Saturday, February 16, 2019

Joe Henry!

Further to the uncut sheet of pre-Bazooka Joe comics I dissected back at the end of January, I've taken a look at another sheet, this time the one that launched the familiar kid with the eyepatch and his gang, and found some surprises.

The sheet in question is a large one:


I usually try to trim the scans I, um, appropriate here down but the yardstick is a useful, well yardstick, in this one so I've left it.  It's so large I can't get good resolution here without making it too massive to see on a single screen  but using my traditional array method, from the first full row down there are 12 different rows, A through L as I call them.  Likewise, going across the top there are 7 columns, 1-7 (clever, no?).

The first thing that jumps out is the column (#7) of Henry comics. According to BFF o'the Archive Jeff Shepherd, this is the first concrete evidence Topps printed the Henry strips, although it's been surmised for decades.  So that's some interesting news that I will return to momentarily.

The second thing that we can see is that two columns are repeats.  Unlike the pre-Bazooka Joe sheet, which did not repeat any of its 7 columns, Topps has changed the mix here. Columns 1 and 2 are repeated as columns 5 and 6 while Henry of course, stands on his own.  This makes sense as there are 48 different comics in the original Bazooka Joe series: 40 "traditional" and 8 of the "intro" single panels featuring the main characters in the "Gang".

Henry though is vexing me. The examples on this sheet all have a 1953 copyright and, obviously, no premium offers or anything else at all is displayed.  Odd but a known fact.



I own three Henry comics.  A larger one with a 1953 copyright and a smaller one from the same year. These measure, respectively, 4 1/4" x 3 and 3 3/4" x 2 3/4".  The third is a small example with a 1954 copyright. Based upon the yardstick measurements above I believe these to be the larger sized comics.

This is not anything of note really as the smaller size is probably just due to different packaging configurations.  What is of note though, is that my large Henry does not match one of the 12 examples on this uncut sheet.  My small one is no match either.  I have to surmise then, that a "B" sheet exists that duplicates columns 3 & 4 above and has a different dozen Henry comics along one edge. Then when you think it all works out, you have to consider the 1954 Henry's! They must have been printed after these, meaning Topps was hedging their bets on Bazooka Joe, which had three distinct series issued in 1954. This sheet has the first and all the premium offers expire on June 20, 1955.  These were printed and packaged sometime between April and August of 1954

Whew!  Well I clearly need to do more research on these comics.  In the meantime, just enjoy a handful below, preferably with a big wad of Bazooka! Do note, however, the black barred rows (Save Bazooka Comics for Free Prizes) while not contiguous across each row, appear every third row, just like the Double Feature Comics that were so prominent on the pre-Bazooka Joe sheet!



Saturday, February 9, 2019

A Photograph, A Memory

Further to last week's post featuring invitations and other ephemera from some 1960's Topps Rookie Banquets, today we have some snapshots taken, presumably, by Paul Dolembo.  These photos look like they were taken behind the scenes and after the banquet ended as several players are seen holding their rookie award trophies.  There's a half dozen in all and I'll kick it off with a guy who didn't win a rookie award, namely Alva (Al) Cicotte, who was the 1960 Minor League Player of the year at age 30 following a stellar season with the Toronto Blue Jays.  Check out the trophy he got, it is MASSIVE:


If his last name seems familiar, Alva was the great-nephew of Ed Cicotte, permanently banned by MLB in 1920 as one of the Black Sox and arguably on track for eventual Hall of Fame enshrinement. Alva did not have the talent of his grand uncle unfortunately and his biggest claim to fame may have been being traded to the Cardinals for Leon Wagner (who went to the Angels then in the AL expansion draft) a couple of weeks prior to the banquet. Cicotte, would end up having his contract sold to the fledgling Houston franchise about a year after he received this award and became an original Colt 45. According to SABR, he signed with the Detroit Tigers for the final week of the 1977 season in order to qualify for his major league pension.


Next we see Cicotte flanked by Tony Curry of the Phillies and Julian Javier of the Cardinals, both rookie award winners in the outfield and second base, respectively.


Javier makes another appearance, this time with Dick Stigman, the left-handed pitcher rookie award winner from the Indians.  Check out Javier perusing the 1960 program, which looks like so:


Stigman again, with Chuck Estrada to the far right.  I whiffed on ID'ing the fellow in the middle as he didn't match up with the notation on the back of the photo ("Jim Gentile?") but Keith Olbermann was able to figure out it was Marv Breeding, a second baseman with the Orioles, being flanked. Breeding's rookie season with the O's in '60 was pretty good and looks to have been superior but Javier got the nod at 2B. Breeding was a whiz with the leather from what I can find.


Ron Hansen, the rookie award selection with the Orioles at shortstop, relaxes with Breeding:


Think about how good the O's farm system was.  They had three guys make the all rookie team in 1960 and yet all were gone when the "Baby Birds" won the 1966 World Series with yet another crop of youngsters!

Closing things out, MC Joe Garagiola gets a laugh out of Tony Curry and his Phillies teammate Jimmie Coker, the rookie award catcher for 1960.


Unfortunately, there are no shots of the other rookie award winners for the year: the aforementioned Jim Gentile (1B, Orioles), Ron Santo (3B, Cubs--HOF 2012), Frank Howard (OF, Dodgers, or Tommy Davis (OF, Dodgers). All-in-all, the 1960 winners were pretty representative of the rookie teams over the years.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Fall Invitational

Last fall I managed to BIN a nice lot of Topps Rookie Banquet related ephemera on eBay. I've finally gotten around to scanning the items and this week will show some of the non-photographic items (as I'm still working on player ID's).

I'll start with my favorite item:


I believe Sy Berger typed this letter himself-there's no secretarial initials, a load of personal detail, a host of typos and when I googled the recipient it revealed he worked in the Auto Industry (not audio). Even if he didn't, it's a pretty neat item. It seems this little trove was Mr. Dolembo's-Sy must have invited friends as he was the guy spearheading the whole thing.

There were three Rookie Banquet invitations.  I believe these all came in the envelope for 1960's bash:



The reverse is supposed to be blank but someone noted the address of the Rookie Team Committee:


I don't think that's where Major League Baseball was headquartered, it's probably the office of one of the committee members, which counted 17 members, including Jackie Robinson!

Here's an RSVP card and envelope, note the address, which looks to have been constant since this is from 1964:





The invitations did not really change all that much, did they?  I'll spare you the 1965 version as it's almost identical.

Finally, here's a business card for Sy. I believe it's from 1960 as the Blony logo was featured on the program that year.  Not sure who wrote "Wood Gelman" but I don't think it was Sy (or Woody).


The lot I won was part of a larger archive previously auctioned by REA in 2011.  Next week, I'll share the half dozen snapshots that came in it.