1987-88 O-Pee-Chee Mini #24 — Mike Liut

1987-88 OPC Mini Liut1The aspect of collecting I like best is finding cards I’ve never seen before, especially when they’re something old. This is why the last three posts have been on footballer and cricket cards from the sixties and seventies; even though I know very little, if anything, about the players on the cards, they’re new and exciting to me while still being vintage. I think this is why I don’t like vintage baseball as much as hockey. I’ve seen all the sets and designs a hundred times before.

I recently bought the 1987-88 O-Pee-Chee Mini set and while I had seen most dozens of times on other blogs and around the internet I came across this Mike Liut card which I had not. I’m surprised I hadn’t because 1. it’s of a Whaler and. 2., it’s Mike Liut. I would say his cards are featured rather prominently on many blogs due to his terrifying, horror film-esque masks. (Some day, I’m going to do a post on all of Liut’s OPC cards because he looks like such a badass in every one.) Somehow, this one slipped through the cracks until I was thumbing through the set, giving me one of those “Ah!” moments that become fewer and farther between the more and more we collect.

I like the fuzzy white borders on this set, it adds a literal haze of nostalgia to the cards. Plus, it really works well with the white of the Whalers sweater here. I like the font, too. The whole thing looks a little like the Scanlens Cricket cards from earlier in the week.

1987-88 OPC Mini Liut2

1965 Scanlens Cricket

1965 Scanlens Cricket Bill LawryWhile doing research earlier on the previously mentioned A&BC/Topps Footballer cards I stumbled upon information on the Australian trading card company Scanlens. Apparently, they had an agreement with Topps to provide artwork for their Victorian Football League (that’s Australian Rules Football to me and you) cards to be sold in Australia and New Zealand from the sixties to the early-eighties. But more on that another day. Further and further down the rabbit hole I went, eventually landing on an ebay auction for a 40 card set of cricket cards they produced back in 1965. Unfortunately, the auction is a bit pricey–pushing $2,000. If you think vintage Topps Baseball and O-Pee-Chee Hockey is expensive, take a lot at what old Scanlens cards are going for. Nevertheless, the seller had the whole set neatly organized and scanned so, in the interest of posterity and knowing how ephemeral ebay auction photos tend to be, I saved them and uploaded virtually the entire set for your viewing pleasure.

Like most Americans, I know nothing about cricket but all I can say is about these cards is wow. The photography is fantastic, a nice mix of (staged) action shots and portraits where the athletes are in a shirt in tie.

1965 Scanlens Cricket A1The design is very minimal; they remind me of old Polaroids. The font seems to be some variation of Futura and give the set a real Wes Anderson feel. Come to think of it, these cards are very Anderson-esque: an obscure posh sport, check; vintage and formal clothes, check; interesting insignia, check; ties and tweed jackets, check. All that’s missing is the sixities folk and garage rock soundtrack.

1965 Scanlens Cricket B1Two Bobs, a Graeme, and a Graham all on one page. For some reason, all these names seem fake to me, like characters from an old, British novel. Or fictitious golfers.

1965 Scanlens Cricket C1The green grass, white jerseys, and red logo all go really well together. A+ for overall composition.

1965 Scanlens Cricket D1Similarly, Garfield Sobers and Basil Butcher are two of the greatest names I’ve ever heard. Some great sweaters here as well. And Doug Walters’s photo is just perfect.

Lastly, the backs. They’re bright and garish and feature a comic/trivia, how very O-Pee-Chee.

1965 Scanlens Cricket A2

 

1980-81 Topps Footballer Super

80 Topps Footballer1I’m actually not even sure of the name of this set, it’s not even listed on Nigel’s Webspace but perhaps a reader will be able to help. Produced in 1980, I’ve seen it listed as “Super” (like the American Football and Hockey releases of the same year), “Spotlights” (which appears on the top of the backs), and the title of the auction on ebay referred to them as “Topps Soccer Football Large”.

There’s 30 cards in the set and they’re oversized, measuring 5″x7″. The fronts are glossy and they feature (then) First Division players though many, such as Osvaldo over here, are dressed in their national team’s jersey, particularly the English players. Though the fronts are identical to the American Football and Hockey’s, the backs are completely different, listing everything from their club to their height, favorite food, and actress.

Here are a few others:

It’s really a shame that Topps never produced a NASL set for release here in the States and Canada. Imagine this design, or the one in the previous post, featuring Pele and Franz Beckenbauer in New York Cosmos jerseys or Johan Cruyff as a Washington Diplomat.

scan2

1977-78 Topps Footballers

77 Topps Footballers TudorTopps produced soccer cards under the name “Footballer” from 1975-1981 consisting of players from England’s First and Second Division which are now, essentially, the Premier League and the Championship. According to the great Topps Archive, Topps had partnered with A&BC in the late-fifties/early-sixties to release sets under their name before they became Topps UK in 1975. So for you Toppsophiles, they essentially put out soccer sets from 1959-1981. Often, they borrowed designs from baseball sets, such as in 1960 and 1963. I actually had no idea Topps did these Footballer sets until a few months ago when I saw a post on Diamond Cuts and Wax Stains featuring one from the 1975-76 set which, again, borrows its design from a baseball set. Plenty of more information on all these sets over at Nigel’s Webspace.

