Last weekend I traveled back to Chestertown, MD for the first time in nearly a year. Washington College's drama department had invited me and the rest of Zero Hour Theatre back to campus to perform our play "7 Lessons on Suicide" at the still-new Tawes Experimental Theatre. It was a chance for them to book an inexpensive and ready-made show on an open weekend in the facility, and to give some alumni a wider audience for their work. We did shows on Friday and Saturday night and had good, responsive audiences. What does this have to do with baseball cards, you ask?
After we all checked out of our hotel rooms at 11:00 on Saturday morning, we had eight hours to kill before that night's performance. Luckily it was a beautiful sunny day, so we bided our time in historic downtown Chestertown. This included a stop at a relatively new secondhand store called Primitive Finds. My eyes were immediately drawn to some baseball items in a display case, including an old mitt endorsed by Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx, one of my favorite players and a native of nearby Sudlersville. There was also a magazine with Foxx on the cover, and a trio of artifacts from the career of Chestertown's own 1940s All-Star (and fellow Washington College alum) Bill "Swish" Nicholson: a Cubs newsletter, a newspaper caricature, and an AP photo of Bill rounding third base at Wrigley Field after hitting a home run. These treasures were all too rich for my blood (the mitt was $100 and the photo $80), but in the next display were some things that were just right.
I stopped in my tracks as soon as I saw the familiar banner design of 1965 Topps. There were two nine-pocket binder sheets full of vintage cards for $10 apiece. A third sheet was priced at $20, but I was feeling thrifty and the cards that I really wanted were in the $10 sheets, so I bought the following:
The real "get" for me here was the Ron Hansen card at top right. Night Owl recently featured this very card in a post about 1963 Fleer in his Card Back Countdown, and it occurred to me that I had yet to add any cards from that set to my collection. When I saw that exact card staring back at me, I took it as a sign. This sheet also features an incredibly weathered (and misspelled) 1951 Bowman of Del Crandall, a scribbled-up 1966 Topps Johnny Podres, a 1963 Topps Clay Dalrymple (whose number came up today on my 1965 Topps blog - more serendipity), and a 1967 Topps checklist featuring Mickey Mantle. The 1967 Topps Orioles team card is one I already had, but it never hurts to have some vintage dupes around for trading purposes.
Six Hall of Famers on one page is a pretty good ratio, huh? Obviously, I bought this one first and foremost for the 1965s. I'd forgotten that I already had Gaylord Perry, but again, that's a good problem to have. I did need Warren Spahn, who becomes card number 550 for my set - 48 to go! The 1968 Billy Williams is in especially crisp shape, and it's jarring to see Lou Piniella (top right) looking that young and trim. By the way, that's not his true rookie card; he was featured on a Senators Rookie Stars card in the 1964 set. The Hank Aaron commemorative card #1 from 1974 Topps is going to be a new favorite for me, too. Oh, and there was a bonus card on the other side of the sheet:
That's right, a 1959 Topps card highlighting Stan "the Man" Musial's 3,000th career hit, which came during the previous season! Sure, somebody took a bite out of it, but I'll give it a good home.
I've got lots of fond memories of Chestertown spanning the past ten years, and now I can add this one to the list: 19 vintage baseball cards for $20 ($21.30 with tax).