Volume 1, Issue 1, Dec 2000

"SPIKES HIGH"

by Spike Glidden

1984 was one of many dark years, generally speaking, for Mariner baseball. Seven years into their existence, there were exactly zero winning seasons. As a Seattle Times cartoon so eloquently put it back then, there were two ways to tell autumn had arrived in meteorologically-bland Seattle.

1. The rain felt cooler.

2. The Mariners were at least 25 games out of first place.

Of course, there were only four divisions in those days, so the Mís had more than the current creampuff AL West foes to struggle against (Royals and Twins and White Sox, oh my!). When your team tanks as a whole, though, the dedicated fan focuses on the next best thing, your favorite player. A favorite player brings the game to a personal, ongoing level that helps mediate the teamís lean years (for the Mariners, lean decades). After all, the team may have lost a heartbreaking 4-3 contest on an error in the ninth, but your man went 3-for-4! Yes!

The Mís 1984 season saw the emergence of a nifty Texas shortstop, Spike Dee Owen, who elevated a position of no-hitting defense (Mario Mendoza, Rick Auerbach, Domingo Ramos, etc.) to magically mediocre-hitting defense. A light had dawned in Seattle; we could have the nine-spot hit .250! Even better, he didnít always have to hit in the nine-spot! Keep in mind that the leading hitter on the team was Jack Perconte at a modest .294. Wherefore are thou, Edgar Martinez? A close friend of mine regularly swung us good seats to the Mís games by virtue of his Umpireís Assistant brother--not that we were elbowing people out when only 10,000 fans showed up--and he also got me turned on to Spike as a player to watch. Thereís something about watching a shortstop play that makes you doubly appreciate the huge wealth of talent at the position today. The range, the arm, turning the double-play, it ainít easy! Spike was solid defensively, but also had his adventurous moments, simultaneously holding the records for most consecutive errorless games played at SS (63 with the Expos in 1990) and most errors in the ALCS (6 with the Red Sox in 1986).

1984 also saw me get back into cards with a vengeance (Iíd actually taken a year off! The scandal!), so it should come as no surprise I picked up any cards of Spike that I could find. Topps cards were easy to locate, but in 1984 both Donruss and Fleer cut back production sharply, preventing me from finding almost ANY cards, let alone Spike himself (I still donít have his 1984 Donruss card, thanks very much!). No matter, I just collected everything I could find: team postcards, his minor league card, scorecards, newspaper ads (I had him sign one and mounted it!), you get the idea.

In a collectorís market, where much, and perhaps the vast amount, of money spent comes from adults who can afford an $80 box of wax packs, it can be easy to view our collections with a growing detachment from both baseball and our personal experience. As a kid, I played baseball, devoured box scores, and spent my allowance on a ticket to every Sunday home game. This devotion of a pretty healthy percentage of my life towards baseball came to include the cards as a natural outgrowth. These days, cards threaten to take primacy over the sport (maybe they already have), since I no longer play baseball myself or even make it out to the park unless accompanied by friends or family. Watching teams spend $100 or $200 million on a player (how many wax packs is that?), demand new stadiums, hike ticket prices by 40%, sell the team, or all of the above (ah, Boston!), makes me take a sort of refuge in my Spike cards, since after a year or so, it will be hard to recall a time when things were otherwise. My Spike cards keep me connected to baseball in a way the sport of 2000 canít match, even if the player himself has retired or I donít make it out to games like I used to. And thank goodness for that!

Volume 1, Issue , Page 2, Dec 2000

KNOCKING 'EM DOWN

By Neal Thomas

OBC gifts.Here they are in no particular order:

Peter Iverson completed his favorite post-war set of all time, the 1956 Topps set.  Peter bought the last card Bob Miller #334 from an eBay seller in Corapolis, PA - with a Cubs Team Variation he bought in the auction. Peter told him he only needed one more card - and he said "which" - when Peter told him he sent Bill along for another $2.00...I guess not all dealers are "scum"!

