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Not about the cards

I don't do a lot of posts that don't feature cards. I'm pretty much "about the cards" all the time with little use for various extras -- Funkos and bobbleheads and all that clutter -- that can't fit into a proper binder page or toploader.
That doesn't mean I don't own any memorabilia that isn't cards. I believe you've seen my Ron Cey-Fleetwood Mac lamp? I just make sure that it can fit sensibly into the card room without anyone thinking about calling the hoarders show.
For instance, I'm a sucker for ephemera. It's only logical that I wound up working in a printing medium, with my appreciation for the printed word and how it appears on a page. And so, I can't resist things like news clippings, scorebooks and yearbooks.

People send me that stuff, too. I guess they know me. It's the one non-card thing that you can be sure I won't discard. I'll either put it on display or lovingly place it in a folder for safe keeping, only to pull it out years from now to review.

Not long ago, reader Fred sent me a newspaper clipping all the way from The Maritimes. It was about the recently departed Tom Lasorda and a New Brunswick native who played for him back when both were in the minor leagues.

It's filled with colorful stories about Lasorda, who was as you knew him way back in the minors. My favorite part of this article is the passage at the end in which the former player, Scott Harvey Jr., recalls how Lasorda would tell the young players for the Ogden, Utah, team that if anyone could hit his curve ball out of the park in batting practice that he would buy them a car.

Harvey hit a blast over the wall in practice off of one of Lasorda's curves. Lasorda promptly hit Harvey with the next pitch. Then when Harvey arrived at the clubhouse the next day, a toy car sat at his locker.

The next piece of memories on papers is a wonderful letter by none other than Robert Laughlin, the artist who created the above drawing and all of those '70s Fleer sets, as well as his own sets (OK, so I showed a card).

Reader Roger got a hold of me after I posted about my article in the latest Beckett Vintage magazine about Laughlin. Roger said he wrote to Laughlin back in 1973 about an idea he had for those Laughlin sets and Laughlin wrote him back!

This is a copy of the letter that Laughlin sent Roger.
While this would've been neat to have when I was writing the article -- first-hand knowledge of what Laughlin was going through and his thoughts at the time -- it at least confirmed that I was on the right track with my article as I had come across some of the same Laughlin thoughts and his grandson had passed along some of the same memories.

Finally, just last week I received an unexpected envelope from Jeff of Cardboard Catastrophes. It showed up in packaging that was the perfect size for a magazine-type publication and I started to get hopeful.

I love magazines geared to my interests. Or similar type publications. The king of those periodicals, for me, are yearbooks.

Back during what I call my First Card Collecting Period, 1975-85, I also enjoyed tracking down Los Angeles Dodgers yearbooks. I've posted about them in the past and I have been able to accumulate the Dodger yearbooks between 1974-85.

There they are. The first ones that I ordered, 1978 and 1979, are in fairly rough shape as I handled them a lot. The ones between 1980-82 I also pawed through quite a bit. The earlier ones I ordered later. The yearbooks between 1983-85 are in good shape as I was older and pretty much ordering them out of habit. I barely looked at them.

But that's where the yearbooks end, in 1985, I was off to college after that and never could be bothered with ordering a yearly one. Part of me wants to at least go through and pick up the ones between 1986-91, but I don't know if I'll ever do.

I also have the 1966 Dodgers yearbook. In fact, I have two copies of it (I'd be more than happy to trade one of the copies for a Dodgers yearbook I don't have, preferably from the '60s or from 1970-73).

For the longest time, the '66 yearbook was the oldest one in my collection ... until last week.

Jeff got a good deal on these three '60s Dodger yearbooks and graciously sent them to me! I've long admired the cover of the 1968 yearbook and the 1961 and 1962 books are now the oldest I have!

The 1961 and 1962 yearbooks are all about the arrival of gleaming new Dodger Stadium, which opened in 1962.

One page contained a factoid box about the new stadium. "Q: What sort of sound system will the new Stadium have? A: Adequate but not blaring." From what I hear, Dodger Stadium now favors "blaring."

Here is a photo spread showing the demise of the old Coliseum field, where the Dodgers played between 1958-61. Dodger Stadium has been around for so long that the Coliseum is the next most recent stadium for the Dodgers. And Ebbets Field was only three stadiums ago!

The most interesting part of the '61 yearbook for me is the placement of the page about Sandy Koufax.

The Dodger yearbooks -- probably most team yearbooks during the 20th century -- featured a certain hierachy for the players' pages. The pages of the star players would show up first, usually after the manager and coaching staff, probably around page 12 or so. Many of those star players would have their own page and the yearbook would move down the line, page after page, to other starters and then lesser-known players. Eventually players would share pages (and rookies would be four to a page, sometimes more to a page).

