Saturday, August 30, 2014
A pair of 1968-style Reggie customs
I can see why Topps didn't include Reggie Jackson in its 1968 baseball card set.
He'd had only two years of professional ball under his belt and his two gigs with the 1967 Kansas City A's had been underwhelming. Jackson had been called up from Birmingham on June 9 and played in 26 games batting .189 without demonstrating any of the speed and power that had caused Charley Finley to pay him a reported $75,000-85,000 signing bonus as the No. 2 overall pick in the June, 1966, major league draft.
Jackson was sent back down to Birmingham in the first week of July, probably to bolster the A's Class AA team in the Southern League pennant race. Birmingham won the title by 3-1/2 games and then defeated Albuquerque four games to two in the one-year revival of the Dixie Series between the Southern League and Texas League champions.
Jackson returned to Kansas City on Sept. 15, with the A's in last place, 24 games in back of the American League leading Red Sox. In nine games he hit just .143, bringing his rookie season average down to .178.
On Sept. 17, Jackson hit the first of his 563 major league home runs. It was a solo shot off of the California Angels' Jim Weaver . . . that is if you trust the data on baseball-reference.com over Jackson's own recollection. According to Reggie's official website, he remembers that first home run as coming off of Cleveland Indians pitcher John O'Donoghue, though both sources agree on the date.
I also noted a slight discrepancy concerning the car Jackson bought after his signed his first A's contract. Some internet sources claim that the car was part of his signing bonus; on his site Jackson says he bought the car. Jackson describes the car on his website: "Oooh, I almost forgot my 1st new car with my signing. A 'typical me' car. 1967 Pontiac Catalina, with a 421cu. inch 375 hp engine, a 2dr really cool ride, a 4spd transmission, Burgundy with a black vinyl top and of course an aftermarket 4 track stereo."
Before starting work on my 1968 Topps-style Reggie Jackson custom, I kicked around some concepts for a 1967-style card. Two problems ultimately killed the notion, one practical, one conceptual.
On the pragmatic side, I haven't yet found a decent photo of Jackson in a Kansas City uniform. I messed around with adding a "KC" cap logo to an Oakland photo, and came up with a serviceable image. As I worked, though, it became increasingly apparent that a '67 Jackson card would be too much of an anachronism. While he'd a good debut pro season in A-ball in 1966, he really wouldn't have been a candidate for a 1967 Topps card. And I generally prefer to create "cards that never were" in the formats of cards that might have been.
With two decent late 1960s photos of Jackson to work with, I took the easy way out and used both. Thus you see two '68-style Reggie Jackson custom cards here.
These bring to five the total number of Reggie Jackson custom cards I've created. The 1977-style Orioles card shown here was the first custom baseball card I ever made, after months of working solely on 1955-style All-American football cards. The two 1976-style Orioles cards came soon thereafter.