Wednesday, February 19, 2014

1965 Topps National League ERA Leaders Redux

While making these recent posts featuring 1965 leader cards that never were, I stumbled upon a mystery. 

 I was wondering why Topps made their ERA leader cards with only 2 pitchers instead of the usual 3. This is the original NL ERA Leader card. The card above is what I think it should have been.

In 1962 they made a couple leader cards with 3 players instead of 4 because there were players tied for 4th place. In this case it was because Joe Adcock and Dick Stuart were tied for 4th with 35 homers.

And in this case because Johnny Podres, Lew Burdette and Sandy Koufax were tied for 4th with 18 wins each. (By the way, which Topps employee let their 4 year old daughter cut these pictures out?)

But normally Topps just keeps adding players like in this ridiculous 1970 leader card where they doubled the normal number of photos to accommodate the 4 way tie for 3rd with 20 wins each.

Even in the 1965 season they bumped the number of players up to 4 in this case to accommodate Mantle and Killebrew's tie for 3rd with 111 RBIs each.

And included 5 photos in 2 of their leader cards to include all 3 tied for 3rd in homers.

and in this case the 2 tied for the lead with 20 wins and the 3 tied with 19 behind them.

So why only 2?  

The answer is Chris Short.

Like Maury Wills, Chris Short made his Major League debut in 1959 and also like Wills, short had his 1st Topps card in 1967. From '59-'67 Maury Wills was playing in World Series, winning the NL MVP and setting stolen base records and was conspicuously missing from Topps sets. He was, however, included in Post and Fleer sets of that era. Chris Short was just missing. No Post cereal cards. No 1963 Fleer card. Nothing. He was a solid pitcher, though. He was a regular in the Phillies rotation, even representing Philadelphia in the 1964 All Star game.

If the explanation for why Wills had no cards from 1959-1966 is simply that Fleer got to him first, then why didn't Chris Short have any cards (including Fleer) during that same period? After digging around the interwebs I found only one unsubstantiated reference stating that Chris Short was under exclusive contract with Fleer and set to appear in a later series that was never published. If anybody has any other info please let me know. 

In the mean time, I think I've found my next project.


  1. Interesting. I didn't know Chris Short didn't have a relationship with Topps for a period.

    I'm glad he didn't because no offense to Mr. Short, but the card wouldn't be nearly as awesome with his inclusion.

  2. I was going to say something clever about them wanting to make Night Owl happy but I see he already piped up himself.

    But I wonder what Topps would have done had Short led the league? Publish the card the same way and make believe he didn't exist?

    Did Wills get left off any leader cards? I suppose I could check.

  3. "But I wonder what Topps would have done had Short led the league? "

    The same thing that major-league baseball & the HOF does when the subject of most hits in a career comes up: stick its head in the sand.

    See how the World Series cards were missing from the 1966 set? Topps probably would have chosen to eliminate the leaders cards altogether that year, and cook up an excuse like "wanting to get base cards for 12 more players included in the set".

  4. I think you are right. And it might be why the All Star cards disappeared in 1963. Granted the Topps "Sporting News All Star" players often were nowhere near the actual All Star players. Topps tried to pass off Roy McMillan as a "Sporting News All Star" in 1962. But would that fly in 1963 after Wills was named The Sporting News Player of the year?

  5. I did some research recently on the Chris Short omitted by Topps subject and came up empty as well. 65T LL is a nice find. I would like to see Matt Wieters lead the league in something to see how Topps Handles it. Here is my related Chris Short posting.