In 1959, a rare baseball card set was issued by a regional magazine called Oklahoma Today. Here’s a closer look at these unique cards from an unlikely source.
About the 1959 Oklahoma Today Set
The focus of the magazine, of course, is on the state of Oklahoma. It has been known to cover anything and everything in the state with regards to tourism, restaurants, famous people, and the state’s history. In 1959, editors of the publication came up with a unique idea to feature famous baseball players from the state.
The players were featured in a special 20-card set of baseball cards. These cards were not offered in a traditional manner, so to speak. Rather, they were printed on the back cover of one of the magazine’s publications (specifically, its summer of 1959 issue). The key for the subjects is that all are supposed to have come from Oklahoma.
The cards feature black and white images of players on the front against a single colored background (backgrounds were either light green, light blue, or yellow). The poses range between both action shots and portrait pictures. The simple design includes a black border and the player’s name printed on the bottom inside of a white box. Backs of the cards are virtually as basic as the fronts are. The player’s name is repeated on the borderless, gray back, along with his position, team, and league. While the players were said to all have come from Oklahoma, a key piece of information missing is exactly where in the state the player hails from. Cards are also unnumbered.
While many of the cards have been separated and cut up over the years, full, uncut sheets with the complete set are occasionally seen. These are, as you can probably imagine, quite rare.
Stars and Checklist
The set contains only 20 cards and since only players from Oklahoma are featured, it is not as star-studded as other sets. Still, there are enough key players from the era to make for a nice collection of stars.
Leading the way in the set is the iconic Mickey Mantle. Mantle, who hailed from Spavinaw, Oklahoma was arguably the biggest star of the time, winning back-to-back Most Valuable Player Awards in 1956 and 1957. His card is, without a doubt, the key one in this small set.
One way the set managed to strengthen the checklist was to include past players. Legends from the pre-war era included Hall of Famers Dizzy Dean, Carl Hubbell, Paul Waner, and Lloyd Waner. In addition to Mantle, another big contemporary player included was Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn.
At least one uncorrected error is found in the set. The card for outfielder Dale Mitchell, who was from Colony, Oklahoma, shows his last name misspelled as ‘Mitchel.’ As the card was not corrected, it does not command a premium.
Below is the complete 20-card checklist for this set.
- Jerry Adair
- Harry Brecheen
- Johnny Callison
- Alvin Dark
- Dizzy Dean
- Paul Dean
- Don Demeter
- Carl Hubbell
- Mickey Mantle
- Pepper Martin
- Lindy McDaniel
- Von McDaniel
- Cal McLish
- Dale Mitchell
- Allie Reynolds
- Warren Spahn
- Tom Sturdivant
- Jerry Walker
- Lloyd Waner
- Paul Waner
Rarity and Pricing
Like many cards originating from publications, the 1959 Oklahoma Today cards are pretty rare. Most of the magazines would have been thrown away and since the cards are approximately 60 years old, many that were initially kept have probably been lost to time.
Uncut sheets and complete editions of the entire magazine command a premium. They are not common but do surface on occasion. Leland’s offered a full copy of the magazine in 2017, which sold for just over $700. Huggins and Scott sold one that same year, with some light staining that affected the Mantle and a few other cards for $350 and Robert Edward Auctions sold a complete copy in 2018 for $420.
Despite the rarity, most of the individual cards are quite affordable. Decent commons for the set typically start in the $5-$10 range. Mantle’s card, of course, is the big one in the set. A PSA 5 recently sold on eBay for just over $500. That is the exception, however. Other Hall of Famers in the set typically start in the $10-$15 range.