Sunday, May 4, 2014

1974 Fleer Baseball Wildest Days and Plays #5, Most Tied Game Ever

This post's a chance to return to one of my favorite baseball card eras, the growth of 1970s oddball publishing. In collecting terms, "oddball" typically refers to sets with short print runs or unusual subjects, often sold directly to collectors instead of wax-wrapped for stores. Baseball artist Bob Laughlin created many such sets over the decades, doing both self-published work and sets like this one for Fleer, itself a company that spent many years jousting with Topps over the right to make "real" (non-oddball) player cards.

If you haven't read much about Laughlin's work, start with the 1st Issue of Inside Pitch over at The Fleer Sticker Project. It's a great profile of Bob's sets, advertising, and the 1970s Topps and Fleer zeitgeist. (It also notes that Laughlin first sold this set to collectors in 1974, but it's often misdated 1973 by catalogs.)

Each card from Fleer's Wildest Days and Plays is like an unusual fact you'd find sprinkled into a sports almanac, but on cardboard. The set's #5 highlights a statistical oddity from Saturday, August 13, 1910, the second game of a Pittsburgh-Brooklyn doubleheader.

Thanks to Google news archives, you can read original coverage of this doubleheader game from the Pittsburg Press.

Pittsburgh Press game headline, August 14, 1910

While searching Pittsburg Press archives for game info, I also came across this comic of the Pirates on a late-season chase after Chicago for the NL crown. Unfortunately for the hometown faithful, Chicago went on to win the pennant easily and Pittsburgh finished a distant third, 17.5 games back.

"To The Pennant" (Pittsburg Press, 1910)

If you ever need to find old baseball coverage, Google's news archive provides a wide range of cities and papers back to the early 1900s and is especially handy for those willing to page through scanned original newspapers, microfiche-style. If you've got an hour or two to kill, that's an easy way to do it.

UPDATE: Some of my favorite Laughlin art appears in this set; to wit:

According to eBay dealer Columbia City Collectibles, Fleer also issued this (scarcer) two-card version in wax packs.

Wildest Days and Play two-card panel

These larger panels purportedly came with Fleer's team logo patches and gum, so might've be a special version issued to help clear out back stock. Their eBay listing's the first time I've seen one.

Value: Not many cards in this set represent "stars," so most (like this #5) cost a few dollars. The cards that refer to Babe Ruth run somewhat more.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace and they'd be a tough set to profit by faking.


Ryan G said...

I love these oddballs. The World Series sets run a bit high but all of Laughlin's works are on my mental want lists.

Matthew Glidden said...

Laughlin's a fun segment of card history for sure, and your comment inspired me to add a few favorite cards from this set.