Mark Atnip the T206guy, finished a set made long after 1909-1911.Mark finished the 1977 Topps on November 3, 2000.

Our very own Marine, Matt Shirley, completed a double header this month, kiilling off two tough sets. The "psycho" 1972 Topps set bit the dust first on November 16. According to Matt, "Ken Morganti came through with the last 72 I needed to put that set to bed. A very nice looking Rod Carew. It had a $1 label on it, but somehow I am suspicious. What a great day! Never again will I curse under my breath when I feel obligated to read those ramblings." Next was the 1971 Topps Black Beauties was completed with the arrival of "that blasted Twitchell rookie card" from Mike Lundquist auctions! 

Doug " Traderdoug" Smith finished a very tough set, 1948 Bowman.Doug received the last card, Red Scheondeinst , from Dan Austin on November 22, 2000.

John "Bama" Harrell, after a little more than 2 years, was able to put the 1936 Goudey set to rest with a winning bid on the Chuck Klein card. Bama also had another completion, on November 27, 2000, finishing the 1973 Topps set, with the final card from eBay.

Brad Chambers, thanks to Matt Shirley who sent the final two cards, completed the 1971 Fleer World Series set (brown backs).

Brett Domue, on November 25, 2000, received a SCP from Rick Redpath, knocking off another set. The 1968 Topps set is complete with the addition of the Tigers TC.

Jerry Coker completed the 1969 Deckle set, thanks to a dealer friend of his (Mark Argo - Olde South Cards in Madison, GA.) who had a Joe Foy #22 (there's a #22 Rusty Staub too, but I guess the Foy was a bit more scarce).

Mac Wubben had a big month of November, finishing two sets. The 1969 Topps set came to completion with a Willie Mays from Mike Wierzbicki. Also, Mac finished the 1955 Topps set on November 27, 2000, with a #166 Baur from eBay (after months of looking and waiting). Mac say that the last OBC contribution from Lynn Miller back when he was still a member. 

Randy Griffin completed a set on November 27, 2000. Brock Hattox sent an early Christmas greeting, finishing off the 1967 Poster Insert set, by adding Poweel and Hammerin' Hank. Randy says it only took, let's see, nearly 34 years to do so. 

Andy Cook finished three sets this month. In the prewar category, Andy finished the 25 card 1936 Goudey Gamecard set. He completed this set in about 1.5 years, starting with a bunch of commons out of the bargain boxes at Ft Washington. This is a set that Andy had been pondering about doing since 1980 when he got one of the old Beckett's Annual Price Guide books and was drawn to a prewar set with no Ruth, Gehrig or Cobb; only 25 cards; and just ugly enough that mass demand wouldn't drive the prices sky high. He won the last two cards on Ebay -- Kiki Cuyler and Pepper Martin on the same day -- November 13, 2000. Andy's second completion was finished by Jimmy "Catfish" Parker, who finished off the 1979 Topps set with Ron Guidry on November 11, 2000. This set was 90% from OBC. Finally, on December 8, 2000, Andy relates that he thinks Mark Talbot is psychic. Andy sent out a plea for a 1970 Topps StoryBook #23 Al Ferrara to finish his set, and it arrived the next day courtesy of Mark.

Pat Sweeney agreed that Mark Talbot is on a 1970 Topps StoryBook mission. On December 10, 2000, Pat received Reggie Jackson and Willie Mays from Mark to finish off the set

Bob Donaldson finished off the 1970 Fleer World Series set this month. Bob says that the last three cards were obtained at the Shriner's Show in Wilmington, MA last month. This is a set Bob started in his youth at age 8! 

Bob Farrell after 25 years, completes his 1959 Topps set last week. 
Bob found #515, Harmon Killebrew on eBay. 

Rick Svetecz finished my 1968 Topps Poster set in late October. A few of the pieces came from OBCers, but the last one (Ron Santo) came from an eBay user. This user won a lot of the posters including Santo...so Rick e-mailed and asked him if he'd sell the Santo. He said it was an upgrade for his own set, and asked if Rick would be interested in the other, for which he of course said yes...the guy asked for Rick's address and sent it to him with no obligation!! Rickremarked that "Hey!! There ARE other guys like us out there." 

