Sunday, February 18, 2024

1961 Bell Brand Dodgers Baseball #5, Norm Larker

This classic baseball pose under sunny Dodgertown skies made me wonder why I knew so little about its #5, Norm Larker. He even compares favorably to a HOFer, Red Ruffing, six-time World Series winner with the powerhouse 1930s Yankees. Does that mean Norm's been overlooked for Cooperstown in the six decades since his retirement?

There's a catch! Red Ruffing earned his pay on the mound every fourth day, so Norm's similar to a good-hitting pitcher, an altogether different context. Larker notched some good seasons, including an All-Star year in 1960, without peaking for long enough to stand out among 1960s contemporaries. This name from my prime collecting years offers a better career comparison.

Norm's top Baseball Reference comp, Glenn Adams

BONUS TRIVIA: Ruffing's the sole pitcher to play after WWII and collect 500+ career hits, often pinch-hitting on off days. He joined the Yankees slugging lineup for this photo before 1938 World Series game one at Wrigley Field, Red at far right.

Norm wore #5 all four years in LA (1958-61) and Bell Brand used team uniform numbers as its set checklist, making him my type card.

Good to see scheduled 1961 doubleheaders on Norm's better half! A worthy artifact of the 20th century game, no question. 

Check out the Sports Collectors Daily profile of 1958-61 Bell Brand chips sets for another throwback.

Bell Brand promo for 1960

Each bag of chips contained a single card in cellophane and some unopened examples survive today.

Bell Brand snacks made themselves easy to find in supermarkets, often with seasonal tips.

A Sampler of Things: Bell Brand Potato Chips

I wrote this during Lent season 2024 and, as shown on that ad card, observant eaters can still top their tuna casserole with potato chips. Just wash up before smearing grease all over your cards!

Values: Larker cost a few dollars as one of this set's lesser-known guys. The full set checklist includes sharp photos of Snider, Koufax, Hodges, and more. It remains popular among Dodger collectors, so expect to pay $25+ for its HOFers and $100+ for those in nice condition.

Fakes / reprints: There's some risk of fakery for major stars like Koufax, as well as those in "unopened" (restored) cellophane. I recommend sticking to opened, lesser-known players if you need a type card.


night owl said...

Yes, as a Dodgers fan, I do love this set.

Vintage Football Card Gallery said...

Sharp Larker card, thanks for the introduction. I had seen pics of a few Bell Brand Dodgers cards, but I didn't know much about the set. The 1961 baseball cards look just like Bell Brand's 1959 Rams football cards.

Matthew Glidden said...

Agreed, they found a solid design and stuck with it! Interesting to see their 1959 Rams card backs focused on merchandise instead of the upcoming football schedule. Wonder if something about NFL games were less predictable that year?

Bo said...

I have a few of these from '61 and '62, but not Larker. They have some great photos including this one

Fuji said...

Not familiar with Larker, but I've seen singles from this set before. Gotta say that image they used for him is awesome. Great looking card.

GTT said...

Nice card- & I love the lenten store display!