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Friday, February 25, 2011

Card Show Top 20 - #13 Sertoma Rico

Back to the Top 20 countdown. This one is a real oddball in every sense of the word. I got it in the Mystical Insane Dollar Box From Dimension X. Finding this card resulted in one of the half dozen or so "What the sweet merciful Christ is this???" moments I had going through that box. If I could go through that box every day, I would buy something from it every day. I only had one day though so I bought this:

Hrm. A very plain sepia toned card of Rico Carty. Printed in black & white. On somewhat thin textured stock, not unlike a cheap business card. What on Earth is this thing? It's a Brave at least, let's flip it over.

Sertoma Stars! And - well, I'll be - and actual business card. Of a real business! Watson Construction, Rex Watson (owner). A construction company in Franklin Indiana is sponsoring a baseball card set. I've heard of regional oddball items used for advertising, but this is ridiculous. Let's break it down. What is Sertoma?

Sertoma is a charity organization (SERvice TO MAnkind) that focuses on hearing health issues. The collection of service clubs was founded in 1912 and apparently the Indiana Chapter released a trading card sets ometime in the late '60s. There are team logos on the card, but who knows if the thing was ever licensed. Who even knows what year, the thing was issued? No fear! The SCD Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards is here! Lemme just take a look and........ Nothing. The hell? There's a 1977 Sertoma Stars set in there but they look nothing like this. The Catalog failed me, but my Google-fu is strong. Off to the internet I went.

The more I dug around online for Sertoma Stars, the murkier things got. I quickly found my exact card on the eBay. Normally that is a perfect place to go to find out about obscure issues, but the seller lists it only as a '60s era card. An eBay search for Sertoma Stars shows most of the items listed as being from 1977. This makes absolutely no sense as Rico played for Cleveland in 1977. Let's get away from eBay. This auction says they are from the '60s. This site says 1977. Argh!

My initial thought on the set was late '60s. Rico Carty was with the Braves then and the picture looks like a young Rico. This guy here with a lot of obscure oddball stuff on the page lists it as a set from 1967. Perfect! That's just what I thought. Hey look, this guy has a checklist! And lists them as being from 1978... Gaaaah! What the hell is this damn set??!?!!?

Wait I know... Graded cards. Some fool had to have graded one of these things. Grading companies know what they're doing, right? Right?? I found a couple of graded examples scrounging online. All subsequent photos have been brazenly ganked off the interwebs without permission for educational purposes only. No, not to educate you, to educate ME! I gotta know what the hell this card is!

Check out this old as dirt graded card from SCG! A screw down with an Avery label, now that's class. Whoever typed SCG-10 GEM MINT seems to think this card is from 1967. I always liked SCG! Let's see what that other grading joint says.

1977 Sertoma Stars! NOOOOOOOOOOOO

I finally found an archived baseball card forum thread from 2006. The guy who runs TwinsCards.com (which appears to be dead right now or else I'd link it) didn't know what these things were either and tried to get some info. A user named flyingdutchdude asserts that it is in fact a second set offered by Sertoma in 1977 for the Indiana Sports Collectors Convention. He quotes the 2007 edition of the SCD Catalog. Basically I spent probably an hour and a half scrounging for information on a set that I could have found in two minutes had I gotten around to upgrading my SCD. Oops. This still does not explain why the hell a set from 1977 contains players and photos from a decade earlier. With construction advertisements on the back.

UPDATE: FleerFan knows where these old pictures come from!

Here's the checklist. I spent a half hour deducing this from eBay auctions before I found the checklist link above.

Joe Morgan - Astros
Jim Wynn - Astros
Rusty Staub - Astros

Hank Aaron - Braves
Rico Carty - Braves
Joe Torre - Braves
Clete Boyer - Braves
Phil Niekro - Braves

Jim Ray Hart - Giants
Juan Marichal - Giants
Gaylord Perry - Giants

Frank Robinson - Orioles
Brooks Robinson - Orioles
Boog Powell - Orioles
Don Buford  - Orioles
Davey Johnson - Orioles

Roberto Clemente - Pirates
Bill Mazeroski - Pirates

Harmon Killebrew - Twins
Tony Oliva - Twins
Rod Carew - Twins
Bob Allison - Twins
John Rosboro - Twins

Mickey Mantle - Yankees

Another mystery: Who the heck decided on this checklist?? Twenty-five cards featuring only seven different teams. No Indians or Reds or Cubs or White Sox in the set even though Indiana is surrounded by Illinois and Ohio. Not even a Tiger in the set! Plenty of Braves, Orioles and Twins though. PLENTY of Braves. I got four more to chase now.

