Today’s Card of the Day is a great one from the 1963 Topps set featuring four Pittsburgh Pirates. Dubbed the “Bucs Blasters”, Topps put Roberto Clemente, Dick Stuart, Bob Skinner and Smoky Burgess all on the same card. During that era, Topps featured a lot of teammates on a special card similar to this one, and sometimes just players from the same league made the same card. In the link below, you can find an example in the “1959 Buc Hill Aces” article, which featured four of their top pitchers.
Here’s today’s featured card:
As the title would suggest, these four players would have provided power for the Pirates during the 1962 season and they would be players to watch in 1963. What Topps didn’t anticipate was that Stuart would be traded before the 1963 season started. In fact, he was traded on November 20, 1962, so that tells you how early these cards went into production before the 1963 season.
As far as their performance for the 1962 season, playing in spacious Forbes Field kept the home run totals down for most Pirates not named Willie Stargell or Ralph Kiner. The Pirates ranked ninth out of ten team in home runs in 1962, finishing with 108 on the season. These players hit 59 of those homers, with Skinner leading the way with 20, followed by Stuart at 16, Burgess at 13 and Clemente at ten. Bill Mazeroski actually ranked third on the team with 14 homers that season.
In 1963 without Stuart around, the remaining three players on the card hit just 23 total home runs. That was partially due to Skinner being traded early in the year, though he only hit three homers after the trade. A Bucs Blasters updated card would have featured Clemente and three new players, including Donn Clendenon, Bob Bailey and either Jim Pagliaroni or Willie Stargell, who each hit 11 homers in 1963.
Here’s the back of the card:
You’ll notice that the back has an update on Stuart no longer being around, which was likely a change added after the front of the cards were already decided and it was too late to add a different card into the mix. In reality, probably the first thing you actually noticed is that Topps called Clemente “Bob”, which happened for most of his cards back then. As an interesting side note to that story, we featured a 1971 Topps Clemente artwork piece
here recently from Tim Carroll. He briefly mentions in that article that whenever he recreates Clemente cards that say “Bob”, he corrects them to say Roberto. A nice touch on his part.
The third thing you probably noticed is that stat about Skinner batting .472 during his first season in the minors with the Pirates. The deserves some explaining on behalf of Topps. Skinner hit .472 for the Mayfield Clothiers in 1951 and they were a Pirates affiliate, so that stat has some truth behind it. However, he only played 29 games with that team and another 98 games with the Waco Pirates, where he had a .283 average. Skinner batted .326 during the 1951 season.
This card can be had for under $10 delivered if you’re not picky about condition. However, really nice graded ones (PSA 7/Near Mint) can be had for around $50, so you get more eye appeal and a nice case to keep it protected for about twice the cost of a raw one a few grades lower. When you go up to a PSA 8, the price jumps over $100, and if you can find one of the 11 PSA 9 versions of this card, the price will be in the low four figures. There are no PSA 10s yet.
Here are the previous Card of the Day articles. Eventually we will have a better way to organize them once we launch Pittsburgh Baseball History, as opposed to just a continuously growing list at the bottom of each article:
1913 T200 Fatima team card
2020 Topps Living Set Josh Bell
2020 Roberto Clemente Topps Throwback
1982 Topps Tim Foli
1887 N172 Old Judge Art Whitney and Dog
1973 Topps Willie Stargell
1981 Topps Pirates Future Stars
1936 R312 Honus Wagner and Arky Vaughan
1959 Topps Buc Hill Aces
1982 Donruss Harvey Haddix
1991 Upper Deck Jose Lind
1982 Topps Traded Pirates set
1974 Topps Bob Johnson
1909 E90 Dots Miller
2005 Bowman Heritage Andrew McCutchen
1961 Topps Gino Cimoli World Series Highlights
1969 Topps Richie Hebner/Al Oliver
1920 W516 Wilbur Cooper
1887 N172 Sam Barkley
1976 Topps Pie Traynor
2020 Topps 206 Roberto Clemente
1957 Topps Bill Mazeroski
1998 Topps Jose Guillen
1948 Bowman Ralph Kiner
1987 Donruss Opening Day Barry Bonds/Johnny Ray Error
1955 Bowman Frank Thomas
1982 Fleer Mike Easler
1984 Topps NL Career Batting Leaders: Bill Madlock/Dave Parker
1979 Hostess Willie Stargell
1933 Goudey Paul Waner
1888 N29 Allen & Ginter George Miller
1965 Topps Pirates Rookie Stars
1968 Topps Manny Sanguillen
1991 Topps Kurt Miller
2009 Topps Heritage Jack Wilson
1931 W517 Paul Waner
1993 Pinnacle Carlos Garcia
1982 Topps Pirates Team Leaders
1985 Donruss Diamond Kings Tony Pena
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.