The Big Bang in Retrospect: 1964 Topps

I’d been saving this post for the last one in my set from the big vintage bounty I came across recently, but it’s just been sitting here in my drafts, prepped with scans for too long now. I can’t deny my fellow card bloggers the beauty of these 1964 Topps cards any more.

Let’s start with my favorite pair of cards from the bunch, two of the bigger names on the Colt .45s at the time. There was only one card of Dick “Turk” Farrell, but I netted three Aspromonte’s. One goes in the binder, one’s headed off in the mail soon (I finally bought more stamps!), and the third has a pretty gnarly fold right through Bob’s cheeks. I hold onto it for now, it might be a placeholder if I decide to start putting this set together.

There were another pair of Colt .45s cards in the group as well. Claude “Frenchie” Raymond showed up a few times, which is just perfect. He’s known to be a good signer, so I’ll send a duplicate to him and hopefully cross another autograph off my team checklist soon. There’s one dupe of the Beauchamp/White rookie that I’m holding for a potential set.

I was pretty excited to come across this Gene Alley rookie. My dad grew up in Pittsburgh, and I can remember digging through cards at shows with him when I was a kid and talking about Alley. That Tito Francona card is pretty boss, too.
All told I came out with twenty-eight different cards from the ’64 set, and a bucket of dupes. Everything was numbered above 440, and a bunch of these are the lesser rookie pairs from the set. The Twins and Indians seem prevalent, and I guess a quarter of the cards were Colts or Pirates. Oh, and all these beauties are in fantastic condition. There’s a little corner wear and some centering issues, but they’re all in firm shape, as if they came out of a vending box – much nicer than those ’68s I got.
Ok, here’s another page worth of cards for you.
Some quick notes on these players:
  • Dick Howser’s playing career was short – after a nice 1961 season that saw him named to both All-Star games and garner The Sporting News Rookie of the Year award, he regressed. 1964 would be his last season, but he would go on to manage the Yankees and Royals, guiding the latter to a World Series Championship in 1985.
  • Bob Purkey had a good run with the Reds in the late 50’s and early 60’s, garnering five All-Star selections.
  • Bill Pleis notched the first win in Twins history in 1961.
  • Camilo Pascual was a dominating pitcher who was named to seven All-Star games. Ted Williams declared that he had the “most feared curveball in the American League for 18 years.” Also, Pascual has one of the coolest nicknames I’ve ever come across: “The Little Potato.”
  • Bob Veale, aside from having some sweet specs, was one of three relievers used in the Pirates game on September 1, 1971. That game was started by Dock Ellis and is believed to be the first game in major league history to feature an all black starting lineup (including Latinos). He led the National League in strikeouts in 1964 with 250 to Bob Gibson’s 245. I’m definitely sending a duplicate for him to sign.
  • Johnny Edwards was one of the best defensive catchers around, and after being supplanted in Cincinnati by a young Johnny Bench, finished his career with the Houston Astros. A spare ’64 and ’72 will be headed his way for some ink.
  • That’s the same Dave Duncan who went on to become the Cardinals pitching coach.
  • Sonny Siebert appears on another sweet rookie card. He was well traveled, and his highlights include a no-hitter in 1966 and a win in the second-longest game (innings-wise) in history, a 25-inning Cardinal victory over the Mets in 1974. Siebert was also the last American League pitcher to hit two home runs in one game, doing so for the Boston Red Sox on September 2, 1971.
  • Don Schwall spent a few years with the Pirates, and he beat out Howser for the 1961 Rookie of the Year honors.

That’s all for now! Don’t worry, some ’64 trade bait will show up on the blog before too long.

 – Bru

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