I was at a card show a couple of weeks ago and found a lot of 13 of these from the 1977-78 set. After a little haggling, I left with all of them for an even $5. Most have soft corners and a few appear to have eraser marks like the Tudor card above. I would love to complete the set even though I know virtually nothing about seventies English soccer but the cards are hard to come by in the States so I’m filing it away under “unreasonable”  and “wishful thinking” for now.

Here are some of the highlights:

I knew nothing about any of these players before this post. Selections were purely based on aesthetics. Love those Queens Park Rangers jerseys.

I’ll (hopefully) have another soccer related post tomorrow. But for now, enjoy the back of John Tudor’s card, which does a great job at epitomizing an American’s strange perception of English soccer.

77 Topps Footballers Tudor2

1976-77 O-Pee-Chee #37 — Wilf Paiement

76-77 OPC Paiement1Not one, but two, defunct teams here. Perhaps the only team to challenge the Cleveland Barons in terms of obscurity in professional American sports, the Kansas City Scouts lasted only two seasons, winning a total of 27 games. They were originally going to be called the Mohawks but the Blackhawks protested for obvious reasons and the franchise settled on Scouts instead.

After a poor inaugural season, the Scouts flirted with a playoff spot for the first three months of the 1975-76 seasons before 1-35-8 in their final 44 games before moving to Colorado and becoming the original Rockies and, eventually, the New Jersey Devils. The Scouts had busy looking uniforms with their red, blue, white, and yellow color scheme–look at those gloves!–and this card does a great job of showing off their sweater and logo.

Wilf Paiement was the team’s first draft pick, going second overall in the 1974 draft. He scored 40 goals twice and had a 39 goal season in the mid-eighties. He is also one of only two players not named Gretzky to wear number 99, doing so while with the Maple Leafs.

76-77 Paiement2

1976-77 O-Pee-Chee WHA #64 — Vaclav Nedomansky

76-77 OPC WHA NedomanskyWhile picking up the Lacroix card in a dollar bin from the previous post, I also found 4/6 of the Gordie Howe puzzle on the backs of the Canadian All-Stars. Why Hull, a Canadian All-Star, is on the back of the Americans and Howe, a Canadian (playing for the Houston Aeros) an American All-Star on the backs of the Canadians, I know not.

Here’s Vaclav Nedomansky. He’s wearing a Birmingham Bulls jersey and the card features the Bulls logo but still lists the team as the Toronto Toros because it’s O-Pee-Chee and the seventies. Nedomansky is famous for being the first hockey player to defect to North America, coming from Czechoslovakia which was under Soviet rule. He paved the way for others like Stastny, Bure, Federov, and Mogilny. This wasn’t easy to do: he was unable to return home until after the fall of the Eastern Bloc in the late eighties. Nedomansky put up some pretty good numbers in the WHA first and the NHL after, scoring 38 and 35 goals with the Red Wings when he was 35 and 36. He scored over 800 goals during his twenty year career in the Czechoslovakian league, WHA, and NHL.

On the backs, we have Gordie in an one of those underrated Aeros sweaters:

76-77 OPC WHA Howe Puzzle

Edit: I found a photo of an uncut sheet with both puzzles totally intact.

1976-77 O-Pee-Chee WHA #70 — Andre Lacroix

76-77 OPC WHA LacroixGoing through a dollar bin at a show this past weekend I was able to add to the Bobby Hull puzzle on the back of the 1976-77 O-Pee-Chee WHA American All-Stars subset. Lacroix is, surprisingly, the WHA’s all-time leading scorer by over a hundred points which is not bad considering Hull and Howe, albeit aging, played each season the league was in existence. Lacroix bounced around the WHA playing a year with the Blazers in Philadelphia before joining the New York Golden Blades as they became the Jersey Knights. The team was then purchased by Ray Croc of McDonald’s and San Diego Padres fame. He then played a year in Houston and another  in New England, staying with the team for their inaugural season in 1979. This is not a good looking card. I’ve never been a fan of studio shots, particularly head shots. No offense to Lacroix, but he’s not exactly a model and he’s sort of got a cyborg thing going with his eyes. But that’s not the reason why I bought this card or I’m making this post: it’s Bobby Hull’s noggin on the back.

1976-77 OPC WHA Hull Puzzle2All that’s left is the Bobby Hull card itself which I doubt I’ll find in a dollar bin. Next up: the Gordie Howe puzzle from the backs of the Canadian All-Stars.