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The one and only

Not even three weeks after receiving the Oct/Nov edition of Beckett Vintage Collector with my story on the 1973 Topps set, the Dec/Jan edition arrived with another one of my stories.

This was due to whatever delay postponed the arrival of the Oct/Nov issue with Rickey Henderson on the cover (which is now available at a grocery store in town here). But it was still head-spinning to get one magazine issue with my story almost immediately after the other one.

The latest edition, with Brooks Robinson on the cover, should be on magazine racks by the end of the month. Mention of my article is at the top of the cover, where it says "That's a Unique Card."

That's the start of the article. It's the second story in the edition, after the Brooksie cover story.

My mission for this story was to write about "unique" cards within a set, meaning they were issued as part of a set, with a card number on the back, but were unlike any other card in that set.

My inspiration for the story was the 1976 Topps Kurt Bevacqua Bubble Gum Blowing Contest card, which blew my mind when I saw it that year. It was crazy, nothing like anything else in the set, and there was only one of them.

So, I looked for a few more examples. It's a pretty broad topic, you can almost set the parameters yourself. But I wanted to limit it to a manageable total, so I could go a little in-depth on each card and why it was unique.

I chose seven total. You can see one of them is the 1959 Topps Roy Campanella Symbol Of Courage card. I'll leave the others a secret for readers, but I did write about the Bubble Gum Blowing Contest card, too, that was the highlight of the article for me.

This is the 18th article I've written for Beckett Vintage Collector or the main Beckett baseball magazine. Like I've said before, I feel like I'm running out of ideas, but somehow I find another one (right now I have one solitary idea that I plan to pitch. They better like it).

So, for the little spin-off on the blog that I like to do after my latest article, I thought about writing about some "one-off" cards that I didn't mention in the article, for example, the 1975 Topps Herb Washington card (it's Washington's 72nd birthday today). But I'm a little tired of that topic now, so I went in a more personal direction.

What are the unique cards in my collection?

By that I mean, what baseball cards do I have that are part of a set -- even if it's a set of one -- that are the only one I have from the set? This is interesting to me, because as a set-collector, my usual goal is to finish sets -- if I've got one card from the set, well let's see what else I can find. Plus, there aren't a lot of one-card packs available on store shelves.
I went to TCDB for this, and that made things so much easier than just hunting through my collection independently, which is what I did before I discovered TCDB.
I made it through the 1980s and found around 50 "one-and-only" cards in my collection. I wanted to go all the way to the present, but I was running out of light for pictures, that overproduction era really dragged things out. So maybe I'll tackle the most recent 30-plus years in another post, because I'm kind of interested in seeing what I have.

I'm not going to show all 50, but I'll go through a few, many of which have starred on the blog before. Here we go.

Joe Stripp, 1934 Goudey

I know I should have more Brooklyn Dodgers from the Goudey era, but as I've said many times, I'm just too interested in the last 70 years to go back farther too often. But, yeah, someday I'll get going on this.

Pete Reiser, 1948 Swell Sport Thrills

The 1940s didn't have the most attractive cards, but it's very cool to own a card of Pete Reiser from during his playing career, even long after his glory days. There are just 20 cards in this set and SIX are Dodgers.

Preacher Roe, 1952 Wheaties

There are four Dodger cards in this multi-sport set but only two players. Roe and Roy Campanella each have two cards. I like these cards a lot but the cost and the fact that I just don't know a lot of non-baseball athletes from that time means this might be the One and Only for good.

Johnny Podres, 1958 Hires Root Beer

Wonderful set, would love to have more, don't see it happening.

Sandy Koufax, 1963 Topps Peel-Offs

Sure, I'd take the other Dodgers from this set, and it'd be cool to have some of those '60s superstars in peel-off form, but this kind of oddball won't ever be a priority for me.

Tommy Davis, 1964 Topps Stand-Ups

Love these. Completely cost-prohibitive. Koufax and two Dodger short-prints are still out there.

Al Gionfriddo, 1947 World Series, 1967 Laughlin World Series

The initial version from '67 of the Laughlin World Series sets are scarcer than the other ones, so as much as I'd love to collect them, I think I'll continue to admire just this one, which I've admired so much already.

Claude Osteen, 1968 Topps Game

Claude Osteen is the only Dodger in this set. I know a lot of blogger types have completed this set, it's pretty easy for a vintage set and it's full of stars, but I've never taken to it. Maybe one day when I get sick of chasing some vintage toughie high-number, I'll collect this.

Burleigh Grimes, 1977 Tom Daniels Burleigh Grimes

This card is from a 10-card set on just Burleigh Grimes, which is amazing. Not all of the cards from this set show Grimes with the Dodgers, but it'd be pretty nifty to finish.

Fran Healy, 1977 Topps Burger King

Even with my feelings for the Yankees, I've wanted this set like I've wanted all late 1970s Burger King sets. Finishing this one is tough, because of the Lou Piniella short-print and the Reggie will cost you a little, too. But, gracious, I should at least have grabbed several of the other cards in the set by now!