Sandy Koufax doesn't show up until page 31 in the 1961 yearbook, 19 pages after the yearbook started featuring players! That's how shaky Koufax's status was at the time. But at least he enjoys his hi-fi records!

Here is the 1962 yearbook and it's still all about Dodger Stadium, which opened on April 10, 1962.

There is a four-page spread dedicated to "the making of Dodger Stadium." The whole book is beaming with pride about the stadium.

What I like about these earlier yearbooks is the concerted effort to show the players with their family or outside of the ballpark. Even amid the craziness of Wally Moon's unibrow, he was just a simply family man. By the way, you'll be happy to know that Koufax moves up to page 13 in the '62 yearbook, right after Moon.

The 1968 yearbook arrived during a time of low expectations for the Dodgers. There were no titles and barely any competition between 1967-1973.

So, the '68 yearbook focuses on past triumphs and the Dodgers' closeness to Hollywood and the film industry.

Al Ferrara's page shows a picture of him and teammate Jim Lefebvre dressed up as "head-hunters" for an episode of Gilligan's Island.

Several players on those teams appeared in movie or TV productions, including Ferrara and Lefebvre, Willie Davis, Wes Parker and Don Drysdale.

One of my favorite parts of yearbooks is often it includes profiles/pictures of players who are barely remembered with that particular team. Rocky Colavito was acquired by the Dodgers for the 1968 season. He lasted just 40 games, being released in July. The Yankees picked him up and then released him at the end of the season. There is no card of Colavito with the Dodgers, except in the 1990 Target set, but you can find him in the Dodgers yearbook!

Finally, here is picture of Tommy Lasorda as the manager of the Ogden minor league team in 1968, the same time that is discussed in the newspaper clipping that started off the blog post. See how it comes full circle?
Yearbooks are full of all kinds of treasures and, as tough as it is for me to admit, cards sometimes are unable to capture what yearbooks can. That's what makes them so special.

That, and the ads.


Bo said…
Fantastic stuff. Thanks for sharing. I had the Yankees '87 and '88 yearbooks when I was a kid, plus I think a '76 one. My favorites were the photos of the players doing non-baseball stuff. The Hollywood stuff is great. Vintage baseball players on vintage TV - that would be an interesting blog series.
Nick Vossbrink said…
Oh man that 1962 yearbook cover with all the named freeways is sort of the *most* LA thing ever.
John Bateman said…
I always wonder if Topps paid the estates of Ruth Cobb Young in the 1973 set or the estates for the all times great set in 1976
Fuji said…
I really enjoy vintage yearbook posts. That 1962 cover is gorgeous. And that Ogden photo of Lasorda is really cool. Don't think I've ever seen him look so young. I don't think I would have recognized him had you just put that photo without a name.
I agree with everyone else, great post. Good stuff. BTW, I should be getting those mailed out in a day or two.
gcrl said…
lots of great information in this post! i had not seen the 1962 yearbook before. my dad has some programs from back then, but not the yearbook. interestingly enough, i have a few posts coming up over the next few months that will use programs and photos in addition to cards, so not always about the cards as you say.

i stopped at the top of the stadium gift shop one day in 1997, and the manager working there said she had just found a stash of yearbooks from the late 1970s in a storeroom. we always bought programs/scorecards at games but not yearbooks, so i bought the 77 and 78 yearbooks that day and it was like going back in a time machine.
Hackenbush said…
Those are fun to look at. It's weird to think that Dodger Stadium is the third oldest in the majors since the first two are like it's grandparents.
Martin from Belgium said…
Fantastic post! As an overseas fan (grew up in France, and I now live in Belgium), I never got to go through a yearbook but I did buy a Media Guide during a visit to the store all the way at the top of Dodger Stadium in 1997. I think it was my grandfather's idea that we go even though 1) there was no game that day and 2) he didn't care for baseball all that much. He was doing it for me. I definitely remember it was him who suggested I get the Media Guide because he knew how much I would enjoy all the trivia and obscure statistics : boy, was he right !

At this point, I'm thinking about picking a few Media Guides and possibly yearbooks. I'm assuming the former have more "raw" data and information, whereas the latter would be more about stories and pictures: can anyone confirm?

Anyway, thanks again for a great post.
night owl said…
Yes, media guides are more about the facts and figures, prepared for the upcoming season, geared toward the media covering the team.

Yearbooks are more for the fans. Plenty of stats in those, too, but a lot more photos and stories.
Martin from Belgium said…
Thanks for clarifying. Are yearbooks published at the end of the season and, if so, do they usually/always include a detailed recap of how that year went ?
night owl said…
I don't have a good idea on when yearbooks come out, never lived near a stadium. But I believe they are issued early in the season. Definitely not at the end of the season.