rock the wells with cards of non-sport

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Season’s Greetings from your bloggin’ buddies at Aardvark Trading Company!

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Hopefully you are reading this because you are completely finished with all of your holiday preparations, as opposed to using Cards in the Attic simply to avoid wrapping those last few presents and getting them under the tree where they belong. I’ve either completed all of my Krismas tasks with time to spare, or I’ve forgotten to do something altogether. Whatever the case, I might as well take advantage of that time to highlight a 15-year-old set of trading cards that happen to contain a little holiday charm.

The Curtis Publishing Company released the 90-card set of Norman Rockwell Collector Cards (Series 1) in 1993. The cards consist of old covers of The Saturday Evening Post that featured Norman Rockwell paintings and illustrations. The painting above of Santa plotting his gift route was used on the magazine cover published December 16, 1939. I’m sure all you keen-eyed readers had already begun questioning why the fat man had skipped over New Mexico entirely, but rest easy- I didn’t live here (or anywhere for that matter) in 1939, so no harm.

Classifying these cards as non-sport was tough given that nearly one quarter of the cards in the set are related to one or more sports- including baseball, football, horse racing, fishing, weight lifting, swimming, diving, golf, hiking, light outdoors recreation, camping, checkers and marbles. If you aren’t aware that “marbles” is a sport, I recommend sitting down with your grandfather (or his dad) at some point and having a LONG talk. Be sure to ask him about the first time he lost his marbles over some girl as depicted in this painting featured on September 2, 1939.

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The 2003 Norman Rockwell Collector Cards set contains five cards that deal specifically with baseball. I am not going to include them all here because I am a firm believer in the joy that comes from personal, first-hand discovery.

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Wouldn’t you agree that this painting captures many of the components that are GOOD about the game of baseball? Even though tiny Timmy is calling for the pitcher (let’s assume it is his father) to deliver the ol’ slurve in order to make gramps look silly, it would be next to impossible to not bust the elderly gentleman with a pitch high and inside just to watch him dance like a sugarplum fairy. After all, it’s nobody’s fault but his own if his pocket watch gets broken as it dangles unprotected over the plate. Appearing on the cover on the August 5, 1916 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, this was the third of Rockwell’s illustrations to be used by the magazine. Rockwell was 22 at the time.

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It is difficult to make out from this scan, so you’ll have to take my word that this Saturday Evening Post cover from July 3, 1939 reads “100th Year of Baseball.” The painting is fantastic, and I wonder if the baseball article inside is as well written. My guess is that the article should be avoided by anyone not aligned with the Abner Doubleday camp.

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This card is one of my favorites in the set. I’d be willing to bet that the majority of you have even seen this image before, as it is quite popular. And why wouldn’t it be? Titled “Bottom of the Sixth,” this painting used on the cover on April 23, 1949 features major league umpires Larry Goetz, Beans Reardon (seriously) and Lou Jorda pondering “what if” as the skies appear to be ready to open up above Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. More humor is provided along the right side of the painting as Pirates skipper Bill Meyer and Dodgers coach Clyde Sukeforth conduct their own meeting of the minds. I will have to defer to the Night Owl to make the call as to whether or not this constitutes a night game. (Trivia buffs make note that it was “Sukey” who managed Jackie Robinson’s first major league game in 1947. Four years later, it was Sukey’s decision to send Ralph Branca to the mound to face Bobby Thompson in the infamous ninth inning of the third game of the National League playoffs.) This card is a MUST HAVE for Dodgers fans!

A single foil pack contained 10 cards; a full box included 48 packs. While I have seen hand collated sets available on eBay ranging between 9 and 19 dollars, I would recommend picking up a full box for probably right around the same amount of lettuce and building at least one full set. A factory-sealed box also provides an opportunity to pull one or more of these interesting “wood” inserts.

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The inserts appear to be printed on a micro-veneer of wood, yet the backs are lined with paper, so I really don’t know what they are all about. A second series released in 1995 contained a short run of chrome Santa Claus card inserts. If you pick up a box of Series II, I would be happy to make some trades, as I don’t have any cards from that set.

Finally, in response to Dinged Corners’ Christmas request for current views of blogger landscapes, I offer the present condition of my Victory Garden that is kept under constant surveillance by my trusted, bodiless scarecrow “Gourdhead.”

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Happy holidays to one and all!

– Kris

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