Monday, May 16, 2011

Venezuelan Baseball Sets (So Far)

This blog spent the last fortnight profiling Venezuelan sets, a South American neighbor that's home to many baseball fans and its own professional league since 1945. While native card production stretches back into the 1920s, Topps made the country more accessible to modern collectors by licensing their designs locally on-and-off during the 1960s. Building a complete set today is pretty much impossible, but singles turn up on eBay for as little as $10.
  • 1959: American and Venezuelan (198 cards, no album)
  • 1960: American and Venezuelan (198 cards, no album)
  • 1961: American only
  • 1962: American and Venezuelan (198 cards, no album)
  • 1963: American only
  • 1964: American and Venezuelan (370 cards, with album)
  • 1965: American (and first O-Pee-Chee set)
  • 1966: American and Venezuelan (370 cards, with album)
  • 1967: American only (sort of, see below)
  • 1968: American and Venezuelan (370 cards, with album)

It took several years, but finally found a 1968 Venezuelan #5 in late 2015, the last of my South American imports. (Its design copies Topps directly, so looks like this NL Home Run Leaders card.)

1968 Topps Baseball #5

The Oct 1967 to Jan 1968 winter season marked a turning point for South American issues, as they changed focus to Venezuelan pros.

Just three years in that decade feature players in MLB uniform, though they all contain current, former, and future major leaguers playing for local teams. Several significant "pre-rookie" cards also appear, including a 1973 stamp of HOFer Jim Rice.

Scan courtesy Freedom Cardboard forums

Topps made Venezuela (1959) and Canada (1965, via O-Pee-Chee) their first "expansion" partners, much like the MLB expanded west following WWII. Questions remain around how Topps controlled (or didn't control) foreign set licensing, distribution, and availability, so it's been fun researching their makeup. See any of the links above for deeper dives into individual sets.


AdamE said...

Isn't there another set of 72s? I for some reason thought there were 2 sets: stickers and stamps.

Matthew Glidden said...

If you include the whole Caribbean, I know of 3 from that year.

1972 Puerto Rican stamps
1972 Venezuelan MLB stamps (link above)
1972 Venezuelan League stamps (link above)

Puerto Rico's set includes Mike Schmidt's pre-rookie, so that's a biggie for Phillie or Schmidt collectors. (Don't have the Puerto Rican #5, so haven't profiled that set yet.)

Some guides call these sets "stickers" and others "stamps," but none of them have gummed backs. I went with stamps for internal consistency, since other 1970s issues from Topps DO feature self-stick backs and people know them as stickers.

AdamE said...

What made me think that is long ago you posted a 72 Venezuelan that looked nothing like my 72 Venezuelan Virdon card. I made a post about it because they didn't match. Dayf commented that mine was a sticker and yours was a stamp. I left it with that. Now I'm confused and must go find my Standard Catalog and quit going from memory.

Matthew Glidden said...

Ah, I understand. Found your post about the green Bill Virdon (#132) and can confirm it does come from the 1972 Venezuelan MLB series.

They made two sets that year, one of Venezuelan pros and another of American players, both numbered separately. Your green-border version is from the MLB set. (And the #5 from that set was Jim Fregosi.)