That was the theme for the 1960 Nu-Card Baseball Hi-Lites set. Issued during an era when newspapers were still a relevant and powerful medium, this 72-card set, the design of these oversized cards followed a newspaper design format.
The cards measured 3 ½ inches by 5 3/8 inches, with the card number listed in red inside a box in the upper left-hand corner. And of course, the word “Extra” adorned the upper right-hand corner. Underneath the banner, a thin informational strip gives the city, day of the week and actual month and year of the event.
A two-deck headline —and in some cases, three — in red, with all capital letters, was placed under the “Baseball Hi-Lites” masthead. On some cards, a lower deck headline (in black ink and in upper and lowercase letters) gives the collector more information. A few cards even have more than one deck.
Nu-Cards stays true to the journalistic feel it’s attempting to capture by including a dateline and date of the event. The writing reflects the inverted pyramid style of journalism.
A black-and-white photo and explanatory type fill out the rest of the card. In most cases, the photograph is relevant to the subject matter. But in a few instances, a photograph apparently does not exist, so a similar one is used. This is especially the case on card No. 17, with the headline “Merkle Pulls Boner” (go ahead and laugh, but that’s a famous baseball play). On that card, which gives the date on the banner as 1928 (instead of 1908), the photograph appears to be from the 1940 World Series as players from Cincinnati and Detroit converge upon a base.
Card No. 6, “Indians Take Bums,” does not have a photo, but a diagram showing the unassisted triple play pulled off by Cleveland’s Bill Wambsganss in the 1920 World Series.
The subject matter for the set ranges through several decades of baseball history. A good portion of the topics are from the World Series, but some pay tribute to a player’s individual achievement, like Mickey Mantle’s tape measure home runs, or Stan Musial’s five-homer day in a doubleheader.
Season-long individual efforts are also lauded, like Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak or Ted Williams’ .406 average in 1941. The New York Giants’ 26-game winning streak in 1916 tops the team superlatives.
There are some oddball incidents too, like when the umpires cleared the Chicago White Sox bench, or when the St. Louis Browns sent midget Eddie Gaedel to bat in a 1951 game.
Other big stars make an appearance in the set, like Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, Christy Mathewson, Carl Hubbell and Ernie Banks.
The card backs are relatively plain, but there is a trivia question and answer. The trivia answer refers the collector to the card that has that baseball highlight.
There is a variation to this set. The first 18 cards also come in all black headlines (banner plus deck) and a blank back. The copyright for these variations can be filed under CVC Baseball Hi-Lites.
There have been 2,237 cards sent to PSA for grading, but only 17 have come back graded gem mint. There are many more PSA-9s, as 271 have been registered.
The SGC registry has 227 cards that have been submitted for grading. Of those, only one has graded as high as a 98 — card No. 37 (Reese honored as greatest Dodger). Sixty-seven more have been graded at 96.
Complete sets range from $200 for those in mid-to-lower grade to around $500 for an EX/MT ungraded accumulation. The #1-rated SGC graded set and the top-ranked PSA set each sold at auction earlier this year at $2,270 and $4,766 respectively.
A check of eBay shows the 1960 Nu-Card baseball set well represented, with dozens of graded and ungraded cards currently on the market. Prices can be steep, particularly for graded cards. But they are not hard to find.//