Saturday, May 14, 2011

1970 Ovenca Venezuelan Baseball #5, Roberto Munoz

In 1967, Venezuelan card makers broke new ground by dedicating the 1st series (138 cards) to local pro players. (Its #5 featured Cookie Rojas, an MLB veteran playing his first winter season in Venezuela.) Three years later, local printer Sport Grafico--using a similar card design--upped the ante by dedicating a full 300 player set to their Liga Venezolana de BĂ©isbol Profesional and its 1970-71 winter league season.

This set features two series: #1-249 show active players and #250-300 show "Veterans" or "Immortals."

Scan courtesy eBay seller John Rumierz Cards

Some MLB players signed winter league contracts to keep their skills sharp or earn extra money during "off-season," so also appear in the set wearing Venezuelan uniforms. Many cards show glue residue from being mounted in an album, so "high grade" typically means EX condition for this and other Venezuelan sets.

Thanks to blog reader Nathan for a translation of Roberto's bio!
He began his career as a catcher. In 1965 he successfully converted to pitcher, and is the only Venezuelan pitcher in the major leagues. This year he played for the Chicago Cubs, as a reliever. He's recovered completely from two years of spotty performance, including a demotion to Triple A.

Interesting that this card shows his birth year as 1946, but Wikipedia and Baseball-Reference say 1941. Latin players who make a splash in the big league often face scrutiny about their age, if they come from a country that tracks birth dates less rigorously. MLB teams have a financial incentive to know "real" ages, since 25 year-old players are entering their prime, but 30 year-olds are about to leave it.

2014 UPDATE: Found an autographed #5!

2016 UPDATE: Album photos from OBC friend Rick!

Front cover

First page, #1-6, with Concepcion

Value: Bought my #5 for $6 on eBay. Stars like Dave Concepcion and Luis Aparicio attract interest from both North and South American collectors, so can go for $100+ in decent shape.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace.


Anonymous said...

I love these cards,,,just bought 115 different from 1967 many do you have?
Paul Dervis, also of Cambridge MA

Matthew Glidden said...

115 different is a great start to the set! I just own the one, #5. :-)