Monday, September 13, 2010

1976 Rodeo Meats Commemorative Baseball #5, Cloyd Boyer

Today's #5 calls back to one of the 1950s toughest sets, Missouri's own Rodeo Meats Athletics. The original's an attractive, 38-player issue celebrating baseball's debut in Kansas City. Its hand-tinted pictures echo 1954's Bowman and Red Heart sets, both stand-outs in the vintage era. But what makes it so hard-to-find for modern collectors?

  1. Topps churns out millions of cards annually, but regional producers like Rodeo Meats topped off in the thousands.
  2. Food-packaged sets picked up stains and odors easily, often making them better trash than collectibles.
  3. Fans saved their Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron cards more often than Cloyd Boyer and Vic Power. Kansas City fielded decent players, but few memorable stars.

At this 3-way nexus sits 1955 Rodeo Meats, an issue rare enough that there's only 1 complete set registered at PSA as of Sept 2010. By comparison, 21 collectors own graded 1952 Topps sets, with nearly 100 scarce high numbers and the Mantle rookie.

Card front

Oddly enough, this "commemorative" card uses a different picture than the original, which even had two poses to choose from.

(original, blue background)

(original, pink background)

Cloyd's new pose isn't the only change between this "reprint" and Rodeo's original issue. Fronts (above) replace pastel colors with black-and-white photos. Backs (below) feature player bios instead of a mail-in offer for a collector's album. 38 unnumbered cards in 1955 become 28 numbered players in 1976. (A title card and checklist round it out at 30.)

Card back

Guides call this a reprint, but I have a different theory. JDM/JMC sold it directly to collectors at a time when few knew what real Rodeo cards looked like. No doubt acquiring a full set would've cost serious money, even in those days. Why not print pictures of KC players from 1955 and just name it after a notoriously rare regional issue to pique curiosity? A few photos match between the two, but it's clearly not an exact copy. That "commemorative" label is more accurate, if somewhat misleading.

Value: Boyer cost me $5 on Beckett Marketplace. Several singles from the same set are on eBay for ~$7. (Search for Rodeo Meats.)

Fakes / reprints: Don't know if anyone would fake this commemorative set. Card-for-card reprints definitely do exist for the 1955 Rodeo Meats, so seek those out if you want an original look without spending thousands of dollars.

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