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Vintage cards are alive and well

I am back after a few days out of town for the holiday.
During that time I engaged in no card things. There wasn't even an Easter card pack to open as there often is. That was very sad. Wandering in the wasteland stuff.
But at least there was baseball on the TV. While waiting for a game to start, I was flipping aimlessly through channels, which is something I almost never do anymore. (The internet connection isn't great where I was staying so old-school entertainment it was!)

I stumbled upon an episode of "The Card Life". I think a lot of readers probably know what that is, it's the hobby show hosted by Phillies reliever Matt Strahm, who is also well-known as a card collector.

I had no idea that the show was on television, I thought it was youtube/streaming only. But there it was on one of the MSG channels. As luck would have it, they were featuring something I was actually interested in -- the story about Roy Carlson, a longtime collector, who has created a database from his research on team cards of the 1960s-80s as well as other vintage card revelations.

His work first came to light last summer in Sports Collectors Daily and the online publication has featured several more articles by Carlson, showing off his revelations. I believe a blog or two picked up on the articles (I probably meant to, but got distracted by life). This is very much old-school blog stuff, some of it that I and other old-school bloggers have engaged in with our own write-ups. But Roy's gone much more in-depth.

Because I'm a Dodger fan, I found the Dodger card discoveries the most interesting. For example, these two cards.

I have dissected the 1977 Topps Dodgers team card a couple of times, specifically mentioning Burt Hooton staring at his feet in the back row.

But I never knew that Dr. Frank Jobe appeared on both the 1976 and 1977 team cards. This is especially significant as the 50th anniversary of Jobe's revolutionary surgery on the arm of Dodgers pitcher Tommy John is coming up later this year.

Jobe is shown on the left side of the team photo on each card, wearing a suit and tie, in the second row. Tommy John is shown on each card on the opposite side. Carlson tracked down each key figure in the first Sports Collectors Daily article.

Each team card photo is taken from the team's official photo from the previous year.
Carlson also pointed out in that first article the reuse of the Dodgers' 1959 team photo throughout the first half of the 1960s.
This is the photo that was used repeatedly ...

In 1960 ...

In 1961 ...

In 1962 ...

In 1963 ...

In 1964 ...

And in 1965.

Not only did Trainer Wendler (third row, far right) get a starring role for six years running, but there are players shown well after they retired. For instance, Gil Hodges -- dead center in the second row -- is shown as a player in the '65 team shot but he had moved into managing a couple years before!

Finally in 1966, collectors received an updated team photo.

Carlson has also deduced that this 1957 Topps Brooklyn Dodgers team card contains the most Hall of Famers. There are nine in this photo. Billy Herman, Walter Alston, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson, Don Drysdale and Roy Campanella.

Carlson has gone into depth on many, many team cards, tracking down not only images of players and managers but of notable bat boys and equipment managers. He's moved on to other fascinating card discoveries, such as the backgrounds of the 1969 Topps All-Star photos in which the background images aren't connected to the player being featured at all!

This is research and card appreciation after my own heart and I emailed Roy Carlson today to both acquire the terrific database of team cards that he has made available for collectors but also to connect with him for an article for Beckett Vintage Collector.

Roy agreed to do an article, so the wheels are in motion on that. I am hoping that with my background in vintage cards and the posts that I've done on team cards in the past that I can bring to light some new aspects of his research even though he's been featured a couple of times already.

It's wonderful after all of these years to find discoveries about the cards that we have collected for decades and decades. Long after many collectors have moved onto cards that shine and glow, vintage cards are proving that they are alive and well. Again.

May they always be.


Brett Alan said…
That's insane that Topps used the same photo 6 years running. Such a shame that there aren't team photo cards in Heritage, because they could have done a great tribute to that.

There's a show about cards on MSG? Man. My cable company dropped MSG a couple years ago. I have to stream my Ranger games and I'm missing all the poker, and now there's another reason to miss the channel.
Old Cards said…
Not a big fan of team cards, but this lineup from 1960-66 is great! Even though it is the same picture, seeing the format of each year is very appealing.
Fuji said…
That's really cool that Roy agreed to do a Beckett Vintage Collector article with you. Looking forward to reading it.

It's so weird and interesting that Topps used that 1959 team photo on so many different Dodgers team cards.
1984 Tigers said…
Interesting thing about the 76 and 77 Dodgers team cards is the angle of the sun. The 76 team card looks like perhaps a morning photo with perhaps the foul pole shadow running across the grass. The 77 team card looks like afternoon with the sun high in the sky and some people's faces are hard to see with the shadow.

Perhaps my favorite team card in the 67 Braves. It was from the 66 season, their 1st in Atlanta. Beautiful blue sky. Probably in their spring training stadium. It was so different than those other team cards from 67.

Looking forward to this article on the team cards in Beckett.
jacobmrley said…
I'm an amateur team card collector and I like to think I'm pretty observant but how on earth did I not notice topps used the same photo for the Dodgers six years in a row! Shame on them and me.