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
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................