Mike Diamati jusr recently finished his 1960 Topps set, thanks to an Ebay auction. 

Finally, Neal Thomas completed two sets this month, both at the Fort Washington show.The 1969 Topps set was completed by a hard-searching OBCer, Brett Domue, who not only found the last card needed, Frank Robinson, but also bought it!. Secondly was the ugly 1965 Topps Embossed set, finding Jim Bunning in a bargain bin.

I will try and keep a list together and send out a "Completed Sets" list with every newsletter. So let me know what sets you have just finished off, what the last card was and how you received it, and any other interesting stories that go along with the set.

Continuing the Mark Talbot and 1970 Topps StoryBook set theme, George Vrechek gets the one and only Al Ferrara story booklet to complete the set, courtesy of Mr. Talbot's generosity 

Howard Morgan completed his 1940 Playball set with a card from Neal Thomas, #220 Mace Brown. Neal attended an auction where they were breaking up a 1940 Playball set into 3-10 card lots, and the last card that Grizzled needed, the man gladly (sort of) sold it.

Dave Fallen just finished the 1962 Post Collection by cornering the highly elusive Norm Larker card on eBay on December 13, 2000. Dave says that he has "been looking for that card for some time, it's a toughie!"

Ken Morganti gets to "ramble" about the sets he has completed recently-a total of 7 completed sets:Ken completed his second 1972 Topps set with Frank Robinson (#754) traded and Willie Horton (#750) from eBay. Next was the 1971 Topps Coins, with Mel Stottlemyre and Jim Northrup at the recent Fort Washington show. Also done is the 1969 Topps set, complete with variations, as Ken scores a #476 Red Sox Rookies (WL variation) from eBay. Ken's second 1949 Bowman set also bit the dust when he found #127 Majeski variation at Ron 
Barrett's table at the FW show. The fifth completed set was his second 1970 Topps set, with a Hal McRae RC arriving from eBay. Next up was courtesy of another eBay purchase, a Frank Gifford RC which finished the 1959 Topps FB set. Finally, Ken hits another show to finish his 1955 Bowman FB set. #86 Szafaryn (almost as hard a name to spell as that Phillies fan in Kansas!!) was found at the GBSCC (Wilmington) show. Leave it up to Ken to have the longest segment in this list!

 

Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 3, Dec 2000

The Trials and Tribulations of an Overseas Card Collector

by Glenn Codere

It's a story which I'm sure every dealer has heard time and time again, usually from us thirty-somethings. You know how it goes.

Boy meets cards

Boy collects cards

Boy becomes man

Man loses cards. 

Cards become valuable

Man wishes he was a boy again so that he wouldn't make the same mistake a second time

Sound familiar? There must be tens of thousands of us out there, full of regret and thinking, "If only I'd held on to my Mantles.....". So what do we do? Through a mixture of desire and nostalgia, we try to rebuild those old collections. Fairly easy for most of you. You just go down to your local dealer, pick your cards, and walk out reasonably happy. It's not as simple as that for me though. You see, my story is slightly different....

I was 13 when I left Detroit in 1973 to go with my mother to live in Scotland. I had started collecting cards in 1968, the year my beloved Tigers won their first World Series for 23 years. Through my own efforts, and thanks to the generosity of an older cousin, I had a collection which featured complete sets from 1962, 1964, 1969-73, and partial sets from 1960, 1961, 1963 and 1968, not to mention boxes full of doubles. Although I kept my cards in good shape, apart from the odd few that were sacrificed to the bicycle gods, I never placed any monetary value on them. The cards that I desired above all others, however, were Tigers cards. I'd have gladly swapped you a '69 white lettered Mantle for a '69 Tom Matchick straight up any day (in fact, I might even have thrown Reggie Jackson into the deal!). One of my fondest memories of those days was going into a local Kresges with my Mom in the spring of 1970 and discovering that they had 7th series 1969 cards for sale. That was the day that I completed my first set.

