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My kind of oddball

I've made several not-so-serious threats to chuck my card collection and pursue only oddball cards.

The threats aren't that serious because there is really only one type of oddball card that would make me happy enough to collect those and nothing else.

Those oddballs don't exist in Kaybee sets of the '80s, or Hostess sets of the early '90s, or today's Panini sets, or Post issues from the '60s, or Kahn's hot dogs cards from the '50s.

The oddballs that thrill me from collecting head to toe rest in the '70s, with a foot dangling in the early '80s.

The bestest oddballs are Kellogg's cards from the '70s and '80s, Hostess cards from the '70s and Burger King/Coca-Cola cards from the '70s and early '80s.

This is purely a nostalgic preference as I grew up in the '70s and early '80s. But I contend that those oddball issues are still somewhat more of novelty than at least the later issues because back then there were no Traded sets or even other card companies like Donruss, Fleer, Upper Deck, Score, etc.

There was Topps and that was it. If Topps said that the player pictured was a Yankee, even though you knew full well that he was traded to the Twins and was playing on TV as a Twin, it didn't matter. Topps said he was a Yankee, frozen forever in the pose of its choosing, until the following collecting season when it would then deem the player a Twin.

This is why we embraced Kellogg's and Hostess and especially Burger King and Coca-Cola. BK and Coca-Cola cards were issued later in the year, and periodically caught players in their new uniforms. I'm sure you all know the 1979 Burger King Pete Rose card in which he is a Phillie instead of a Red. That card was absolutely MIND-BLOWING in 1979.

I've mentioned all of this before. But I haven't had the chance to obtain too many BK and Coke cards.

In fact, until Marcus of All The Way To the Backstop sent me a card package recently, I had no early '80s Coca-Cola cards.

So when the Joe Sambito Coke card showed up on his blog, the 14-year-old inside me practically dove for the keyboard.

It's funny how a simple little logo can change your whole reaction to a card.

Here is the Sambito Coke card again:

And here is the regular 1981 Topps Sambito card:

Seems kind of empty now, don't it?

Unbeknownst to me, Marcus also had another Astros Coke card and he threw that in, too.

Very nice. The Astros are one of the fortunate teams in the '81 Topps set with their pleasing blue borders. A lot of teams were stuck with sickly green (Reds and Rangers), fast-food yellow (Twins and Cardinals), off-putting orange (Royals) and just plain wrong pink (Dodgers and Yankees). The Astros may have the best cards in the set.

Here are the backs to the Coke cards in case you were wondering:

There were also Coke sets for the Yankees, Mets, Royals, Phillies, Tigers and others (not the Dodgers, though). Some of the cards featured players in their new duds, like this Don Sutton Astros example.

Getting food-issue oddball cards is still great fun. Taco Bell is offering NBA cards right now, not that I have any interest (in the NBA or Taco Bell).

But it's a different world now with cards being issued throughout the year and multiple sets to capture player arrivals and departures. The fascination isn't quite at the level it was in the late 1970s when I was desperate for a Burger King card, or anything other than Topps..

But that's not a bad thing. Multiple sets is great fun! Look at what else Marcus sent me:

Some Allen & Ginter minis! Yay! Every one of the baseball players makes my frankenset binder. The two non-ballplayers do not. It's nothing against them. I have the Unser card already and it's residing in frankenset spot No. 237. OK, I do have an issue with Monty. He's a golfer. Sorry, Monty.

And I'll see you off with this tremendous card. Go Dodgers.

If that doesn't make you happy that baseball has begun, you're hopeless.


Fuji said…
I love all oddballs. Any era, any brand. But you're right, those 3D Kellogg's sets were the greatest. And those Burger King & Coke Topps sets are right behind them.

Metallattorney said…
I love the oddballs too. I wish they would make that stuff again.
Anonymous said…
The '78 Whitaker was my first exposure to these sets about 2 years ago. Felt like I just discovered the Matrix.

I agree on the blue being one of the better border colors, but the yellow/brown padres colors paired with the red borders is the nicest for my money.
Nick said…
Late '70s/early '80s oddballs are easily the best. I recently acquired my first '81 Coca-Cola card as well and I'm still drooling over it.

And that Dennis Reyes card is fantastic!