Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Lost and Found

A common theme for this week seems to be stumbling upon cards that I had forgotten about over some period of time, likely due to how unorganized my collection can be. On Tuesday, I located some vintage oddballs from last years' National which appears to be the gift that keeps on giving.

It's not uncommon for something like this to happen but finding cards that I don't remember all too well or fear that I had lost highlights how much progress I still have to make with the organization of my collection. 

I finished a complete organizational overhaul of my player collections, both online and in boxes, last summer. I'm not sure how I'd do it for the rest of my collection, but it's something that needs to be done.

The reason for that is what I found in some miscellaneous card binders today, a reasonable selection of cards from 1961 Topps. Last Spring, I told myself I was going to start collecting the vintage set, but I didn't make significant progress until The National where I found a bunch of discounted cards from the set.

I don't think it'll be time to go too out of my way for cards from '61 Topps until I'm around halfway or more done with the product. With Juan Marichal's rookie card and Mickey Mantle's base card still missing from my set, it won't be a cheap Flagship product to complete.

But anytime you have a small stack of old cards turn up from binders, no matter who the players are, it's always a step in the right direction towards what can be a difficult and expensive process; completing a vintage Topps set.

One of my favorite parts of the 1961 Topps set is the highlights subset that pays homage to greats from the first 60 years of the 20th century who accomplished impressive feats. I'm not sure what the rhyme or reason is behind these cards, but a design like this would look excellent in one of those overpriced Topps Throwback Thursday sets.

This particular card is for Harvey Haddix who pitched 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves in 1959. Unfortunately, his efforts were in vain as the Pirates lost that game, but he went on to win the iconic 1960 World Series the following year.

The next card I found to go towards my 1961 Topps set commemorates the year 1903 when Christy Mathewson, one of the greatest pitchers of all-time, struck out 267 batters, quite an impressive total at the time. 

With a career 2.13 ERA and 373 wins, Mathewson certainly ranks in the top 5 of greatest pitchers to ever play the game. It's a bit harder to compare pitchers than it is hitters, but regardless, I'd put Mathewson in the top 3 or 4 with Walter Johnson at the #1 spot.

It's hard to imagine a player hitting much better than .350 in Baseball nowadays, but Rogers Hornsby hit a staggering .424 with the Cardinals back in 1924. It was a career high for Hornsby who would capture 7 batting titles on route to a .358 career batting average. Certainly, a card paying homage to one of his greatest seasons is worthy of a spot in the subset checklist.

However, my finds certainly weren't limited to just the Baseball Thrills cards, but I was able to find some top-tier base cards as well to help me on my way to completing the 589-card set. For most of Topps history, cards ending in 5 or 0 meant the player was one of the best in Baseball at the time, a good sign for me when I found Warren Spahn's card #200 in a random binder sitting on my shelf.

While we're talking about cards ending in 0, I should point out that I found another major card for my set, #120 of Spahn's teammate, Eddie Mathews. Granted, neither of these cards are in excellent shape,  but that's not what I'm going for with this set anyway. Simply completing a product as old as 1961 Topps would be a huge accomplishment, and I'll take any help I can get, especially if that help is 2 new cards of Hall of Fame players.

Even though I dedicate resources towards completing certain vintage sets, I don't typically worry about condition, and I've only once felt the need to upgrade a card, and that was a 1972 Topps in action card of Roberto Clemente, a card with enough creases to fall apart.

With that being said, I'm all for upgrading if a find a card in better condition within my collection, and that's exactly what happened today with this combo card of Sandy Koufax and Johnny Podres called Dodger Southpaws.

As you can tell, there's a pretty big difference in terms of centering when comparing the new card on the left and the old one on the right. Although quite simple, I've always loved the 1961 Topps combo cards in particular, and the Koufax and Podres card would have to be one of my favorites. 

Because of that, I'm glad that out of all the cards, this one got an upgrade.

Now, all that needs to happen is for me to find a 1961 Topps Mickey Mantle in a similar fashion, and I'll be well on my way towards finishing off this set.

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