The week before we were due to leave the country, I carefully packed most of my cards, including all of my precious Tigers, into a box ready for shipment. A few days later, my Mom and I had arrived safely in Scotland. My box, however, had other ideas. Suffice to say, it never got here, but who knows? To this day, it may still be travelling the world, hopping from freight plane to freight plane in the vain hope of one day finding its old master.

Although I now found myself some 3000 miles away, my love for the game of baseball remained undiminished. Keeping up with events in those days could be tricky. Domestic satellite TV and newspapers like USA Today International weren't around, so you had to live on whatever scraps you could find. The best provider of info was the American Forces Radio Network, broadcasting from West Germany. If the weather was good, and I turned my radio just the right way, I could pick up a crackly signal from the continent that would give me the day's scores. They even broadcast 1 or 2 games live every week, from which I would meticulously fill in home-made score cards and note the comings and goings of all the players, often cursing the signal as it faded in and out. 

My interest in baseball began to wane a bit in my late teens and early 20's, when other, more "grown-up" pleasures of life began to take my fancy. Things really began to change for me though in 1984. At the time, I was working in Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city. I discovered, purely by chance, that there was a team playing in the city. I went along to a practice session one Sunday afternoon, and found myself recruited right away. As soon as I felt the thud of that first fly ball in the web of my glove, I was back in Little League. I soon realised that I was experiencing a new sensation. Something that I'd never really felt before. I was 23 years old, and I was getting my first taste of nostalgia. 

My renewed love affair with the game continued to grow, and in 1988, I found myself returning to the States for the first time in 15 years. I was on a vacation that would include a visit to my own personal Mecca, Tiger Stadium. As I walked up the ramp on a Friday evening to the upper deck reserved seats on the third base line, memories came flooding back. The farther up the ramp I went, the more the stadium opened up in front of me. It seemed to be taking an eternity to walk those few short yards. The sights and sounds and smells of the old place enveloped me. OK, so there was a snazzy new electronic scoreboard. OK, so they'd replaced the old green wooden seats with blue and orange (yeuchh!) plastic ones. OK, so the players were different. OK, so the other team (the Blue Jays) didn't even exist in my day. This was still MY ballpark, though. And it was pure and concentrated nostalgia. (By the way, it was during this game that a late inning pinch-hitter for the Jays named Cecil Fielder waddled up to the plate and promptly struck out. "He'll never amount to much", I thought. Oops.)

The next day dawned gloriously bright and sunny, and I decided to go along to the stadium early to soak up as much atmosphere as possible. As I was entering, a small souvenir shop near the gate drew my attention. I went in for a look and there, under a glass counter were baseball cards! Tigers cards at that, and lots of 'em. The first I'd seen for a long, long time. Right away, all sorts of thoughts started to race through my head. The first thing I thought was that it's great to be able to buy cards individually rather than in packs. I mean let's face it. Who would buy packs when you can buy all your own hometown heroes separately? I reckoned that, even allowing for inflation, I could probably buy back all my old Tigers cards and still get change out of a ten. It was then that I got my first taste of just how much the hobby had changed in a decade and a half. The prices of some of the cards on display left me, quite simply, stunned. The thought of paying three-figure sums for cards which I had taken so much for granted was so foreign to me as to be beyond the limits of my perception. I knew now that I had leapt into the brave new world of card collecting. If I really wanted to start again I would have to step back from that counter, put my money in my pocket, and learn how to survive in this strange new multi-companied jungle of "grades", "short-prints", "double-prints", "traded sets", etc., etc. Over the next 3 weeks, I only bought a few cards, and returned home to Scotland armed with as much information on the hobby as I could find. 

