Monday, April 7, 2014

1975 TCMA Larry French Baseball #5, Brooklyn Dodgers years (1941-42)

Collector and dealer Mike Aronstein's publishing company (TCMA) spent the early 1970s making retrospective looks at baseball, temporarily bringing past players and teams to the fore as simple black-and-white designs with a common theme. As with their other "focused" sets, today's biography of pitcher Larry French started with a handful of contemporary photos (six total), found an interesting "baseball-plus-war" story to tell, and sold them via mail order to collectors for a few dollars each.

In baseball, Larry French was a classic 1930s innings-eating pitcher, one of those guys who made 30 starts every year and won often enough to keep management happy. He pitched often enough and long enough, in fact, that he's one of only 90 pitchers to allow 3000 hits from the mound. It's a much rarer feat for batters to achieve, but also says something about your longevity and effectiveness as a hurler to hit the same mark. (HOF Phil Niekro holds the top spot and is the only pitcher to give up over 5000 hits.)

French's back text story ("The Porkchop Pitcher") covers his baseball and personal life and reads much like TCMA's companion set about ballplayers stationed in Guam. Their brief biography, partially told in his voice, was co-written by Harrington "Kit" Crissey, who later published a WWII baseball book called Teenagers, Graybeards, and 4-Fs.

UPDATE: Wrigley Wax scanned some TCMA ads from 1984 that show how the company marketed their sets (and several made by others) via hobby publications.

So that's how TCMA did it

Value: I bought this #5 on eBay for $6, which isn't beyond the pale. They're hard cards to track down, perhaps because TCMA collectors rarely break their sets into singles. As of April 2014, there's an autographed #5 on eBay for $14.

Autographed TCMA #5 on eBay

Fakes / reprints: I doubt anyone would make money faking obscure TCMA sets, even if it'd be easy to do with modern equipment.

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