Rare Venezuelan Cards Discovered

1959 Venezuelan League card of Sandy Amoros Cuba A Venezuelan collector/dealer is hoping to learn more about a newly-discovered group of 1950s cards issued there, including some of Major Leaguers.

Some of the names will bring back images of 1950s and 60s Topps cards.

Rocky Nelson. Jerry Snyder. Valmy Thomas. Jim Baxes. Earl Battey. Sandy Amoros.

While their regular issue American baseball cards may only be worth a couple of bucks each in near mint condition, there are some newly discovered cards featuring these players–and several others– that could be worth a lot more.

Last year, Enrique Abreu Sojo, a Venezuelan collector and dealer, acquired 33 unknown cards issued in his country during 1959.

1959 Venezuelan card of Earl Battey 1959 Venezuelan League Rocky Nelson

"I have been trying to know who printed them but nobody knows," Abreu told Sports Collectors Daily via email. "I figured out they were (probably) sold right after Caribbean Series played in Venezuela in February of 1959. It is possible that only one of each card survive. The big collectors (in Venezuela) don’t have any of them."

1959 Venezuelan League card of Camilo Pascual The cards are from Venezuelan League, West Venezuelan League (Maracaibo) and the Caribbean Series played at Caracas. According to Abreu, the cards from the West League are the only issues of their kind ever discovered.

While a few American players dot the 33 discovered cards, many are of Latin players including Martin Carrasquel, the brother of Chico Carrasquel, who played 1959 Venezuelan card of Vic Davilillo in the Major Leauges, Elio Chacon, Luis Garcia and even a card featuring Vic Davalillo as a pitcher. Davalillo is a national hero in Venezuela after spending a number of years as a big league outfielder, primarily with the Cardinals and Pirates.

How many cards may have been a part of the newly-discovered set is a mystery but Abreu says the Nelson card is numbered 173.

"There are eight Venezuelan teams (Central and West Leagues), and four Caribbean Series teams. So, I would say the set includes at least 250 cards, but I’m not sure about that."

It’s not inconceivable that other Major League players could have been represented in the set.

"Maybe Orlando Cepeda and Vic Power (Puerto Rico team) and Luis Aparicio, who played complete season in West League in 1958-59. Also Norm Cash played with Rapinos in West League and so did Maury Wills, who had 39 stolen bases in 52 games with Pastora in the West League."

The history of baseball cards in Venezuela dates back nearly as long as the mainstream American cards but they are few in number and all are coveted by fans in a baseball-loving country.

"The first issue it was printed in 1916, and just a few survive today. Later, you can see some sets from 30s, 40s and 50s," he wrote. "The most popular issues from Venezuela are Topps Venezuelan and most are in bad shape. You will see more 59 Mantles in 8 or even 9 condition than a 59 Venezuelan that’s in poor shape."

The 33 cards include:

Jim Baxes #91
Jerry Casale #106
Jerry Snyder #96 (labeled "Terry")
Rolf Schell #39
Werner Birrer #123
Rocky Nelson #173
Camilo Pascual #104
Sandy Amoros #161
Valmy Thomas #118
Earl Battey #93
Regino Otero #115
Elio Chacon #143
Pelayo Chacon jr #56
Luis Garcia "Camilion)#98
Enrique Izquierdo #134
Oswaldo Carrillo #127
Jaime Barroso #136
Luis Gonzalez #148
Manuel Pinto #88
Alejandro Carrasquel #69
Erasmo Orillac #92
Ricardo Leon #120
Jesus Jones #124
Dionisio Acosta #36
Marion Fricano #67
Lucio Celis #8
Jesus Avila 34
Martin Carrasquel #81
Leonardo Mindiola #76
Miguel Martinez #48
Rafael Melendez #64
Victor Davalillo #85

Enrique Abreu Sojo can be reached at [email protected]

Venezuelan baseball cards on eBay