In addition to creating environmental catastrophe, TriStar also assaults our eyes with red ink on the back of the cards. I didn't scan one because 1) it's ugly and b) I'm lazy. On the bright side, the set ganks the 1911 T212 Obak back design, which has stats on the back this time. And by stats, I mean A. B., B. H. and P. C. whatever the hell they are. The fronts are still the same though, featuring black & white or sepia portraits of old/dead/minor league ballplayers superimposed on various public domain background images. Basically the Plan 9 From Outer Space of card design in that it's so wretched it circles back upon itself and becomes awesome. Here's the first pack dissected for your carding pleasure:
Ok, I feel bad about griping about the first card pulled from the pack, especially when I get around to explaining who the heck this guy is. But I feel the need to complain because it took entirely too long to figure out who it was. The front of all the cards in the set show just the player's last name. This is not a surprise, as Oback has been doing this for the past 3 years (or 103, if you prefer). The issue I have is with the back. Instead of a full name on the back, there is a small write up like so:
BARNES has the distinction of hitting the first home run in National League history when on May 2, 1876, he accomplished the feat. Ross was also the National League's first batting champion, hitting .429 in 1876.
So the complete name of the featured fellow is actually on the back, you just have to hunt for it. This occurs on every card back in the pack. It might even be historically accurate to the original 1911 set, I'm not sure because I don't have any original Obaks. It's annoying as crap though and I hate it. I'm not in the mood to work to figure out who is on a card anymore. Topps' nasty habit of printing names in foil for the past decade has given me enough of that.
Griping aside, my first Obak card of the year is of Ross Barnes, a star player for the Boston Red Stockings of the National Association from 1871-1875. Calm down Red Sox fans, in the 1800s the Red Stockings were the predecessors of the Braves. So I got a Brave in the first card in the first pack! Well, not as such. In 1876 (this is the second time I've typed a 9 instead of an 8 in the date so far this post) the Chicago White Stockings poached four players from Boston including Ross. This caused quite a kerfuffle, so to avoid the deal being kiboshed by the National Association, the owner of the Chicago team actually founded a new league. Yes, that league. The NL was founded because the dirty Cubs wanted to steal players from the Braves. Chicago went on to win the first NL Pennant, five more Pennants in the pre-World Series era, and took two World Series Titles in 1907 and 1908. Everyone knows what's happened to them after that. Karma's a real bitch, ain't it Chicago.
In other news, This is likely the first card I have of one of the stars of the original Braves, and it's a fine example of the fact that Topps is not the only company to poach public domain images off of Wikipedia.
Jack Clements has the distinction of being the greatest left handed catcher in history. Oh, and he also was the first to wear a chest protector or something. Oh and here's a Wikipedia picture TriStar didn't swipe, just because it's cool. What, you wanted me to write a novel for every card? Ain't happening.
#5 Thomson Mini
Shot heard 'round the world... yada yada yada. Everybody should know who Bobby Thomson is by now. I'm three for three on pulling Braves in this pack though, as Thomson played for Milwaukee after his Branca-bopping days and Lefty Clements up there played 16 games for Boston in 1900. I'm still miffed that there's only 24 minis in this set though... not that I would chase the set anyway, but it puts a crimp in my FrankenSet plans.
Hack Wilson looks like the love child of a pit bull and a fire hydrant in this picture. I think he might have looked like that in real life though. Proof positive that any boy can grow up to be in the Hall of Fame provided you hit 56 home runs and 191 RBIs in one season. Hack breaks my streak of tangential Braves so I'm slightly miffed.
Babe Ruth broke Roger Connor's home run record but Roger still keeps the distinction of being the first player to ever hit a Grand Slam. Then Lou Gehrig blew right by him and took the all time record for Grand Slams in a career. Poor Roger. Whoever designed this card at TriStar had a little fun with it as the 'giant' Connor is seen leaning upon a barn in this photo mashup. Cool because the 6 foot 3 inch Roger was supposedly the inspiration of the New York "Giants" nickname. Or not. Who knows, it was a long time ago and I found this stuff on Wikipedia. I could sneak in there that Roger Connor was the Third Earl of Glastonbury and no one would notice for at least a couple of months.
I managed to get an extra card in this pack somehow. The extra card is from Tim Pyznarski, who was the Minor League player of the year in 1986, got a cup of coffee with the Padres that same year and that's about it. You may think you've never heard of him, but if you collected 1987 Topps, just click here and you'll quickly remember. I'm pretty sure I have three or four dozen cards of 'ol Tim already.
I think that's enough Obak for one night, I'll post the football pack later this week.