Wednesday, December 15, 2010

1972 O-Pee-Chee Baseball #5, John Bateman

Wow, check out that front. Bright yellow over lime green with a baby blue sky? O-Pee-Chee copied Topps' 1972 design as-is, so all those funky American combos carried right over into their Canadian version. 40 years later, these 1972 card borders still look psychedelic crazy! (Ow, my eyes.)

Card front

After matching Topps card-for-card in 1971, OPC stopped at #525 in 1972, more than 200 short of the full 787-count (!) American checklist. Canadian editors made one prominent change, adding a "deceased" note to #465, Gil Hodges, who passed away on April 2. (See details at Oh My O-Pee-Chee's article.)

Card backs include French translations of player bios, stats, and even cartoons, which Canadian law mandated on printed materials starting in 1970. This also taught English-speaking fans a whole pantheon of new phrases like grands chelems (grand slam) and fiche comme frappeur (batting record).

Card back

In Dec 2010, posted a fun article called "How many clicks to Babe Ruth?" (If you haven't seen their player stat pages before, each and every one features a Top 10 Similar Batters list, helping us understand how that guy performed relative to others, independent of year.) The "how many clicks" idea is like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon for baseball: start with any player and follow Similarity Score links until you reach Babe Ruth. (Hank Aaron and other historic sluggers are one step away.)

One B-R submitter said he's never failed in linking a player to Ruth, though it can take dozens of in-betweens. Unfortunately, medium-power, low-average catchers like Bateman seem to be their own world and it's tough to break out to other, higher-performing positions. (I reached the underrated 60s backstop John Romano quickly, but stalled out getting any closer.) Have you successfully linked a favorite player to the Babe?

Value: OPC printed far fewer cards than Topps, but non-star singles come relatively cheap at a dollar or two. Higher-grade superstars often cost more than American equivalents because they're both rarer and harder to find in nice shape. (OPC used cheaper, easily dinged card stock.)

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any OPC reprints in the marketplace.

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