Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cards That Never Were #29

1951 Bowman - Eddie Gaedel

On August 19, 1951, Bill Veeck pulled off a publicity stunt that people are still talking about today. He signed and played a three foot, seven inch, twenty-six year old, Eddie Gaedel. Being so short, Eddie had virtually no strike zone and promptly walked on four pitches before being replaced at first by a pinch runner. Gaedel's uniform number was 1/8.

Two days later, Eddie's contract was voided and he never played in the majors again. Initially, Eddie's appearance was stricken from the MLB record book, but within a year, Gaedel was placed back in.

Eddie continued to gain employment from Bill Veeck, although always in a non-playing role. One memorable promotion in 1959, with the White Sox, included Gaedel and others dressed as spacemen who presented ray guns to Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio.

During the last year of his life, 1961, Eddie was employed as a vendor at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Veeck hired dwarves and midgets as vendors so the view wouldn't be blocked for fans in the stands.

I've always thought that Eddie deserved a card for his playing time, so here it is. A Bowman card from the year that he played.

I did toy with the idea of a 1952 card, but ultimately decided on the 1951 for two reasons.

1. Eddie's contract was voided and his appearance was stricken from the record on August 21, 1951. It wouldn't be reinstated until roughly a year later.

2. Card companies at that time were known not to include players if they retired the season before. Topps even scrapped a 1952 Joe DiMaggio card because he retired before the 1952 season.

To illustrate to the Topps Company how a card should look, take a gander at the 1951 Bowman card above. Now feast your eyes on how a card should not look.
The only acceptable reason for this 1986 Topps mock up of Eddie Gaedel to exist would be if this card was released in 1986. In 2010, when I made this 1986 Topps card of Gaedel, there is absolutely no logical reason for this to exist. There is no connection to 1986 whatsoever.

The 1951 card makes sense because Gaedel played in 1951. A 1961 card would even make sense, because that was the year Eddie passed away. While the '86 card may look cool, it is an eyesore that does not associate Gaedel with any time period, and creates more confusion than anything else.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

If Gaedel played in '51, shouldn't Topps have made a '52 card? That would make a lot more sense, and use one of their "classic" sets.

White Sox Cards said...

I did toy with the idea of a 1952 card, but ultimately decided on the 1951 for two reasons.

1. Eddie's contract was voided and his appearance was stricken from the record on August 21, 1951. It wouldn't be reinstated until roughly a year later.

2. Card companies at that time were known not to include players if they retired the season before. Topps even scrapped a 1952 Joe DiMaggio card because he retired before the 1952 season.

Topps may own Bowman now, but back in 1951, it was its own company and Topps' competition.

Jonathan @ RGB Cards said...

So I take it Steve that you're not keen on the "Cy Young on a 1987 Topps" insert set in Series 2?

csd said...

I love the card. Do you mind if I use it for a custom card with his great nephew? I have been looking for a real Gaedel card, but they are all new. This was looks perfect.

White Sox Cards said...

The "Cy Young on a 1987 Topps" is what it is. Some people will like it, but many will not. JT of The Writer's Journey loves it and more power to him. It's great that some people like it. I'm just not one of them. I think if we want to teach kids the history of the game and the history of trading cards, there should be some thought and logic to everything.

csd, feel free to use the Gaedel card in your project. It should make for an interesting card!

Jonathan @ RGB Cards said...

I think "Cy Young on an '87 Topps" is the next logical step in the whole Million Card Giveaway retro thing Topps has going this year. Series 1 was all about classic players on classic cards. Series 2 is classic players on modern cards, and modern players on future cards.

I'd say Updates and Highlights would then be modern players on classic cards, but that's called Heritage.

Personally, I'm willing to give it a shot and how the cards look in person will be the factor for me on whether to go for the set. What's disappointing to me is that they didn't use the '87 base card for Cy and went with the All-Star card instead. That seems like an unnecessary change.

Like you said, it is what it is. You can always just set aside those insert cards for me! ;)

csd said...

Thanks! I will see what I can do.

White Sox Cards said...

Jonathan,

I'll be happy to set aside any non-White Sox cards from that insert set for you. :-)

Johngy said...

Steve,
Why don't you end the farce that is the current state of cards and just produce your own set!!! Yours would be better than anything out there!

White Sox Cards said...

The licensing fees would kill me.

Now if a certain card company with the majority of the licensing fees wants to hire me to create and shape a set, I'm all ears.

:-)

thewritersjourney said...

I'm tempted to make a random custom card set just to mess with your head, Steve. How about Ozzie Guillen on a 1976 Topps FOOTBALL card? Or Frank Thomas--in a Mets uniform--on a 1980 Star Wars card? LOL!

BTW, great job with Gaedel. Both of them. :)

White Sox Cards said...

I've already seen Frank in a Yankees uniform from Mr. Baseball. It might be cool to see how the NL (and the force) might treat him. Will he be holding his bat as an homage to the C-3PO card? :-)

Ozzie would definitely have to be a Cub! On a football card! LOL

Thanks, JT!

Jim from Downingtown said...

Anonymous,

The fact that someone played in a specific year doesn't necessarily warrant a card in the following year.

If the player only played for a short time (and in Gaedel's case it was one at-bat), or he was released prior to Topps' following year set going into design, then why would a card be created? There are plenty of long-time veterans that were released after a season ended, and they didn't get a card the following season.

Joe Nuxhall got a card in 1967, and Mickey Mantle got a card in 1969, but these players retired close to the start of the following season, so they were already included in the set.

Sandy Koufax retired shortly after the 1966 season, and was therefore not included in the 1967 set.


One of the notable exceptions to the above rules of thumb is that Mike Schmidt retired in May 1989, but had a "tribute" card in the 1990 set.

Anonymous said...

The image you used to create this card is from a Miller Press card issued in 1991. It was colorized from the black & white original by Allen Miller Sr.

Steve Gierman said...

Thank you very much for the info. :-)

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