In the 1970s, Thurman Munson was a fan favorite and All-Star catcher for the New York Yankees. Unfortunately, his life tragically ended on August 2, 1979. A licensed pilot, Munson was practicing take-offs and landings with a new aircraft near his Ohio home when he crashed short of the runway and a fire broke out. He was only 32.
Munson baseball cards are well-known to collectors of mainstream 1970s sets, but he was also featured on numerous oddball cards during his career. Here’s a look at five of them from his playing days.
Topps teamed up with Burger King from 1977 to 1980 to produce cards of players in select markets. The 1977-1979 sets included Munson and while his images didn’t vary from standard Topps issues, these cards remain popular. The Burger King edition was available with the purchase of food at retail locations in select markets, including New York.
Munson’s 1979 card gets the nod here simply because it is one of the final cards produced during his career, having only been made available during the spring and summer in the weeks before his death. Like the other Burger King cards, it’s not exactly the rarest of items and easily found. But at under $5 and one of his last contemporary issues, it’s still a bargain for Munson or oddball collectors.
4. Thurman Munson 1978 Papa Gino’s Disc Card
Disc cards were all the rage in the 1970s and with Munson featured on so many of them as one of the top stars in baseball, it would be borderline criminal to leave them out of the discussion entirely. The discs were often a product of a company called MSA, which created them as promotions for a variety of companies.
Selected here is one of MSA’s products for Papa Gino’s, a regional restaurant chain founded in 1961 that is still around today. The front features a common Munson image with the back offering biographical information and the Papa Gino’s name. Even though this is a little rarer compared the common ones, it still sells for as little as a few dollars.
Hostess began a string of baseball card sets in 1975 and this hand-cut issue features Munson in a close-up shot. The cards were available to collectors on the outside of Hostess packages but also on the cardboard right against the snack. For that reason, you might often find these accompanied by a grease stain left from the product.
This is a great card for the budget-conscious collector as they can usually be found for under $15, even in high-grade. While Munson appeared on several other Hostess cards later in his career, this was his first and the low angle shot with Yankee Stadium in the background is certainly unique.
2. Thurman Munson 1976 Kellogg’s 3D
Who doesn’t love a good 3D card, right? In the 1970s and 1980s, Kellogg’s distributed three dimensional cards of popular players and the Yankees catcher made the cut for inclusion in the 57-card 1976 set. The cards from ’76 carry the red, white and blue bi-centennial design along with a a replica autograph on the front. The back has standard statistics and a biography.
With Munson winning his sole Most Valuable Player award in 1976, this is a nice card for any collection that can often be purchased for under $10.
A hand-cut issue from a magazine tops our list of Munson oddities. Not only is it a rare item to find, it is also one of Munson’s earliest oddball cards. Dell produced team albums with uncut sheets of stamps of various players in 1971.
Just under 2″ x 3″ in size with a facsimile signature, most found today have been separated. The color photo depicts a young Munson with a bat and in nice condition, can be a difficult find.
Munson oddball cards didn’t heavily surface until later in his career making this a highly popular issue. If you’re not too particular about condition, mid-grade copies sell for under $10. But Graded near-mint examples are much harder to acquire and can fetch between $60 – $80 (or more).