It didn't take me too long to decide that I wanted my new collection to concentrate around Detroit Tigers cards. I would start with the cards from my own late 60's-early 70's era, and build outwards from there. I carefully started to construct want-lists of cards, and bided my time, just waiting for the opportunity to pounce on some poor, unsuspecting dealer with my newfound market knowledge. It was to be nearly 2 years before that opportunity presented itself.

In 1990, my girlfriend and I set off on the holiday of a lifetime, spending 9 weeks using buses and trains to circumnavigate the continental USA. First stop was Cooperstown, and my first chance to start filling that want-list. My first purchases were, in fact, from an era a little earlier than planned. A haul of about 100 commons and semistars from between 1960 and 1966 in EX condition set me back just over $100. Unfortunately, it also sent me into a bit of a baseball card feeding frenzy and on the same day, I also bought 1986, 1987, two 1988, and two 1989 sets of Topps cards. Throw in the corresponding traded sets and I was down another $275. Hey! I was investing! (Don't ever ask me for stock market advice). My girlfriend then very kindly pointed out that it might be a little difficult lugging all that extra weight around for the next two months, so the next stop was the post office. Bang went another 75 bucks. I continued to buy Tigers singles throughout the rest of the vacation and actually made a good start towards fulfilling my original intention. On arriving back home I found that the cards from hell had been delivered, and that there was tax and duty of about $85 to pay. Has anyone else in the world paid quite as much for Topps cards from these years? I don't think so!

Since that major blowout, I've returned to the States twice, but I like to think that I've got the hang of this card buying thing now. My collection of Tigers cards has grown from a precious 3 or 4 in 1987 to well over 2000 cards, while my overall collection has also grown to a modest 25,000 cards in total. Cards have steadily become more and more available in Great Britain, however, due to higher profile television coverage, basketball and football remain more popular than baseball. The added cost of import duties and tax means that we pay over 50% more for new cards than collectors stateside. The hobby, as it presently stands in Britain, revolves almost totally around new cards, which makes it extremely difficult for the specialist collector like myself to fill want lists of older cards. Of course, there are many dealers in the States who offer excellent mail-order services, but the added cost of overseas postage and tax rather restricts what one might be prepared to pay for a particular card. And don't forget the fact that nothing really beats actually seeing a card before you buy! Another drawback in trying to find a certain card is the inability to use dealer's 800 numbers. Remember, these are unavailable from outside the United States. I've been trying to track down a 1970 Norm Cash #611 for over 3 years now, something I'm sure I could do fairly easily if I had access to this facility, or of course if I had a dealer just around the corner. 

Even new cards can present certain problems for overseas collectors, the redemption card being one particular case in point. These cards often are redeemable only in the USA, and always ask for postage payment in the form of either a $US check or money order. This has often led to me having to send my redemption card to a friend somewhere over there, have them get the cards, then send them on to me. This, naturally, is followed by a further charge for postage and duty.

Despite the problems, I still get a huge amount of fun putting my collection together. I've resigned myself to the fact that unless I win the lottery, I'll never completely fill my want list. For someone like me, who jumped straight from the days when cards had little of no value into the current market driven hobby, while missing out on all the intermediate years, it's very tough to contemplate splashing out an inordinate amount of money on a piece of cardboard. I do, however, have a gut feeling that one day I will pay the $50 or so needed to secure a mint 1970 Al Kaline, but I can't by any stretch of the imagination see that becoming a regular occurrence. 

As far as today's hobby goes, I still get more fun pulling common Tigers from new packs than I do from getting Griffeys, Thomases, or Ripkens. And if any of you kids out there think that I'm a sad individual for doing so, then you're missing the whole point!

Wish I'd kept those Mantles, though.......

Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 4, Dec 2000

It's A Challenge

By Mark Atnip

I am not much for those newfangled sets that came out after about 1919, however every now and then I run across a set or two that I really enjoy working on. The best card set made since Topps did away with high numbers, has to be the 1976 SSPC set. Reminiscent of the 53 Bowman Color set; these cards are simply pictures with a white border. No names, positions, teams or autographs clutter the front.

