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When staples held the pages together

Well, all right! It's the Blood-and-Guts edition!

Continuing my look at Baseball Card Magazine for when I had a subscription between 1982-85, I arrive at this delightful release for August of 1984. I was in the midst of junior college, just about to start my second year and cards were kind of a "I do this because I always do this" requirement at the time.

This issue didn't produce a lot of excitement in me, which just shows you far gone I was at the time. I mean look at it!!! Bloody death cards! Uncut sheets from the '50s! A minor league card of Cal Ripken Jr.! And promises of free cards of Dale Murphy and Ted Williams! Gracious, I was so weird back in '84.

So let's have a look at what I glossed over all those years ago.

I'll start out with a couple of ads since there were only about 889 ads in every issue. I like looking at the prices that cards were selling for back in the early-to-mid 1980s.

This ad was from Kit Young out of San Diego. You probably can't read the names on the left because the fold got in the way on the scanner. But in order the names are: Aaron, Banks, Bench, Berra, Brock, Carew, Carlton, Clemente, Drysdale, Ford, Gibson, Hodges, Jackson, Kaline, Killebrew, Koufax, Mantle, Maris, Mathews, Mays, McCovey, Morgan, Munson, Musial, palmer, Perry, Roberts, B. Robinson, F. Robinson, Rose, Ryan, Seaver, Snider, Spahn, Stargell, T. Williams, Wynn (Early) and Yastrzemski

Even in 1984 a '55 Clemente would cost you 85 zingers.

A look at what you might pay for rookie cards, from a different dealer. Lots of funny names on there. Better hoard that Larry Herndon rookie mojo!!!!!!

Moving on to the Collector Q&A section, we take a look at this disgruntled collector and the expected response:

This collector must be absolutely flipping out now with the rookie situation the way it's been for the last dozen years or more. Then again, I'm guessing he's probably not in the hobby anymore.

A question about this card was just addressed in the comments on a previous post.

Of course, the letter-writer had to make the leap to Instant Riches right away.

Which brings me to this:


Eh, it was the '80s. Greed was good.

Irwin Cohen always landed the big interviews. This time it's a talk with Wade Boggs. It's the usual stuff about Boggs' superstitions and love for chicken, sprinkled in with a little chatting about hitting and fishing.

The caption says that when pressed, Boggs admitted to a slight preference for his 1983 Donruss rookie card over the others. But this is his actual quote in the interview when asked if he had a preference:

"No, not really. The Donruss is a good shot and the Fleer is just a pose."

That's the color photo that went along with the story. Kind of odd. Looks like it was supposed to be part of a bigger poster and they cropped off the second half of Boggs.

The "What's New" section featured a crapload of new sets. This was the early stages of piling new releases on collectors that would eventually lead to the glut of sets, and subsets, and sets-in-a-can, and sets-with-a-ham that we'd see in the '90s.

But at this time, companies were just trying to get in on the growing card craze. So Drake's returned for a fourth year, and Nestle and Purina and Milton Bradley started sets. Star Company began producing its endless variety of sets in 1983, so this was its second year.

And, of course, we've got the sticker book, which was so popular in the early-to-mid '80s.

And tiny, costly bronze replicas of some of the cards in the 1984 Topps set, which also came in sterling silver, too. Don't hear a lot about those.

And, um, place mats?

Onward ...

OK, this is where my scanner got uncooperative and refused to scan anything with any depth to it. So I had to make pages crooked to accommodate my scanner's demands (I'm waiting for it to crawl into a corner and die -- but not before it gives birth to a new scanner).

But I wanted to show the pages for a look at the so-called "pre-rookie" cards.

There's the expected Cal Ripken and Mario Soto and Andy Van Slyke. Even Nick Esasky I remember as being a touted prospect.

But John Stefero was totally wiped from my memory. He shouldn't have been, because he had major-release cards in 1987 (and a Donruss card in '84). But I looked at the minor league card and said, "who the heck is HE?"

Also, please note what BCM reports as Rickey Henderson's first baseball card appearance from 1977. Rickey Henderson Collectibles is apparently still missing this card.

The article also includes a checklist of minor league sets known in existence at the time. That checklist would fill a rather large book today.

This issue also included a feature on American League East autographs -- which players were tough to sign and which were not. I broke down the American League West autos in an earlier post and it took me forever. I don't want to do that right now -- so come back to this post some day and I'll probably have it updated.

Or maybe I'll forget it for a year.

