Saturday, July 25, 2015


I thought I would take another look at the 1961 Magic Rub Offs Set today. Inserted in one or two of the middle series cards in '61, this humorous set keys in on nicknames, with a player from each of the then 18 MLB teams represented along with a fanciful team logo that stuck with the theme.

Since it's not a well documented set, as well as one where the images are reversed on the original inserts, I thought a visual checklist would be in order, with each subject mirrored to make life easier for all of us.  And now, without further ado...

The Orioles logo shows the good and bad of the set.  The artwork is pretty good to great, with a lot of subjects illustrated (I'm sure) by Jack Davis. Unfortunately roller marks from wax pack sealing mar the images on many of these and browning, curling, miscuts and misalignment of colors all conspire against these fragile pieces of paper.

I never knew "Bingo" was one of Ernie Banks' nicknames until I researched it while preparing this post. According to this old Ebony article, it gave way to the much more well known "Mr. Cub". "Bingo" may actually be a corruption of "Bango", which makes more sense given the pop in his bat and what was once a double play call for the Cubbies by their announcer Bert Wilson: "Bingo to Bango to Bilko" (Gene Baker and Steve Bilko filling out the trio), although the only season all three were together was 1954.  I guess Double Play combo nicknames were always a thing on the North Side. Fun Fact, Phil Silvers' character Sgt. Bilko was named after "Stout Steve". 

No comment necessary about ol' Yogi. The bed of nails is a nice touch!

Man, he smoked that one!

Jackie Brandt's nickname was actually "Flakey" and he was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska which is about 500 miles from the Ozarks. I have no idea why Topps dubbed him "Ozark".

The erudite Jim Brosnan was certainly well-monikered. He wrote two well known books about the game, which were well received by the public but not his fellow players.  He was a Cubbie in 1954 so would have seem Bingo-Bango-Bilko up close and personal.

Is it me or does that look more like a wombat?

They were still the Go-Go Sox in 1961, as shown here. To me this is the most "Jack Davis" of all the artwork in the set.

I'm going to go on record and say I have never liked the mustachioed-baseball logo for the Reds (or Red Legs in the post McCarthy era). This version does nothing to change my mind.

What once was a socially acceptable caricature most definitely no longer is.

This might be my favorite team logo in the set. Too bad this insert is so off register.

Dotterer was a backup catcher in the late 50's and early 60's and once caught a baseball dropped from a helicopter hovering feet 585 above Crosley Field and he once hit a grand slam off Sandy Koufax. Fun Fact, his son Mike played for the Oakland Raiders and won a Super Bowl with them in 1984. "Dutch" was once a common nickname for players of German descent, being a corruption of "Deutsch".

Definitely my favorite human image from the set. He's the only manager depicted. 

His resemblance to Harry "The Cat" Brecheen gave Harvey Haddix his nickname. Frankly, that is a frightening human/feline body meld...

Pancho Villa re-imagined as a mediocre infielder.

I'm not sure if this was actually a nickname for Howard but it was likely a shortening of "Tower of Power" if it was. He was also called "Hondo", then picked up "The Washington Monument" and, my personal favorite, "The Capital Punisher", when he played for the Senators.

Two men nicknamed "Sad Sam" Jones have pitched in the majors. The first and more well-known Sad Sam debuted prior to World War 1 and won 229 games over 22 seasons for half a dozen teams. The one pictured above pitched a dozen years for 6 teams and won 102 games.  There is no record of which "Sad Sam" was the saddest.

If I'm not mistaken, that's a pink elephant and he is drunk.

Expansion team gets Topps logo, reminds blogger of Quisp.

The Brooklyn Bum, reborn. I doubt the kids in Brooklyn who got this insert in 1961 were too pleased about seeing this image.

His Wikipedia entry says "Turk" was so nicknamed due to a fondness for turkey.  I ain't buying it, given his Turkish descent.

As far as I'm is concerned, the nickname "Duke" should only be assigned to one Mr. Snider.

I know he played briefly for them, but imagining Billy Martin as a member of the Braves is just impossible for me. Seriously, there's no way this ever happened.

It appears Mr. Maxwell lived (and lives) in Paw Paw Michigan and has done so for quite some time, hence the nickname. He was honored with a monument by the town in 2010.

This logo is just as racist as the one for Cleveland.

The poor color registration makes it seem like there are twin Twins! A pretty neat logo if you ask me. The Twins name was new to the AL, although they had been the Washington Senators until 1961. Washington got an expansion team to replace them, which I'm sure pleased nobody except Calvin Griffith.

