History That Never Was

A little flashback on MLB Network on the late lamented 1964 Pholding Philadelphia Phillies made me think of a couple of items in my collection, the ones that pertain to baseball history that never was. Let’s start with the obvious:

A lot of these daggers-to-the-heart of older Philly fans (complete with that painful note about refunds for “tickets for unplayed games”) still exist, as do copies of what would have been the cover of the Phils’ 1964 World Series Program. 
Speaking of which: Can you spot anything wrong with this cover?
That’s right: the Boston Red Sox did not play the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1946 World Series, certainly not at Ebbets Field. The Dodgers finished the season tied for first with the Cardinals, and lost to St. Louis in a best-of-three playoffs. But though they didn’t make it, the Dodgers’ World Series Program did. And not just the cover – the full contents with biographies and advertising and of course, the scorecard:
Hope you enjoy that triple-header of Perry Como shots there. 
Speaking of the Dodgers and history that never happened:
World Series Media credentials are one of the real niche items among collectibles, but it’s not because of their attractiveness nor history (the oldest I have dates to the 1911 Series). If teams used to print World Series Programs on the mere hope they would get in, obviously they had to prepare the credentials too. It was the Giants and not the Dodgers who issued the clubhouse passes for the ’54 games, yet there is a Dodger “phantom” World Series credential nonetheless.
And let’s finish it up with more familiar territory. Don’t know if you have any 1977 Topps baseball cards, but I’m willing to bet you don’t have these three:
These are unissued “proof” cards – the test printings of the planned designs for a set of cards. Today Topps produces these proofs on thin, glossy stock, but well into the ’90s the proofs were printed on the same stock as the regularly-issued cards. Usually they had blank backs, but occasionally the biographies were printed too.
None of these three cards made the ’77 set. Topps pulled the Jerry Grote card when, not long after the ’76 season ended, the Mets’ catcher declared his intention to retire due to a bad back (he changed his mind, but not until the eve of Spring Training, by which time the cards were already being shipped). The Reggie card is probably the most famous “proof”; people forget he spent the 1976 season with Baltimore, then joined the Yankees as a free agent that winter. The “issued” Jackson card shows him in an A’s batting helmet airbrushed to look vaguely like the “NY” logo. The saddest story is of the Danny Thompson card. The long-time Twins’ infielder was traded to Texas in June, 1976. He was already ill with leukemia, and he succumbed to the disease on December 10th.
The proof cards are very rare, but even among them there are relative degrees of scarceness. For instance there are at least eight copies of the Jackson/Orioles card known. But the Grote and the Thompson are unique, and there is some evidence that Topps pulled them so early that they made another proof sheet featuring the players that replaced them.


  1. bgoslow@yahoo.com

    My equivalent item would be a 1975 World Championship Boston Red Sox pennant, which were on sale outside Fenway before the end of game seven. I had been watching the game with friends at the Pizza Pad in Kenmore Square with the plan of going up to the park in the 9th inning when they’d open the gate for people to leave. After Bill Lee threw that stupid blooper pitch to Tony Perez, we started up Brookline Avenue, but there was a police barricade stopping pedestrians from walking up to the park, so we hailed a cab to take us the three blocks up to the park, where I bought one of the pennants from a vendor outside Fenway, before we went in via the Jersey Street entrance and go in just in time to watch Yaz fly out to center field. The group of us met, as planned, on pitcher’s mound. Alas, there was no waving of the Red Sox World Series Championship pennant that evening …

  2. mantlewasarockstar

    Wait–while the actual Topps Reggie Jackson ’77 card does have him sporting a seemingly airbrushed helmet, he’s also apparently wearing a pinstripe uniform in the same photo; was that airbrushed, too?

    Don Zimmer’s 1962 Topps card says Cincinnati Reds but he’s clearly wearing a Mets cap and uniform…I’m sure you know of plenty more examples. Mas, por favor.

  3. pepefreeus

    I really love that Jackson card. I went to school with a lot of O’s fans in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s who absolutely hated Reggie and could be sent into near hysterics at the sight of him in that uniform (especially the SI cover.)

