Wednesday, February 8, 2017

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 1

Let's kick off my new and improved 1960s Fleer Autograph Project.  By way of review for any new arrivals here, several years ago, I started working on getting my 1963 Fleer set autographed.  As of today, I have autographed versions of 60 out of the 66 player cards in the set.  1963 was Fleer's first set to feature contemporary players.  The company had issued two sets, in 1960 and 1961, that featured great players of the past.  My quest here is to acquire as many autographed versions of the cards from those sets as I can.

The difference will be that, for 1960 and 1961, I am only going to chase certified authentic autographs.  Since 1963 featured many players who are alive today, I didn't have such a restriction. Indeed many of my autographed 63s came from public signings and TTM requests.  However, since the earlier two sets were of past greats, many of the subjects are long departed this mortal coil.  Certified autos, while not foolproof, do significantly increase my confidence that the signatures are genuine.

So, here is my first 1961:

1961 Fleer featured a total of 154 players from the past.  By my review, a total of 59 of those featured players died in 1961 or earlier, leaving an upper limit for this quest of 95 cards. I am not sure when the autographed card craze started, but another 17 players died during the remainder of the 60s, 31 in the 70s, 28 in the 80s, 12 in the 90s, and the remaining 7 since 2000.  The last player featured in 1961 Fleer to pass was Ralph Kiner in 2014.  If I had to guess, I would think it would be fairly difficult to get more than 50-60 such cards for this set. But, we will see.

Now, on to Burleigh Grimes, who passed away in 1985.  Grimes played 19 seasons in the majors, with 7 different teams between 1916 and 1934, amassing a 270-212 record. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964.  Modern metrics don't really do him justice. According to Baseball Reference, he accumulated 46.9 WAR over that 19 year career, which is only good enough for 119th best on the all time list. That puts him behind fellow 19 year veteran Bartolo Colon (49.4 WAR), who is by no means a HOFer.


  1. Quite an ambitious undertaking.

    I couldn't tell you when the craze started, per se, but autographed cards exist from that time. I'm lucky to own a 1952 Topps Johnny Mize which my Dad got autographed at Yankee Stadium in the 50s. (It's the only card from his collection that didn't get thrown away.) He can't be the only person back then who thought of getting a card autographed, although how many of this set were, and then how many survived is hard to say. Good luck!