George Brett, 1982 Spot-Bilt

If you own this card and ever want to feel good about yourself, just go to your TCDB account and look up your list of completed sets. The 1982 Spot-Bilt set will show up as completed because it's a set of one card! Awesome.

Ron Cey, 1983 Thorn Apple Valley Cubs

Ron Cey is the lone card I own in several sets, at least five and probably more. In most of them, he's a Dodger but I wanted to mix it up a little bit -- even though he never played for the Cubs. This card is clearly a fake.

Tom House, 1984 Cramer Las Vegas Stars

Once you get into the 1980s, most of the one-and-onlys in my collection are from either food issues or minor league sets. I have no interest in completing a Padres minor league set, but this card is sweet.

Orel Hershiser, 1988 Out Of The Blue Orel Hershiser
Another true One-and-Only. This was a promo card for Hershiser's book, "Out Of The Blue," which I have and read long ago. Like many Hershiser cards from the late 1980s/early 1990s, it makes me smile every time I see it.
OK, I think that's enough writing. But here are a few other cards in my collection for which I have just one from the set. I've snapped pictures of them already, might as well show them without words:

 Up next -- whenever I feel like it or whenever I remember I was going to do this -- I'll find some One-and-Only cards from 1990-present.


Chris said…
This is a neat idea, I'll have to search my collection for "one card only" singles. That Osteen '68 Game insert looks like it just came out of a pack!

The Barnes and Noble in my town closed right around the time you became a regular contributor to BVC. I have to shop for some books soon anyhow so if i find myself at a bookstore that sells Beckett, I'll definitely pick up a copy.

I never realized that the Campy "symbol of courage" photo was taken at what was left of Ebbets Field. Thought it was taken indoors for some reason.
Ryan H said…
I've considered making a run at the Hires Root Beer Orioles team set. A quick ebay search later, I see it would truly be a long term goal.
Jeremya1um said…
I have that Hershiser and the book! The book was pretty good, and I’m not a big reader.
The idea of a unique card that is the only one of its kind in a set is really interesting. If I ever make it to a place that sells the magazine, I’m going to pick up a copy.
Angus said…
I've got the two Otto Graham cards from the 1952 Wheaties set.
1984 Tigers said…
The Cey appears to be from early 1983 season as he joined the cubbies. People have winter coats on. Looks like Leon Durham in the ondeck circle.

I checked the 69 topps deckle and was surprised that the one Dodger was Tom Haller and not someone like Willie Davis. Tommy Davis on the Pilots and Maury Wills on the Expos made that a weird set.
Nick Vossbrink said…
A fun idea but as a bit of a type collector This would be a huge post for me.

Also your Beckett article sounds very cool (I'm assuming the 64 Hubbs is one of them) but also really sounds like a post that should be about the first few years of Score too.
Old Cards said…
Congrats on the articles. Appears Beckett likes your writing. Thanks for sharing all the cards. Always thought the 64 Ken Hubbs 'In Memoriam' card was unique. There may be more 'In Memoriam' cards, but I don't recall any.
night owl said…
The Hubbs card is one of the 7 featured.
Bo said…
I was curious who the old man in the hat was on that Burleigh Grimes card. Turns out it was Dazzy Vance who was all of 46 years old. I thought it must be a typo or error but looking at other pictures, seems that Vance was one of those Phil Niekro types who looked like a senior citizen before he hit 40.
Michael D said…
Great idea for an article and post. You brought up a player from my past, Claude Osteen. When I was a kid, 7-11 had Slurpees with baseball players on the cups. I think I a Claude Osteen cup like 3 or 4 times. Once again, great idea of a story.
Doc Samson said…
Fantastic news on your articles, Mr. Owl. Your mention of the Kurt B bubble gum card brought back memories. I believe he also hit a home run in 1984 World Series and started blowing kisses? Maybe I’m wrong. It was so long ago!
kcjays said…
Congratulations on 18 articles! That’s great. I guess I must have missed reading your blogs when you mentioned some of them.
The 1957 Topps card of Campanella is one of my favorite cards in the set.
My son is down to needing 4 or 5 cards on his ‘59 set, Mantle being one of them. I remember that he had a hard time finding a Symbol of Courage card in nice condition. At least for a reasonable price.
Very curious about the other 4 cards. The Hobbs card immediately jumped to my mind. I’ll have to think about this.
Once again, congrats!
"Unique cards" is what started my "Wacky" mini collection, and man is it massive. I probably include way too, but hey certain cards get ya. I am looking forward to kick starting that Wacky Wednesday (baseball variety) come the New Year.
Chris said…
I just spotted this "one and only" base card while updating my wantlist. You may have already included it in your '90s list, but thought I'd mention it just in case.
Nick said…
I was actually just thinking about this exact same thing recently - I'll have to go through my binders and see what my "one-and-onlys" are. Also, thanks for the tidbit on that weird George Brett. I've always wondered why I've never seen any other cards from that set, and now I know why!

(And congrats on another Beckett appearance!)
Jafronius said…
Congrats on the latest article! Fun post as well.