Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Old Arbitrary Presents: Pirates Week (1950s Vintage)

You may have already seen the news, but Matthew of Bob Walk the Plank is retiring from regular blog updates. In recognition of his contributions to the blogging community, I'm converting this to a Pirates-centric blog for a week, highlighting some of my favorite Pirate cards.

This is a 1949 Bowman, but we'll call it close enough the 1950s. One of my favorite things about early Bowman (and about Major League Baseball in the 40s and 50s in general) were all the great nicknames. 1948 was Rojek's best season-  he led the league in games played, plate appearances, and at bats. He had a career high 186 base hits and stole 24 bases.

I've always loved this card. Law looks 20 feet tall, throwing down fastballs from the treetops.

The back of this 1952 Topps card has an incredible tidbit of info- Verne was recruited by none other than crooner Bing Crosby! That's about as 50s as you can get. The last sentence has some odd implications - do all Mormon ministers know how to play the harmonica?

Another personal All-time favorite Topps card, this time featuring a double play tandem that were actually twins!

The first MLB twins teammates were also standout college basketball players.

1955 Bowman - Vic Janowicz was the Bo Jackson of the 1950s, playing both baseball with the Pirates and pro football with Washington,

Similar to Bo, Janowicz had his career cut short due to injury. Janowicz was in a tragic car accident in 1956, which partially paralyzed him. He eventually made a full recovery from the crash, though he never played again. He turned to broadcasting and covered Ohio State football games.

I couldn't pick a favorite from the 1956 Topps set, so here they all are, starting with the starting position players.

The starting rotation and the key members of the bullpen.

And the bench!
The Pirates finished last in the National League in 1955, but they were a talented young team that would soon be knocking on the door for the Pennant.

I really like the backs of these Team Cards, with the home stadium specifications and team records.

The 1957 Topps set has some strange entries, and I'm leaning towards building it if I finish the 1959 set. Paul Smith is shown here in front of a radio broadcast tower (I'm guessing it's radio and not televison).

Whammy was in the 1958 and the 1959 sets, though he only pitched in one MLB season. He was part of a big trade from the Pirates to Cincinnati in 1958 that included the original Frank Thomas and Harvey Haddix. And of course, he had one of the great 50's nicknames.

All 4 of these 1959 Topps cards came in a big lot I purchased from a vintage dealer I've been doing business with since I came back to collecting. Even though he's moved out the North Carolina, he still has family in MN and he contacted me recently to help me make some progress on my set build.

Matthew, thanks for the years of great blog posts, and on a personal note it was your kindness and generosity when I first started out that kept me in the blogging game. My very first blog trade was with him, and I can't thank him enough for that.


  1. Very nice tribute Brian. Matt and I go back pretty far as well. His blog will be missed.

  2. I can pick a favorite out of those '56s: the Clemente. I like the idea of posting a few Pirates cards in honor of Matt this week.

  3. Pirates fans should rejoice. There are gonna be a lot of posts featuring their cards this week as we honor Matt and his blog. I should have mine up tomorrow morning. When I do... one of the cards featured in this post will be on mine as well.

  4. A+ content! Thanks for the kind words.

  5. Welp...guess I shouldn't bother scanning my '56 Pirates for my upcoming Pittsburgh post/tribute to BWTP! The Law and O'Brien brothers cards are awesome.