John Racanelli (@phitter72) is a good Twitter follow and a fellow blogger over at SABR. He’s been making both a silly series of literals customs and a cool series inspired by 1949 Leaf. In the beginning of the month he sent out a request for suggestions for his Leaf set.
I suggested Hank Thompson with the Browns. Why? Because Hank Thompson is the only player who integrated two Major League baseball teams. While I have his 1950 Bowman rookie card with the Giants, there’s no card featuring him with the Browns.
John went ahead and made cards of most (if not all) the suggestions and then reached out to see if I wanted a copy of the Hank. Last week I got an envelope from John and inside found two Hank Thompson Leafish cards.
The Browns card is great. A nice photo and the whole package feels right. The Giants one suffers a little from the mixed white-point issue that frequently bedevils modern creations that are intended to look old.* But they’re both more than welcome in the binder.
*If the border is supposed to be old paper then nothing else on the card should be a brighter white than the border.
The Browns card in fact may eventually make it out of my custom card section into a mini-PC section. I mentioned this last week but a couple of us on Twitter are collecting cards of the first black players for each team. It’s a short list and most of the players aren’t too spendy.
Dodgers April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson Indians July 5, 1947 Larry Doby Browns July 17, 1947 Hank Thompson Giants July 8, 1949 Hank Thompson, Monte Irvin Braves April 18, 1950 Sam Jethroe White Sox May 1, 1951 Minnie Miñoso Athletics Sept 13, 1953 Bob Trice Cubs Sept 17, 1953 Ernie Banks Pirates April 13, 1954 Curt Roberts (also Carlos Bernier) Cardinals April 13, 1954 Tom Alston Reds April 17, 1954 Nino Escalera, Chuck Harmon Senators Sept 6, 1954 Carlos Paula Yankees April 14, 1955 Elston Howard Phillies April 22, 1957 John Kennedy Tigers June 6, 1958 Ozzie Virgil Red Sox July 21, 1959 Pumpsie Green
We’re each putting together our own rules for what kinds of cards we want. For my part I’m looking for cards that are as close as possible to when they integrated the team without requiring myself to break the bank. And the cards should feature the player with the team they integrated (ruling out the Ozzie Virgil Giants cards I already own).
The Hank Thompson Browns custom fills a hole because it’s one of the player/team combinations which isn’t available on cards. At least he has cards though. Nino Escalera and John Kennedy don’t even appear on cardboard.
Right now I have cards of Hank Thompson (1950 Bowman), Monte Irvin (1953 Topps), Minnie Miñoso (1954 Bowman), and Elston Howard (1967 Topps). The Elston Howard is a bit too old for my preferences in this project but until my COMC pile gets here it’s fine. My COMC pile though has another nine cards for this project.
1950 Bowman Sam Jethroe Braves 1954 Bowman Carlos Bernier Pirates 1954 Topps Bob Trice Athletics 1954 Topps Chuck Harmon Reds 1954 Topps Curt Roberts Pirates 1955 Topps Carlos Paula Senators 1959 Topps Ossie Virgil Tigers 1959 Topps Elston Howard Yankees 1961 Topps Pumpsie Green Red Sox
Most of these are pretty close to the players’ debuts. Howard is still a bit off but 1959 is still way closer than 1967. Aside from the players who don’t have cards this leaves me with a big four left. Three of those four are Hall of Famers. I don’t expect to ever get a Jackie Robinson card. Larry Doby has an affordable 1959 card but I’d like one from his original stint with the Indians. Those aren’t too bad but are worth waiting for one at the right price. Ernie Banks is similar to Doby. And Tom Alston’s 1955 Bowman is surprisingly expensive but unfortunately it’s his only card.
When my pile gets here I’ll scan everything and put them (aside from the Giants) into eight-pocket pages. So expect a follow up post on here about how the project is coming sometime next year once COMC gets its act together.