The first 586 cards in the set are divided by team designation, with the teams averaging around 25 players. Beginning with card #587, the set turns into a hodgepodge of cards. Some picture multiple players, some picture coaches and a few show minor leaguers.

Aside from the clean, stylish design, there are three reasons why you should consider attempting the SSPC set.

First, it provides a true challenge. The SSPC set was produced in limited numbers because SSPC failed to get licensed before producing the set, they were influenced to stop production to avoid either paying for the license or to avoid legal action, depending on which story you read. Because of this limited printing run, two interesting things resulted. First of all, many collectors donít look at this "renegade" effort as being a legitimate set, and second, completing this set is going to be a challenge. They simply arenít common, and locating a specific card can be more challenging than filling in those 71 high numbers. 

The second reason for collecting this set is that it contains cards that are both unique and in my opinion, underrated. Where else are you going to find a card picturing Duke Snider in an Expos uniform? The card picturing the Dodgers coaches shows them Erskine and Branca conspicuously wearing Brooklyn caps as opposed to LA caps. It also shows one of the true rare events in baseball. Dick Allen smiling to a member of the media. 

It is my opinion that the 76 SSPC set bridges the era of the 50ís and the 80ís. Most of the photos remind me of the photos on the front of 55 or 56 Topps cards. One would simply have to remove the background and replace it with a tiny action shot of the player and the transition would be almost complete. It also pictures the stars of the 50ís and 60ís in the twilight of their careers while putting the new talent of the mid 70s on display. 

To truly appreciate the uniqueness of this set, it needs to be in a binder where either 9 or 18 playersí cards can be displayed at once. Because of the way cards are numbered, you can have an entire page of players from the same team wearing the same uniform. It gives on the feeling of looking through a teamís 1976 yearbook, and like a yearbook, turning the pages tells a story. If you have a set and you put it in a binder, you will find the following treasures.

Pages 4 and 5 open to face each other. These pages display the essence of the mid 70ís. Seaver, Bench, Concepcion, Morgan, Perez, Griffey, Rose and Foster, in that order.

Page 6 introduces us to those hideous Astros uniforms of 75.

Page 19 contains the essence of this set at a bridge between two eras.Card 167 pictures George Brett. He looks like a carburetor repairman with a bat. His hat is wrinkled and dirty and it sits atop a sour looking youngster with a dirty uniform and an unshaven face that looks as if he has been diving for grounders in the hole for the last 3 hours. Card 168, which is obviously right next to it, pictures a massive silver haired man, clean-shaven, clean uniform, and with a gaze that belongs to a baseball god. His bat is propped on his shoulder like a publicity shot from the 60ís and the focus of his stare is about 510 feet away into the center field bleachers. I donít know of another card that pictures Killebrew in a Royals uniform, but if you need a reason to start this set, this is it. This card, like so many others in the 76 SSPC set, doesnít really tell a story, as much as it challenges you to make one up yourself. 

Perhaps it is the fact that he is not staring right at the camera like 99% of the other players pictured, or maybe itís the way he is looking off into the distance with an "I can hit it there" sort of gaze. Patek is on the next row. He is also looking off into the distance but he has that "I hit it over the shortstop" sort of look, and Cookie Rojas has the look of an eighth grader that was just asked to solve a word problem in math class. The look just isnít the same. 

Card 351 pictures Duke Snider with a perplexed look on his face, perhaps contemplating what the heck baseball is doing in Montreal.

There is just something different about the SSPC set. Dick Allen with a big grin on his face, Bill Lee as the only member of the BoSox wearing a flannel uniform instead of the new knit uni, Dave laroche with his hat on sideways, Joe Hoernerís granny hat, apparently ready to do some gardening, and lots of pitchers with bats in their hands. Combine that with the fact that most of the guys look like they were having a good day when the photographer came to take their picture, almost like it was a privilege to play. Those things, as well as countless other sub stories combine to make the 76 SSPC set a lot of fun.It is the type of fun that baseball in the 70ís was supposed to be. Not the strikes or the labor problems, but guys being themselves. Sometimes relaxed, sometimes cutting up, and occasionally godlike. It will be tough to complete, but it will certainly be worth it.

