Thursday, October 22, 2009

1962 - YES WE CAN!

Long before Barack Obama's camp adopted the phrase, Angels fans in 1962 were chanting "YES WE CAN!" in hopes of a championship season.  Why in the world would a team in just its second season have postseason dreams, especially before the advent of divisional play?  To start with, most of these guys looked pretty happy going into the season wearing a halo on their heads:

The '62 Angels did the impossible - they actually led the American League late in the season.  In fact, "First on the Fourth" was a cry at one point when the Halos were in first place on the 4th of July.  Ultimately they fell to third place, ten games behind some team from New York, but at 86-76, it was an amazing finish for such a new team.

While this set is well-loved by collectors because of the wood-grain finish, in terms of quality control 1962 turned out to be one of the worst years for Topps cards ever.  Due do a serious production error, an entire run of cards ended up with a greenish tint, and there were many other variations - many including Angels.  As you can see in the first image, there was a variation on the team card, with two insert pictures being added in later runs.  And the Eddie Yost card was printed with a head shot in one version, and a batting pose in another.

Leon "Daddy Wags" Wagner was the major force on offense that year, with 37 homers and 107 RBI.  He ended up winning the Angels' first All-Star MVP award that year and placed 4th in the MVP ballot.  Lee Thomas led the Halos with a .290 batting average.  On the pitching side, Dean Chance led the team with 14 wins and a 2.96 ERA among the regulars, while Bo Belinsky checked in with 145 strikeouts.  Belinsky pitched the franchise's first no-hitter on May 5th (against the Orioles), and became an instant sensation in SoCal.

Belinsky's rookie card, #592) was the hardest pre-1972 card for me to get.  Unfortunately this wasn't just because it was Bo's rookie card, but because it was also Jim Bouton's rookie card.  Bouton wrote the first real tell-all book about baseball, "Ball Four," and his cards have been more in demand ever since.

The inserts this year were lickable stamps, set two to a panel.  While most of what I've acquired are single panels, I'm pretty happy about the double-panels I've found.  Having the old-school Angels logo paired with a Houston Colts emblem is really cool.

1962 was such an amazing year for the Angels, that (so far) it ranks as my second favorite season ever.  In addition to the 1962 Topps Bucks, I even had to pick up a couple non-regular-Topps cards because I love this team so much.  The first is a 1999 Fleer Greats of the Game autograph card of Bo Belinsky, which I obtained after he passed away.  Bo was such a huge character on the early Angels teams, largely because he had relationships with many of the hottest starlets of the day.

I also had to get the Topps Archives Dean Chance auto card, as it just wouldn't be 1962 if Belinsky was there without Chance.

1962 Topps Angels Checklist

11 - Tom Morgan
39 - Joe Koppe
68 - Ken L. Hunt
96 - Eli Grba
128A - Art Fowler green tint
128B - Art Fowler
132A - Angels Team
132B - Angels Team w/photo inserts
154A - Lee Thomas green tint
154B - Lee Thomas
176A - Eddie Yost - portrait
176B - Eddie Yost - batting
194A - Dean Chance green tint
194B - Dean Chance
209 - Jim Fregosi
257 - Jack Spring
268 - Ken McBride
287 - George Witt
343 - Albie Pearson
369 - Ted Bowsfield
388 - Ryne Duren
422 - Steve Bilko
431 - Bob Rodgers
452 - Earl Averill
491 - Leon Wagner
498 - Jim Donohue
525 - George Thomas
539 - Billy Moran
549 - Bill Rigney SP
569 - Ed Sadowski SP
592 - RC Parade Pitchers (Belinsky, Bonikowski, Bouton, Pfister, Stenhouse) SP
595 - RC Parade Infielders (Sadowski, Charles, Coughtry, Torres) SP

Topps Stamps Inserts
TSI62 - Los Angeles Emblem
TSI63 Steve Bilko
TSI64 Ted Bowsfield
TSI65 Ken Hunt
TSI66 Ken McBride
TSI67 Albie Pearson
TSI68 Bob Rodgers
TSI69 George Thomas
TSI70 Lee Thomas
TSI71 Leon Wagner

1962 Topps Bucks
TB40 Ken Hunt
TB58 Ken McBride
TB88 Lee Thomas
TB90 Leon Wagner

1999 Fleer Bo Belinsky Sports Illustrated Greats of the Game Autograph
2002 Topps Archives Dean Chance Autograph

regular cards: 28 + 4
inserts: 14

1 comment:

  1. Love the wood grain, both on my baseball cards and on the dashboard of my whip.