The last few years I was at Beckett, one of my three monthly columns was the “Almanac Set of the Month” in which I would write two to four paragraphs about some newly added set to the Beckett data base or about an “oddball” set I just wanted to pontificate about. Now, it’s time to take the concept one step further and that’s what we’re going to do starting this week with the COMC Challenge.
Some of my faithful readers of this column at Sports Collectors Daily have seen my comments referring to COMC. At the National Convention, I was actually approached by several dealers about COMC’s services since they faithfully read my columns and were very interested.
Sometimes even the incredibly knowledgeable verifiers at COMC are stumped by a submission, usually because such card is not in the Beckett database or is especially obscure. I want to point out now that when I was at Beckett, the grading verifiers were top notch (and still are). These verifiers are some of the truly unsung heroes of the hobby as they check out everything. I have been helping COMC with this on a consulting basis since June.
However, sometimes the cards themselves tell an interesting story. Recently COMC received a 1973 Cardinals Team Issue card of Tony Auferio . How can we determine this card is from 1973? Well, Mr. Auferio was a career minor leaguer from 1965 to 1974 but for some reason in 1973 at the young age of 27 was a coach for a full season with the Cardinals. Interestingly enough he never either played in the majors or returned as a coach. Was this an attempt to foster better relations with the new generation of players? In 1972 the Cubs also hired a very young coach named Q.V. Lowe. Interestingly enough, Lowe also was only a coach for only one season.
Some quick Internet research indicates very few articles available as to why Mr. Auferio was a bullpen coach in 1973 but we can suppose reasons may include a) the Cardinals thought he might be a future manager to replace Red Schoendienst, b) that by hiring someone so young the generation gap might be bridged, c) to let him rehab an injury for a year, or to be an emergency catcher in case Ted “Simba” Simmons went down with an injury. Around this time, the major leagues had a rule that one coach could be activated as a player during the year. A couple of years later, the Phillies would attempt this with Tony Taylor and the Dodgers would in 1980 and 1982 activate Manny Mota as a player during a season he was a full-time coach.
To me, the story of Tony Auferio make a fun story for the SABR Bio Project.
Now that we’ve identified Mr. Auferio as well as the year of issue, the next step is to complete the 1973 Cardinals Team Issue checklist so eventually the set can be part of a hobby data base where everyone can look at the checklist, complete the set and help fellow collectors in the future.
And yes, the COMC Challenge offers prizes. Each story will have a different COMC reward depending on the complexity of the set involved. Obviously identifying one card from a 1997 Topps retail insert set will not be worth as much as an 1880’s sport set which might have 2,000 different subject poses.
For this, our inaugural effort the first person to send in the complete checklist for the 1973 Cardinals black and white team issue cards received “1,000″ history points (http://www.comc.com/points.aspx). We’ll announce the winner shortly and have a fresh contest up again in a couple of weeks.
COMC.com is pioneering safe and easy online consignment of your sports cards. You send them in, COMC lists them and you price them. You can also buy from a massive inventory of submitted cards. To get started, visit COMC.com.