A century ago, Darigold Farms was founded in the Pacific Northwest, when five Puget Sound dairy co-ops teamed up to form the United Dairyman’s Association. That group took on the name Darigold in 1925 after a contest was held to create a snappier name for the company. Dairy products are Darigold’s specialty, so it’s not surprising that the company dabbled in baseball cards at some point.
That was in 1959 and 1960, when Darigold Farms released regional sets of the Spokane Indians, the Triple-A Pacific Coast League affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The manager of the 1959 squad was Bobby Bragan, who did not have to learn a new team nickname since he managed the American League’s Cleveland Indians for 31 games in 1958. The 1960 squad was managed by a future National League skipper, Preston Gomez.
1959 Darigold Farms Set
In 1959, Darigold Farms released a 22-card, unnumbered set of the Spokane Indians, who would compile a 77-77 record. The cards were glued to milk cartons by a folded tab at the top of every card. The cards measured 2½ inches by 2 3/8 inches, with a tab that measured 2½ inches by 2 1/8 inches.
The card fronts featured a black-and-white photo of the player, and there were three distinct backgrounds — yellow for eight players, red for another eight and blue for the other six. The card backs contained biographical information and was presented on black ink against a white background.
The 1959 set contained some past and future major-leaguers including Steve Bilko, Tommy Davis (who had 153 RBI with the Dodgers in 1962), Facundo Barragan, Bob Lillis (who would go on to manage in the majors), Norm Sherry, Tony Roig and Phil Ortega. But arguably, this squad had two players with the longest last names — Bob Giallombardo (who made it to the majors) and Don Domenichelli (who didn’t). It must have been a Dodgers’ tradition, since more than a decade later they had Billy Grabarkewitz on their major-league roster.
Interestingly, the Darigold set would not have cards for two players who would later make an impact with the Dodgers: Chuck Essegian, who had two pinch-hit homers in the 1959 World Series; and Maury Wills, who was promoted to the majors during the ’59 season and would steal 104 bases in 1962 en route to becoming the National League’s MVP. Essegian is also a great trivia answer, as he was one of two men to have played in the Rose Bowl (1952, with Stanford) and the World Series. Jackie Jensen was the other player to achieve that feat.
1960 Darigold Farms Set
The 1960 Darigold Farms set had a few slight changes, most notably a facsimile player autograph. There were 24 cards in this set, and the color scheme was slightly different, too, with black-and-white photographs of the players set against a background of yellow, green and red. There were eight yellow cards, eight greens and eight reds.
The basic card size was slightly different, too, measuring 2 3/8 inches by 2 11/16 inches. The folded tab measured 2 3/8 inches by 2 1/8 inches and, like the 1959 version, was glued to a milk carton.
While Dominichelli was not included in the 1960 set, Giallombardo was back in the set, pitching to future major-leaguer Jim Pagliaroni. The 1960 Spokane Indians won the PCL title with a 92-61 record and boasted future major-league stars Frank Howard, Willie Davis and Ron Fairly. Former major-leaguer Roy Smalley was winding down his career in the PCL after 11 seasons in the big leagues.
Sherry is the lone card from the 1959 Darigold set graded by PSA. In 1960, three cards are listed on the Population Report: two of Fairly, one of which was graded EX (5); and a Smalley card that’s labeled Authentic.
There are more graded cards from SGC. The 1959 set has 24 certified graded cards, with the highest being a 60 (held by Lillis and Tommy Davis). Only four cards from the 1960 set have been graded — two each of Smalley and Tommy Davis.
The Darigold Farms sets were issued as the Pacific Coast League began to wane in significance, thanks to the western migration of the Dodgers and Giants. Still, there are some “name” players to be found in these sets, and it is the perfect set for an oddball collector to chase.
You can see a few on eBay by clicking here.