Saturday, May 18, 2019

Leaf Me Alone

Since sometime last year I've been rather casually gathering some cheap 1960 Leaf singles. I couldn't even explain why. Unlike with the 1961 set, for example, there wasn't one moment I can point to and say 'That's when I decided to collect the set'. It just sort of snuck up on me. No big multi-card lot purchase. No spotting it on someone else's blog and getting instantly smitten. One day I just picked up the stack I had on my desk and counted 35 or 40 of them. I realized then that I was too far gone to turn back. It was like the day long ago that I noticed my coffee table was covered with empty longnecks and Weller bottles. I was hit with the fact that I had a problem.

Much like that problem this new '60 Leaf thing is gonna cost me both time and money. But, unlike bourbon and Lone Star, it's not likely to kill me or land me in jail. This little (144 cards, give or take) set doesn't get much (any?) love from hobbyists. You almost never see it mentioned in publications, featured among auction listings, or displayed in dealers' showcases. Let's face it. it's not very popular. I guess I could have blown it off and just put the 40 or so cards I had (minus my Orioles) into a box and moved on. Hey, if I'd have given it much thought I'd have come up with this:

Reasons NOT TO collect the 1960 Leaf set:

  • It's a B&W set! Ugh.
  • Only headshots! Ugh
  • The checklist pretty much sucks! Ugh
  • We hated these back in the day! Ugh
  • High numbers and scarcities! Ugh
  • Errors and Variations! Ugh
  • Nobody wants to hear about it! Ugh (OK, I don't really care so much about this one)
  • Boring card backs! Ugh 
  • My scanner hates them! Ugh
  • Stupid Really stupid pricing! Ugh 
  • Dealers don't have them! Ugh
I'll deal with the list in a second. First, here is a repost of cards I picked up at the Dallas-area card show a few weeks ago...

That was a long list of reasons to not collect this one. B&W headshots are probably first on everyone's list of things to exclude from a baseball card set. Black and white had last been used in a mainstream set with the '53 Bowmans. And those babies had much more artistic photos. And the Leaf checklist is uninspiring. No Aaron, Mays, Mantle, Clemente, Koufax, get the idea. In fact, the included Hall of Famers are all in this post. That's not to disparage them in any way (love ya, Brooks!) but sprinkling in a few of their friends might have been nice.

When we spent out post-lunch recess time flipping cards in the St. Mary's School playground circa 1962 Leaf cards were not allowed. I distinctly remember that we felt they were old and dull. The backs packed a lot of info but they were as boring as the fronts. Wall of text, no cartoons.

And as I am quickly discovering there are some silly prices attached to the second series of these things. And the price points seem so damn random. Nowhere do I see references to any of them being short printed but sky-high price tags seem to stick to certain players for no apparent reason. Finding that the cheapest Gordon Jones on COMC is pushing $40 is discouraging, to say the least. the fact that I hardly ever see these things at shows means one good source of possibly cheaper copies (through bargaining) is out the window.

Then there are the actual variations and an error or two to deal with. The Al Smith(s) and Mudcat Grant are the most well known. The incorrect photos (other than Grant) were not corrected which avoids even more heartache. And getting the things scanned properly on my Canon takes a change in settings which is a PITA and once you post them nobody's gonna read the post anyway (not that this has ever stopped me from collecting what I collect!).

BTW... you can see what I said about not collecting these a few years ago by clicking here. That post has a link to the rather snarky PSA review of the set.

So I just spent four paragraphs convincing myself that I made a bad choice in starting this thing. What's the other side of the coin? Let's see...

Reasons TO collect the 1960 Leaf set:

  • I like it! 😇
Yes, I do. For all it's faults and lack of appeal I like it. I can't explain it, but I couldn't explain my high school girlfriend either. Sometimes you just do stuff, ya know?

OK, enough typing. here are the rest of the Hall of Famers.

Sparky Anderson was about 25 years old when this picture was taken. ╚(•⌂•)╝Yeesh. OTOH, Brooks Robinson looks almost too young to be a big leaguer. This has always been one of my favorite Brooks cards.

Here's the wall of text back I was mentioning.

I like the card number graphic.

The Genuine Baseball Photo bit is sort of charming.

The copyright line names Sports Novelties, Inc of Chicago. Nowhere is Leaf mentioned...

...not on the boxes or pack wrappers.

But back to the cards....

Hoyt always wore his cap like he was still in the service.

these next two cards are among my favorites, not only of the Hall guys but in the whole set.

And finally, Jim Bunning. Seems to have a rabbit under his cap.

So, I'm in too deep to turn around and swim out. Gotta just go with the tide. I'm at about 60% completion (88 of 145ish counting both Grants). The list of what I need is over in the sidebar. If you have any that you'd let go of on the cheap or would like to trade for other vintage stuff, gimme a shout.

Oh, one last thing. Here is a look at the marbles that came packaged with these in 1960. Might be fun to find a pack of these!


I meant to include a link to Jeff Katz' fun SABR Card Blog post on this set. I just looked at it again last night (I had left a comment back when it was published) but it slipped my mind today. Well worth checking out.

Johnny, of Johnny's Trading Spot, left a comment a bit ago and noted that he, too, collects this thing. I'm off to find his want list. I already know I don't have any dupes for Jeff. He's chasing the second series like me.

And finally, I want to give Whitey Herzog his well-earned due. He's a 2010 Hall of Fame inductee and has a (possibly airbrushed?) card in this set.


  1. I collect the set myself. For no other reason than it is a Leaf main set.

  2. Those marbles must have made stacking the packs in a box challenging!

  3. I recently doubled my 1960 Leaf collection... from 2 to 4. Then again, I had absolutely none until a couple of years ago. I kinda like the set, but I think it's mainly because it's an oddball set.

    For now, though, these are "crimes of opportunity" cards... The two I recently bought were in a large bin of cards and at a decent price, and of players I would've picked up sooner or later. I may go after the Orioles team set at some point, but that's waaaaay down on my list of overall priorities.

    For anyone interested in the PSA article, the URL has changed to this:

  4. Definitely collect it. I think it’s a great looking set

  5. reason to collect ...Halos ! these are like iconic art look at Brooks!

  6. As much as I enjoy cards... I kinda want to read more posts about coffee tables filled with longnecks and Weller bottles. Nothing like a good story time post.

    P.S. I love seeing guys like Hertzog and Anderson look so young. When I started collecting cards back in the early 80's, these guys looked so old. Sadly... I'm about the same age as they were back then. Lol. I wonder how many of my students think to themselves... damn... he's old.

  7. I like this set only because it's the set that the Renatta Galasso glossy greats '70s sets used for its template and I LOVED those Galasso cards.

    But your anecdote about disliking them as kids is a strong one. If a set marketed for kids is snubbed by kids, you know you're doing something wrong.