Saturday, May 31, 2014

1979 San Francisco Giants Police

The modern era of police giveaway sets featuring athletes began in 1977/78, with the release of the Portland Trail Blazers basketball set. One of the first baseball examples is the 1979 San Francisco Giants set, which was issued both as a stadium promotion and a giveaway by police officers in the San Francisco area.

The Giants released two very similar sets, in 1979 and 1980. Neither set lists a year of issue, and both appear very similar on the fronts and backs. The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at the player's name and position listed on the front. The 1979 cards feature this information in thin font, while the 1980 cards list the info in bold font. In addition, the 1980 cards feature the player's name in an italicized font. One final, easy-to-spot difference is that the 1979 cards feature the player's uniform number with the "#" symbol, while the 1980 cards do not.

Here's a look at the Willie McCovey card from both sets:


Both sets were sponsored by KNBR 68 radio, and feature baseball terms and safety tips on card backs. The 1979 set is complete at 30 cards, which includes a manager card and four coaches cards. Fronts feature color photos taken by longtime Giants and 49ers photographer Dennis Desprois. Cards are not numbered except for player uniform numbers.

Loaded with all the big and small names of the day, baseball fans will be happy to find the likes of Willie McCovey, Jack Clark, Vida Blue, Bill Madlock and Darrell Evans within their 1979 set. More than enough sets were printed to handle today's demand, and a complete set should cost no more than ten dollars in the current market.

(1) Dave Bristol, Manager
(2) Marc Hill, Catcher
(3) Mike Sadek, Catcher
(5) Tom Haller, Coach
(6) Joe Altobelli, Manager
(8) Larry Shepard, Coach
(9) Heity Cruz, Outfielder
(10) Johnny LeMaster, Infielder
(12) Jim Davenport, Coach
(14) Vida Blue, Pitcher
(15) Mike Ivie, Infielder
(16) Roger Metzger, Infielder
(17) Randy Moffitt, Pitcher
(18) Bill Madlock, Infielder
(21) Rob Andrews, Infielder
(22) Jack Clark, Outfielder
(25) Dave Roberts, Pitcher
(26) John Montefusco, Pitcher
(28) Ed Halicki, Pitcher
(30) John Tamargo, Catcher
(31) Larry Herndon, Outfielder
(36) Bill North, Outfielder
(39) Bob Knepper, Pitcher
(40) John Curtis, Pitcher
(41) Darrell Evans, Infielder
(43) Tom Griffin, Pitcher
(44) Willie McCovey, Infielder
(45) Terry Whitfield, Outfielder
(46) Gary Lavelle, Pitcher
(49) Max Venable, Outfielder

Monday, May 26, 2014

1981 Topps Football Red Border Stickers


Topps went full steam ahead with sports stickers in 1981, releasing a set of 262 Major League Baseball players and a set of 262 National Football League players. These stickers were sold in sealed packs of five, and an optional album was available to house them. 

A lesser-known football sticker set was also made available by Topps in 1981, which featured just 28 players (one per NFL team). Considered by some collectors to be a test issue, these somewhat scarce stickers feature red borders and a large, color photo of each player. Unlike the regular stickers mentioned above that were sold in packs of five, we believe these red border beauties were sold as singles inside small, plastic gumball machine containers. Many of the stickers we see today are in high-end condition, meaning they were never stuffed inside the capsules. 

Topps did a nice job with their player selection, including a balanced blend of young stars and superstar veterans. Hall of Fame wide receiver Art Monk is featured in his rookie card year, along with running backs Billy Sims and Joe Cribbs, and quarterback David Woodley. Hall of Famers Walter Payton, Tony Dorsett, James Lofton, Jack Youngblood, Franco Harris, Steve Largent and Lee Roy Selmon each contribute to the value of this oddball offering. A Joe Montana rookie sticker would have been a welcome addition indeed, but entering the 1981 NFL season Montana had only started seven games for the 49ers, making it understandable why Topps would instead choose veteran wide receiver Freddie Solomon to represent San Fransisco.

Red border stickers are the same size as their "regular" cousins, weighing in at 1 15/16 by 2 9/16 inches. Stickers are numbered 1 through 28 on the fronts and backs. Backs feature a small amount of biographical information and the 1981 copyright date. A light watermark from the MACtac Corporation of Soignies, Belgium can also be found on the backs of the stickers. Still going strong today, the graphics and label printing company continues to employ over 19,000 workers worldwide.

