Friday, September 2, 2011
Vintage Fridays: Russ Snyder, 1962 Topps #64
We'll kick it off with a true keeper, the kind of card that is the pure essence of Vintage Fridays. You've got the timeless woodgrain border of 1962 Topps, the elegant home Orioles uniform with thin black piping, orange script and front jersey number, and the early smiling bird sleeve logo, and of course Russ Snyder showing off a classic home run swing. Russ may not have actually hit many longballs in his 7 years in Baltimore (26 total, with a season high of 9 in '62), but he was a solid contact hitter: .280 AVG as an Oriole. He led the club with a .305 mark in 1962.
Oh, I almost forgot the best part of this card! It's the rare vintage card with a photo taken within the lovely environs of 33rd Street. The grand old right-center field scoreboard at Memorial Stadium is visible over Snyder's left shoulder, with its telltale Hamm's Brewing Company advertisement on top. I know much more about this scoreboard than I did a month ago, and it's all thanks to a recent blog post at The Fleer Sticker Project. Fleerfan does a great job of sifting through photo archives and auction sites to unearth beautiful old pictures from Charm City's sporting past. In the post linked above, he offers an illustrated history of the scoreboards at Memorial Stadium. Since I never set foot in the ballpark until the late 1980s, I had no idea how cool that original scoreboard looked looming over the players at field level. You get to see a progression of local beer magnates, from Gunther (my great-grandmother's brew of choice) to Hamm's to Schaefer. Even when budgetary constraints saw the big old scoreboard replaced with a smaller model in left field in 1970, the National and National Bohemian (Natty Boh to you, hon) ads ensured that a Bawlmer flavor remained. As with most aspects of American life and culture, things went to hell in the 1980s. National head Jerry Hoffberger sold the O's, and billboards for Busch, Budweiser, and Toyota settled into place.
Say it with me: ain't the beer cold!