Sunday, October 2, 2022

1974 TCMA "1952 Brooklyn Dodgers" Baseball #5, Sandy Amoros

Starting in 1972, TCMA found growing success with direct-to-collector sets built from their collection of vintage baseball photo negatives and sold via mail order. Some of their work covered classic teams like these Boys of Summer-era Dodgers and others reprinted scarce issues from our hobby's past. According to, they produced 26 different sets in 1974 alone!

Today's set includes a bunch of guys who suited up (and had their pictures taken) for Brooklyn's pennant-winning 1952 squad.

Crinkle-nosed rookie Sandy Amoros played 20 games in 1952 as a late-season addition, often pinch-hitting or taking over on defense. His last appearance that year came during Brooklyn's 5-5 tie on September 28th, something impossible in today's era.

TCDB calls this set "unnumbered" on its checklist, yet Sandy's uniform #5 makes this a type hit in my eyes. Sometimes collectability overcomes sensibility.

MLB history contains one more Edmundo (Sosa), but Sandy's its sole player named "Isasi" or "Amoros."

Look for two card ink variations, blue and black, with examples below. Little surprise that Jackie Robinson's cards rank most popular with people who know about this TCMA set.

This group shot of Brooklyn's 1952 infield (Jackie, Gil, Campy, Billy, and Pee Wee) grouped around bats and balls now includes four HOFers following the 2022 induction of Gil Hodges, with just third baseman Billy Cox on the outside looking in.

Value: My Sandy cost $1 from the oddball table at a local show, a price I'm happy to pay for hard-to-find hits. Jackie and other Dodger stars will run more.

Fakes / reprints: While color variations show that TCMA itself printed more than one run of cards, it's hard to imagine anyone else reprinting such an obscure set.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

1979 Tony McLaughlin's Early Red Sox Favorites Baseball #5, John (Johnny) Gooch

It took me several years to track down today's oddball #5, thanks on one hand to its small-scale production and on the other to its niche appeal among Red Sox collectors and those who like "Tools of Ignorance" (catching equipment) on their cards.

Self-published in 1979 by Maine collector Tony McLaughlin, this 25-card set features some Red Sox players and locations otherwise tough to find on cardboard. In true 1970s oddball fashion, card size is a bit larger (2-5/8" by 3-3/4") and printed on thick card stock, making it a tight fit for 9-count pages.

Gooch himself appeared on a handful of cards during his career and some retro sets afterward. lacks this 1979 set listing as of 2022, so we can bump Johnny up to 10 known cards.

Early Red Sox Favorites cards carry a brief description, card number and circled TM logo on the reverse. While "favorite" seems a polite stretch for Gooch's single season and 37 games, its full checklist features confirmed Boston stars like Jimmy (Jimmie) Foxx, Lefty Grove, and Joe Cronin.
  1. New Fenway Park Just Being Completed
  2. Mrs. Tom Yawkey & Mrs. Eddie Collins
  3. Tom Oliver, Earl Webb, Jack Rothrock (Red Sox Outfielders, 1932)
  4. Red Sox Ace Pitchers (John Marcum, Wes Ferell, Lefty Grove, Fritz Ostermueller)
  5. John Gooch (Red Sox catcher, 1933)
  6. Red Sox recruits with Joe Cronin at Sarasota, Florida
  7. Danny MacFayden (1926-1932)
  8. Dale Alexander (1933)
  9. Robert (Fatsy) Fothergill (1933)
  10. Red Sox Sunday morning workout, Sarasota, Florida
  11. Jimmy Foxx signs ball for Mrs. Tom Yawkey
  12. Lefty Grove receiving key for new car, gift of Boston fans
  13. "Fireball" Lefty Grove (1934-1941)
  14. Jack Rothrock ... practicing base stealing with infielder Urbane Pickering
  15. Tom Daly, Al Schact & Herb Pennock (circa 1934)
  16. Heinie Manush & Eddie Collins
  17. Tris Speaker (1922)
  18. Home Run Star Jimmy Foxx (1936)
  19. Smead Jolley (1933)
  20. Hal Trosky, Cleveland Indians first baseman & James E. Foxx, Boston first baseman (1936)
  21. Harold "Muddy" Ruel, catcher & Wilcy "Fireman" Moore, pitcher (1931)
  22. Bob Quinn & Shano Collins (ca.1932)
  23. Tom Oliver, outfielder (1930-1933)
  24. Red Sox coaches Joe Cronin & Herb Pennock looking over pitcher Buetter
  25. Jimmy Foxx says "Nix" to chef at Sarasota, Florida 
Value: You can find scans and expensive singles ($6+) on This is a rare occasion where I recommend buying the whole thing for a low price (like this eBay listing) or hunting oddball boxes at shows. Most people interested in this Boston baseball era will want more than a single type card.

Fakes / reprints: While it's possible Tony himself reprinted the original set, I doubt reprints or fakes exist.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

1920 Universal Toy & Novelty Co. Hollywood Actors #5, Charlie Chaplin (and June Caprice)

The story so far

My past posts about the Universal Toy & Novelty Company covered their ten-card strips of boxers and American presidents.

Those strips lay groundwork for more Universal Toy subjects, including today's 20-card set of movie actors. Its #5 features Charlie Chaplin looking a good deal cleaner than his signature Tramp character.

Its checklist includes Hollywood legends like Fairbanks and Pickford, who were married to each other from 1920-36.

  1. Douglas Fairbanks
  2. Theda Bara
  3. Fatty Arbuckle
  4. Pearl White
  5. Charles Chaplin
  6. June Caprice
  7. George Walsh
  8. Olive Thomas
  9. William S. Hart
  10. Mary Pickford
  11. Elaine Hammerstein
  12. Bryant Washburn
  13. Mabel Normand
  14. Charles Ray
  15. Dorothy Dalton
  16. Owen Moore
  17. Mae Murray
  18. William Farnum
  19. Norma Talmadge
  20. Wallace Reid

As with Universal's boxers and presidents, some actor strips include UNIVERSAL "MOVIE MATCHING CARDS" SERIES 2 text across Chaplin, #6 June Caprice, and #7 George Walsh.

A text variation shifts its header text to the left, starting UNIVERSAL on #4 Pearl White and placing "MOVIE over Chaplin. These text variations prove somewhat harder to find than cards without header text.

Note how SGC used "C(irca) 1919 W-UNC" on this flip, which implies the submitter and SGC each failed to nail down a year or manufacturer.

Why so little info? Jefferson Burdick's 1960 edition of the American Card Catalog articulated challenges identifying this category of low-cost, high-volume sets.