Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Rose is not always a Rose, 1976 Sugar Daddy

Few fans or collectors would mistake Ken Henderson for Pete Rose. 

Henderson played 16 seasons in the majors (1965-1980), garnering 1,168 hits with a .257 batting average. Rose played 24 years (1963-86), with a major league record 4,256 hits and a .303 lifetime average. Rose cards are priced among the top tier of contemporary Hall of Famers. Henderson cards are usually relegated to the commons box.

Somehow, though, the hobby has confused Henderson and Rose . . . at least in one obscure card set.

In 1976 Nabisco issued two 25-card series of "Sugar Daddy Sports World" cards, apparently given away with the purchase of the caramel candy on a stick treat. The set was multi-sport in nature, with one card in each series devoted to baseball.

The cards are in a narrow 1" x 2-3/4" format. The backs of the baseball-related cards detail the 1974 and 1975 World Series. Curiously, though, the ballplayers in the color photos on front have no real connection with those Fall Classics. 

Card #25 in the second series picture N.Y. Yankee Bobby Murcer running down a fly ball; the write-up on back summarizes the Reds-Red Sox World Series on 1975.

In the first series, card #12 recounts the 1974 Series won by the Oakland A's over the L.A. Dodgers.

For many years, certainly as long as the Sugar Daddy set has been included in the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, the picture on the front of that card has been described as picturing Pete Rose.

It's past time to correct that error.

Shortly after I left the catalog in 2006, one of my regular contributors wrote to tell me that the identification of Rose on that card was in error. I always intended to put something on my blog to that effect, but it sat on the back burner for nearly a decade. I've even forgotten which of my contributors had made that observation.

Recently, however, I received an email from Ohio collector Gary Loxley, presenting what appears to be an air-tight case correcting the record about the putative Pete Rose Sugar Daddy card.

Loxley is a long-time collector focusing on Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Browns cards.  He was listed as a collector in the back of the second edition of the Sports Collectors Bible that was published about 40 years ago.

At this point let me turn over this entry to Loxley . . . 
I write to share an observation with you about what has been characterized as a "Pete Rose" card, a 1976 Nabisco Sugar Daddy Sports World card No. 12.  I picked up this card recently through the mail and I was disappointed.  Several sources list this as a Pete Rose card, but I don't think it is a Pete Rose card at all.  
Several reasons indicate this is not a Pete Rose card.  
  • 1)  The batter is wearing a light blue jersey with red trim; the Reds didn't wear that type of jersey, but wore white at home and gray on the road.  
  • 2)  The jersey is either a road jersey of the White Sox or Phillies - powder blue with red trim/numbers.  
  • 3)  The card has a copyright date of 1976, and Pete didn't play for the Phillies until 1979 and didn't play for the White Sox at all.  
  • 4)  Pete didn't stand that far up in the batter's box.  
  • 5)  The batter just doesn't look like Pete Rose.
I think the player is Ken Henderson of the White Sox.  The White Sox wore powder blue informs on the road beginning in 1973.  The White Sox had red trim on the uniform sleeve; the Phillies did not.  Henderson, a left-handed hitter, wore uniform number 24 with the White Sox from 1973-75.  To top it all off, the umpire in the photo is an American League umpire, since he's using the balloon chest protector.
I'm not a disgruntled buyer.  I paid less than $2.00 for the card, so the price is not the issue.  However, some advertise this card as a Pete Rose card.  Some call it a rare Pete Rose needed for the Master set.  A quick Google search shows PSA has even graded this card as a Pete Rose 1976 Nabisco. lists this card in its Pete Rose regional section.  Interesting.

Anyway, I thought I would share this information with you. I think it's time to set the record straight on the 1976 Nabisco Sugar Daddy Sports World Card No. 12.  This card will not be part of my Reds (or Pete Rose) collection.
If I was still editing the "big book," Loxley's observations would be sufficient to convince me to change the identification of the Series 1 No. 12 1976 Sugar Daddy card from Rose to Henderson. Whether other hobby references, the card graders, etc., choose to do the same remains to be seen.

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