The Brief and Frightening Reign of the Cleveland Barons, Pt. 4

77-78 Greg Smith1I’ve been working on this project, of scanning and posting each Cleveland Barons card from the 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee set, since about the start of this blog over a year ago. Aside from the single card or two, the 1977-78 set is the only one to feature players in a Barons sweater, so I thought it’d be an interesting idea to post all of them in one place. Unfortunately, I used up all the historical anecdotes about the franchise (and all my jokes about the city of Cleveland) in the first few posts so the project stalled. But I’m recommitting to it, so if you like, you can follow it by using the tag “Barons“.

Greg Smith was drafted by the Seals and moved to Cleveland along with the franchise in 1976. He played with the Barons for both their seasons. His rights were protected when the club merged with the North Stars and the extra players were dispersed in a draft. He stayed in Minnesota for three seasons and remained in the NHL until 1988, being one of the last remaining Barons (and Seals) to retire. Dennis Maruk is the answer to that trivia question–having lasted one more year. More on him another time.

77-78 Greg Smith2

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Double Takes

A recent post over at Diamond Cuts and Wax Stains on Nick Beverley got me thinking about reusing photos/very similar shots for multiple sets, particularly back-to-back years by the same company. O-Pee-Chee seems to have done this on a fairly regular basis during their first run. I can think of a couple off the top of my head, outlined below, but I’m sure there are many others.

1971-72 and 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee Gilles Marotte

First up, a couple of early seventies cards of Gilles Marotte. I honestly can’t tell if they’re the same picture or just from the same photo shoot, I keep on going back and forth with the verdict in my mind. Marotte was a very good player that made a couple of all-star teams but he’ll probably be best known as part of the worst trades in NHL history being swapped in a package by the Bruins for Ken Hodge, Fred Stanfield, and some guy named Esposito. Two quick asides: 1. Marotte is a letterman jacket away from being one of Bif Tannen’s cronies, and, 2. Why the Kings don’t use this as their primary logo I’ll never know.

1976-77 and 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee Dan Maloney

I’m almost certain I’ve seen these two Maloney cards together before somewhere on the web but I can’t remember where. O-Pee-Chee also seems to be cribbing their own design here, just sliding the team name and logo to the bottom of the card. Also, what is it with the 1977-78 set that makes so many cards look airbrushed? That is, on top of the ones that actually are.

1990-91 and 1991-1992 O-Pee-Chee

Not the same photo, but as close as you can get. I wonder if these were both taken during the same game at the opposite ends of the ice. It’s like those what’s the difference? puzzles that were in Highlights magazine and every touch screen bar game where you need to circle the differences in two photos. (Speaking of Highlights, Upper Deck should totally do Goofus and Gallant cards that feature cheap shot artists like Matt Cooke and Lady Byng winners and put them as an SSP inserts set in O-Pee-Chee next year.)

1991-92 Bobby Orr BayBank

91-92 Baybank Orr1My friend gave me these a few years ago, before I got back into collecting and I filed them away in a box and kind of forgot about them until now. Back in the eighties and early-nineties Bobby Orr was the spokesperson for BayBank–a local chain of banks that merged with Bank of Boston to become BankBoston, which were then bought out by Fleet, which were then bought out by Bank of America. There’s three cards and an 8×10 and they were given away at bank locations and Bruins games. I only have the first two, in fact, I didn’t even know there was a third until I started doing research for this post. In a bit of irony, these cards feature BayBank’s blue and green colors which were also the colors of the Whalers who, if you grew up in central Massachusetts, competed for your loyalty. (I grew up closer to Hartford than Boston.) But I’m not going to turn this into another Hartford Whalers post. I promise. The juxtaposition of these black and gold photos from the seventies with the blue and green borders and BayBank’s logo that screams I’m-from-the-eighties is jarring.

The second card inverts everything. The colors are swapped, Orr’s name goes to the bottom and the company’s name shoots to the top. I think I like this one better though, I like the angle up against the boards, how little tape is on his stick.

Not surprisingly,  BayBank chose to omit Orr’s stats from the two seasons he played in Chicago on the back. I like the simplicity of the backs and how they (mostly) show his career stats. The third card in the set is the best but I don’t have it: Orr is digging the puck out along the boards with Bobby Clarke and his mop right behind. In 1995, BabyBank produced another card, both a standard and oversized version.

91-92 Baybank Orr1 back

1976 Scanlens VFL #120 — Graham Melrose

1976 Scanlens VFL MelroseInternational cards continue to fascinate me. I’ve won a few auctions on ebay and plan to post about various cards and sets as they trickle in from around the world.

The Australian card company Scanlens–which I wrote about a couple posts ago–produced cricket, VFL, rugby, and non-sports cards back in the sixties and seventies. As I also mentioned, most of these featured designs they licensed from Topps. However, some, such as the 1976 set to the right, seem to have an original look. Graham plays for the North Melbourne Kangaroos, one of the oldest teams in the then VFL, now AFL. (After the league expanded out of Victoria in the early-nineties, they changed the name to the Australian Football League. Great team name, great colors.) Although an uninspired (to say the least) photo I do appreciate the backdrop and the old Adidas soccer cleats. And, if I’m not mistaken, this is Melrose’s rookie card. Nevertheless, he helped the Kangaroos reach the Grand Final in 1975 where they lost to Hawthorn.

I don’t know much else about Australian Rules Football. When I was growing up, NESN used to show Australian Rules Football games during the morning after SportsDesk, their version of SportsCenter. I remember having no clue how the game was played and laughing at their umpires (refs?) because they alway wore white sport coats and white fedoras but I can’t find any evidence on the internet so maybe I’m making this up? A false memory?

Oh yeah, and the back of the card is blank.

1976 Scanlens VFL Melrose2