(Greetings 19 days away from Christmas. For the first time ever, I have done all my holiday shopping online. Also, I am almost finished, which is almost unheard of. See how efficient you can be when you can't go anywhere? It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 297th in a series):
This card was a generous send from reader Dave, although it wasn't the most generous as you'll see when I get around to posting everything in the envelope he sent.
The 1970 Topps Seattle Pilots team card is one of the most unusual team cards ever made. At card No. 713 in the series, it is one of the very highest numbers in the 720-card set. And if that doesn't make it coveted enough, it is also one of the few examples of a team card that was the only one issued for a particular franchise.
Just as interestingly, by the time the Pilots team card was issued by Topps in its final series in 1970, the franchise had already moved to Milwaukee and were playing as the Brewers. The team on the card was defunct the moment it appeared in packs.
Instantly outdated or not, it is the rare case of a team card not merely representing an entire season, but one that represents an entire franchise's history. Outside of the book Ball Four, is there any better example of summing up the totality of the Seattle Pilots in a single, rectangular object?
The team is posing in Sicks Stadium, the home for the Pilots for its one-and-only season in 1969. Identifying players in this card is difficult, the photo so small (and my eyes not as strong) and the fly-by-night team now more than 50 years old.
But that's what the internet is for and I found the photo online with IDs underneath (or at least a photo taken at approximately the same time). No, there's no Jim Bouton in the picture (it was likely taken after Bouton was traded to the Astros as he's missing in the lineup but one of the players he was traded for -- Dooley Womack -- is shown).
Even with no Bouton, the photo does contain several Ball Four notables such as Don Mincher, Gene Brabender, Marty Pattin, Mike Hegan, Tommy Harper, Ray Oyler, Steve Hovley, Steve Barber, Bob Locker, and, of course, manager Joe "Pound That Budweiser" Schultz.
I also enjoy seeing Sal Maglie and Frank Crosetti as coaches on the card.
The card back may be as interesting as the front. You talk about summing up an entire franchise with one season/one card!
Nothing but 1969s for the all-time batting and pitching leaders. Down at the bottom, where most of the other 1970 team cards showed a list of pennant-winning seasons, or at the very least, the team's record for each year of the 1960s, the Pilots card shows their position in the 1969 standings (6th, i.e., last) and their total batting and pitching stats for the year.
When I ran the Greatest 100 Cards of the '70s countdown, this card came in at No. 60. I mentioned some of the same things that I do here (even showed the same team photo picture with the IDs). But that's OK. It's a card that definitely deserves repeating.
It was one of the few cards in that countdown that I didn't own at the time. And now I can say this rare artifact is mine.