Back around 1980 when Krause Publications was launching Baseball Cards magazine and working on the purchase of Sports Collectors Digest from the Stommen family, I first became aware of the 1963 Pepsi-Cola team set of the Houston Colt .45s.
As a kid collector in 1963, being about 1,250 miles north of Houston, I'd never seen these regionals.
I broached the subject with my mentor Larry Fritsh one night while attending a minor league ballgame. He advised me not to start a set that I couldn't finish. He explained that the '63 Pepsi Bateman was even rarer than the T206 Wagner, and in those pre-internet days was almost never seen in hobby circles. I don't recall now whether or not Larry had the card in his own collection.
In the 2014 edition of its National Pastime publication, the Society for American Baseball Research detailed the story behind the Bateman rarity. You can read it here: Bateman article .
The article was more recently revised or reprinted in Sports Collectors Digest.
Evidently the sole known hoard of '63 Batemans is going to be slowly doled out into the hobby. At prices such as that realized in the June 1 auction, most of those who need the card to complete their set are going to have to go without, unless or until the trickle of available cards eventually slakes the pent-up demand.
The previous last time I know of the sale of a 1963 Pepsi Bateman was in the 2011 Robert Edward Auction annual sale. A Bateman, unslabbed and also without top and bottom tabs, was sold in a lot with 40 other 1963 Pepsi Colt .45s, comprising a complete set of 16 plus duplicates. That lot went for $6,463.
Just to try my hand at recreating one of the modern hobby's fabled rarities, I put together this reprint of a 1963 Pepsi John Bateman. Unlike all of the known examples of the real thing, my reprint has both top and bottom tabs. It is discreetly marked as a 2016 production.
You can order this card. Unless noted, all of my custom cards are available to collectors for $12.50 each, postpaid for one or two cards; $9.95 each for three or more (mix/match). To order, email me at email@example.com for directions on paying via check/money order, or to my PayPal account.