Monday, November 3, 2008

1977 Hostess (and Twinkie) #5, Thurman Munson

Thurman Munson served as sixth captain of the New York Yankees from 1976 until his death in a 1979 plane crash. He performed brilliantly at bat and behind the plate, becoming the only Yank ever to capture both the ROY (1970) and MVP (1976). The team retired uniform #15 in 1979, signifying the magnitude of his contributions despite the relative brevity of his career.

Card front

Badly in need of a boost out of their 1960s malaise, homegrown talent like Munson and free agent signees like Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson drove them to three consecutive World Series appearances from 1976 to 1978. The volatile combination of George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, and Jackson provided lots of grist for the media mill, even as the team itself returned to prominence. With Jim Rice and Fred Lynn leading a parallel resurrection in Boston, the inter-team rivalry reached a frenzied peak now familiar (and fatiguing) to baseball fans from other cities.

This particular Hostess set continues the theme and distribution style from those released earlier in the 1970s. Each snack box contained a panel of three players surrounded by a dotted line, all the better for scissoring into individuals. (Munson's panel is 4-5-6, sandwiching him between Yaz and Bench.) A relatively large number of panels made it to the modern day uncut, so some collectors build it entirely intact.

If you see a full, uncut card without left-and-right companions, it's actually part of the Twinkie set. That “parallel” set packaged one card with each sponge cake, which made for somewhat easier trimming. (Twinkie cards more frequently show a dark yellow stain from the cake.) Card fronts for both sets show the same picture and differ only slightly on the back, where Twinkie cards include a black bar (or rectangle) along one edge. “Regular” Hostess card backs show stats but no bar.

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