Sunday, May 23, 2010

Standard Catalog Update: 1950 Indians picture pack

While they are not baseball cards in the traditional sense of the word, team-issued picture packs have been a part of the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards for more than 25 years. Widely issued from the 1930s into the 1970s, picture packs were among the most widely available team souvenirs at concession stands and by mail order.

To me, they also represent a great bargain for collectors because the complete photo packs, in even the highest grades of preservation, are usually available for less the price of a Topps or Bowman card of one of the stars included among the 12-25 players usually found in the picture packs.

Over the years, to conserve space and recognizing that many card collectors have no interest in picture packs, the Standard Catalog has had to remove from its pages those picture packs issued after the 1950s, but at least for now we'll continue to list the earlier issues.

Joining those in the 2011 or 2012 edition of the Standard Catalog will be a newly reported 1950 picture pack from the Cleveland Indians, who were one of the most prolific issuers of picture packs (and later player postcards) in the late 1940s-1950s.

The picture pack checklisted here may have escaped notice because it was assumed that there was only one set issued in 1950. But there were two distinctly different sets. The picture pack that has been included in the catalog for many years is the familiar "Autographed Photos" type, on which the portrait or action photos were identified with a facsimile of the pictured player's actual autograph.

The set presented here shares the basic format of most contemporary Indians picture packs. The photos are printed on thick, matte paper stock in 6-1/2" x 9" size, black-and-white with narrow white borders and blank-backed. Besides the checklists, this set differs in that the player names are presented in black or white script. Some of the photos are shared with other Indians picture packs, but some appear to be unique to this issue.

We were tipped to the existence of the set by Cleveland-area collector Gary Fink, who wrote to seek information about a couple of the pictures he had in his collection, but didn't quite fit the catalog description.

After posting an inquiry on the Net 54 Baseball Card forum, I received a link from collector Chris Counts to an eBay item that appeared to be a match. He was right. The eBay listing (item #350120256453) was from Mike's Vintage Sports Memorabilia in Cleveland, offering the complete 25-player set ($103.99 delivered) and listing some of the players.

I contacted the seller and asked if I could get a complete checklist so that the date os issue could be ascertained and the set listed in the "big book." Owner Mike Lipka promptly replied and shared the list, which is presented here.

Thanks to that co-operative collector effort, we'll be able to include this set in futurte editions.

(1) Bobby Avila
(2) Gene Bearden
(3) Al Benton
(4) Ray Boone
(5) Lou Boudreau
(6) Allie Clark
(7) Larry Doby
(8) Luke Easter
(9) Bob Feller
(10) Jesse Flores
(11) Mike Garcia
(12) Joe Gordon
(13) Steve Gromek
(14) Jim Hegan
(15) Bob Kennedy
(16) Bob Lemon
(17) Dale Mitchell
(18) Ray Murray
(19) Chick Pieretti
(20) Al Rosen
(21) Dick Rozek
(22) Thurman Tucker
(23) Dick Weik
(24) Early Wynn
(25) Sam Zoldak

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