Their arrival had been anticipated for months. The Washington Senators made it official just as the 1960 season came to a close: they’d be moving 1,100 miles to a new home in time for the following season. That meant there was plenty of time to plan promotions around the newly named franchise and one of them was headquartered in the meat department of grocery stores in and around Minnesota. The 1961 Peters Meats Twins set had kids in the Upper Midwest bugging their parents to buy hot dogs and link sausages.
They were baseball cards, yes, but not in the sense that you pulled one out of a a package of hot dogs as was the case with some other weiner-related card promotions of the era. These were part of the package. Created as part of the wrap-around on the package, they certainly looked like baseball cards, with a posed photo and fairly extensive player bio.
The cards that came on packs of hot dogs came in a wrap that was designed vertically while the Porkette packaging was horizontal. Complete Porkette wrappers are much harder to find today than the hot dog wraps. A partial set of 18/26 cards on Porkette wrappers sold for over $8,000 in 2018.
The set itself was comprehensive with 26 players featured including superstar and future Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. Jim Kaat, Zoilo Versalles, Pedro Ramos and Camilo Pascual have traditionally been among the more valuable cards.
Peters, based in St. Paul, was the hot dog supplier for Twins games and included some promotion for the cards in an ad inside the team’s 1961 yearbook.
With such a limited distribution area, the cards are fairly rare today, but a decent number of them were left over at the end of the promotion, escaping the plant without ever being applied to the packaging. According to collector Brian Powell, the Wholesale Card Company based on the east coast eventually purchased their leftover unfolded panels. Complete sets with little wear now come on the market on a fairly regular basis.
Prices vary greatly bases on whether the cards are cut from their original state or remain as complete overwraps. The latter are, of course, more valuable. A complete high-grade set of complete panels sold for nearly $2,000 at auction last year. Several dozen listings for 1961 Peters Meats cards can usually be found on eBay.