Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Interesting Items from the Topps Vault

The Topps Vault has recently had a number of interesting items up for auction which have caught my eye and that I'd like to pass along to those who may not have seen them.

To get things started, here is an original negative for a photo of Warren Spahn from 1965 in a Mets uniform taken at Shea Stadium:

I don't think I've ever seen a picture of Spahn as a Met as he was purchased by the Mets from the Braves in November 1964, and was shown in a Braves uniform without a cap on his 1965 card since apparently Topps didn't have a chance to get a picture of him as a Met in time:

Spahn only appeared in 16 games for the Mets in 1965, and was released by the team in mid July that season, so I don't imagine there are that many pictures around of him as a Met which makes this a somewhat unique photo.

Speaking of the Mets, there are also negatives for some great unused pictures of Hall of Famers Duke Snider

and Willie Mays up for auction recently:

Note the scoreboard behind Willie. Now take a look at this picture:

Notice anything different? The Mets logo is missing from the scoreboard in the Chico Ruiz photo from 1964 as this must have been taken shortly after the stadium opened as the large square screen on top of the scoreboard was originally intended to be a video screen as seen here:

Apparently the video screen didn't work all that well, which is why it was soon replaced by the Mets logo. I like the picture of Chico because of the rare picture of the original videoboard in the background, and the white Reds batting helmet with Chico's number in the middle of the "C":

Speaking of batting helmets, here is a picture showing George Scott morphing from the Brewers to the Red Sox for his 1977 Hostess card (which was created by Topps):

These partial airbrush shots are always fun to look at. That sure is a bright red batting helmet!

Moving from the batting helmet to the baseball cap, Topps is auctioning off this classic picture of Don Zimmer featuring the very unique Padres cap with the oversized yellow front panel that stretches around to the back of the hat which was used on his 1973 Topps card.

Topps had previously auctioned off another version of this picture taken from a different angle which was first spotted by a Uni Watch reader in October of last year:

From a behind the scenes perspective, this is an interesting item as it shows how Topps created their 1983 card design as they simply took the smaller head shot photo and laid it over the larger action shot before adding the borders around the pictures:

For an even more behind the scenes item, how about the file card that Topps used to keep track of payments to Jim Palmer and his gift purchases through the Topps Catalog:

It looks like Jim picked up a color TV back in 1966 and added a pool table in 1974!

We also have a chance to see some of the original photos that were ultimately used on cards, such as this Mike Schmidt picture:

Since its NBA Playoff time, lets see what the Zen Master Phil Jackson looked like back in his playing days with the Knicks:

Here are some great unused action shots of my favorite basketball player as I was growing up - the amazing Dr. J from his last year in the ABA:

and finally, here's a nice shot of Bill Walton:

Oh how I miss those Bullets uniforms!

Back to Baseball, here are a few shots of guys in uniforms you usually don't associate them with:

Denny McLain:

Pete Rose:

To wrap up this look at some recent goodies from the Topps Vault, here are a few unused photos of some Hall of Famers:

I really hope someone at Topps is documenting all this material before it goes out the door as it is truly amazing the amount of sports history that they have documented. While its great that this material is making its way out to collectors, it would be nice if there was a way to have all of these great items cataloged and available to research.

Just like with the Life Magazine photo archives, it would be so much fun to view something similar with all of the images that Topps has had in its possession over the years.


Anonymous said...

Ok. So now we know the pics were quality. But why did they look blurry and smudgy on the final cards! Every year!
Topps has always used cheap card stock and it ruin their chances for truly beautiful sets year in and year out.

sjhax56 said...

Can't tell at first glance - did Topps flip the negative on Eddie Mathews or did he pull a Uecker-style trick and pretend to bat righty?

Jeffrey G. said...

Love your site! I too have been entrigued by the offerings from the Topps Archive. For about the last 4 years, I have visited Ebay each week and have done a right-click and "save as" to download a copy of each picture to my PC. If you ever would like to try to put together an archive of their archives, I would be glad to send you a CD of all the ones that I have saved. Hopefully Topps is archiving their archives and will make them available to all interested.

GaryProhaska said...

Love the Johnny Bench spring training photo with the old original Tampa Stadium in the background before the endzones were enclosed. Used to watch University of Tampa play there.

Uncle John's Band said...

That Cecil Cooper picture has me scratching my head. Why would they airbrush him into a Red Sox uniform if he was traded from the Sox to the Brewers?

Uncle John's Band said...

Disregard last comment. As soon as I posted it I realized it was the other half of the trade. George Scott. Now it makes sense.

McC said...

The open end-zoned Tampa Stadium figured prominently in Reds' Topps photography from at least 1968 through 1971, when the Reds were playing at Al Lopez field (which may or may not have been named for Al yet in those years). Just like the 'rock' in Tempe, photogs seem to have enjoyed using the strangely shaped stands as a backdrop!