    Keith, have you seen the original photo they used as the template for the airbrushing? I’ve seen similar, but not identical, poses of him in the Orioles orange jersey and variant cap. I had always assumed that was what they used. I’ve always been curious to see the unaltered original.

    It’s a bit of a shame, really, that he had such a lame regular set card. The Burger King variant is far superior.

    That was the year of his phenominal Series accomplishment. It should have been accompanied by an epic card (which his cards usually were…the ’70 and ’76 comes to mind.)

  4. 1948braves

    History That Never Was –

    “Congratulations Boston Red Sox, 1986 World Champions,” flashed on the Shea Stadium scoreboard during Game 6 of the World Series.

    I couldn’t find the photograph that captured that very brief moment, but I saw that a photograph does exist, taken by George Kalinsky.

  5. jackberk@ptd.net

    After reading this story I turned around and looked at my framed copy of the 1964
    Phillies World Series ticket.
    They were sold for charity by John Wannamaker department store.
    What a season. As an old Phillies fan who remembers all the years of hard-ache I am certainly enjoying the current team.

  6. historymike

    A couple of notes about the above:

    –Note that the cigarette is never in Perry Como’s mouth. I recall that Ronald Reagan did cigarette ads with the cigarette in his mouth.

    –The list of umpires includes “John” Reardon. Nobody called him that. They called him Beans, since he hailed from Massachusetts. 1946 was the last World Series in which only four umpires worked the game. For years there had been two alternates in case of illness and Judge Landis saw no reason or need for extra umpires. But in 1947, all six worked the field, but the two “alternates” worked only the foul lines and usually were younger umpires working their first World Series.

  7. djjeffhall@hotmail.com

    Oh man, do I ever covet that Reggie Jackson card!

    I remember seeing Mr. Jackson play for the O’s. As the commenter above mentioned, I was not a fan at the time. (Though I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why today. Who knows what motivated me at 12 years of age?) Today, I’d love nothing more than to have a card with him wearing the goofy bird.

    Congratulations on the acquisition and thank you for taking the time to share it with us.

  8. nhoblogr3@yahoo.com

    Hi Keith .. – Just wanted to comment that your recent posts about old baseball cards has inspired me to start collecting again. I dig the Jackson proof and I had honestly forgotten until you mentioned it that he played for Baltimore. … – Be well.

  9. cheappromgown

    I remember seeing Mr. Jackson play for the O’s. As the commenter above mentioned, I was not a fan at the time. (Though I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why today. Who knows what motivated me at 12 years of age?) Today, I’d love nothing more than to have a card with him wearing the goofy bird.

    Congratulations on the acquisition and thank you for taking the time to share it with us.

  10. Scott D. Kilhenny

    TOPPS BASEBALL CARDS, CHEATED US,Players like Sandy Koufax last card,etc., etc., etc. For example Derek Jeter last card would this year be his last year,be cheated next year! Topps don’t produce players last year card! Topps should change their policy!! Sincerely kilhennyscott@yahoo.com

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  14. John Bibb

    Had to clear out some storage crates at my parents house this weekend. What do you think? Part of a sheet of 10 1/2 player cards (some damage to the cards on edge of sheet of 12) Coca-cola & Crown petroleum sponsored card. #217

  15. Joe Higler

    As a kid I had the good fortune to pull the Reggie proof card from a “triple whammy” clear pack that I bought at a High’s convenience store in the Twinbrook shopping center in Rockville, Maryland.
    At the time I had no idea what it was. And showed it to my card collecting expert next door neighbor who was 2 years older than me. There were no stats on the back. He flipped out when he saw it. And promptly ran out of my house with it to show to his card collecting Dad. So, in a way, I guess I gave it to him.
    Anyway I was very upset when I found out it was valuable as Reggie Jackson was my favorite player back then and the Orioles were my favorite team. Never saw much of my “friend” after all that. Anyway – always thought it was the best looking Reggie Jackson card ever made – he looks happy in it and the colors are great.

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