At our last show, I started chatting with the new Beckett Hockey Analyst. I asked If there were any Martin Brodeur St. Louis Blues cards. It turns out the cameo he had with St Louis to end his career did results in a few and maybe even one or two autograph cards. That got me to thinking about some cards (or cards that never were) of players you’d never expect to see in uniforms other than those of the team where they spent all or most of their career.
How about Joe Willie Namath who concluded his career as a Los Angeles Rams quarterback in 1977? There were no Topps cards of Namath issued for the last few years of his career so not only do we not have a Rams card from his playing days, we don’t even have any cards to note his last few seasons starting for the New York Jets (although some have made custom cards of Joe as a Ram). His last Topps card was this one from 1973.
Another example of a player who did not receive a card with his final team was Juan Marichal. Every time I check his career stats, the amazement remains of how he finished his career with a very brief stint as a Los Angeles Dodger. That’s correct, 40 years ago, the man Dodgers fans loved to hate played very briefly in LA before calling it a career. I don’t remember any cards of him as a Dodger being made even post retirement.
And every once in a while we also have players who just retire rather than going to a new team. In an famous case, Jackie Robinson called it quits when we was traded to the cross-town rivals New York Giants before the start of the 1957 season. His last card is the classic ’56 Topps.
Sometimes those brief stops do result in a card or two, though. While Topps never issued a Kansas City Royals card of Harmon Killebrew, there is one in the 1976 SSPC set and while some creative photo editing was done, there is a 1935 Boston Braves Goudey Babe Ruth, where he appears with three of his new teammates. The photo, with an updated cap, is a re-used photo from one of Babe’s 1933 Goudey cards. Ruth, of course, wouldn’t finish the season in Boston, retiring after a rough start and what he claimed were empty promises about his future role with the franchise.
Mike Piazza’s brief stopover in Miami was just long enough to get him on a few cards but Piazza Marlins cards are actually the focus of two guys’ collections.
What are some of your favorite cards of players who made a brief appearance with another team? How about some you wish were created which honored these cameo appearances? I always wished there had been a 1969 Topps Rocky Colavito card showing him as a Yankee. It would have been nice to have the 1966 Topps Warren Spahn card which actually was listed in the first printing of the checklists before he decided to retire. We’d love to hear your opinions and please email me at the address at the bottom of the column.
A few notes from shows here in the Dallas area:
We recently had Nomar Mazara and Warren Newson signing autographs at a show I co-promote. Nomar is a top Rangers prospect and still learning about personal appearances. Rather than walk into the room, he called Jeff Johnson, who represents him for autograph signings and was co-promoting. Jeff was actually just a few steps away, inside the doors but apparently Nomar wasn’t quite sure it was OK to go in. Having him was a treat for die-hard fans and his price was reasonable.
Warren Newson was an absolute delight to those who met him. He actually took the time to delineate in his signature what uniform number he work with the White Sox and then with the Rangers. Having him at the show proved that seeking out players who don’t charge an arm and a leg for their appearance is well worth the effort. They are not hounded everyday like current players and can reflect on their time in the game with fans who come through the autograph line. Nathan McClary works with Warren and helped to arrange his presence at the show.
Can two shows on the same weekend but at different locations in a larger city work or is it a recipe for disaster? I think it can work on some level. The promoters of another local show wanted to run their event the day after ours as sort of an experiment. They were generally happy with the attendance at their Sunday show. Some out of town dealers take tables at each show which works nicely for them—and us—as long as both shows are adequately promoted. Our audience is more old-school collector base and theirs has more of a current product feel, which means you still get a mix of different sellers and buyers.
We mentioned a few months ago about how one dealer who had just accumulated a huge stash of autographed helmets posted on several local DFW Facebook pages and collector forums about where he was going to be, what he had and even showed some photos. That month we had people come to our show, ask “where is the helmet guy?” and immediately head off in his direction. His work paid off.
Another dealer tried selling MacFarlane figures at our recent show and struggled.
A good hint for all dealers is to act as your own agent and promote yourself and not just leave that to the show organizers. I don’t know if our figure vendor would have done better with some self-promotion, but it never hurts.