Monday, December 15, 2008

1960 Bazooka Baseball #5, Milt Pappas

Once cigarette cards petered out in the early 20th century, gum companies stepped in to pick up the mantle with their own sugary products. Post-WWII, Topps and Bowman took over the field with large-count sets, echoing Goudey Gum's pre-war success. In both cases, it was hard to tell which came first financially, the gum or the cards, but at least the players are still with us.

Card front (blank back)

Before long, the newly crowned Topps Goliath cast about for ways to expand the baseball market. Enter their subsidiary Bazooka, my childhood synonym for bubblegum. They printed cards directly on gum boxes for trimming with scissors, much like Post cereal sets from the same era.
The 1960 set featured 36 numbered cards and our #5 guest, Baltimore righty Milt Pappis. See this cool proof sheet for a good overview of the set itself, if divorced from the final, gum-protecting product. Relative to their over-sized 1959 set, the three-panel layout made for small individual cards and less impressive photos. Physical limits aside, Bazooka did capture some nice images, and Milt's one of the few that look stoic and static.

Although one of the 1960s' strongest starters, today's guest could've been even better in ideal career circumstances. For all his boyish good looks and pitching acumen, personality conflicts crowded Mr. Pappas like a hard-breaking slider. His Wikipedia entry mentions a number of issues with managers, fans, and umpires, even lingering to the present day. Of course, a greater man than I would be sore to miss out on a perfect game with a walk. At least make the batter work for it, ump!

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