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Ramblings: Bobo Newsom’s Amazing Run

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My first crack at promoting a show went very well.  The Sunday event in Plano, TX brought in a decent crowd that seemed to have a great time and our attendance Richs Ramblings surpassed expectations.  I’ll write more tomorrow because I’m frankly exhausted!  So, in the meantime, here are a few quick hits that I’ve been saving.

One of the great aspects of card collecting is not every card has to be that of a star or superstar. Sometimes the best stories about cards come with the players not destined for Hall of Fame election. One great example of that theorem in a really gorgeous set is the 1953 Topps Bobo Newsom card. Heck, both Bowman and Topps created absolutely wonderful sets that year with the color paintings in the Topps set and the full-color player photos with no text for Bowman.

Bobo Newsom 1953 ToppsIn addition, both companies were in the process of ratcheting up their contract war after Topps produced their 407 count card set in 1952, a number which would stand as the biggest post-1920 set until 1958. That pitched battle also helped these companies sharpen their design tools which led us to cards showing a ton of care. One other aspect is this competition forced the companies to dig a bit deeper into the process of whose cards were going to be issued. Now, Newsom was a long-time established major leaguer who pitched in four decades and at the age of 45 he and Satchel Paige both appeared as if they could pitch forever.

The 1953 Topps Newsom card is an attractive full face photo of the player also nicknamed “Buck” and all of stories about Newsom obscured what a good pitcher he had been for a long time with mostly losing teams. Newsom was the ace of the pennant winning 1940 Detroit Tigers and also was an important part of the World Champion 1947 New York Yankees. Newsom, although at this point was on the downside of his career, nonetheless was still able to twirl effectively way past his 40th birthday.

There are a few other cards of Newsom, as befits his more than 20 years in the majors but there is something neat about a card at the end of his career honoring a pitcher who had begun before 1930 (yes, he pitched to Babe Ruth).

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There were certain types of topical collection subsets which popped into my mind today. The first one involved one of my former Beckett co-workers, Justin Konoya, who collected cards of players signing autographs.  He called that his “Sharpie” set and it was fun helping him back in the day with that project. Bill Sutherland, still at Beckett, collects every card of a person named Sutherland. I think he is down to a precious few needed for that type collection. I remember spending a lot of time in the Beckett card library looking for cards of pitchers batting.

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Recently, I mentioned the first issue of Sports Illustrated from 1954 and as many of you know, there are two other issues, one in 1954 and one in 1955 which also featured Topps card printed on the magazine’s paper stock inserted as sort of a centerfold.  What makes the other 1954 issue interesting is the cards pictured are of the 1954 Yankees including Mickey Mantle, who was not on a regular 1954 Topps card but did make an appearance in this set. There are other Yankees as well who are only “SI issued” in 1954.

And to show how interested in small details I can be, when this site published the 2014 Topps Heritage Autograph checklist, I counted the players who are what Topps has called autographs of players in their final baseball card year. I counted 29 players including Don Larsen of World Series perfect game fame and Don Zimmer among the cards listed.  One of my all-time favorite cards in this grouping is the 2006 Topps Heritage Jerry Snyder card where he wrote on each card: “This isn’t me”. I think that may be my favorite error card of modern times.

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As pointed out on our Card of the Day over the weekend, my favorite vintage error card is the Rick Wise/Dave Bennett rookie with this unforgettable sentence:  “This 19 year old righthanded curveballer is only 18 years old”.  Another favorite from 1964 is the Archie Skeen rookie card with this note in his blurb:  “Archie has retired to become a schoolteacher”.  I’m sure the “prospectors” of Archie’s day stopped in their tracks when they saw that sentence.

We always love hearing about your memories. Please feel free to send some of yours to me at the email address listed below.

Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]

About Rich Klein

Rich Klein has spent almost his entire life collecting baseball cards having begun at the tender age of seven. He has spent more than three decades in the organized hobby including editing the first 12 editions of the Beckett Almanac of Baseball Card and Collectibles. He lives in Plano, TX along with his wife Dena and their two dogs. You can reach him at [email protected].

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