56s up close even if they've been manhandled a bit.

Also, it gets me accustomed to what I will have to set as my condition standard for the stars in the 1956 set. Because even though I found plenty of '56 cards I could afford in that ebay search, I didn't find one, single card of a player who you could consider a superstar.

No offense, Mr. Groat.


  1. Nice Groat! That is a heck of a find for under $5. I'm always amazed when collectors can find something like this for roughly the cost of shipping.

    I'm building the '56 set myself, and I have a Walker Cooper (#273) I can send your way. It's at the bottom of this blog post. Let me know if you need it. (I could send you some Dodgers, too.)

    1. I have the Cooper, but I'll take some Dodgers! Send me an email.