Saturday, March 28, 2009

1986 Fleer Baseball Stickers

With Opening Day just around the corner, its time to pick up where I left off last August with the year by year review of Fleer Baseball Sticker sets. Its hard to believe I've been away from covering Baseball for almost 7 months while I reviewed much of Fleer's Football and all of Fleer's Basketball stickers, but its time to get back to Baseball starting with the 1986 Fleer Baseball Stickers:

Unlike the 1985 set with uniform stickers, the 1986 set changed the design to include pennant stickers. Each team had 2 stickers - a sticker with the team's logo and another sticker which had a pennant along with a smaller logo sticker.

The stickers were inserts in packs of 1986 Fleer Baseball cards. The box shows an example of the pennant sticker on the front:

The other thing to notice from the box was that 1986 was the set that brought us the modern insert card. Topps had issued inserts in the late '60s (with sets like posters, game cards, deckle edge cards, decals, and even coins), but after 1971, there were no insert cards in baseball card packs until 1986 Fleer.

Fleer had not 1, but 2 insert sets in 1986 - an All Star Team set:

and a Hall of Famer set:

The packs mention collecting the "Limited Edition" sets, with the back indicating that the All Star cards were in regular wax packs

and the Hall of Famer cards were in 3-packs (or "rack packs") only:

Note the front of the rack pack mentions the Hall of Famer insert.

I guess you could argue that Topps returned to doing inserts two years earlier with the 1984 Topps All Star Glossy Set in their rack packs

but those were distributed in rack packs which showed the All Star card on top so you knew exactly who you were getting (as opposed to opening a pack hoping to get an insert card):

Therefore, I would say that 1986 Fleer was the first set to feature an insert set that was randomly included in packs. Fleer would take the insert concept much further in the coming years as it issued more and more insert sets each year to the point where the base set almost became secondary to the multitude of insert sets. The other card companies of course followed close behind.

Turning back to the stickers, here is a look at the complete set:

If you are wondering why I've got the Brewer's logo shown twice, take a closer look below:

There are color variations where one version has a darker blue and a more orange colored outline around the logo while the other version has a lighter blue with a yellow outline.

See if you can spot the 2 variations in this group:

The Phillies logo can be found with and without the note to look for the Famous Feats on the back and the Cardinals logo can be found with a red or yellow beak. As the stickers were double printed on the sheet (and in some cases triple printed), these variations are due to the fact that for some reason there were slight differences between the stickers on the sheet.

As the stickers mention, Fleer included a set of "Famous Feats" on the back of the stickers. The set is a reprint of the "Famous Feats" set that was originally included with the Fleer Cloth Patches over a decade earlier

but in this case the set was not in color like the original, and only included 22 cards instead of the original 40 cards. Here is a look at the complete set of sticker backs:

Since all the stickers were double printed (with some stickers being triple printed), every sticker can be found with at least 2 different backs and in some cases 3 different backs.

In addition to being included in the 1986 Fleer Baseball Card packs, the stickers could be found in 1986 Fleer Baseball Star Stickers packs

as well as Fleer's 1986 boxed sets

and of course the Update set as well:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reggie Jackson Photo Investigation

I recently came across this picture of Reggie Jackson, which caught my eye for a number of reasons:

The thing I really like about this picture is how he is standing just a few feet away from the spot where years later he would earn the nickname "Mr. October":

Even though he's just a few feet from the batters box, everything in the picture is completely different from the way it would be on October 18, 1977 when Reggie would hit 3 home runs on 3 consecutive pitches in Game 6 in what is perhaps the greatest single World Series game performance in history.

The obvious difference is a much younger Reggie Jackson in a Oakland A's uniform instead of the Yankee pinstripes, but the other thing I really enjoy is that it is the "original" Yankee Stadium from before the 1974 - 1975 renovations, which looked nothing like the stadium did once Reggie joined the Yankees.

Seeing a young Reggie Jackson posing for a picture with the old Yankee Stadium scoreboard in the background as an Oakland A is one of those shots where you stop and think this scene seems familiar but at the same time seems so different.

Here's Reggie hitting the last of his 3 home runs and a view of what the stadium looked like that night:

Speaking of familiar, the other interesting thing about the picture is that it appears to be taken in the same spot that the pictures from Reggie's 1970 baseball card photos were taken:

So that begs the question, was the picture I came across from the same photo session (or at least taken around the same time) as the photos that were used for Reggie's 1970 cards?

I think this picture may help solve the mystery:

Here we have Reggie with the A's uniform showing the MLB 100th anniversary patch worn during the 1969 season which was not visible in the first picture given the way Reggie was facing the camera. The patch is clearly seen on Reggie's 1970 card (although hidden on the All Star and Super cards given the angles of the shots).

Of course this doesn't confirm the pictures on the cards were taken at the same session, let alone the same day, but it would imply that they were likely at least taken around the same time.

The color photo of Reggie I found on the Corbis website indicates the picture was taken on August 10, 1969. Doing some cross checking with Baseball shows that the A's did play an early afternoon game in New York against the Yankees on August 10, finshing up a 4 game weekend series. The B&W photo indicates a date of August 16, but the A's were at home against Detriot that night, so I'm guessing it is misidentified and was actually taken at the same time as the color photo.

If in fact these photos were taken the same day as the photos used on Reggie's 1970 cards, then we've got a few nice out-takes from that session to enjoy in addition pictures on the cards.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It Was 40 Years Ago...A Look Back at the Seattle Pilots as reported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

I was going to wait to write this post on the 40th anniversary of the printing of this newspaper (April 11), but given the news that tomorrow is the last day that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is publishing their newspaper, I thought maybe it would be appropriate to celebrate its 40th anniversary a few weeks early.

