Friday, August 6, 2010

#4 - Hank Aaron Special

This next card highlights something I kind of picked up on the last card. Hank's expression is always a half-smile. It is pleasant enough but never exactly gleeful ("glee" being a popular word these days). It certainly doesn't approach what I always thought was the happiest pose by a major leaguer I ever saw, the '71 Vida Blue card. Given the name of this blog, I feel it is only appropriate to mention the pennants on the '65 set, which I think are stylishly superior to the ones on this set. I will say that the ones in '74 are much more symmetrical, however, as will soon be seen.

The back of the '62 card was sort of dull, with a brown/cream color for the tone. In what seems to be a back-and-forth, that year Topps again did the one season thing for the stats. I will say the cartoon that year is highly stylized and realistic. In '63 things got brighter with an orangy tone and multi-year stats again, although the cartoon comes back to the familiar generic ones. In '64 Topps got clever: the card back was pinkish-orange with no visible cartoon...unless one had a nickel. That was the year one had to rub the space on the card back to find the answer to that card's quiz question. Very high tech! For '65 things on the back got blue and simple with big lettering, multi-year stats - now the norm - and an un-rubbed cartoon.

The first thing that I will say about the back of this card is that I did a much better scanning job. Since the blog is about the cards, however, and not me, there are a couple real tidbits on the back of this one. The first is that by '74 I had of course heard of Bobby Thomson. This was the first time, though, that I was able to link him with something or somebody "real time." I had also not known until this card that Aaron replaced Thomson in the lineup. Thomson had always up to that point been strictly associated with the Giants. To continue this tangent, there was a book written in the '90's called "Underworld" by Don DeLillo. It is a huge wonderful book and one of the plot threads involves what happened to the baseball hit for a home run by Thomson in the '51 playoffs, the "shot heard 'round the world." A couple years before the book was published, what became the prologue of the book was published in Harper's as a Folio story called "Pafko at the Wall." It is probably the most amazing piece of sports literature I have ever read. It is a fictionalized account of the game - Andy Pafko was the Brooklyn outfielder over whose head the homer was hit - and has Jackie Gleason, Sinatra, J. Edgar Hoover, and other period guys as attendees. Even if you don't read the book - a mounting task - I would encourage anyone interested in the game to read the prologue.

Back to the card, I love Topps' choice to write something meaningful for Aaron's '62 season. The first Valley Girl baseball card.

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