Ebay is a fairly accurate barometer to gauge how scarce an oddball set might be, especially when you keep an eye open over the course of weeks, months and years. A small hoard appeared on the site about a year ago (maybe ten or so sets), which allowed me to purchase my set for ten dollars delivered. With that event being long gone, complete sets seem to be elusive and offered in the $25 range. A nicely-centered Walter Payton could easily be worth $10 or more by itself.

1. Steve Bartkowski, QB, Falcons
2. Bert Jones, QB, Colts
3. Joe Cribbs, RB, Bills
4. Walter Payton, RB, Bears
5. Ross Browner, DE, Bengals
6. Brian Sipe, QB, Browns
7. Tony Dorsett, RB, Cowboys
8. Randy Gradishar, MLB, Broncos
9. Billy Sims, RB, Lions
10. James Lofton, WR, Packers
11. Mike Barber, TE, Oilers
12. Art Still, DE, Chiefs
13. Jack Youngblood, DE, Rams
14. Dave Woodley, QB, Dolphins
15. Amhad Rashad, WR, Vikings
16. Russ Francis, TE, Patriots
17. Archie Manning, QB, Saints
18. Dave Jennings, P, Giants
19. Richard Todd, QB, Jets
20. Lester Hayes, CB, Raiders
21. Ron Jaworski, QB, Eagles
22. Franco Harris, RB, Steelers
23. Ottis Anderson, RB, Cardinals
24. John Jefferson, WR, Chargers
25. Freddie Solomon, WR, 49ers
26. Steve Largent, WR, Seahawks
27. Lee Roy Selmon, DE, Buccaneers
28. Art Monk, WR, Redskins

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

1982 Topps/Coca-Cola Cincinnati Reds Set


Who doesn't love Topps baseball cards from the 1980s? If you say "I don't," you can just walk your ass out of here and find something else to read. Perhaps you may wish to see how your favorite movie is faring at the box office. For the rest of us, great things await within the cards known as the 1982 Topps/Coca-Cola Cincinnati Reds set.

Consisting of 22 player cards and a header, the Reds were one of two MLB teams (the Red Sox were the other) that continued a regional card promotion with Coke for the second year in a row. These team sets were increased in size from twelve cards in 1981, to 23 cards in 1982. The design of the Coca-Cola cards are quite similar to the regularly-issued Topps baseball cards from the same year, with the most obvious difference being the large "Coca-Cola" logo found at the top of each card front. 

When comparing the fronts of several of the cards, the Coca-Cola logo is the only difference between the Coke set and regular Topps set. On others, however, major differences can be seen, to include different photos, different teams, different haircuts, and in the case of outfielder Clint Hurdle, all of the above.


Here at the Oddball Card Collector Blog, we've always been fascinated by oddball sets that went the extra mile to include updated teams and photos for players on the move. By our count six players here fit the bill, as in the regular 1982 Topps set Clint Hurdle was pictured with the Royals, Cesar Cedeno with the Astros, Greg Harris and Alex Trevino with the Mets, Wayne Krenchicki with the Orioles and Jim Kern with the Rangers. Another card worth noting is that of outfielder Paul Householder, who was forced to share the spotlight on three-player "Reds Future Stars" cards in both the regular '81 and '82 Topps sets.

A long-forgotten promotion can be found on the back of the header card:


For just five dollars, collectors could receive a full-sized, uncut sheet of 132 Topps baseball cards. Many of the sheets sent out in the promotion were considered printer "scrap," due to errors such as color runs and imbalances, register problems and wrong backs. To this day, it is common to find many of the uncut sheets from this era available for sale on Ebay that contain one or more of these printing flaws.

The set can usually be picked up for five dollars or less. Considering the likes of Johnny Bench, Tom Seaver and Dave Concepcion are found within the set, it's hard to see the downside of slipping one of these into your collection.


