In 1952, nine-year-old Rico Petrocelli—growing up the Sheepshead area of Brooklyn—bought baseball cards like millions of added American kids.“My idol was Mickey Mantle,” he told me. “I aloof bought the packages, opened them, chewed the gum—always attractive for the Mantle like all the added guys, alike admitting there were added accomplished players.”
Protective sleeves were about a half-century away. “Being a kid, I didn’t anticipate of attention them,” the 75-year-old, backstab Red Sox All Star ambush said. “Like fools, we addled them [in amphitheater contests] and put them in bike spokes [as babble makers.].”
He accurately recalls owning several of the 1952 Topps Mantle, baseball’s post-war Holy Grail, one of which awash for $2.88 actor aftermost April.
Okay, so maybe his 1952 Mantles weren’t altogether centered and chargeless of book defects. But we’ll never know.
I spent a actual blessed hour with Rico, who treats anybody brand his best friend, at this accomplished summer’s National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland. We discussed the new book he helped craft, An All-Star Star’s Cardboard Memories.
The coffee table book brings to activity the personalities and performances of added than 56 Hall of Famers, who graced the acreage amid 1960 and 1990, through their best cards and Rico’s active memories. The co-authors are Tom Zappala, Ellen Zappala, and Joe Orlando.
The Zappalas co-authored award-winning books on aboriginal 1900s Cracker Jack and T206 tobacco cards. I ahead raved about their book, co-authored with Joe Orlando, CEO of Collectors Universe, Legendary Lumber: The 100 Bats in Baseball History.
I own added baseball agenda history books–a dozen–than baseball cards themselves. They acquaint a alluring adventure of American pop ability and business and are an invaluable analysis tool. Plus they amount a atom of the amount of the cards themselves. I’m blessed to address that the well-researched and abundantly illustrated Cardboard Memories is a winner— whether you’re an avant-garde or a nominal collector, or aloof a apparent baseball buff.
Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Sandy Koufax in the 1950s to Robin Yount, George Brett, and Carlton Fisk in the 1980s, all the best accepted cards are featured in affluent detail, and aggrandized by Rico’s ablaze belief about the accent players.
Besides giving a accepted overview of best of a player’s agenda issues, Orlando divides his history into two sections. “The Card” is the one about admired as the best significant: the boilerplate rookie. But Orlando makes exceptions. For example, rather than additional baseman Nellie Fox’s 1951 Bowman, he singles out his ambiguous 1954 Wilson Franks card.
The “One to Watch” opened my eyes wide. “In some cases, a abundant aberration was selected,” Orlando said. “In others a hardly disregarded affair that may be an affordable another or one with a ablaze approaching was chosen.”
Over the years, Topps test-marketed assorted issues on an acutely bound base to see if they would bolt on. Orlando appear to me, for the aboriginal time,the 1968 Plaks account for miniature busts of the brand of Al Kaline and Jim Hunter and the 1973 Topps Nolan Ryan Comics. Orlando additionally makes a acute case for cards’ claim actuality based on their architecture and artwork, abnormally the 1953 Mays and 1955 Hank Aaron. Perhaps, such judgements will one day agency added into their values.
Orlando shares a able bent with me for an best abundant analysis issue: the 1969 Super Topps. The high-gloss accomplishment added ablaze blush photographs. He illustrates those of Roberto Clemente and bristles added Hall of Famers in the 66-card set.
My only, actual small, artifice with Orlando is the set’s about rarity. Its origins abide buried in mystery: There’s agitation whether it was awash in Michigan or in Brooklyn. Either way, it’s a difficult set and carefully for hardcore collectors.
At a New York appearance beforehand this year, I purchased a 1969 Super Mantle from a 30-years-in-the-business agenda banker who had never apparent one. Another adept banker has calm 200 of Mantle’s cards back 1982 and had never heard of this card, either.
PSA and SGC accept alone graded 181 amid them, compared to 6,000 of Mantle’s boilerplate issue. In fact, no Mantle Super has been awash on eBay back aftermost May, according to PWCC’s eBay’s Market Amount Research.
An archetype in actual good-excellent action is now up for bargain in Mile High Agenda Company’s bargain catastrophe on October 4. (Current bid: $440). Keyman Collectibles ethics this agenda at $2,000 in actual acceptable condition, but it will acceptable go for abundant less.
Cardboard Memories beautifully presents the 1969 Supers and all the added cards in their abounding glory, acknowledgment to outstanding photography by Christina Good. The Zappalas additionally altogether abduction the audible articulation of Rico as he tells his beginning stories. “It’s appealing unbelievable, but I absolutely bent the aftermost brawl [Mantle] hit in his career,” he recalls. “It was off Jim Longborg and it was a pop up. I abiding ambition I had kept that ball.”
After our interview, I ran over to MIke Heffner, the longtime controlling of Lelands bargain house, to ask him what this brawl would be account today. Not as abundant as you think, back it was not a milestone: $5,000. That’s a lot beneath than Rico’s 1952 Mantles.
You can adjustment Cardboard Memories on Amazon or on Tom Zappala’s website ($30).
Tom Zappala and Rico host a account program, The Abundant American Collectibles Show, on Facebook every Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m. EST.
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