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Hooked on ordering through the mail

I've been picking off 1977 Kellogg's cards fairly easily and quickly the last few weeks. Unless I hit some sort of short-printed snag that I don't know about, I should have the set finished in a couple of months.

That kind of timeline is fairly standard in our access-friendly world. In fact, there are a few people reading this right now who wonder why I didn't just buy the whole thing at once.

This is how spoiled we've become. Twenty-five years ago how could I have accomplished this? Where could I have found 1977 Kellogg's cards -- 20-year-old oddballs -- for sale? I couldn't even tell you, probably because I wasn't collecting then. But even so, it couldn't have been as easy as it is now.

I know when I was pulling Kellogg's cards out of the cereal box back in the '70s, the only way you could obtain the entire set is to order them off the side of the box. It was either that or buy a mountain of cereal and hope you don't pull out any dupes.

And this is how I became hooked on ordering through the mail. It was the only way to get my hands on cards that you couldn't find at the nearby grocery store or corner market.

I started ordering through the mail via cut-out order forms off cereal boxes. Then, somewhere along the line, a TCMA Advertiser or Fritsch's Cards catalog came to my home. I have no idea how these started arriving, maybe through something I ordered in Baseball Digest, but it was the closest thing to ebay that we had at the time.

In those mail-order newsprint publications, I spied dozens upon dozens of sets that I had never known existed. (Sure, there were Topps cards and sets from the '60s and '70s for sale, too, but I was a kid with a paper route, I couldn't afford that.). Most sets paid tribute to old teams or past eras. There were sets for minor league teams, too.

I wanted a lot of those sets, but the ones that appealed to me most were these:

The 1980 Baseball Immortals set from SSPC (Renatta Galasso/TCMA).

The catalogs that came through the mail were printed almost completely in black-and-white, but there must have been some color printing in some of them because I never would have gravitated to this set if I didn't know they were so bright and in-your-face.

Obviously, its design inspiration was the 1975 Topps set, the first set I ever collected and a set I've loved the most for 45 years. Its two-tone color scheme -- with borders even thicker than '75 Topps -- made these very old players come to life for me.

It's a bit unusual to see someone who played as long ago as Pie Traynor -- someone who was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1948 (!!!) -- on such a colorful card. Anything that I had ever seen of players from that time were in black-and-white through and through. But that's what made this set unique.

I pined and pined for this set, catalog after catalog. I had very little money at the time and anything that I ordered from those catalogs was usually a card or two because that's all I could afford.

Then life moved on and a deluge of cards followed and I moved in and out of collecting. But that 1980 Baseball Immortals set remained in my brain.

Since I've returned to the hobby and arrived on the blogs and can travel the internet, ordering through the mail freely and much more easily than with those four-times-a-year catalogs, the Baseball Immortals set has moved to the front of my brain. But still there have been so many cards that took me away from that set.

A few weeks ago, I spied a Baseball Immortals set for sale and I stuck it in my cart for when I had some spare cash. Then something happened:

Somebody sent me 35 cards from the set.

OK, so now what do I do?

I probably did the foolish thing and removed the set from my cart. I know I should've gone ahead and ordered it, who cares about a few extra cards that I probably could distribute to others anyway? But you saw that 1966 Ron Perranoski card on the last post, right? I couldn't afford to buy both AND those '77 Kellogg's cards.

So, that settled it, I'm enjoying these very fine and BRIGHT cards that arrived from The Collective Mind!

I may not have the entire set but I'm much more on my way than I was a couple of weeks ago!

Now for those who aren't familiar with the set, a small amount of background: It was first issued in 1980, that's when I saw them in the catalogs, but it was updated over the next eight years. The set features Hall of Fame players, and the year they were inducted is shown on the flag on the front of their cards. As more were inducted into the Hall of Fame through the 1980s, those players cards were added to the set. It is 173 cards all told.

It is a hoot to obtain cards of players from long, long ago, folks who were playing this game in the 1800s, on such a wild design!

But I'm sure this is how some youngsters from back then learned about these players as they were drawn in by the bright blues, reds and yellows. I know I would have known much more about Thomas McCarthy as a young teen if I had these cards.

It's great fun owning very colorful cards of players you never saw on TV or even read about in the newspaper. You had to go to the library and check out a book to read about these guys!

