For me there’s usually a “Sears Catalog” kind of allure to the big auction house catalogs, by which I mean that it’s always fun to look at the stuff even if the vast majority of it is way beyond my means.
Part of the fun is that you never know which items are going to grab you, again, keeping in mind my premise that we’re talking about fantasy musings and not instances where you see something you actually intend to bid on.
A couple of Charles Schulz “Peanuts” comic strips did the trick in the current Legendary Auction, which closes on Aug. 25-26. Being a “card guy,” I would typically alight on various singles and sets or – even better – unopened material, but this time it was the famed comic illustrator that caught my attention, along with a neat 1956 Topps Pins complete set.
In the “Peanuts” strips, published in late December of 1962 and late January 1963, Charlie Brown and Linus are seemingly deep in thought in the first three panels, only to have Charlie screaming to the heavens in the final panel, “Why couldn’t McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher!” By the second strip, he had adjusted his apparently reasonable plea to only "two feet higher," with Linus initially appearing somewhat startled in the first strip and slightly bewildered in the follow-up.
Schulz, a diehard Giants fan, apparently was still in a good deal of pain about the abrupt ending of the 1962 World Series, or at least aggravated enough by Bobby Richardson’s snatch of Willie McCovey’s blistering line drive that he would put it into his strip a couple of days before Christmas that year and then again more than a month later.
With a hardly surprising opening bid of $5,000 – and the bidding already at $8,000 with a couple of days left – the auction lot brought back memories for me of one of the first World Series where I vividly remember the ending.
I was a 12-year-old kid, perched at a bowling alley for some reason or other, watching the game in a bar with all the adults and sucking in second-hand smoke at least a couple of decades before we started calling it that.
I was also a diehard National League fan, and I remember just being crushed that the similarly crushed line drive couldn’t have been just a couple of feet higher.
And for the record, the other World Series where I so acutely recall the finish was the 1960 Fall Classic adorned with Bill Mazeroski’s handiwork.
The other lot I noticed, the 1956 Topps Pins set, is not particularly rare or unusual, but I’ve always liked it despite never having any collecting penchant for pins of any description.
But my “card guy” roots loves the use on those pins of the exact same images from so many of the 1954-56 Topps portraits from the card sets, along with the brightly colored backgrounds. It’s a testimony to the popular appeal of the issue that it had already ballooned to more than four times its $500 opening by the time I wrote this.
I also spotted a 1959 Topps Hank Aaron card in a PSA 8 holder at the back of the catalog, which is one of my all-time favorite cards because it makes Henry look younger than even Charlie Brown. I’ll have to steer clear of that one, too, because if I won it I’d have to break it out of the holder, and if you start doing that to PSA 8’s somebody is going to start questioning your fundamentals.
Mine are just fine, thank you.