1. Johnny Bench
2. Bruce Berenyi
3. Larry Biittner
4. Cesar Cedeno
5. Dave Concepcion
6. Dan Driessen
7. Greg Harris
8. Paul Householder
9. Tom Hume
10. Clint Hurdle
11. Jim Kern
12. Wayne Krenchicki
13. Rafael Landestoy
14. Charlie Leibrandt
15. Mike O'Berry
16. Ron Oester
17. Frank Pastore
18. Joe Price
19. Tom Seaver
20. Mario Soto
21. Alex Trevino
22. Mike Vail
Header Card

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

1992 Marathon Chicago Cubs



Some oddball sets are cooler than others. They just are. In this case, we'd say the 1992 Marathon Chicago Cubs set is the coolest of the cool.

Marathon Oil sponsored a Cubs set for five consecutive years, from 1989 through 1993. The 1992 issue features 28 cards and was given away at the July 10 game against the Atlanta Braves (John Smoltz pitched a complete-game shutout, out-dueling future teammate Greg Maddux in the process).

The large card size (4 1/2 by 2 7/8 inches) may be a turn-off for some collectors, but the design and large action photos across the fronts seem to work just fine in my opinion. Backs feature full minor league and major league statistics, as well as the player's birth date, height, weight and uniform number. The Cubs and
Marathon logos are found across the bottoms (An American Company Serving America!) The cards are not numbered.

Even casual baseball fans will be impressed by the many names found within this beaut of a set. Hall of Fame players Andre Dawson, Greg Maddux and Ryne Sandberg lead the list of superstars, while retired Hall of Famer Billy Williams makes an appearance on the coaches card. Joe Girardi, Shawon Dunston, Dwight Smith, Jerome Walton, Sammy Sosa and Mark Grace helped to fill a lineup that was truly impressive on paper, but in the end the club would finish with a paltry 78 wins versus 84 losses. The Braves were the biggest "thorn in the side" of the Cubs in 1992, with the Cubs winning just two of the twelve contests played against Atlanta that year.

We'd estimate the value of the set in the $5 to $8 range. Whatever you pay, consider it money well-spent... The "cool factor" of your collection will have just gone up substantially.



(1) Doug Strange, IF
(5) Jim Lefebvre, MGR
(6) Rey Sanchez, IF
(7) Joe Girardi, C
(8) Andre Dawson, OF
(10) Luis Salazar, IF
(12) Shawon Dunston, IF
(16) Jose Vizcaino, IF
(17) Mark Grace, IF
(18) Dwight Smith, OF
(19) Hector Villanueva, C
(20) Jerome Walton, OF
(21) Sammy Sosa, OF
(23) Ryne Sandberg, IF
(27) Derrick May, OF
(29) Doug Dascenzo, OF
(30) Bob Scanlan, P
(31) Greg Maddux, P
(32) Danny Jackson, P
(34) Ken Patterson, P
(35) Chuck McElroy, P
(36) Mike Morgan, P
(38) Jeff Robinson, P
(42) Dave Smith, P
(45) Paul Assenmacher, P
(47) Shawn Boskie, P
(49) Frank Castillo, P
Coaches Card
(41) Tom Trebelhorn, Bench Coach
(5) Chuck Cottier, Third Base Coach
(3) Jose Martinez, First Base Coach
(4) Billy Connors, Pitching Coordinator
(46) Sammy Ellis, Bullpen Coach
(26) Billy Williams, Hitting Instructor


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

1980 81 82 Tampa Rowdies Police Sets - How to Tell the Difference

The Tampa Rowdies soccer club was the subject of three police sets in the early 1980s. All three sets utilized a design format that was typical for safety sets of the time, with the fronts of all three being exactly the same. Here's a look at a card front from each:


I don't know about you, but I can't see much of a difference on the fronts. The key to discovering the year of issue lies on the backs of the cards, as there are subtle but unmistakeable differences. Each of the three years features a different set of sponsors listed on the back bottoms of the cards. Here they are:


You'll immediately notice that the 1980 set features two logos near the bottom, with the circular logo representing the Exchange Club of Tampa. This is the only year that the Exchange Club was a sponsor. In 1981, the two sponsors listed were the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Law Enforcement Council. Luckily, between the printings of the 1981 and 1982 sets, the Law Enforcement Council changed their name to the Community Security Council, with the 1982 set reflecting the name change accordingly.

We will spend more time detailing these sets in the future. These really are some great oddball cards that feature cards for players, cheerleaders (Wowdies), the band (Loudies), the stadium, and even mascot "Krazy George."