Sunday, April 10, 2011

1976 Sportstix Baseball #5, Ted Simmons

While unplanned, the 1970s disco decade became the high point for baseball cards that were actually shaped like a baseball. Several companies licensed the right to show player pictures--with black, logo-less hats--including the widely available MSA discs. They closely resemble Pepsi's glove discs, already featured in a 2010 set profile.

Isaly disc from PSA registry

1970s company Sportstix echoed this circular look in style, if not substance, with their own multi-sport sticker set. It included three sports (baseball, football, basketball), distributed five stickers at a time in small plastic packages. Each one listed all five included players, perhaps to avoid legal conflict with Topps, who claimed the exclusive right to sell cards in "packs."

Sportstix included 13 baseball stickers and used two numbering styles, depending on their playing status. Active players were #1 to #10 and include All-Star caliber guys from 1976. (Dave Kingman might be the best-known today.) The three retired players--Mays, Clemente, Mantle--go by letters A, B, and D. The older, retired players are all-timers, so prove both more memorable and more valuable in the market. Not sure what happened to letter C--perhaps they meant to add a fourth, but couldn't work out a contract?

Each sticker measures 3" across and comes in one of three styles: square-cornered, octagonal, and (like my #5) round.

Sticker front (blank back)

Few seem to remember Ted Simmons today, perhaps because he competed against elite backstops like Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Thurman Munson, and Gary Carter. I won't call it a shame that his legacy faded, since his excellent hitting overshadowed middling defensive play, but a guy must be great to count five HOFers in his Top 10 Similarity Scores, with Miguel Tejada a possible sixth.

Value: The 1976 active players cost a dollar or two. Mays, Clemente, and Mantle run $10 or more.

Fakes / reprints: It'd be hard to reprint these stickers for any kind of profit, so I doubt anyone tried.

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