You know, guys like ...

Tinker ...

... to Evers ...

... to Chance.

How about these old-time pitchers?

Or these old-time pitchers?

And this automatically is my favorite umpire card ever.

The players featured in this set are from such a distant time and place that someone who played in the 1930s looks positively modern.

And Joe DiMaggio looks like he could play TODAY.

The Baseball Immortals set is known for a few freaky-looking cards. The most famous of those is the Rube Foster. But these are along the same lines. Player busts floating in the ether.

But I consider it a well-made set, complete, respectful of baseball history, with informative backs. There is even a trivia question on each card.

The cards that were issued after 1980 contain the phrase "1st printing" on the back. All of the ones I received do. I imagine the original 1980 cards go for a premium, which is why I should have bought those cards with my paper route money instead of drooling over the pages.

I still have 140 cards or so to get and the best way to do that will be to find the set online somewhere and order them through the mail.

But I still enjoy getting cards through trades the best and that's why the Baseball Immortals cards from GCA came with friends.

I already showed the 1970 Topps cards that Greg sent. Here are some more gray-bordered needs, from 1983 Fleer (I used to have both the Schmidt and Bench and traded away both).

Here is some more Fleer. Some gray-bordered and some not.

A single 1977 Topps football need.

Plus a few Dodgers. You thought I'd never get to them!

This came from Greg's friend, Stuart.

And how about we end with a card from that set that inspired the Baseball Immortals set?

This isn't your average 1975 Topps card from the MVP subset.


I've been trying to finish off the '75 Dodgers mini needs for several years now. Of course I've completed the Dodgers '75 team set and the '75 and '75 mini sets, but, yeah, those don't take care of the separate Dodgers '75 mini set do they?

The MVP cards have been very pesky. Now that '53 is done, I still need '55 and '62 (Berra and Mantle, go figure). I probably should make that a priority.

But it will have to contend with my continuing priority to find a complete set of the Baseball Immortals. And you never know when one of those will pop up. I'll have to keep my eyes open. It's not like I'm waiting for a catalog to show up in the mail every other month!

But even 40 years later, I'm still receiving those cards through the mail.


Elliptical Man said…
A lot to think about here. The Baseball Immortals is a fun set, but its value is as a set, not as singles.

The Seaver is too niche. The Ryan is just a weird photo.

So it's Bench with a rare 3B listing vs early career Rickey vs slightly awkward Schmidt.

Voting for the Schmidt.
Love the inclusion of the really old timers in that Immortals set. You just don't see a lot of Kid Nichols in modern sets featuring hall of famers. And I really like that Panini Golden Age World Series card. Need to see what others there are in that set.
That DiMaggio is magnificent. I may have to pick that one up for one of my binders. You're right about the Bill Klem - it is the best. He was known as the "Old Arbitrator." There are a few funny anecdotes out there about him. He was quite the character. I'll dig some up and make a post.
RunForeKelloggs said…
I collected the Kellogg's cards as a kid, but no one from my neighborhood was able to convince a parent to spend a few bucks on the set. Later we did buy lots of cards from advertisers that we found in Sports Collectors Digest.
Commishbob said…
The Immortals set is lots of fun. My very first hobby 'project' when I got back to cards in the 80s was a Hall of Fame collection. I (very) quickly realized that an original card of every Hall guy was going to be impossible. So I opted for this set. I need to go dig it out and see if I have the 'updates' or the first set, or even if it's complete. I don't remember that amazing Klem card at all which leads me to think I don't have the whole thing.

Fuji said…
I kinda wish you had just bought the Baseball Immortals set too. We were both already chasing the 1977 Kellogg's set. Now we're both trying to build the Baseball Immortals too. Heck... maybe I'm too close to finishing the 1977 Kellogg's set... but maybe I'll look into purchasing a complete Baseball Immortals set and get it out of the way.
Mark Hoyle said…
I recently grabbed that baseball immortals set
Bo said…
Those are some fantastic looking cards there. Jimmie Foxx looks like a comic book character.
Nick said…
I love those Galasso cards! They were probably some of the first "legend" cards I ever owned -- it's one of the few sets to honor some of those turn-of-the-century greats like Tommy McCarthy and Roger Connor.

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