Friday, July 24, 2009

1980 Laughlin 300 / 400 / 500 #5, Christy Mathewson

Today's guest, a mighty hurler from baseball's deadball era, won 373 games in a comparatively brief 17 seasons, averaging nearly 22 wins per year. This included 30+ wins 4 times and 20+ for 12 years in a row. Mathewson made Cooperstown's "first cut" of 5 Hall of Fame inductees in 1936, joining fellow non-paraliel legends Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, and Honus Wagner. Including 2009 inductees Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice, and Joe Gordon, the Hall now honors a total of 231 players.

Card front

Credit baseball artist Robert Laughlin for this interestingly canted set that affixed photo craniums to hand-drawn bodies. It hearkens back to Goudey's 1938 set design, which many collectors call the "Heads Up" set. (As a long-time fan and font of card knowledge, I'm sure that's intentional on his part.)

Every player in this 30-card set (full checklist here) reached one of three hallowed marks.

  • 300 wins
  • .400 batting average
  • 500 homers

In 1980, only a select few players qualified for that elite list and this issue presents them on glossy, superwhite card stock reminiscent of Upper Deck's early work.

As blogged by SCD "big book" editor Bob Lemke on July 20, 2009, this set was curiously reprinted sometime after the original release. We can hope Mr. Laughlin himself did the work to satisfy a need for more orders--otherwise, why go to the trouble for an oddball release with fairly low current demand? Perhaps we all live in Glenn Hubbard's world, where some things have no explanation.


Dinged Corners said...

That "Heads Up"-ian style is curious. Very interesting post.

Carl Crawford Cards said...

This seems like it might be a really worthwhile set. I'll definitely be checking it out. Great find!

Matthew Glidden said...

Glad you liked the set. It contains so many HOFers, the price could be higher. Unfortunately, the unusual size and orientation's kind of a pain to store or display; 4-count pages are the rule.