As anyone who has collected or dealt in mid-1960’s Topps cards can verify, many of those 1966 and 1967 Topps single print high numbers are just brutal cards to acquire. We are going to do some quick hits on some of those key cards and why they were or are popular today.
Let’s begin with Willie Davis (#535). One of my favorite lines ever was when Bill James wrote that Davis’ career seemed to be beset with “trochaic indifference”. To his credit, James did later realize he was incorrect about his description of Davis because those seasons which should have been his peak years were spent in the offensively challenged 1963-68 era (remember Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA and Carl Yastrzemski winning the batting title at .301?) and his home games were played in perhaps the hardest park for hitters.
When baseball returned to somewhat normal offense for the 1969 season, Davis went on a three-year tear and continued to be a decent offensive player for the rest of his career. Most players would have loved to enjoy the career Willie had but some fans believed with his natural talent, he should have been a Hall of Famer. Either way there is no doubt that during his peak Davis was an exciting player.
Davis isn’t the toughest ’66 high number, but his card is a beauty and you’ll still pay $40-50 for a very nice one and $75-100 for a graded 9. Another player with a cool story is Clarence “Choo Choo” Coleman, who has a huge grin on his face as he poses for card #561, a single print.
Not only did he have that memorable nickname but the legend was he came up with simple answers that became legendarily funny on the retelling. The story goes that Ralph Kiner in his “Kiner’s Corner” post-game show in which he’d interview the star of the game, once tried to draw out more from Coleman by asking about his wife and what she was like. His answer was “Her name is Mrs. Coleman and she likes me.” Well, hard to argue with that logic. Now Coleman was never considered even a good ballplayer but at least he was apparently fun to be around with in the clubhouse.
Choo Choo Coleman, believe it or not, is one of the keys to the 1966 Topps set. It’s a tough card to find in high-grade and demand from the legion of Mets collectors makes it even harder. Check out the going rate.
You can’t hang it all on Horace, though. The Yankees would lose because they had plenty of other weaknesses and you must have some talent to last that long at the big league level. I always liked Clarke because I thought the glasses he wore during games were cool.
Again, playing for the Yankees means extra demand for this already tough card. At present, there are only a couple on eBay and a few more on Amazon. It’s a single print that’s wise to grab whenever you see one you can afford.
And our final card in this incomplete but fun 1966 short print tour is Grant Jackson/Bart Shirley. Most people now just call that the Grant Jackson rookie card because he spent more than a dozen years in the majors and was one of just three members of the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates who had also appeared in the 1971 World Series. But for many collectors, this card has the even most mythical status as the hardest of these 1966 high numbers to acquire. While all four of these cards are tough, the Jackson single print is the hardest by far and is the most expensive of this quartet. You might find one or two on eBay each week and over a half-dozen on Amazon, but you might want to brace yourself when you see the prices for what would normally be a common card.
These are why some of those 1966 high numbers are popular and there are other cars such as the Cardinals Rookies, Denny McLain, Billy Williams and even Lou Klimchock that are also very popular and we’ll try to feature a few of those later.