Tuesday, May 17, 2011

1973 Venezuelan League Baseball #5, Jose Lopez

By coincidence, the 1972 and 1973 Venezuelan league #5s both feature Jose Angel Lopez, a Maracay native who also spent 7 seasons in the American minors as pitcher, catcher, and outfielder. Sportswriters made a lot of hay about Albert Pujols' recent shift from 1st to 3rd--wonder what they'd say if he donned the "tools of ignorance" or took the mound.

Card front (blank back)

Like many in the lower leagues--Rookie, A, and AA--Jose bounced around throughout his career, going west to Modesto, CA, north to Cedar Rapids, IA, and south to St. Petersburg, FL (career stats at Baseball-Reference). It's not clear how long he played pro ball in Venezuela, but we know he didn't take the field in 1973, as a player strike wiped out their whole season. While this 275-player set (and a collectors album) still reached the market, sales probably suffered from a lack of real games.

Today's set design approximates 1971 Topps' black borders, block team names, and photo matting. They're paper-thin with no stats and blank backs, since collectors mounted them into albums. (Guides call them "stamps" or "stickers," thanks to this practice, though buyers had to supply the glue.)

Value: Bought this at a card show for $5, a good find considering the rarity. Many have back or edge damage, like Jose's upper-left corner.

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

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