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When it Comes to Topps Checklists, Uncut Sheets Rare

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
March 21, 2005

Dear Babe: I have a couple of questions about the unnumbered, blue-bordered Topps team checklists from 1973. These are the ones with the facsimile autographs on the front and the checklist of team cards in the 1973 set on the back. I know these checklists are harder to find than the red-bordered versions from 1974, but can't find a definitive answer on why they're rarer. I also wonder if certain team cards are rarer than others. I'm having a heck of a time completing this subset in good condition, in part because some team cards never appear on eBay and because of the horrific centering problems with these tough finds. Also, I have one that's in French on the back, which must be the O-Pee-Chee edition. I've never seen anyone even mention having a French language version of this card. Does such a set exist or is this rouge Franco version just a tease?
Jordan Perry, Redding, Calif.

There are 24 unnumbered 1973 team checklists that were included in packs of cards and also available on uncut sheets through a mail-in offer. There's a difference of opinion between The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest and Beckett's Almanac of Baseball Cards on exactly how the cards were distributed, but both attest to their rarity in 1973 as opposed to 1974.

The Standard Catalog indicates the 1973 cards were in high-number packs, which were traditionally produced in lesser numbers than other cards from the same year. Beckett's Almanac indicates the checklists were in test packs that had cards from all series in them. Meanwhile, the ones from 1974 were simply inserts in packs of cards. 1974 was the first year Topps issued the cards all together as opposed to in series, which explains why they are easier to find and, therefore, have lower values.

As you noted, the checklists were also produced in Canada as part of the 1973 and 1974 O-Pee-Chee sets. Beckett lists the 1973 checklists at $6 each, while the Standard Catalog has them at $2-$4. The ones from 1974 list for $1.50-$2.50.

Beckett's Almanac has much higher values for the 1973 checklists. They book at $8 each with the Yankees and Mets valued at $10 each. The Standard Catalog has them at $3.50 with the two New York teams booking at $6 each. The 1974 checklists book at $1-$1.25. As for the OPC cards, again the Almanac has much higher values for the 1973 versions. They book at $6, while the Standard Catalog has them at $2.50. The 1974 checklists list for $1.50-$2.50. Apparently the uncut sheets are extremely rare finds. Beckett lists uncut sheets at $150.

Dear Babe: I have a book, "Best Plays of the Year," from 1963 by Robert Riger. It is a second edition and came in a case. It also has five prints in a folder.
Hassie Boddy, Oxford, N.C.

As luck would have it, I found one that sold for $19 with S&H in a recent eBay auction. It was advertised as having "a great color cover, 96 pages, great game photos, stories and a special tribute section honoring the recently assassinated President John F. Kennedy." It also mentioned several Riger illustrations. The auction description indicated the book was produced exclusively for the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Co. (L&M), which indicates it was some type of premium from the days when cigarette companies were big sponsors of pro sports.

Dear Babe: I purchased a box of Upper Deck cards in 1995. I pulled a Willie Mays autograph trade card. The number on the back is 99160.
Ken Wooten, Sun City, Calif.

Did you or didn't you? That is the question. Since you mentioned a number, I assume you sent in the trade card and received an autographed card in return. Mays autographed cards are worth $80-$100, according to Beckett's Almanac of Baseball Cards and The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest. The Standard Catalog actually lists the unredeemed Mays trade cards at $6.

Want more? Check out another Babe Waxpak column every Thursday exclusively on Redding.com.

About the author
Bill Wagner is a veteran journalist with 37 years in the newspaper business as well as being a former Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. He developed the Babe Waxpak sports card column in the 1980s and took over authorship in 1993, expanding into sports memorabilia and autographs as well as answering questions on cards.

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