Friday, February 10, 2012

1972 Kellogg's All-Time Greats Baseball #5, George Sisler

Kellogg's packaged a pair of 3-D baseball sets with their cereal in 1972, probably as a hedge against the first MLBPA labor strike. Financial issues loomed ever larger in the late 60s and early 70s as the players union won important legal victories against team owners, so card publishers made their own backup plans. (Several "All-Time Greats" sets from the 1950s and 60s follow a similar pattern, appearing as ways to save on team or player licensing fees--baseball cards remain a business, no matter what the era.)

So how did this particular set appear in 1972 cereal boxes? I imagine the release planning went like this.
  • In late 1971, Kellogg's starts work on a "regular" 1972 baseball set with active players
  • Players and owners fail to reach a labor agreement during the off-season
  • Kellogg's dusts off this All-Time Greats set from 1970's Rold Gold pretzels, in case the MLB cancels their 1972 season
  • Kellogg's updates the set to a 1972 date and packages them in cereal boxes
  • Strike wipes out first two weeks of the season before labor agreement reached
  • Kellogg's adds "regular" baseball to cereal boxes once baseball resumes

Collectors say cereal boxes with this 15-card set came out after their active player set (1972 Kellogg's #5, Bill Parsons), but it's likely Kellogg's printed these cards in advance and switched to All-Time Greats once "regular" stock ran out.

HOFer and hitter extraordinaire George Sisler picked up the nickname "Gorgeous George," but this photo isn't particularly dashing. His rugged good looks show up better in large photos.

Value: All-Time Greats contain only big names, but low-grade types still run just a few dollars. Find the full checklist at Key Man Collectibles.

Fakes / reprints: This set's an almost exact copy of 1970 Rold Gold baseball, so collectors often confuse the two. Look for the 1970 (Rold Gold) and 1972 (Kellogg's) copyright date.

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