Wednesday, April 14, 2010

1971 Carl Aldana Baseball #5, John Ritchey

I cannot get over how weird this portrait of John Ritchey looks, especially in that face-like area. Really, Jay Leno wants a jawbone like that. Unfortunately, it suits the overall the card's discontinuity. Odd font, weird color contrast, and disjointed first and last names. Is there an upside to this card? Fortunately, yes, and read on for details.

Card front (blank back)

I doubt many people have seen this 16-card set and there's mystery about its naming, origin, and distribution. Typically called "Carl Aldana" after its artist, some sources, including COMC, add a "Yesterday Heroes" subtitle.

Though the portrait shows Ritchey as an Indian, he never played in the majors. There is a window where John might've worn the uni, as a member of the 1949 San Diego Padres, a one-year PCL affiliate for Cleveland. There aren't a ton of 1940s minor league photos out there, so Mr. Aldana likely used what he could find--a single spring training shot, perhaps?

Despite never being a "big leaguer," Ritchey does rate as a baseball hero, by breaking the color barrier for blue--OK, black--players in the Pacific Coast League. His 1948 debut in San Diego continued a career begun in the negro leagues and lasting for 10 pro years as a high-average, gap-power backstop. (See the site for a nice profile.)

Value: This card cost $10 on eBay last year. They're pretty scarce, but usually come in high-grade as a direct-to-collector issue. The set contains no higher-priced "stars" to speak of.

Fakes / Reprints: Despite their overall rarity, they're probably not worth reprinting.


night owl said...

Wow, what a card.

I can't figure out why someone would put out a set in the early '70s of 1940s minor leaguers. It doesn't seem like something anyone would care about back then.

Matthew Glidden said...

Agreed, not sure what led to this becoming a "real" set, given the players and crudity--it looks more like an artist practicing color print work.