Friday, April 22, 2011

Supplementing Topps' Adcock issues

As I kid, I had a love-hate relationship with Joe Adcock. Actually, those words are too strong; call it a like-dislike relationship.

In the early-mid 1950s my favorite baseball player was George Crowe. It was the glasses . . . by the second grade I was a "four eyes."

I liked Joe Adcock because he was a Milwaukee Brave. I disliked him because he stood in the way of George Crowe playing regularly.

Adcock must have had a like-dislike relationship with Topps. He made his major league debut in 1950 with the Cincinnati Reds. He appeared on Bowman bubblegum cards every year from 1950-1955. His only Topps card in that span was among the high numbers in 1952.

After Topps swallowed up Bowman, Adcock appeared in every Topps set from 1956-1963. He was one of the 66 players who appeared in Fleer's abortive 1963 set. Pictured as a Milwaukee Brave, but listed as a Cleveland Indian, to whom he had been traded after the 1962 season. His '63 Fleer card appears to have been pulled from the printing sheet in the midst of the set run, being replaced with the checklist card.

When Fleer (temporarily) withdrew from the baseball player card market and most of the players from the 1963 returned to the Topps fold, Adcock was nowhere to be found.

While his major league playing career continued with the Los Angeles/California Angels from 1964-66, Adcock didn't appear on another Topps card until 1967, among the high numbers as manager of the Cleveland Indians. After just one season as a major league manager, finishing eighth in the 10-team American League, Adcock managed the 1968 season at Seattle, the top farm club of the Angels, then returned to his horse farm in Louisiana. 

I guess we'll never know whether it was Adcock's decision or Topps' decision that prevented him from appearing as an Angels player in 1964-66. But just because he wasn't on a card, that doesn't mean Topps didn't photograph him in his Angels uniform.

A transparency of Adcock taken in 1964 appeared a while back in the Topps Vault auctions on eBay. I thought it would work well incorporated into the 1964 Topps design, so I made it happen. I always liked the rather clean design of the '64T baseball set, but this was my first foray into the format. There will probably be more.

When SCD co-sponsored a major card show in Milwaukee in 1985, two of our out-of-town autograph guests were former Braves Eddie Mathews and Joe Adcock. Writer Paul Green, who had done a wonderful interview with Adcock as part of the series that ran for years in SCD, convinced Adcock to leave his beloved ranch to make his first (and as far as I know, only) autograph guest appearance.

As the time for Adcock's appearance began to draw near on Saturday afternoon, without having heard a word from Adcock , we began to worry about whether he had actually gotten on the plane in Louisiana. 

We'd had some decent media coverage about Adcock's first return to Milwaukee in many years and had sold more than a few autograph tickets. While it wasn't yet time to panic, I began to formulate a Plan B.

At that time, my father lived about an hour north of Milwaukee. At 6'2" he was a couple of inches shorter than Adcock, but he had more than a passing resemblance to the lanky former first baseman, and seated behind a table, the hieght difference would not be noticable. Dad was a knowledgeable baseball fan who had followed the Braves closely in the 1950s and 1960s, and I convinced myself that about the only persons at the show who might be able to tell the difference would be his former teammates. He would be able to bluff his way through questions from the autograph line. I hadn't thought through how we'd keep Dad away from Mathews and Johnny Logan and Felix Mantilla, but I'd almost commited to this large-scale forgery plot when Adcock and Green walked through the convention center door without a minute to spare.

Regretably, more than 25 years later, I have no memory of having spent any amount of time with Adcock at the autograph booth or in the hospitality room. I suppose I was too busy attending to show details. What a waste of opportunity.

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