As you may have heard, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is publishing their last newspaper on Tuesday March 17 and is moving to an entirely digital format. Its hard to imagine a world without newspapers, but as more and more people get their news from digital sources, it seems like we will continue to see other papers make decisions like this to remain in business.

From the first time I saw a picture of this paper, I knew I had to have a copy. I've always been interested in the history of the Pilots, and given the paper has all the American League logos in full color on the front page, I wasn't going to be happy until I had a copy for myself.

The section shown above was actually part of the edition that had a similar design on the front page of the main paper:

The souvenir edition is a fascinating look at the start of this franchise. In addition to information on how to get to the stadium, short bios on some of the players, and a lot of advertisers welcoming the Pilots and wishing them good luck, there are a few great articles which I found very interesting.

The first article is about the design of the Pilots uniform, and discusses the issues the team ran into with the American League regarding the rules of uniform design (click on each picture to see an enlarged version to read the text):

I really liked the insight that the original cap design had the "scrambled eggs" on the brim out much closer to the edge of the cap but the decision was made to move them further away from the edge so that players wouldn't get them dirty when adjusting their cap.

Its also a nice touch how they decided to place the ad with the classic turn of the century uniform on the same page with the "modern" Pilots uniforms.

The other article I thought was interesting was regarding the Seattle Stadium at the Seattle Center, which we later knew as the Kingdome:

Reading this article made me think how time flies by so quickly. Since this article was published, the stadium broke ground in 1972, opened in 1976 as the home to a second Seattle expansion baseball team (as well as an expansion football team), was vacated, and torn down 9 years ago.

The domed stadium was in some ways partially responsible for the team moving to Milwaukee. One of the conditions of Seattle getting the team was that the city would begin construction of a domed stadium before Dec 31, 1970. If this condition was not met, MLB reserved the right to move the team.

During this time the team ran into a number of issues with the city and almost no progress was made on the domed stadium in 1969 . This was one of MLB's main concerns during the AL Winter Meetings in late 1969 which opened the door to the possiblity of moving the team. By the end of 1969 a site for the stadium had not even been decided upon, so it was clear there was no way construction would begin by the end of 1970. This ultimately gave MLB the right to have the franchise sold to Bud Selig and moved to Milwaukee where they became the Brewers in 1970.

The Pilots never got to see their new stadium, but instead only got to play in Sicks Stadium:

Finally, to wrap things up, here is an ad from the paper showing one of the souvenirs you could buy at Sicks Stadium (as well as Sportsland):

As this newspaper shows us, nothing lasts forever. The Pilots only lasted 1 year, the domed stadium that was going to be "one of the finest" lasted less than 25 years, and now a paper that started in 1863 is publishing its last newspaper tomorrow.

While I think technology is great and I get much of my news from the internet, the fact that we are losing a number of our newspapers saddens me. Reading old newspapers (even if they are just a PDF file or on microfilm) gives the reader a sense of the times a particular article was written.

Looking back through this newspaper with the various ads and articles transported me back to 1969. If I were to read just the text of these articles through an online archive, while I would get the same information out of the article, I wouldn't get the same experience of seeing the article in the context of the other items that were part of that day's news.

Friday, March 13, 2009

1981 - 82 Fleer NBA Basketball Stickers

Fleer issued its final set of NBA Basketball Logo Stickers during the 1981-1982 season. The stickers were once again a repeat of the 1979-80 and 1980-81 designs with the team records on the tops of the stickers.

Thanks to Fleer expert Barry for this scan of the complete set of all 23 teams. The 8 teams shown on the top of the picture with blue/red/yellow borders could once again be found with all 3 border color variations.

The stickers had puzzle backs which formed a puzzle of the World Champion 1980 - 1981 Boston Celtics:

Thanks once again to Fleer Sticker Project contributor Craig for this picture of the complete puzzle.

Fleer did not repeat the cartoon backs from the previous year, so all sticker backs are puzzle backs.

There were 2 different wrappers for this series:

And finally, here's a picture of the box:

After this set, Fleer took a break from Basketball for a few years, before coming back in 1986 with a set that had an iconic card you may have seen before:

Unfortunately even though Fleer became very involved in the Basketball market starting in the mid 1980's through the early 2000's, they never again issued any team logo stickers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

1980 - 81 Fleer NBA Basketball Stickers

Fleer's 1980-1981 Basketball Sticker set is nearly identical to the 1979-80 set except for a few changes:

1) The addition of the Dallas Mavericks who joined the NBA that season:

2) The addition of card backs featuring cartoons highlighting various "records" from the 1979-80 season:

Once again the stickers included the team's won - loss record from the previous season. Other than the revised information at the top of the stickers related to the 1979-80 season, the stickers look exactly the same as the previous year's set.

Here is the full set of all 23 teams:

As in previous years, the teams with colored borders (Hawks, Celtics, Bulls, Cavaliers, Pistons, Rockets, Bucks, and Nets) can be found with all 3 different colored borders (blue, red, and yellow).

In addition to the cartoon backs, there were also puzzle backs as well. The puzzle highlights the 1979-80 NBA Championship Series between the Lakers and the 76ers:

The pictures of the cartoon backs and the puzzle are courtesy of Fleer Sticker Project contributor and Fleer Basketball expert Craig. Thanks Craig!

The wrapper accounts for the addition of the Dallas Mavericks by indicating that there are now 23 team stickers (previous wrappers have indicated 22 teams), and also mentions the cartoon backs by referring to them as "trading cards":