This edition included a nice article about Richie Ashburn with the familiar theme of the former Phillie flying under the radar among the avalanche of '50s hitting stars. I'd say Ashburn is even more overlooked, overshadowed and unappreciated today.

And a nice display of Ashburn cards to make Phillies fans salivate.

OK, here's what some of you were waiting for -- a tribute to the death and destruction cards of the past. 1962 Civil War News, 1962 Mars Attacks and 1965 Battle.

But the article is actually about painter and artist Norm Saunders, who worked on all of those sets and was called the "Guru of Gore" in the article. Saunders came to Topps from pulp magazines and created a line of memorable and graphic sets, which have gained new attention with Topps' release of the new Mars Attacks set this year.

Saunders also worked on the abundant number of Batman sets from the '60s. But his favorite set to work on is a set that I just mentioned a few posts ago, and I'm so happy it was his favorite (Saunders died in 1989).

Wacky Packages is true greatness. And that Raw Goo sticker is giving me a major flash back to the '70s.

Finally, there is an article that I'm assuming was a breakthrough back then. A few dozen strips of 1953 Topps cards were found and BCM's Lew Lipset was able to look them over and come to some conclusions regarding how the cards were printed.

A lot of it had to do with the distribution of the cards -- the fact that some cards were double-printed and triple-printed. Here's the list that appeared with the article:

And here is the glorious two-page spread of the strips reconstructed:

It looks a whole lot better in person on facing pages.

I'm not the biggest 1953 Topps fan in the world. I think it gets a little too much rosy glass treatment. But those two pages, without a doubt, are the best two pages in any Baseball Card Magazine that was ever made.

And here's the man who did the paintings for some of the cards in the set, Gerry Dvorak. There is an absolutely fascinating interview with him about his contribution to the set.

Among the cards that Dvorak painted were Eddie Mathews (listed as "Ed"), Red Schoendienst (listed as "Al"), the Dick Brodowski night card, Walt Dropo, Clem Labine, Wayne Terwilliger, Tommy Byrne and others. He said he knew he did 11 cards for sure, possibly more.

Dvorak tried to save time on some cards by not painting backgrounds (Dodger fans probably know the Bobby Morgan card with the monochromatic background). Topps told him to stop doing that.

Hey, look! The National is going to be in the Greater New York area for the first time ever!

OK, thus ends the look at this latest version of BCM.

Oh, right ...

You're wondering about the free cards of Dale Murphy and Ted Williams.

They were 1953-style cards that were issued with the magazine. I had them for years but I think I sent them off in trades. Either that or they're sitting underneath the water heater somewhere.

Anyway ...

As always, there was a lot to absorb there. Maybe more than ever. A lot of the stories in there I didn't read the first time and went back many years later to read them. I still want to re-read the Dvorak article -- like right now.

I really wish this kind of magazine was still around.


dayf said…
I had that issue! That's the issue that got me hooked on 1953 Topps! I wish I still had that one! Oddly enough I still have the Murphy and Williams cards even though the magazine is long gone. I need to find it online somewhere.
It's amazing to look at the content in those old magazines. Thanks for sharing.
Napkin Doon said…
Great stuff, thanks for sharing!
Pro Set Cards said…
I love the old magazines. This was a cool post, thanks for sharing!
deal said…
Ashburn still mostly under the radar - mixed blessing - I can get lots of his cards easily, but think he deserves better.

All except that 49 Bowman. THat one remains very hard to find.
I like how you selected the Kit Young cards advertisement from the list below. He is still an active seller and I met him at the National and purchased some cards from him online only two weeks ago. Some things never change.
Robert said…
I had never seen one of those magazines until this post. Looks like an interesting read for sure!

thank you for sharing, great post!
Don said…
I had that issue also. I remember eating a lot of candy bars trying to complete the Nestle set. I think I also completed the Ralston set that year also. I remember sending off for an uncut sheet of Nestle cards and entering their contest. I remember getting the sheet during the 84 Olympics (it rained that day and the end of the tube was sticking out of the mailbox so part of the sheet got wet). I did win 2 tickets to a game of my choice in 1985 from the contest.
night owl said…
@Robert ~

If you click on the Baseball Card Magazine label, you'll find the reviews of all the other magazines between 82-85 that I've written about already.
Commishbob said…
I remember having that 'Painful Death' Civil War card on the cover. It seriously creeped me out. I think I had nightmares from that set.

And the article was right. The nuns at St. Mary's would pick up any cards we had in our desk if they saw them. We always got our baseball cards back at the end of the day. The Civil War cards... those were ripped into pieces.