Another oddity: The set was not sponsored only by Watson Construction. There are a bunch of other ads on the back. Perhaps a different one for each card, but I'm not sure. Here are all the ad backs I could find online.  Why? WHY NOT. Behold! Ad backs! FOR SCIENCE

Allen's Electric Service, Inc. Bob M. Allen, President - Gaylord Perry

D.A. Jones Plumbing - Roberto Clemente

dm Sales & Engineering, Inc.  - Don Buford

Carl Ernsting Construction Company, Inc. - Cletis Leroy Boyer

Federal Sign, Division Federal Signal Corporation - Harmon Killebrew

Eddie Hurm, Painting Snow Removal, Residential Commercial Industrial - Rusty Staub

The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Len Johnson, Ben W Roush & Associates, Inc. - Joe Torre

Ray-Mac Foods, South Meridian IGA Foodliner - Phil Niekro

Schuster's Block, Inc. Eugene Brown, Commercial-Residential Sales - James Ray Hart
"A Square Block Makes A Square Building"

Thomas Williamson Construction - Jim Wynn

and finally....

Contract Hardware & Specialties, Inc. Yale Locks, Ceco Doors & Frames - Bob Allison

What is a picture of Rico Carty from the late '60s doing in a 1977 set? Why did a hearing disabilities charity create a card set for a baseball card show back when baseball cards weren't cool? How the heck did this post go so out of control? So many questions................


Don said...

Very entertaining and informative post. Maybe this set was originally issued in the late 60s (Niekro looks a lot younger than 77, and he is wearing the spring training windbreaker under his uniform) and was re-issued in 77. Maybe there is a connection between the organization and the players pictured. Maybe the business cards are of the local businesses that supported Setoma. Don't really know, just throwing crap against the wall to see what sticks.

Don said...

Oh, unrealated rant. I noticed in the Topps store that they are selling an "Official" topps binder and pages to hold "the complete Topps Baseball Card Set (661 cards)". Yes, it says 661 cards. WTF is up with that?

Slangon said...

If you really want to drive yourself crazy, see if any of those businesses are still around. Give Rex Watson a call and see if he knows whats up. I'm sure he'd be super excited to talk to some random dude who found an obscure baseball card with his name on it in a dollar box at a card show.

dayf said...

RE: 661 cards

Since 2006, Topps feels it is necessary for their business model to include a bullshitty super duper short printed card in series two so after buying at least 2 boxes of their stuff you are stuck with trying to track down a $100 card just to complete the base set. This is done in an attempt to run off the the core group of base set collectors that have fueled their profits since 1952 so they can finally quit printing the cards and just sell $500 boxes of high end crap to gamblers and watch their profits soar. Or go out of business. One of those things. Still wonder why I've been collecting more vintage lately?


Don said...

I am going after the vintage also as the only "new" product I will be buying this year is a factory set, and that is only because I keeps my Topps run of set current (with the exception of 97 and 98 when I was finishing college and broke). Sportlots has become my new addiction, as I am trying to win auctions for lots and individual cards I need for cheap prices. Don't you dare bid on any of the Tipton mint 53s that I have my sights on right now.

LoCoDe said...

Fascinating. I second the idea of tracking down the businesses. And recording your conversations with them.

Captain Canuck said...

this is awesome.

any word on ad back variations?

Don said...

Now that I am home, I can bust out the 2010 SCD. This is the narrative on the set listing (1977 set):

This collectors issue was produced by an Indianapolis service club. The 3" x 4" cards are printed in black on a textured yellow stock. Fronts have borderless player poses, many of which were lifted from earlier-issued cards. Backs have the Sertoma logo, set name and player name at the top. Beneath a squiggly line is a business-card size ad for different members of the organization.

So, it looks like some of the photos were re-used from other card sets. But that does not explain the reasoning behind the player checklist, especially given the number of former players in the set.

Steve Gierman said...

Now if you really want to get things mixed up, try going for the 1977 Sertoma Stars - Puzzle Backs set. Is your brain exploding yet?

I admire your dedication. I can remember tracking down many sets this way. It's enough to produce hair pulling and incoherent babbling.

carlsonjok said...

When I saw Baltimore in the checklist, my heart sunk and all I could think was "Oh, crud. Don't tell me there is a Paul Blair card even more hard to find than those from the Venezuelan Winter League?" Imagine my relief when I saw that Blair wasn't on the list.

Fleerfan said...

Great post on this set. I've been trying to pick up the Orioles cards as they sometimes come up on ebay, but I've never been the winning bidder.

As for the choice of teams and players, the answer is that the photos are from the 1968 Dexter Press / Coke set:


I'm going to update my post to link to your great review of the various companies that recycled these Dexter Press photos to use as business cards.

Zafran ali said...

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