I skipped 1961 in my What Was I Thinking post because my mom’s ex-husband randomly gave me 31 (the Don Blasingame card isn’t pictured since it’s already in my Giants album) 1961 Topps cards with the jokey comment that I probably wasn’t going to be excited about a beat up Walt Dropo card.
At the time I hadn’t started my one-per-year project in earnest so this was a huge, exciting gift. This was ten times as many “old” cards as I had already collected and way more than any of my friends had either. Yet I was also disappointed with the condition. These are mighty beat up and I was a bit of a condition snob. The thing with getting into a hobby when penny sleeves and card savers and binder pages are everywhere is that the idea of using and interacting with the cards is very quickly beaten out of you.
Still it was fun to have cards of Brooks Robinson, Lew Burdette, Harmon Killebrew, Don Drysdale, Hank Aaron, and Frank Robinson. And this gave me a real kick in the pants to get one for every other year as well.
I’m also much less annoyed with the condition now. It’s funny. I “arrested” things 30 years ago and while they’re still not even close to “pristine” they look a lot better to me as 55-year-old cards then they did as 30-year-old cards. I also find myself increasingly touched by signs of use. It’s great to see well-loved cards and be reminded of how kids used to use them whether through bike spokes or flipping.*
*I’d honestly love to see a write up of the different card flipping rules that kids in the 1960s used since the whole practice is completely foreign to me.
And I’m finding other things about them to be interested in besides the “star” players. Like I’m especially interested in franchise moving and renaming things now. I haven’t put together a comprehensive wishlist or write up on this although I have a few things sketched out on my random wantlist. But I’m finding that I really love cards from teams which either no longer exist (name or location) or from teams which have just moved or been created.
With two brand-new expansion teams and a recent team move, there are a lot of these in the 1961 set—especially once you add in the teams which would move again before the decade ended. I’m very pleased to have a decent number of these situations in my sample of cards.
So I have two Milwaukee Braves cards (including Lew Burdette). It’s nice to see the Milwaukee caps and see that the Braves uniforms look very much like the current Braves uniforms. I don’t want or need a comprehensive collection of Milwaukee Braves cards but having a couple from each season there is fun. I’ll eventually be focusing on their first and last seasons but for now this is a satisfactory start.
I’ve one Kansas City A’s card. Similar to the Braves it’s nice to have a sampling from the years they were in Kansas City. I enjoy this one because I can see the full uniform and barely recognize the team without its now-traditional green and yellow color scheme.
The Los Angeles Angels were a brand-new expansion team this year. I love that one of the cards I have is from a later series and so Topps was able to get a proper photo of the Angels caps and uniform. I’m so used to hatless photos such as Ken Hunt’s or blacked-out caps like my Manny Mota card that seeing a proper uniform is extra pleasing.
I also have one card from the expansion version of the Washington Senators. Not hatless but definitely a photo taken to obscure the cap insignia. I highly doubt this is how Hernández wore his cap when he was actually playing.
And on the topic of the Washington Senators, I also have three Minnesota Twins cards from the old Senators’ first year in Minnesota. I’m a bit amused that Topps went with hatless photos here yet was just fine using a Senators team photo on the team card.
The Twins, Angels, and Senators cards are most exciting to me now because 1961 is the first year for all three of those clubs. I’ll be looking for more of those in the future too. Sadly the Angels and Senators don’t have team photos but I’ve already acquired their 1962 team cards to cover that absence. I also had one 1962 Mets card in my childhood collection which belongs with this project too.