Cards That Make Us Think Department: Area 1951.

When 1951 Topps invaded the world of cardboard, who could have predicted the waves of cardtastic happenings that would follow?As for 1951, according to PJD Enterprises,"The thick cardboard cards have rounded corners and were sold in perforated panels of two for 1¢. They have a black-and-white player photograph on a red, white, blue, green, or yellow background. Minimal information about the 1950 season is printed in the lower left quadrant. They were packaged with a piece of caramel candy, which sometimes melted, damaging the card. Red Backs are easier to obtain than Blue Backs." The cards originally came in a box like this (long before "hobby box" was a common phrase in the English language):

This '51 phenomenon was brought to mind because at Christmas, we received this

from GCA (we're fairly certain that stands for Great Card Awesomeness) tucked into a Christmas card that involved cute pictures of a dog. Of course, the dog element was excellent to Lucy, who thinks dogs are the best thing that ever happened on Planet Earth (except possibly for Humphrey the Hamster, but that's whole 'nother story). In addition to the canine, there was taped inside that Zito Effect Baseball Card.

The Zito Effect, as you may know, is the amazing thing that happens when people send us Barry Zito cards: we hardly ever already have it. We have pages and pages of Zito In A Binder, and yet we hardly ever get doubles! This may be relatively common when a player has a bazillion cards, but it's still fun to experience.

This 1951-style card sent by GCA (it's a 2003 Topps) is an especially excellent Zito Effect because BZ is sporting the Zoolander Stare. Here's the back of the Barry version:

We know you inexplicably collect certain cards or players, but do you ever wonder what you would have inexplicably collected if you were eyeing the cardboard in the 1950s? If we were doing this in 1951, we believe that instead of Zito, we'd collect Gus Zernial. Trust me, there are similarities.
Anyway, the 1951 Topps looks vaguely similar to the 1920s Parker Brothers game cards:
And is this a copycat? An eBay seller has this listed as 1968 Topps but we're not familiar with it:

One thing for certain is that the 1951s are popular and it's easy to see why. If you type "1951 Topps" into eBay, you'll see that everything has at least one bid.

By the way:

Signing off from Area 1951 here in New Mexico.


Carl Crawford Cards said...

I'll never understand why the '51 gets no love. OK---b/c it's followed by the '52, but still---it's a great set.

My understanding is that the Mays up there was part of a '68 insert game. Nice little cards.

G_Moses said...

That's a great post. Am I just a little bit juvenile for thinking it's funny this first card has a player named Stanky? Ok. That's juvenile. He probably got teased a lot. And then on top of it he's only wortha a bunt? It's like Topps said, 'ha, take that Stanky, you get a bunt.'

I think with a name like that, they could've given him a single.

night owl said...

If Stanky got teased, it was only one time, because he was an ornery SOB. His nickname was "The Brat."

Mark's Ephemera said...

Nice post. Regarding the 1968 Topps Game cards, they are an actual Topps issue.

The 2009 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards says:

A throwback to the Red and Blue Back set 1951, the 33-cards in the 1968 Topps Game inserted into packs of regular'68 Topps card purchases as a complete boxed set, enable owner to play a game of baseball based on game situations on each card. Also on the 2-1/4" by 3-1/4" cards were a color photograph of a player and his facsimile autograph. One redeeming social value of the set (assuming you're not mesmerized by the game) is that it affords an inexpensive way to get big-name cards as the set is loaded with stars, but not at all popular with collectors.

Mark's Ephemera said...

Here's a link to some ebay auctions for the 1968 Topps Game cards.

Mark's Ephemera said...

And here's a link to the Zistle page for the 1968 Topps Game set.

FenwayFrank said...

I have a very beat-up version of that Willie Mays card. The back of the card doesn't have a copyright date so I'm not sure of the year, but the back is very similar to the other blue backs shown above, except the bats are facing in the opposite direction.

GCA said...

Glad you didn't have that Zito, and that it inspired a cool post!