Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bryce Harpukkah: The Best for Last, Vintage Awesomeness

When I decided to spend my Bryce Harper eBay sales in eight days, I knew I wanted to blow some of it on one really nice vintage card. Sure, I picked up some '50 Bowman, '56 Topps, some '49 Leaf, and even a much-loved Diamond Star. They're all awesome cards and each one worth a Harper to me. But what I didn't nab was a Tigers star. And who better to go for than Mr. Tiger himself. I knew I wasn't getting his 1954 card, no matter the condition, but I aimed high and took my time, and lucked into this.

Damn, that's a sweet card. 1955 Topps, his second year and my second-favorite Topps set. It's a little rough, but really, besides the corners, in pretty great condition. The price: a tad over $10 shipped, which is the most I've ever spent on a single card, since I'm such a penny-pincher. I was honestly surprised to get it for that.

Let's relish some of the more savory parts of the card.

Ah, the old Tigers' tiger logo. He sure had some crab-apple cheeks. I also find Kaline's mini action-shot face to look a little odd. It doesn't really look like Kaline, but maybe that's just the side profile.

Here's some sweet Kaline toonage:

You'll notice the pretty terrible corner, the worst on the card. I fixed it a bit by pushing that corner back, and now it looks better. Looks like someone had jammed it into a sleeve a few too many times.

As far as the toon: Oh, that Zane Grey, musing on the playing field. Pretty goofy and random cartoon here. But Zane Grey was pretty legendary at this time. Now, I'd never heard of this writer, and I'm working on a PhD in literature. Should I blame the obscurity of the reference or ask for all those years I've spent in lit classes back? Maybe neither. Grey would have been huge in the '50s, having written many Western that were made into movies. But it just goes to show how 60 years can easily forget a genre writer. That's where your Stephenie Meyers and Dan Browns go. But I think Zane Grey was a little cooler. He was at least influenced by Owen Wister's novel The Virginian, which I just read, and is often credited as the first Western novel that started the genre. Anyway, still an odd cartoon to end up on the back of a Kaline card.

Here's the full back:

The back of the card notes his "bonus baby" status, how "scouts flocked to his door to sign him" after high school graduation. Sound familiar?

Thus the cycle is complete. We come to the close of Harpukkah, and what a fantastic holiday it was. a '56 Kaline and a slew of other great cards for a 2011 Bowman International card. How'd I do? Would you take this trade?


  1. I don't know which is more impressive, the sweet card or the fact that you have enough self-control to have never paid more than $10 for an individual card before.