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Wills Added Spice to First Topps WS Highlights Subset in 1960

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
November 13, 2005

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Dear Babe: Is there a checklist available that lists all of the World Series and playoff cards that have been put out over the years? Or at least a list of each year that Topps issued such cards?
Steve Ferenchick, Wynnewood, Pa.

While both Beckett and Sports Collectors Digest have done articles on the World Series cards, which have appeared in Topps sets since 1960, none of the big boys have put together a checklist as such. Beckett's Almanac of Baseball Cards and The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest list entire Topps sets, so an industrious person could go through all the sets since 1960 to compile a checklist. Other companies have also produced similar highlights cards and even sets, but those have been sporadic and will be much harder to track down.

Interestingly that very first year, Topps produced possibly the most notable World Series card. The Dodgers beat the White Sox in six games to win the 1959 Series. The 1960 highlight cards include No. 389, showing No. 11 Luis Aparicio stealing a base in Game 5 that the White Sox won, 1-0. The player most prominently displayed on the card is the Dodgers shortstop awaiting the throw - Maury Wills. What's the big deal? Wills wasn't under contract to Topps and had no cards of his own. He wouldn't have a "rookie" card until the 1963 Fleer set came out. He didn't appear in a Topps set until 1967 - eight years after his Major League debut in 1959. That highlight card is the most valuable one from 1960 with both of the aforementioned guides listing it at $12. It's also been reprinted as part of the 2001 Topps Archives set (No. 258). Wills, no longer at odds with Topps, even signed some the reprinted cards.

Dear Babe: A friend of mine was a photographer for the Orlando Magic during their early years. He has a basketball signed by the following players who visited Orlando: Danny Ainge, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Tom Chambers, Clyde Drexler, Alex English, Danny Ferry, Hersey Hawkins, Dennis Johnson, Kevin Johnson, Michael Jordan, Rick Mahorn, Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Danny Manning, Reggie Miller, Chris Mullin, Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Parish, Scottie Pippen, Mark Price, Doc Rivers, David Robinson, Detlef Schrempf, Byron Scott, Rony Seikaly, John Stockton, Isaiah Thomas, Kelly Tripuka and Dominique Wilkins.
Steve Toomey, Nashua, N.H.

Your friend did a good job of getting a lot of big names, but he also managed to snag several that will never reach Hall of Fame status - and therein lies the problem. Big names aside, there's nothing to tie everything together other than they all played against the Magic. That's unfortunate, because it means you're missing one big name - Shaquille O'Neal, who played for the Magic in those days. Nonetheless, the ball could be worth $800-$1,000, said Mike Breeden, a Tuff Stuff columnist and autograph expert. Although, he said finding a buyer would be tough because the signers don't really have anything in common outside of being Magic opponents.

Dear Babe: I have a 1932 Wheaties Babe Ruth Flip Book movie card. It is PRO graded 5.5.
Michael Hayes, Asheboro, N.C.

I'm not familiar with PRO grading, but it's not one of the big boys. Generally, it appears to me that it's easier to get a higher grade from one of the smaller grading companies. The fact that your flip book only managed to earn a 5.5 says to me that it's in "very good" condition at best, assuming that's a 5.5 on a scale of 10.

The brand-new 2006 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest lists the "Babe Ruth Shows You How to Hit a Home Run" flip book at $550 in "near-mint" condition, $275 in "excellent" condition and $165 in "very good" shape. If your book only scored a 5.5 from that grader, I think it's going to fall near the bottom of the range at best.

Dear Babe: My wife, Faye, visited Jack Dempsey's New York restaurant in 1957 and he signed a 1919 fight postcard for her. His signature is on the back, in green ink saying "To Faye, Thanks & lots of Luck, Jack Dempsey." On the front of the card, there is a color image of the fight between Jack and Jess Williams in the ring with the heads of male spectators in white hats beyond. The card is in excellent condition. The corners and edges are all perfect. The card has aged without any discoloration.
Ron Morris, Columbus, Ind.

Dempsey probably signed thousands of these postcards over the years. They usually fall in the $50-$125 range. Almost all are personalized. Often, a key to value is whether you can matte the Manassas Mauler's signature and frame it with a picture.

Dear Babe: I got an autograph from Roger Maris at a golf tournament in May of 1980. It was signed on an index card.
Robert McCurry, Newnan, Ga.

When it comes to the value of an autograph for a non-Hall of Famer, Roger Maris ranks up near the top. "A nice Maris should bring $250-350," said Mike Breeden, a Tuff Stuff columnist and autograph expert.

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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