Thursday, September 21, 2017

1979 TCMA Stars of the 50s

This 291 (293 with variations) card set is one of two large sets produced by TCMA in the late 70s following the lawsuit by Topps arising from the SSPC set of 1975/76. That action effectively killed TCMA's efforts at using current players and pushed them towards making sets of retired major leaguers and a myriad of minor league sets. 

Actually TCMA produced dozens of sets around that time and later but this one, 'Stars of the Fifties' and it's companion, 'Stars of the Sixties' are by far the biggest. I picked up both of them recently. They are a lot of fun and I'm really looking forward to putting them in pages. The quality of the photos varies greatly but you can't help but appreciate the simple beauty of them. 

I've scanned a bunch and will post these few and some random thoughts.

Every card in the set features a posed photo. The Ted Kluszewski card is typical. there are lots of spring training shots sprinkled throughout the set. Big Klu's card is one of the better ones, bright and clear.

I don't recall seeing a card with a pic of a player tying his shoe as Robin Roberts is doing here. You wonder if the photographer just happened to come upon him down on one knee, called his name and took the picture or had him pose like this.

Elston Howard is a fake catching pose somewhere in Florida. Probably Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg. i need to get a dupe of this so I'll have one in my ever expanding Ellie Howard PC.

Some of the cards suffer from photos that seemed to be over-exposed. They are a bit washed out in appearance. Ernie Banks' card is one of those.

Bob Purkey wearing the ultimate spring training attire, a rubber windbreaker style jacket under a jersey.  Sweating off those winter pounds.

Harvey Haddix isn't looking sad because he lost a perfect game in the 13th. He's looking sad because he ALWAYS looked sad. 

Alvin Dark of the Giants. If you're getting the feeling that there are a lot of NY area players in this set you're not alone. I'll have to do a tally once I page this thing. It's a neat card isn't it?

Roberto Clemente....he always looks so damn regal doesn't he? Willie Mays is probably the best all-around player I've ever seen but I could make a pretty good case for Clemente as well.

This Billy Pierce shot has been used on at least a half dozen other oddballs. And usually it's much clearer.

In contrast to the Pierce card Sam Jethroe's card is cardboard art. 

Snider, Hodges, Campy, Furillo grace one of the few group photos. The other one I saw while flipping through the box was one of Dodger pitchers.

The Original Frank Thomas wearing a flocked Pirates helmet. MLB had brought back the matte finish helmets, can the flocked ones be far behind?

Even as a young player Spahnnie had that 'Spahn look'!

Roy Campanella looks like a high school kid here. I had to flip the card over to be sure it was him.

Willie's card is among the top five or so in the set as far as I'm concerned. Nice to see a photo that isn't overused. This reminds me of the pics in the old Sport magazines of the day.

Don Hoak in a classic baseball pose from the 50s. What a great card!

Leo Durocher hitting infield. I wonder how many infield grounders he hit during his lifetime?

Stan Lopata. Yes, he always crouched like that. He didn't always wear the shades but he did for this shot.

Sal Maglie. From 1950 thru 1952 he went 59-18 for the Giants with 46 complete games in 83 starts. He had a WHIP of 1.21 and an ERA of 2.83 That's impressive stuff. He's also one of the few guys who played for the three old school New York teams. He's also the answer to a tough trivia question: "Who was the losing pitcher in Don Larson's perfect game World Series win?"

Jimmy Piersall won two Gold Gloves. That's impressive given the quality of the outfielders during his time. Neat card, too.

Al Kaline, native son of Baltimore, looking about 18 here. That's Yankee Stadium.

Figured I'd throw out a peek at a card back. Vitals, blurb, lifetime stats.

Vic Power. One of the great names in the game during the 50s/60s.

Hal Smith  this is the Hal Smith who began his career with the Orioles and went on to play with the A's, Pirates, Colt 45s and Reds. It was his three run dinger in the bottom of the eighth of the 7th game of the 1960 Series that gave the Pirates a short-lived lead. An inning later Maz broke that tie and Hal Smith got a ring.

Walt Dropo had a rookie year to remember. It was 1950 and he made his only All Star tean, hit a career high 34 homers and drove in a league leading 144 runs. Yup, he was ROY.

Roger Maris. maybe it's just me but I can't remember a bunch of really cool Topps Maris cards. I like the 1961 MVP card for sure. This card of him as an Athletic is pretty sweet.

All in all it's really a fun set even with it's flaws. I received a box with what I hope is the 'Best of the Sixties' version yesterday. Can't wait to get a chance to dig into that one, too.


  1. I had a few of these when I was younger, but I didn't care much for them because the ones I had were guys I didn't know, plus they weren't what I considered "real" baseball cards. Now I love sets like these. Great acquisition!

  2. I've always loved all these '70s TCMA sets and one day I will try to complete them (just so many card priorities!) Maybe I'll just get a box like you did.

  3. I must have seen 15 cards in this post that made me say “I gotta find a copy of that one!”. Great set!

  4. I haven't seen these before - they're amazing!

  5. Some thoughts too:

    - Ted Kluszewski: those sleeveless shirts are weird! Was that a thing back then!? I've never seen uniforms like that before...
    - Robin Roberts was really tying his shoes when the photo was taken!? Awesome!
    - Never could understand how players can do that pose like Billy Pierce and still get the ball to the strike zone...
    - Spahnnie is like the kid next door that is just happy to be playing 5mins or less just for the game!
    - That pose Roy Campanella is in remembers of my karate classes lol
    - Don Hoak's card is simply...sorry cannot find an english word great enough to express how I like that card!
    - Stan Lopata... LOL that is style!

    1. LOL...those are some funny obsevations, Ana. Campy does look like he's making a Karate movement. That hadn't occured to me. As for Big Klu's shirts...well it was a 'Klu thing'. Check out the 1957 Topps card!

  6. I've been so good about watching my hobby budget the past month or so... but I'm tempted to head over to eBay and see if there's an affordable set. That Hoak is fantastic! Must show restraint and believe in my self-control.

  7. I have 3 complete sets of these in great condition I'm looking to sell for the right price...make offer at