Ray Moore, a swingman pitcher for a few teams throughout the 50's and early 60's, actually grew up on a farm. Fun fact, his parents met at an insane asylum.

Like Ray Moore, Moryn debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers and had a fairly unspectacular career, although he showed some pop in the late 50's when he played for the Cubs. His nickname reflected his burly appearance, according to a couple of websites I checked. At 6' 2" and 205 lbs, I can't argue with that.

That resembles a mortician more than a Yankee methinks, but the top-hatted team logo is referenced here on what looks like a Jack Davis drawing.

I'll admit it; I'm scared...yikes!!

Is it me or does that pirate look like the offspring of Alfred E. Neuman and a space alien?

Nicknamed "Honey" by an uncle (no comment) John Romano was a catcher with some pop who was about to embark on his best season in the majors.

Pete Runnels had the given names of James Edward so he was double nicknamed here; oddly enough I can't find any attribution of "Pistol Pete" for him so it was just a convenience for Topps. He sandwiched two AL batting titles around the 1961 season, when he would go on to hit .317 and finish well off the pace in an expansion year.  He was a heckuva fielder too. 

Nice dress.

Probably my second least favorite logo from the set.  I dunno, it's just kind of boring.

I don't know how you feel about it, but this would be more appropriate if he was chasing a dollar sign.

With only two, the Magic Rub Off set has the lowest number of Hall of Famers of any Topps insert set from the classic era.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Non Exacting X-Acto

I was lucky enough to snag two Topps mockups recently, one from a stab at Laverne & Shirley and another from a failed Hardy Boys adventure.

The Laverne & Shirley I obtained has been shown here previously but it's definitely worth showing again:

The mockup was assembled on card stock and measures 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", or standard size. The underlying stock is white and everything else is layered on top.  The sepia toned photo looks like it came from a promotional issue but that blue border is strictly cut and pasted strips of sticker material. That L&S logo probably took some finesse to cut and the text balloon is hand lettered and bordered. Have a closer look at both of these elements:

The lettering was done with reasonable care, although a couple letters look redrawn:

The back shows some residue from what was most likely rubber cement, no doubt once used to affix it to a presentation board:

L&S first aired in January of 1976, so this mockup likely was created in 1975.

The Hardy Boys mockup has a couple of differences but looks similar:

The design resembles Charlie's Angels wrapper art to a degree, check it out:

The Hardy Boys mockup is made up on very thin (possibly sticker) stock and Parker Stevenson overlaps Shaun Cassidy a little. No official logo here, those are paste on letters:

The reverse shows remnants of masking tape:

I believe there was a corresponding Nancy Drew mockup as well. Since the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries first aired in 1977, that's how I would date this mockup as well.

There are, however at least two other Hardy Boys mockups known to exist:

Poor Shaun got cropped a little too tight there-yikes!

There are assuredly some other TV shows that were done up by Topps in this manner.  In addition, rumors of three test issues from the mid 60's means the following shows may have been tested : F Troop, Green Acres and I Dream of Jeannie. These were probably tested as black & white cards but presentation boards started around 1966 so they could be actual mockups (if they exist).

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Wistful, wonderful wallet words today kids! Friend o'the Archive Gary A. has sent along some truly wondrous pictures and has done the nearly impossible-adding a set to the Master Topps List!

A flea market find, this yellow version of the Soupy Sales Wallet, first discussed here, looks to be designed for a girl to use.  The one I found previously looks more like a boys wallet but I'm not 100% certain.  In any event, here is the new one in glorious yellow:

It's a landscape orientation this time, with Soupy doing "The Mouse"! The font is the same as seen on the blue version and the back is similar too, with the reverse of a Soupy Sales card shown, along with the Topps copyright indicia:

The big news though, is what's inside.  These look like two Soupy Sales Topps cards in the clear photo holders:

Here's another view; they packed coin slots and a zippered coin pouch inside, plus some slots for a comb or something similar:

Guess what?  They are not the regular issue cards-these are made of paper and have a red autograph on front, not a blue one like on the cards:

Chris Benjamin's Sport-Americana Price Guide to the Non-Sports Cards No. 4 does mention these paper versions came with wallets but nothing further.

So we have an uncatalogued Topps set of unknown length.  And technically speaking, the wallets are uncatalogued as well.  It would not surprise me if more of these are out there, in different styles and colors. Right now we have blue, yellow and (as noted previously but unseen by me) gray.