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The book and my collection

References to one of collecting's "bibles" have popped up on the social medias the last week or two.
That's nothing unusual, as revered as it is in the hobby, I expect homages to the Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book to continue long after I'm gone.
I first wrote about it in 2011 after finally receiving a copy. And I've leafed through it many times since, always delicately because something with so many images of cards from the '50s and '60s makes me nervous.

It now sits on my card desk in a place of honor where it will never likely leave, except when I'm picking it up to be amused by a snippet about Neil Chrisley or Eli Grba. 

One of the recent online references was from a post on Cardboard Junkie. In showing off his copy of the book, he mentioned that he's known a few people who have collected every card that is shown in it.
I was impressed. And I immediately wondered how many cards pictured in the book that I owned.
I knew it would be some paltry total and I'd immediately be embarrassed and disgusted with myself for collecting so many cards from 2012 when I could've been collecting cards made iconic by a single book published in the early 1970s.
But I pressed on to uncover the humiliating details.
It turns out there are 243 card images in the book. Add the five cards pictured on the front and you've got 248 total (there are other versions of the book with different covers and different cards pictured on the front).
I went through and counted and I have 48 cards in the book.
That's 18 percent. It seems shabby but actually I was rather pleased with that number. I thought it would be a lot less.
And I'm continuing to add to my TGABCFTABGB stash. In fact, three of the cards in the book arrived in my collection just yesterday from reader Jonathan:

Thank goodness I had the book handy because that is what told me that Joe Koppe is pretending to be a left-handed shortstop on this card.

I've ignored '50s and '60s cards for a long time, especially '60s cards. But in the last 7 or 8 years, I've become increasingly enamored with them. With the exception of one page of ancient black-and-white cards, that's all that is in this book, cards from the '50s and '60s.

1969 Topps images of players like Walt Williams, Roy Face and Aurelio Rodriguez are the most recent cards in the entire book, which just tells you how long ago it was printed.
One thing I noticed when tracking down cards that I have is how nicely conditioned the cards are in the book. It seems a bit at odds with the spirit of it, although there are a couple of examples of cards that have been taped.
But, for example, this page:

Don't those cards look fairly sharp?
Here are my copies:

One looks like it was thrown into a bucket of gravel and one has been laminated and wasn't even in as fine a condition as the book version before being encased!


Another striking example.


It's a hoot to be able to do stuff like this. I never thought it would be so cool to own a card that is also pictured in a book. But that's the power of Brendan Boyd and Fred Harris. And the power of Choo Choo Coleman.

Also, when you're digging out your card, you get to read such amusing writing, and, yes I'm not too shy to say, referring to Silvera's pose as looking like someone preparing to catch a bag of chicken salad sandwiches from the press box sounds like something I'd write.

Most of the card images from this book that I own are Dodgers or from the 1956 set, both of which are exceptions to my rather casual accumulation of '50s and '60s cards.

Here is one example. Page 73 shows five cards, including the above three stacked on top of each other.
I own just these two. Because Dodgers are involved.
There are two or three pages in which I own every card on the page and that filled me with a significant sense of accomplishment that almost nobody would understand except for people who have read the book.
The best example is this page:

Yup, I have all four.

So 18 percent isn't all that bad when you can say you have cards like that and cards like this:

Even if mine is significantly worse for wear.
Still, a fun little exercise to further pay tribute to the Original Card Blog. And something to do once you've read the pages inside and out.

A handful more that I own.
Oh, and I can't forget this:


What an interesting project. Good luck if you chip away at this.
Jim McLauchlin said…
Cal Abrams is the Jewish Gino Cimoli!
Nick said…
One of my favorite books, and always will be! I remember counting the number of cards I owned from it way back when I first read it, many years ago (wasn't very many). I'll have to dig out my copy and do an updated tally.
Old Cards said…
Sounds like my kind of book. 60's cards are my favorite! As many times as I have looked at that Joe Koppe card, I never noticed the left-handed trick.
RunForeKelloggs said…
The 1973 paperback that I have is somehow holding together even though it the by far the book I read more than any other .... until I had kids.
mr haverkamp said…
In some universe somewhere, Boyd and Harris are sitting together having a couple of beers and talking about cards and great writing, and they both wish they wrote something as good as your recent article regarding airbrushed cards of the 70's. Keep it up, N.O!
If we're talking solely aesthetics, I'd rather have a 1952 Gus Zernial than a 1952 Mantle... and it's because of this book.

In the mid-70's my best friend had that book - I think he got it as a birthday present because he didn't like to read - and I'm pretty confident I valued the book much more than he ever did. I really need to get my own copy (been saying that for about 40 years).
Adam said…
I’m not familiar with this book. It looks neat though, I’ll have to look into it.
You gotta go for 100, half way there.
Fuji said…
This would be a fun project. I'll have to flip through my copy and see how many I have. I'm guess the over/under number is around 10. Actually... I'll go with 8.
acrackedbat said…
Gotta say I'm proud to own a like new copy of this book. It was on my list of "wants' which I shared with Nick (Dimeboxes) while he was working for HPB. The very day I shared my list, he'd seen the book. I will always be grateful as it's the holy grail in baseball card collector's library. I read mine carefully and thoroughly. It takes a spot on the top shelf in my baseball book library. I will read it many times before someone else inherits this one. I love the idea of collecting every card in the book. The cards would sit in a binder next to the book itself. Perhaps I'll add this as a goal!
Michael Ott said…
I've never seen the book, and so would need a checklist, but if you decide to chase them all I'd be happy to help.
Jamie Meyers said…
If I had seen that book when I was a kid I would have been all over it. I had a thick volume that detailed the results of every season from 1876 to 1973 or so and I read that thing like the Pope reads the Bible. My first exposure to older card designs was the MVP subset in the 1975 set. I was fascinated by those cards. Each of them is etched into my memory. Based on what you've shown, I know I have at least cards from the book - the 58 Cimoli and the 62 Green. Both are signed.
GTT said…
Yeah, I don't know what else could be called the collecting bible. I've been reading it almost since I learned how to read. Back then I pretty much believed everything I read, which produced some interesting results with TBCFBGB, as a fair amount of it is facetious.
bryan was here said…
I found my copy at an outlet mall in Pennsylvania around '94-95. I had been on a hiatus from collecting during that time so purchasing that book triggered nostalgia of going to my favourite cards shop and spending all my money on a stack of 60s and 70s cards. As it turns out, I have approximately 70 cards featured.

Baseball Cards magazine did a feature on the book when it was re-released in 1991. They featured some excerpts from the book, such as how the Kansas City A's were basically a Yankee farm club in the fifties and early sixties. My favourite part of the book is when the authors wonder if Bob Cerv is wearing a felt gravy boat on his 1958 card.
Jon said…
I'm familiar with the book (thanks to the blogs), but have yet to read it. Someday I'll find a cheap copy!
BP said…
I read this book 30+ years ago. It might be the funniest book I've ever read. I read it again every few years, and since I'm older and don't have the same kind of elastic memory I used to have, it's still hilariously funny every time I read it.

Thanks for the great idea about collecting every card in the book! Not sure about that Koufax rookie. That might be a little hard to digest.

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