BONUS

The 1976 SSPC Game

Supplies 

Complete set of 1976 SSPC cards in binder pages.

Rules

2 or more can play. 

Get in a circle and choose who goes first.

Open the binder to the first page.

The first person should name one of the players on the page If he is correct he receives a point. If he can name a verifiable fact about that player, he gets another point.

After receiving either 1 or 2 points, the person to his left should attempt to identify another of the 9 players and if possible a fact about them. This continues until someone is unable to identify a player on the page or until someone identifies one incorrectly.At that point the round is over. The player that began round 1 should then pass the book to the player to his left. That person should turn the page and he gets the first chance at identifying someone on the new page. The game then continues for up to 65 rounds (since that is how many binder pages it takes to hold SSPC set.) Player with the highest point total wins. 

A Brief History Of O-Pee-Chee

By Grant Rainsley

O-Pee-Chee, also known as OPC, is today more or less regarded as the Canadian equivalent of Topps. The history of this gum and trading card producing company is quite different, and pre-dates Topps by many years. The company is based in London, Ontario, not too far from Toronto.

OPCís first venture into the trading card market was in 1933, when they produced a set of hockey cards which have been catalogued V304A and B. These sets included stars such as Eddie Shore and Howie Morenz, and have a book value of around $15,000. Other hockey sets were produced until 1940.

In 1937 OPC produced their first baseball set (V300), which were numbered 101 through 140, and resembled a cross between 1934 Goudeys and Batter-Ups. Only American League players were featured, including Joe Dimaggio, which has a book value of $4,500. Was there supposed to be a National League set to follow? It was never produced.

OPC occasionally stayed in the game, issuing sets similar to Topps such as the 1960 Baseball Tattoos, but no cards. The tattoos were exactly the same as Topps with the exception of the wrapper showing the place of issue as London, Canada, and "printed in Canada".

A return was made to baseball trading cards in 1965. Card fronts were identical to Topps, but they were printed on slightly different stock. This set paralleled cards #1- 283 of the Topps issue, and "Printed in Canada" appeared on the bottom of the back of the cards. Following years were similar- 1966 had #1-196, "Ptd. In Canada", 1967 had #1-196, "Printed in Canada". For those of you who may have completed your Topps runs of these years, it is quite easy for an OPC to make it into the binder, as these cards are so similar. It is estimated that OPC cards from these early years were produced in a ratio of between 1% and 5% of Topps cards. If anyone is looking for a challenge, try starting a set from scratch in Ex condition or better. Best of luck!

In 1970, OPC cards became bilingual, and card backs were in English and French. This was a legal requirement, as federal legislation demanded that items produced in Canada carry both languages. This applied to other items such as cereal boxes, etc. The 1971 OPC set had a radically different card back (yellow), and also featured 14 different card photos that werenít in the Topps set. The 1972 issue featured a card of Gil Hodges, noting his death, which was not part of the Topps set. In 1974, the OPC issue did not have the "Washington" variations, as it was a later print run than Topps.

The year 1977 seemed to bring a radical change in "Canadian content". Almost 1/3 of the set had different poses than their Topps counterparts, although the card format remained much the same. These took the form of airbrush work, different cropping of photos, etc. In the late Ď70ís, while many of the card fronts appeared similar, many of the OPC issues featured "traded" information, with a line across saying "Now with Dodgers". This again was due to the lateness of the print run, which allowed for an update of the players status.

Through these years, OPC was also busy producing hockey and Canadian Football League cards. They had re-entered the hockey market in 1968, competing with Topps, and also actively entered the "insert" market with posters and stickers. Topps produced the majority of CFL issues between 1958 and 1965. OPC entered the CFL market in 1968.

OPC is still strong in the baseball and hockey market today, and has made the odd venture into non-sports cards.


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