Especially at mine, anyway. I find something new for my collection pretty much every time I step in the door - no matter how often. They amaze me.
But, sometimes, they mystify and confuse me. In a good way.
A few weeks ago, I was browsing through one of their glass cases of vintage cards and I saw all the usual suspects. Stars of the 50's and 60's on Topps cardboard were staring back at me, but they held no interest to me. It was a stack of cards with this oddity on top that caught my attention:
Hey, we're talking pre-war vintage gold here! Vance Page was a Cub from 1938-41. He was a mediocre pitcher, but he logged some time in the 1938 World Series and how many people can say they pitched for the Cubs in the World Series?
Well, none. They've all since died, but you get my point. That includes Page, who unfortunately died at the far too young age of 35 when he fell off of a barn in 1951.
But, back to the card - what the heck is it??
Odd size (though that's pretty usual for the time), penciled in names, random seam in the middle, no identifying information whatsoever... I was stumped.
There was no more help to be found on the back:
But it sure looks like a trimmed playing card to me. However, the front did not have the texture of a playing card; it felt like a normal square of cardboard.
The shop's purveyor really had no clue either. He bought a collection en masse from a local yocal and found said stack of mystery cards nestled inside. But, he did offer them to me for a buck a piece; anything that old for that cheap and I'm sold!
I did have a sneaking suspicion as to the origin of these cards, but more on that later.
Besides Page, I was able to find a couple more old-time Cubs that I needed for my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection:
That's Ival Goodman on the left and Al, not Paul, Epperly on the right. Goodman appears to be pictured in a Cincinnati Reds uniform and the person behind the penciled in text seems to have confused Al with teammate Paul Erickson, both mounds-men.
Goodman was an All-Star twice over in Cincy during the late 1930's, but was running out of steam by the time the Cubs bought his contract in 1941. His bat was still potent (.298 BA in Chicago) but he couldn't stay on the field ( just 142 games over 2 seasons).
Epperly got a brief trial with the Cubs in 1938, getting into just 9 games before being sent down. Unfortunately for him, Al wasn't to see his name on a big league roster again until he took the mound for 5 games with the 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers. Talk about perseverance!
Since Epperly only had one season with the Cubs, I think we know what year these cards date from!
It was the notch that's predominantly present on the front of Goodman's card that really cemented my theory as to the story behind these cards; that said, it was the back of the same card that absolutely confirmed my theory for me:
It looks like a chopped up entry form for some long-forgotten contest put on by the Reds. So, what does this mean?
It means that these are super-vintage custom cards!
Some kid in the late 30's wanted more baseball cards, so he grabbed an old program/scorecard/advertisement (I'm not sure exactly what publication they came from) with pictures of ballplayers, cut them up and glued them to whatever scrap paper he could find - including playing cards and old ballots.
I guess Goudey wasn't "Goudey-nuff" for him! Nyuck, Nyuck, Nyuck.
A time-period appropriate reference!
They might not technically be authentic baseball cards, but that just makes them all the more fascinating to me. As a result of their home-spun creation, there's so much more character and child-like wonder behind these customs.
Thus, they will still be entered into my CATRC set until further notice. An authentic release would supplant them from that binder, but not my collection. They are far too unique and special for me to simply get rid of them just because they were created by a kid in his basement rather than a chewing gum company.
Like I said, you just never really know what you're going to find in your LCS. Topps flagship? Definitely. Flashy auto/relic cards? Sure thing. Pre-WWII vintage customs? Apparently it can happen.